Thursday, March 31, 2011

AMAA 2011: Glitz, Glamour As Congo-Kinshasa Leads

By Al-Amin Ciroma

A congregation of Africa’s movie stars, including those in the Diaspora were hosted at the Gloryland Cultural Centre, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, last weekend, to celebrate this year’s annual African ‘Oscars’, the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA).

The night was dominated by Congo Kinshasha’s Viva Riva, which won six awards, including Best Film and Best Director for Congo’s Djo Tunda Wa Munga. The movie also won Supporting Acting awards for actress Marlene Longage and actor Hoji Fortuna, as well as Cinematography and Production Design awards. ‘Viva Riva’ had ealier led the nominations with a total of 12.

The movie Sinking Sands picked three awards, with Amake Abebrese winning ‘Best Actress Award’ to go with prizes for its screenplay and make-up. The other two multiple award-winners were Izulu Lami, which won Best Film in African Language and for which three actors shared the Best Child Actor Award. Aramotu,won Best Nigerian Film and Best Costume Design. Other awards include The Best Actor Award which went to Themba Ndaba for his role in Hopeville. The Best Young Actor was received by Edward Kagutuzi for his Mirror Boy, while the Special Jury Award was won by Shirley Adams from South Africa.

Among those who attended the ceremony presided by the Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Timpre Sylva, was the Kenyan Minister of Information, who said that AMAA’s positive contribution to the development of African Cinema in the last seven years could not be over-emphasised. He added that Nigeria had taught the rest of Africa how film can be a powerful socio-cultural and economic export to the rest of the world.

Aside Niji Akanni’s Aramotu which competed for the Best Film category, Nigeria has other movies in contention. Tunde Kelani’s Maami, Mahmood Ali-Balogun’s Tango With Me, Jeta Amata’s Inale, and No Jersy No Match by Daniel Ademinokan were in contention, but couldn’t scale through. An elated Chief Executive of AMAA, Ms Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, said during the ceremony that this year’s edition had been re-loaded to give visitors to Bayelsa, venue of the award ceremony a new experience. She was full of praises for the Bayelsa State government for the partnership and support given to AMAA since it made its debut in 2005.

The guest list read like a roll-call of Africa’s leading thespians, including Rita Dominic, Mike Ezuruonye, Kate Henshaw-Nuttal, Ini-Edo, Jim Iyke and Ramseh Nouah. Others were Joke Silva, Jackie Appiah, Chinedu Ikedieze and Majid Michel who mounted the podium to appreciate the crowd during the event.

The complete list of winners at the awards include Best Film, Viva Riva – Djo Tunda Wa Munga (Congo), Best Director Viva Riva – Djo Tunda Wa Munga, Best Actress In Leading Role - Amake Abebrese - Sinking Sands and Best Actor In Leading Role -Themba Ndaba – Hopeville. Other categories winners include, Best Actress In Supporting Role - Marlene Longage – Viva Riva, Best Actor In Supporting Role Hoji Fortuna – Viva Riva, Best Young Actor, Edward Kagutuzi – Mirror Boy, Best Child Actor, Sobahle Mkhabase (Thembi), Tschepang Mohlomi (Chili-Bite) And Sibonelo Malinga (Khwezi) – Izulu Lami, Best Film In African Language, Zulu Lami – Madoda Ncayiyana (South Africa), Best Nigerian Film, Aramotu – Niji Akanni, Best Screenplay, Sinking Sands, Best Editing

Soul Boy, Best Cinematography, Viva Riva, Best Achievement In Sound Shirley Adams, Best Visual Effects, A Small Town Called Descent, Best Soundtrack, Inale and Best Make Up goes to Sinking Sands.

Others categories are Best Costume Design – Aramotu, Best Production Design Viva Riva, Best Film For African Abroad In America: The Story Of The Soul Sisters - Rahman Oladigbolu (Nigeria/USA), Best Diaspora Short Film, Precipice – Julius Amedume (UK), Best Diaspora Documentary Stuborn As A Mule – Miller Bargeron Jr & Arcelous Deiels (USA), Best Diaspora Feature, Suicide Dolls – Keith Shaw (USA), Best Documentary Kondi Et Le Jeudi Nationale – Ariana Astrid Atodji (Cameroun), Best Short Documentary After The Mine – Diendo Hamadi & Dinta Wa Lusula (DRC) and Best Short Film Dina – ‘Mickey Fonseca’ (Mozambique).

Published in LEADERSHIP, March 30, 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011

At the AMAA: Hausa Film Makers Yearn for Presence

By Al-Amin Ciroma
The capital city of Bayelsa State, Yenagoa is set and will tomorrow erupt in ovations and a great reception when winners in the 26 categories of the 7th edition of the Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) will be announced. Giving the breakdown of the nominations as announced on 25th February in Kenya, the Chief Executive Officer of the award body, Ms. Peace Anyiam-Osigwe at a media briefing said Congo and South Africa got the highest nominations. She said that although ‘Viva River,’ a film from Congo had the highest single nominations, South Africa has four films that are very competitive that made the nominations too.
“The four South African films in competition include ‘Hope Ville’ with nine nominations, ‘Izulu Lami,’ seven nominations, ‘Shirley Adams,’ five nominations and ‘A Small Town Called Decent’ with six nominations. Combined together, South Africa had the highest nominations by a country with a total of 27 nominations.” She stated.
Other African countries in the contest include Ghana and Kenya. Ghana’s ‘Sinking Sound’ had 10 nominations and Kenya’s ‘Soul Boy’ had six nominations, while Nigeria has four films that are also prominent on the nomination list. They include ‘Maami’, a film directed by Tunde Kelani’s ‘Inale,’ directed by Jeta Amata; Niyi Akanji’s ‘Aramotu,’ and Mahmood Alli-Balogun’s ‘Tango with Me.’ judging by country nominations, Nigeria trails South Africa with 23 nominations.
‘’I want to say we have strong films across Africa and the diaspora in competition for this year’s AMAA and all the films that made the nominations, whether they win or not in their different categories are good films that will do well in film circuits around the world,’’ she stated.
She also stated that more than seventy percent of the nominees across Africa and beyond have signified interest to attend the awards in Nigeria while reiterating the readiness of the organisers and host State, Bayelsa to welcome guests from within and outside Nigeria.
‘’The good thing about this year’s AMAA is that our guests will experience Bayelsa in a new way as we have events lined up for a whole week. AMAA this year will not be a day’s event. There will be opportunity to network, share experiences and even make co-production deals with other filmmakers. Visitors will explore the sights and sounds of Bayelsa to feel the people and culture of the state. Besides, oil rich Bayelsa has great tourism potentials waiting for enterprenuers to grab.’’ she declared.
Over the years AMAA has been conceptualised as an annual celebration of the brightest and the best in African movie. It is about class and style, blitz, glitz and razzmatazz. AMAA, according to critics is regarded as the biggest gathering of movie makers across the African continent and the diaspora. It is to show the world that the rating of Nollywood as the world’s second largest producers of movies as a well-deserved feat.
Hauwa Maina is an ace filmmaker cum actress in the north, she works tirelessly in promoting the Hausa movie industry. Maina sees AMAA as the largest event that attracts all key players, including those from grassroots in the industry. According to her, there is need for the African filmmakers to unite and face global challenges and trends in the motion picture world. “In 2008, AMAA introduced a category for ‘Indigenous films where several Nigerian indigenous films, including one movie from Cameroun, were nominated-‘Iranse Aje’, ‘Ipa’, ‘Hafsah’, ‘Onitemi’ and ‘Tabou’ from Cameroun. It was really fun and most us were delighted because we felt the event is African. I was personally delighted when a Kannywood movie, ‘Hafsah’ was nominated in the category, but since then, it was shelved. I am calling on our indigenous filmmakers to work harder in retaining the category and even go beyond it for additional slots in the contest.”
A cross section of the Hausa filmmakers who aired their views on the event, yearn for the presence of their movies to be recognised at prestigious African event. Others criticise the organisers for margnialisation. Murtala Mohammed Aniya is also one of the promising filmmakers in the Hausa movie industry. In his assertions, he said, “The only actor recognised by AMAA is Ali Nuhu, and the only movie that will earn their jury’s attention will be the ones that featured him, but unknown to them, Ali is just one out of millions of Kannywood actors. There are so many Ali Nuhu’s, we have a lot of talents emerging in the industry, I am throwing this challenge to the organisers of the awards to come to the north and explore the talents we have here,” said Aniya.
Meanwhile, as we await the winners later today, Nigeria tops the list of this year’s razmatazz, with the nominations of Daniel Ademinokan, Jeta Amata, Genevieve Nnaji, and Lonzo Nzekwe.
Nominations in various categories:

*Best Short Film
Bougfen – Petra Baninla Sunjo (Cameroun), Weakness – Wanjiru Kairu (Kenya), No Jersey No Match – Daniel Ademinokan (Nigeria), Duty – Mak Kusare (Nigeria), Bonlambo – Zwe Lesizwe Ntuli (South Africa), Zebu And The Photofish – Zipporah Nyarori (Kenya), Dina – Mickey Fonseca (Mozambique), Allahkabo – Bouna Cherif Fofana (Togo)

*Best Short Documentary
Symphony Kinsasha – Diendo Hamadi & Dinta Wa Lusula (Congo), Naija Diamond (Feature On Dr. Rahmat Mohammed) – Nform Leonard (Nigeria), After The Mine – Diendo Hamadi & Dinta Wa Lusula (Drc), Stepping Into The Unknown – Rowena Aldous & Jill Hanas-Hancock (South Africa), Yeabu’s Homecoming – Jenny Chu (Sierraleone)

*Best Documentary
Kondi Et Le Jeudi Nationale – Ariana Astrid Atodji (Cameroun), Headlines In History – Zobby Bresson (Kenya), Co-Exist – Adam Mazo (Rwanda), State Of Mind- Djo Tunda Wa Munga (Congo), Naija Diamonds- Nfrom Leonard (Nigeria)

*Best Diaspora Feature
Suicide Dolls – Keith Shaw (Usa), Tested – Russell Costanzo (Usa), Nothing Less -Wayne Saunders (Uk), The Village -Wayne Saunders (Uk)

*Best Diaspora Documentary
Stuborn As A Mule – Miller Bargeron Jr & Arcelous Deiels (Usa), Momentum – Zeinabu Irene Davis (Usa), If Not Now – Louis Haggart (Usa), Motherland – Owen Alik Shahadah (Usa), Changement – Chiara Cavallazi (Italy)

*Best Diaspora Short Film
Cycle – Roy Clovis (Usa), Under Tow – Miles Orion Feld (Usa), Habitual Aggression – Temi Ojo (Usa), Little Soldier – Dallas King (Usa), The New N Word – Sowande Tichawonna (Usa), Precipice – Julius Amedume (Uk)

*Best Film For Africans Abroad
Anchor Baby – Lonzo Nzekwe (Nigeria/Canada), In America: The Story Of The Soul Sisters- Rahman Oladigbolu (Nigeria/Usa), Mirror Boy – Obi Emelonye (Nigeria/Uk), Africa United – Debs Gardner-Brook (Rwanda/Uk)

*Best Production Design
Tango With Me, Viva Riva, Hopeville, 6 Hours To Christmas, Maami

*Best Costume Design
Inale, Yemoja, Sinking Sands, Aramotu, Elmina

*Best Make Up
Inale, Sinking Sands, A Private Storm, Viva Riva, A Small Town Called Descent

*Best Soundtrack
Aramotu, Nani, Who Owns Da City, Inale, A Small Town Called Descent

*Best Achievement In Sound
Sinking Sands, Shirley Adams, Izulu Lami, Viva Riva, Tango With Me

*Best Cinematography
Soul Boy, Sinking Sands, Hopeville, Shirley Adams, Izulu Lami

*Best Nigerian Film
Maami – Tunde Kelani, Aramotu – Niji Akanni, Tango With Me – Mahmood Ali- Balogun, Inale – Jeta Amata, A Private Storm – Lancelot Oduwa Imaseun/Ikechukwu Onyeka

*Best Film In African Language
Aramotu – Niji Akanni (Nigeria), Izulu Lami – Madoda Ncayiyana (South Africa), Soul Boy- Hawa Essuman (Kenya), Suwi – Musola Catherine Kaseketi (Zambia), Fishing The Little Stone – Kaz Kasozi (Uganda)

*Best Child Actor
Sobahle Mkhabase (Thembi), Tschepang Mohlomi (Chili-Bite) And Sibonelo Malinga(Khwezi) – Izulu Lami, Eriya Ndayambaje – Dudu In Africa United, Jordan Ntunga – Anto In Viva Riva, Ayomide Abatti – Young Kashi In Maami, Benjamin Abemigish a- Zebu In Zebu And The Photofish, Shantel Mwabi – Bupe In Suwi

*Best Young Actor
Yves Dusenge (Child Soldier) And Roger Nsengiyumua (Footballer) – Africa United, Samson Odhiambo And Leila Dayan Opou – Soul Boy, Edward Kagutuzi – Mirror Boy, Donovan Adams – Shirley Adams, Junior Singo – Hopeville

*Best Actor In Supporting Role
Osita Iheme – Mirror Boy, Hoji Fortuna – Viva Riva, Mpilo Vusi Kunene – A Small Town Called Descent, John Dumelo – A Private Storm, Desmond Dube – Hopeville

*Best Actress In Supporting Role
Mary Twala – Hopeville, Joyce Ntalabe – The Rivaling Shadow, Marlene Longage – Viva Riva, Tina Mba -Tango With Me, Yvonne Okoro – Pool Party

*Best Actor In Leading Role
Themba Ndaba – Hopeville, Patsha Bay – Viva Riva, Jimmy Jean-Louis – Sinking Sands, Ekon Blankson – Checkmate, Antar Laniyan – Yemoja

*Best Actress In Leading Role
Idiat Shobande -Aramotu , Omoni Oboli- Anchor Baby , Manie Malone – Viva Riva , Amake Abebrese- Sinking Sands, Denise Newman -Shirley Adams, Genevieve Nnaji – Tango With Me

*Best Director
Soul Boy – Hawa Essuman, Shirley Adams – Oliver Hermanus, Viva Riva – Djo Tunda Wa Munga, Aramotu – Niji Akanni, A Small Town Called Descent – Jahmail. X. T Qubeka, Sinking Sands – Leila Djansi

*Best Film
Viva Riva – Djo Tunda Wa Munga (Congo), Sinking Sands – Leila Djansi (Ghana), Aramotu – Niji Akanni (Nigeria), Soul Boy – Hawa Essuman (Kenya), Hopeville – John Trengove (South Africa,) A Small Town Called Descent – Jahmil X.T Qubeka (South Africa).
Published March 26, 2011

Post-Mortem Conference On Hajj 2010

By Al-Amin Ciroma

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) held a 2-day post-mortem conference on the 2010 Hajj in Kaduna, under the chairmanship of His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto and National Amirul-Hajj, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, mni, CFR, with a view to examining the hajj operations and identifying suitable strategies for improvement.

Earlier before this conference, the officials of Hajj National Executive Council (NEC) held similar meeting at the National Mosque, Abuja to discuss operational activities, challenges and recommendations of the successful Hajj 2010 exercise.

After the exhaustive deliberations and critical examination of the various issues, the conference agreed and drafted the following communique:

1. Pilgrims’ education: As part of its efforts in fostering peaceful Hajj operations in the country, NAHCON looked at the pilgrims’ education and agreed that there is need for proper education, orientation and sensitization of pilgrims on hajj rites and conducts. Not only that, the communique include establishment of a central ‘Da’awah’ and ‘Irshad’ unit to coordinate and harmonise the activities of ‘Ulamas’ across the country on hajj matters. Against this background, the conference agreed that the period of pilgrims’ training to last for at least three months.

2. As a measure to harmonise pilgrims’ stay in the holy land, the committee agreed that in Makkah, the state pilgrims’ welfare board/agencies to abide with NAHCON guidelines on securing sufficient accommodation to avoid overcrowding. They should also provide transpotation where accommodation is more than two kilometres away from the holy mosque (‘Haram’).

While in Madinah, there is urgent need for permanent accommodation in Madinah for Nigerian pilgrims. And to avoid unnecessary inconvenience to pilgrims,the communique included the need for the state pilgrims’ welfare boards/agencies to conduct proper coordination of movement of pilgrims in Madinah.

3. On feeding, it was resolved that feeding arrangement should be maintained and improved upon, in addition to expanding the committee. Henceforth, agreements with Mu’assasah and caterers should be thoroughly examined and analysed by a competent legal authority before signing and that the preparation for feeding arrangement to commence early.

4. Transportation: The meeting commended the new transportation system and called for improvement where there are inadequacies. In this vain, it was also resolved that dissemination of accurate and timely information be implemented to ensure firm control and orderly movement of pilgrims.

5. Medical service: The committee resolved that pre-hajj medical screening for all intending pilgrims to commence in good time to enable the issuance of a medical information card. In order to solve health problems of the pilgrims, the committee agreed that there is need for in-flight medical personnel for emergency health matters. As against the eventual health problems occurring during the hajj exercise, the committee agreed that medical clinics should be increased and spread around the cluster of pilgrims’ accommodation in Makkah and Madinah.

5. Tour Operators: The committee resolved that seat allocation to Tour Operators should be done in time while the list of licensed operators should be published in the media. It was also agreed that there is need to facilitate issuance of multiple and official entry visas to Tour Operators to enable them move freely in the Kingdom.

NAHCON was also asked to exert its authority by appropriately sanctioning any defaulting Tour Operator. The commission was also advised to be involved whenever agreements between Tour Operators and service providers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are signed.

The conference also strongly observed the prevalence of syndicate groups both in Saudi Arabia and Nigeria engaged in the sale of travel documents, visa racketeering and smuggling of illegal pilgrims. The conference therefore emphasised the need to ensure proper screening of Tour Operators’ pilgrims, just like their counterparts in the State Pilgrims’ Welfare Boards and Agencies. To achieve these set objectives, they were advised to hire separate aircraft for the purpose of airlifting their own pilgrims.

6. Role of Ulama: The conference resolved to organise a meeting of some selected Ulama across the country to deliberate on contentious issues on Hajj for proper interpretations and guidance of Nigerian pilgrims and such meetings to be sponsored by NAHCON.

7. Luggage policy: The conference maintained that the full implementation of the existing NAHCON luggage policy of 40kg check-in and 10kg single hand luggage be retained and enforced by all. However, excess luggage outside the above mentioned should be handled by licensed Cargo Operators by states. The meeting also discussed and resolved that there is need for establishment of uniform approach to luggage management and collection for both regular and international pilgrims, having airlines’ representatives at screening days.
Published March 18, 2011

Piracy: Filmmakers Cry For Help

“Since the hunters have learnt to shoot without missing, we will also learn to fly without perching,” says a popular African adage. Such appears to be the resolve of the Hausa film makers under the auspices of Film Protection Image Association as they paid a courtesy call on the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) in an effort to voice out their feelings and yearnings on how to curb the menace of piracy in the movie industry.
Earlier, a popular actor, Ali Nuhu, who was among the entourage, congratulated the new director-general of the commission on assuming office as the commander-in-chief to drive the fight against pirates. He said the new DG has a lot of challenges ahead and pledged that the Hausa filmmakers are ready to work with the commission in order to annihilate the peril of piracy in the industry. The Kannywood screen guru, Nuhu, gave an insight on how the pirates make money out of filmmakers’ sweat without their sole authorisation. “We feel the time has come for us to visit your esteemed organisation and voice out our feelings about piracy and how it affects our business so that your commission will come to our rescue by tackling the problem,” he said.
Also speaking, the Secretary-General of the Film Protection Image Association, Alhaji Bashir Fagge took his time to read the problems faced by the Kannywood stakeholders out of piracy. He said, although the Hausa film industry is in incubation stage, the stakeholders have been in the fore front to diversify its capital base. Noting that the hand of the clock is fast ticking against pirates, their cronies and activities. And with the launch of his organisation’s battle against piracy, the much-awaited succour for the creators of intellectual properties to enjoy the fruits of their labour may have finally arrived.
The activities of pirates, according to Fagge, have continued to make copyright owners live in penury. Efforts at tackling this menace gave birth to different programmes by NCC, the most recent was the Strategic Action Against Piracy (STRAP), launched a few years back. However, he pointed out that the Hausa filmmakers, without support from government and corporate ogranisations, make waves in the industry and contribute a lot in securing jobs to the teeming youths in the society, therefore, need to be protected. The secretary also shed more light on how some pirates go about announcing that they are fully registered with the commission.
In his remarks, The director-general, NCC, who was represented by the Director, Public Affairs of the commission, Sir Charles Olisaeloka Obi, assured the stakeholders that NCC would look into details of various issues raised by the Hausa filmmakers and advised them that those who have issues with staff of the commission should get in touch with him. Obi expressed delight that a lot of issues that formed the basis of the vision of his administration have been brought forward by the stakeholders and described his stay in the commission as a new era in the copyright system in Nigeria.
The DG announced that the focus of his administration would be a more proactive NCC that would commit reasonable resources to enforcement. Obi observed that why stakeholders had little or no confidence in the commission was because the focus was probably different and stated that his focus would be to hunt criminals, prosecute and send them to jail. He added that NCC cannot achieve its goals without the support of the stakeholders and commended them for their collaboration in anti piracy activities and prosecution.
Responding on some of the petitions submitted by the Kannywood group, the director said, “We are working hand in hand with the custom to curb the pirates, those who import pirated works into the country and recently, we have arrested a man who rebranded himself as King of Pirates, we are taking him to court and we shall follow the case to the logical conclusion. The commission is doing its best to fight the menace; at the importation level, we are there at the production level we shall also see to it.”
He said, “I advise the Hausa filmmakers to work with the law enforcement agents in curbing the pirates. First of all, try and identify where the pirates are, launch an attack and arrest them. That is what we are also doing, we cannot be everywhere. So if you arrest them, hand them over to us and see what we can do. That is the collaboration we are seeking from you and I am happy, you came in here under one umbrella with different fields of expertise. There are actors, producers, marketers, directors, etc; that is team work and I believe with collaborative minds, we shall curb the pirates. I therefore commend you stick together and assure you that there will be positive results in this anti-piracy campaign.”
While responding on allegations about some members of NCC who go about taking honorarium from the filmmakers, the DG said, “To the best of my knowledge as a director in this commission, I have been among the management staff of this organisation and we have never demanded for any money to do our work. It is strange, I have never heard of it both here in the headquarters nor any of zonal offices. And please if you can give information on where this happened we can issue a query immediately. We don’t take gratification, we don’t take honourarium, we don’t take bribes and if any of our staff did that, please report immediately to us and we will take action. This commission has a good reputation, no individual can spoil it to put money in his pocket.”
Mr. Charles explained further about the commission’s shortcomings, “You see, we are actually not adequately staffed here, but we are doing our best within the limited resources we have. Let me quickly say that we have presence in Kano, we have in Bauchi, Kaduna, Yola, Makurdi. So the new DG in a few weeks will embark on visits to the north, he will come and see you one -on-one and I will also advise you to congregate just as you did with more of your members in the places he will visit, so that some of these things you will directly talk to him. But before then, he will get this report and be assured that this commission will work with you hand in hand in achieving its stated objectives,” he stated.
He reiterated that the main motive behind the commission was to support a market-driven telecommunications industry and promote universal access. We will achieve this through the consistent enforcement of clear and fair policies that protect stakeholders, ensure efficient resource management, share industry best practices and deliver affordable, quality telecom services.

Published March 19, 2011

I am A Fulfilled Filmmaker – Gotip

UMAR ABDULLAHI GOTIP is to Kannywood what Matthew Libatique was to Hollywood. From Kanke local government area of Plateau State, Gotip enrolled in the Television College Jos, where he acquired a wealth of knowledge for the industry after his primary and secondary education. Not only that, the famous Director Of Photography (D.O.P)/production designer did a lot of professional courses in film making-related matters. In this chat with Al-Amin Ciroma, Gotip expresses his passion for the entertainment industry.

Tell us your journey to the industry. What really motivated your joining the industry?
A lot of things my brother. For example, my source of inspiration has been the famous Cockcrow At Dawn. Thereafter, one of my friends then, Malik introduced me to the industry in 1984. I later joined the NTA as a gaffer/cameraman. That’s how I came to the industry. I did a lot of national and international projects. I was part of the film, Soweto, which was shot in 1987; the movie depicted the South African Apartheid. Not only that, I also took part in Mr. Johnson and a lot of TV-soaps like Behind the clouds, Riddles and jokes, etc. most of which I either participated as one of the gaffers/grips in the production crew or some guest appearance as an actor.

You sound like an all-rounder but can you define your primary role in the industry?
(Laughter) Actually, I am an all-weather artiste. You see in my first film, I anchored everything, I produced and directed. Likewise other projects, I often sign a contract as a sound engineer, lightener or cameraman/D.O.P. What am I trying to say? The industry is really dynamic; and for me, I got the opportunity to go through a lot of professional courses in the profession, I find it interesting to practice virtually everything. I recently did a joint-production with one of Kannywood’s screen divas, Binta Yahaya to produce a sensational and breath-taking movie; Tuna Baya and I truly enjoyed it because I love what I am doing. I thank Almighty God for the fact that from inception, I was lucky to work with pioneers and famous professionals in the motion picture world and that has been my added advantage as an artiste and production man.
But if you compel me to tell you my primary job, I would say, Umar Gotip is a Director of Photography. (Laughter).

You seem to love this business, what makes you feel great…?
(Cuts in) Like I said earlier, I derive pleasure in the business because I never for once regret what I am doing. It’s really fun because I meet a lot of people. Filmmaking is the best thing that ever happened to me. There is so much to say and learn, you gain prestige and above all, the entertainment industry is really competing with the federal government in the labour market because of the endless job opportunities therein. So, it’s an enabling environment for me. My parents bless me everyday and I am contented with it.

Can we know from your archive how many projects you have participated in so far?
Wonderful, they are uncountable. For example, I did a lot of Nollywood projects and I was part of the very first English film that was shot in Jos. Not only that, I did participate in a couple of Nollywood projects like How too far, 11th Hour, The World is Mine, Battle of love, Desperado, Uncle Wayward, Ashawo, and a host of others aside tens of thousands of Hausa movies.

As one of the top production personnel in the industry, what do you foresee for both Kannywood and Nollywood?
This industry is actually bobbling. Despite all odds, I still can foresee good things happening to the industry. The Hausa film industry is also coming of age, very soon, the whole country will come together as one to define only one ‘wood’ as a symbol of recognition. I therefore foresee good things coming.

Who is Umar Gotip in real person?
(laughter) Umar Abdullahi Gotip is very simple, cool headed and is always ‘alright’. I have good rappourt with everyone in the industry. I don’t talk much, I remember my mom used to call me ‘Kurma’ meaning deaf because she noticed at that time that I don’t talk. So I am a very simple man.

The entertainment industry is widely known for its series of scandals. Have you ever encountered any outrage?
There is an adage that says in every twelve there must be Judas. You can be amidst the fire, if you want it to touch you, it will really touch you, but if you don’t want it to touch you, it definitely will not touch you. Having grudges with people or engaging in disputes is not a civilised way to live with people. I don’t engage in scandals.

What do you love most in your life?
I love women, probably because am still searching (Laughter).

Any message to your colleagues?
We should employ a sense of reasoning in all we do. A filmmaker should at least have a fair bit of intellectuality. We should avoid disputes and be committed to our job. There are some unbecoming attitude plays by Hausa actors. It is only in Kannywood you‘ll see it, most especially when they are at loggerheads with fellow colleagues they will say, ‘I won’t work in Mr. X’s project if ‘Mr. Y’ is in the cast…’ this is bullshit! People should learn to be well behaved. I think those at the helm of affairs of film making here in the north should teach them the ethics of professionalism because most of them don’t know.

Published March 05, 2011

Acting Is A Very Hectic Game - Safiya

The beautiful Safiya Musa is known more for her flair and talent in the industry having been remarkably the best actress in the Hausa film genre due to her unique characterisation in movies. Over the years, she remained silent for reasons best known to her. The back-slide by the Adamawa state-born actress generated a lot of controversies. While some people accused her of insanity, others were of the opinion that the screen diva left the shores of Kannywood because she had been over-used by producers and directors and that she had nothing to offer anymore.
In this chat with Al-Amin Ciroma, the actress discussed her life and why she opted to return to acting. Excerpts:

For a long time nobody could tell your whereabouts. What has been happening to you?
You see, its all about reason and way of life. I decided to withdraw from the industry because I sensed there were lots of mediocrities in the industry and there was no single person who was ready to make some reforms and that made me conclude that I would not be a party to any industry that will lead one nowhere. So I quit! And now, I have a feeling that things are gradually falling in place so I came back. That’s all.

What have you been doing since quiting or is it stepping aside for a while?
(Laughter) It was not quitting anyway. I just kind of shelved myself from producers and took a long time to ponder on issues bothering my life. And don’t forget, I am also a business woman. So, I gave my business total concentration. So I was very busy with my international trades. I traveled a lot, had fun and made my business grow.

So many things were said about you. First of all, it was alleged that you contracted a secret marriage with a top-shot politician, also there were some chitchats that you even had a child for him and that was what necessitates your leaving Kaduna for another place. Can you clarify these issues?
You know everybody is entitled to his/her opinion. You can’t stop them from talking what they want but the truth is, I have never absconded from Kaduna. I’ve lived all my life in Kano and I am still there. All these rumours are not true, but whenever you try to be on the defensive, it will be that you are trying to give the gossips weight. So that is why I don’t want to go into details.

What was life like when you stepped aside from acting?
It was normal for me. Remember I told you that besides acting, I am also a business woman. So I kept myself busy and I enjoyed my stay outside the industry because it gave me much time to think about myself and my future. I have never changed from being the Safiya Musa everybody knows. It was really fun... (Laughter) You know acting is a very hectic game, you hardly have time for yourself so I really, really enjoyed myself.

Can you share with us some memorable things that kept your morale high and some challenges you faced outside the industry?
I won’t forget the day when someone called me from the United States to inform me that I had won an award from an oranization. The award was presented to me here in Nigeria. I was really happy because it came from a woman who established a cinema galleria in the states under my name: ‘Yar Musa’. I felt happy.
I also faced challenges in life when I lost my dear Mom. She was the pillar to my success and career. And now that she is of blessed memory, I am on my own, so you see I am still facing that challenge.

How are you going to prepare yourself for survivor’s series in the film industry now that there are many competitors in the field?
(Laughter) I don’t see much challenges in that area because I’ ll always be myself and I don’t think of anybody. I do what I am expected to do and take instructions from my producers and directors that’s all. I don’t feel intimidated by anyone in the industry; I am still the Safiya Musa people know. There is no big deal! Remember, most of them now are my juniors in the industry so I am not going to compete with any of them.

Who is your role model in the industry?
Late Safiya Ahmed was and still is my model. I like her acting abilities and she respected me a lot. May her gentle soul rest in peace, amen.
What should your fans expect from you now that you are launching your ‘welcome-back’ to the industry?
(Laughter) There is nothing new, I am still myself. I will do as it pleases my producer/director. Therefore, I would like to appeal to my fans to keep praying for me. I love them all.
Published February 26, 2011

My Acting, My Career —Rahmatu Hassan

RAHMATU HASSAN is one of Kannywood’s screen divas and astute stars. Within a shortest period of time, she was able to record her name among the top Kannywood actresses having introduced a new style of characterization into the Hausa film genre. She is always ahead with great enthusiasm on set. Hassan is now a hot cake in the Hausa movie shows and because of her tight and busy schedules all the time, she hardly take a break to attend to some of her personal affairs. This interview would have been an exclusive one, but because of the nature of her ups and downs, she just managed to answer a few questions. Apart from being one of the hottest Chics in Kannywood, Rahama has also gotten a lot of national and international recognitions and nominations. First she was nominated alongside cream-de-la-cream of the top Nigerian artistes in the race for ‘Face of Hope’ contest and ambassadorship. Not only that, she was nominated for the award of best attracted at the Savannah International Movie Awards, held in Abuja last year.

What’s so special in Rahama’s life and acting career plus her aspirations? The beautiful and ever gorgeously dressed star spoke with Al-Amin Ciroma in Kaduna. Excerpts.

What are your childhood experiences?

Growing up was a lot of fun. I started acting from my childhood and my parents have been supportive all the way. They have always said if acting makes you happy don’t hesitate and that all I needed is determination and zeal. So whenever I have the opportunity to interpret a role, they have encouraged me to put in my best. This has kept me going in the industry. I also work with Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) and I do business. You may be wondering, ‘how does she do all these?’ Well the truth is I make very good use of my time and Almighty Allah has been there for me.

What were your aspirations as a child?

Hm… I had the flair to act right from childhood. I had told my Mum about it, who in turn told my dad and he supported it. He was like, ok you could go and act, no problem. I therefore nursed the desire to be a good actress and also be successful in whatever I do. I am still climbing the ladder and so far so good, God has not left me for a second. What could be more beautiful than a dear old lady growing wise with age? Every age can be enchanting, provided you live within it.

What was your first acting experience like?
I remember vividly how very nervous and shy I was. But because I had a flair for acting, it didn’t take time before I loosened up and it’s been steady despite the fact that we still face some challenges. I felt great afterward and remember my teachers telling me ‘you’ve got the talent and you will do well if you pursue this as a career’. I guess I am living all that out now. I was so happy and almost couldn’t wait to grow up and do the real thing.

The movie, Maryam Diyana seems to be the one that brought you to limelight. When it did, did you think you had arrived?
Yes, it was my first major movie that brought me fame, but I have also done some others like: Rudin Zamani, Bahijja, for which I was nominated as best actress in SIM awards last year, Kudissiya, Musanya, Gaskiya Dokin Karfe, and Wassan Maza which is also another movie where I fought for women’s rights. These marked the beginning for me as I still have a long way to go in the industry. If I don’t put in my best and be creative, I am going to be outdated in no time and really, I don’t want that to happen. I want to be known worldwide. I have down a lot of great movies, and I’m happy. Now I think all of that has brought me where I am now, and I think it has taught me a lot.

Why is it that Wasan Maza is most prominent amongst your movies?
It has to do with societal issues centred around a young lady who got married at a very tender age and happened to have friends who are in higher institution. They convinced her to ask for permission from her husband to go back to school which he granted. After securing the admission, she hooked up with some bad friends and started dating other guys. Her attitude changed immediately towards him and she eventually asked for a divorce. It was too late by the time she realised her mistakes.
It is my hope that young married women who find themselves schooling again after marriage would learn a great deal from that movie.

How does the theme of this movie help improve or affect the situation of northern women and Nigerian women in general?
Let’s not say northern women but Nigerian women. The character made those decisions with the intention to succeed but failed and lost the passion of her husband’s love. The distraction and side attraction she permitted in her life ended up destroying her. I am telling ladies not to seek immediate gratification but to think things through properly before they act.

Considering the conservative society which surrounds you, what was the reaction of your family about your career?
Well my family is a very social one, despite the fact that I am from a Muslim home, I am conscious of the fact that whenever someone learns a positive lesson from any of my movies, Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala is going to bless me. Without the support and prayers of my family I would not have come this far in my career.

What do you find most interesting about your career?
Hmm, that is interesting. The most interesting is the amount of discounts I get when I go shopping; the free gifts from fans and the willingness of people to assist when I am in difficulty.
Most interesting is when people walk up to me in appreciation saying ‘thank you’ for a message they learnt from watching one of my movies. This really makes me feel good and also makes me want to put in my best at every opportunity I get.
Besides, I contested at the ‘Face of Hope’ (FOH) race last year. I thank my fans who voted and kept me in the race to the last minute where the winner emerged. I am hoping that they find me capable enough to make me the FOH 2011 because with their votes and support, we can take millions of kids off the streets and give them qualitative education.

Who are those that inspire you in the business?
I am inspired by personalities like Julia Roberts, Angelina Jolie, Liz Benson, Kate Winslet, Patience Ozokwo, Oprah Winfrey and others like them who have established themselves in the field and have made landmark achievements. These are great people and I emulate them in every step I take. Again, I don’t believe in guilt, I believe in living on impulse as long as you never intentionally hurt another person, and don’t judge people in your life. I think you should live completely free.

On a lighter mood, its making rounds that you are in a hot romance with a top shot filmmaker in the industry. How true is this?
Nope! I am not in any relationship, but I have close friends.

Aside from acting, what do you do?
I work in one of the government parastatals, I am also an international business woman.

What should your fans expect from you in 2011?
Well, I want to first say a big thank you to my fans for without their support I won’t be here today. You have a lot coming your way, just keep watching. I love you all.

Published February 19, 2011

Memo From The Hospital

By Al-Amin Ciroma

I was recently struck down with an ailment of such sudden onset and viciousness, that the only rational explanation I could come up with was a normal malaria/typhoid sickness. Going to the hospital is normal, most especially when one drives himself into the premises to see his doctor, probably to seek an advice and drive back home and that was exactly what I thought it could be, but minutes after seeing my doctor, I was immediately given a bed. That’s it I thought! It began at the very time when everybody was preparing for ‘Eid-el-Kabir’ celebration. My doctor therefore, confirmed that it was a assiduous typhoid after the primary test conducted immediately at his laboratory.

My dear brothers and sisters, I am not just telling a story, but to remind us on the etiquette of sickness as thought by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (may Allah Ta'ala be pleased with him and his purest progeny [ahlul-bait - AS]) and how to seek refuge in Allah (SWT) on the ailment. In a Hadith, it was reported that When the Prophet (SAW) would see a pimple on his body he would seek refuge in and humble himself to Allah. He would be asked: “Does it matter, O Messenger of Allah?” He (SAW) would say that “If Allah Ta’ala wanted to turn a minor concern into a major one, He could; and if He (SWT) wanted to turn a major concern into a minor one, He (SWT) could.”

Again, in a related development, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq(as) said: Truly, there no ache, misfortune, headache or malady but because of a misdeed (sin); and that is (found) in Allah’s saying: “Whatever affliction may visit you is for what your hands have earned; and He pardons much.” And what Allah pardons is more than what He punishes for.” He (as) said: “When the believer experiences a single episode of fever, his sins would fall off as tree leaves would; and if he becomes bed-ridden, his moaning is counted as ‘Tasbeeh’ (glorifying Allah Subhanu wa Ta’ala).”

Accordingly, Ahadiths from the holy Prophet (SAWA) referred ailment as fair share of affliction. In a hadith, (SAWA) said: “What a perfect ailment fever is! It gives each organ its fair share of the affliction; and there is no good in someone who is not afflicted.” He (S) continued, “Having a single sleepless night from an ailment is superior to, and greater in reward than a year’s worship.”

The period I was hospitalised as a result of the unfortunate typhoid fever that resulted into two different series of surgeries gave me another insight and continued imminent of what life means to human beings. Not only that, I come to reflect on different issues pertaining life and death, probably more than before. For almost two months I was wrecked with the sickness and shakes and revolting gastric symptoms, I subsisted on just little spoons of liquids fluid; I was reduced to crawling in the bed since I felt too dizzy to sit up or walk around the hospital premises. This sudden event happened to me at a time when I prepared my travel documents to honour an invitation in Cairo and far away Jordan to attend some international get-together by experts in my field of practice, and most interestingly, I was the only Nigerian invited to such important gatherings, but I could not attend any of them. I momoured, but equally thanked Allah Ta’ala and offered prayers to Him for sparing my life out of the complicated surgeries. Again, that exactly remind me of some sick ryrics by Skip James, saying:
The doctor came, lookin' very sad
The doctor came, lookin' very sad
Your doctor came, lookin' very sad
He diagnosed my case
And said it was awful bad

He walked away, mumblin' very low
He walked away, mumblin' very low
He walked away, mumblin' very low
He said, 'May get better
But he never get well, no mo'

I hollered, 'Oh Lord, Lord, Lordy, Lord
Oh Lordy, Lord, Lord, Lord'
Oh Lordy, Lord, Lord, Lord'
I been so badly misused
An treated just like a dog

I've got a long trip
And I'm just too weak to ride
I got a long trip
And I'm just too weak to ride
I got a long trip
An I'm just too weak to ride
Now it's a thousand people
Standin' at my bedside

All the same, I wish to register my appreciation to all friends and well wishers, who constantly kept praying and offering best wishes in those trying times for my quick recovery. May Allah (SWT) in His infinite mercies reward you abundantly. I also wish to announce that this column (ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVE), which suffered little absence from my 'disappearance' shall continue flooring as I am now recovering, even though, receiving last minute treatment. May Allah Ta’ala guide us to the right path, amen. To all, I wish you happy new Islamic and ‘Miladiyya’ calendars (1432 and 2011).

Published January 7, 2011 in my Islamic Perspective column in LEADERSHIP