The Hausa movie industry, with its heart located in the commercial capital of the North is one of the major private sector sources of employment for the youth in the region. From the time a scriptwriter puts down his pen on a paper, a cascading chain of employment is created that includes technicians, artist, distributors, marketers, transporters, hoteliers, hawkers, cinemas/viewing centers and even married women at home who supply food for locations and sometimes even rent out costumes.
The absence of professionalism in the conduct of film business in the industry has led practitioners in Kannywood to call on government for support in capacity building. The Kano Film Academy in Tiga, established by Kano State Government in 2012, has already enrolled 500 students and 5 Million Dollars was spent on equipment for the school, making it one of the most fully equipped in the country.
As I said earlier in my previous article, the first Hausa video film, Turmin Danya, was released in 1990. Notable movies, including those on celluloid, were Shehu Umar, set in the 19th century trans-Sahara slavery, written by the late Prime Minister Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and adapted for screen by the producer Adamu Aliyu. Kasarmu Ce (This is our land) another story set during colonialism about feudal lords and their impunity on the peasants was produced and directed by Sadiq Balewa (ironically, the son of the late Prime Minister) and it was released in US cinemas.
Sandar Kiwo, produced by the prolific novelist, Ado Ahmad Gidan Dabino was the first Hausa Movie to be premiered in several European countries including the UK, France, Germany and also India. Tsintsiya (The Broom) produced by one of the leading producers in Kannywood, Hamisu Iyantama, in collaboration with US Embassy, with a theme emphasizing on the unity of the different tribes in the country, was premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2008. The film was inadvertently promoted by the Shekarau administration when they jailed Hamisu Iyantama for a year under the charge of not being cleared by the Kano State Censorship Board. The second term of the Shekarau administration, under the punitive chairman of the Censorship Board, Malam Rabo, saw several film practitioners being jailed, exiled or silenced. Iyantama Multi Media made history when, in 2005, was granted permission to shoot some scenes regarding a court drama from the movie Kin Gaskiya, at Nigeria’s Supreme Court in Abuja.
2008 saw the biggest boost for Hausa movies when Waraka (The Cure), a film from Klassiques Films on HIV Aids, produced by Dr. Ahmad Sarari and directed by Bala Anas Babinlata won the Zuma award for the Best Indigenous Film and went on to be screened at Cinema Du Sud, a French pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival, alongside the Nollywood film Changing Faces produced by Faruk Afolabi Lasaki.
Hausa movies dominated the Best Indigenous Film awards category at the Zuma Film Festival, where Kadaura won in 2004, Waraka in 2006, Dijan Gala in 2008 and Ciki Daya in 2010, while the Hausa film Blood and Henna capped it when in 2013 it won the Best Film award at the festival. The film Fa’ida, by Hafizu Bello won the Viewer’s Choice Award for Best Hausa Film at the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards, AMVCA in 2013 and Habib, produced by Abba Miko won in 2014. Yan ci Na, produced by Habib Yaro was nominated for the best narrative feature film at ION International Film Festival in Port Harcourt in 2008, as Hafsa, produced by Sani Mu’azu, was nominated by AMAA for the Best Nigerian Language Film in 2010. At the AfroNollywood awards, Hamza, was nominated for Best Sound in 2010 as Ali Nuhu won the Best Actor (Hausa) at the same award.
At the Nigeria Entertainment Award, held in New York in 2014, the Hausa movie Merger, where the comic duo of Ibro and Nkem Owo featured, the film was nominated for Best Film. Ali Nuhu and Ibro were both nominated for Best Supporting Actor while Sadiq Mafia was nominated in the Best Director category.
Hausa movie industry has come a long way, and considering its history, one can only lament that it hasn’t realized its full potentials due to several factors, among which are lack of investors, marketing strategies, lack of widespread intellectual inputs etc. In recent times an approximate number of two thousand films were released yearly but most of those films hardly survive for more than a month before they fade into oblivion due to some of the reasons above. The industry is surely a gold mine, yet to be tapped into.