A LEAP TOWARDS NATIONAL INTEGRATION BY NIGERIA HOME VIDEO: A CRITICAL STUDY OF THE HAUSA FILM KARANGIYA.
SHAMAGANA YUSUF NINZIM (CORP MEMBER)
DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH
COLLEGE OF EDUCATION ZING, TARABA STATE - NIGERIA.
BEING A PAPER PRESENTED AT THE 9TH ANNUAL ZONAL CONFERENCE OF WOMEN IN COLLEGES OF EDUCATION (WICE) NORTH EAST ZONE, HELD AT COLLEGE OF EDUCATION ZING, TARABA STATE, NIGERIA FROM 10TH JULY TO 13TH JULY 2013.
The persistent trend of insecurity with a corresponding prediction of a looming disintegration of Nigeria which cynics often argue as the necessary panacea for resolving the crisis confronting the nation necessitates the need to re-examine all institutions that have the potentials and mandate to shoulder the campaign for national unity. In this study, the spotlight focuses on the media. Besides their wider coverage capacity, the media are reputed to possess unrivalled power to influence their users. Sadly, fifty three years since independence, the Nigerian media have remained committed to championing regional and sectional interests, with little or no emphasis on national integration. This paper therefore, through a critical study of the Hausa film “Karangiya” (2012) explores a recent effort by Nigeria Home Video towards the promotion of national integration. The paper assesses both the overt and subtle forces of unity traceable in the film, bringing home the point that the media can still be utilized for the propagation of the gospel of peace and national unity much as they have hitherto been used for regional and sectional propaganda.
The growing concern over the ugly trend of insecurity in the country has mandated the re-direction of the attention of scholars to somewhat critical reappraisal of the important role the media can play in times of crisis. Given their omnipresent nature in virtually all spheres of a society’s existence, the power of the media in shaping consciousness cannot be overemphasized. “ In many ways we are reliant and dependent upon regular contact with the mass media for information, opinion, entertainment, ideas and a range of other resources, which are deeply bound up with our continuing attempts to maintain a coherent sense of ‘who’ and ‘where’ we think we are” (O Sullivan et’al 1998:03). The media exert significant influence on its users because “it has now become somewhat of a cliché to suggest that the media collectively act to provide their audiences with ‘windows on the world’ or ‘definitions of social reality’. Implicit in this kind of claim is the idea that the media act as powerful agencies capable of shaping and directing public and private understandings of the world and awareness of the social, economic, moral, cultural, technological and political affairs. In this manner, the media have been termed ‘consciousness industries’, involved in the manufacture or management of the public sphere, of consensus and consent” (O Sullivan et’al 1998:19). O Sullivan further argues that “what we understand as modern life would be impossible without specialised institutions which are generically referred to as the mass media. Books, magazines, adverts, newspapers, radio and television programmes, films and videos...occupy a central and pivotal role in our lives, providing a continuous and rapidly expanding flow of information and leisure facilities” (1998:03). This paper therefore picks on the Nigerian media by providing an overview of the intractable role they have played so far in the promotion of regional or sectional interests to the detriment of national aspiration. The Nigeria Home Video which is a blossoming institution that can be used for the pursuit of national integration is also examined through a critical appraisal of the Hausa film Karangiya with the aim of providing a model example of some sort, hoped to be emulated by other media in a committed march towards national integration.
THE MEDIA AND THE POLITICS OF REGIONAL INTERESTS IN NIGERIA
The development of regional consciousness and solidarity predates Nigerian independence. It was arguably inaugurated via divide and rule tactics the British colonialists deployed in subjugating the people in the days of Indirect Rule policy. Especially, when one bring into cognizance the disparities in successes recorded in the three regions of the country: North, West and East where indirect rule policy recorded total success, partial success and total failure respectively. The seeming gullibility of the northern region which was occasioned by the existence of an organized traditional political structure provided a fertile soil for the bountiful harvest of indirect rule which subsequently endear the region with the colonialists through independence. The moderate democratic traditional structure that existed in the west where an Oba was still subject to checks by the Oyomesi (Council of Chiefs) hindered the Oba to absolutely succumb to the biddings of the colonialists like his counterparts (emirs) in the north. In the case of the east, the traditional society was hyper-democratic that the introduction of Warrant Chiefs by Lord Lugard sparked-off riots and stiff resistance.
On the eve of Nigerian independence, political parties that emerged to wrestle for power were formed on regional basis. Northern People’s Congress (NPC) popularly known in Hausa as Jam’iyar Mutanen Arewa was a testimony to regional affiliation. Action Group (AG) was also an off-shoot of a Yoruba traditional group. Therefore, given the socio-political posture of Nigeria which was regionally inclined, the post-independent media were confronted with no option than to follow suit. For instance, the New Nigerian newspapers was established in Jan 1966 because “northern Nigeria was aware that it was losing a propaganda war in Nigeria...Northern politicians had acquired a political awareness every bit as keen as their opponents in the South. But they lacked the means to communicate their political philosophy, not only to their growing band of supporters, but also to potential supporters in other parts of the federation” explained Mr Charles Sharp, the British businessman whom the northern regional government employed to establish the New Nigerian” (Kukah 1983:68). The northerners in furtherance of their justification for the establishment of the paper petitioned that “There had been growing northern frustration with the fact that an event affecting a socialite or someone’s uncle in Lagos will usually take prominence over a tragedy in Northern Nigeria like the case of fire that gutted villages in Sokoto or Borno“observed Alhaji Adamu Ciroma, the first Nigerian editor (New Nigerian Newspapers) and managing director (MD) of the company. He further argued that “as a northern newspaper, we shall seek to identify ourselves with the North and its people, their interests and aspirations. For that, we have no apology to offer” (Kukah 1983:68).
In response to the establishment of New Nigerian by the northern regional government after an assessment of the first one hundred days of the newspaper, one of the leading journalist in the country working with Daily Times ( a Lagos based newspaper), Peter Enahoro said “ The inscrutable North bestirs itself and the language is bad music to the ears. In the North, one crashes headlong into silence among the ordinary folk. The northerner by character is inscrutable. You cannot reach his soul...underneath that cold exterior there lurks an undercurrent of searing heat and passion. He is slow to burn, but once he catches fire, the northerner is highly combustible”. Enahoro’s derisive response was adjudged a product of a contemptuous view of the North and it laid the early foundation upon which the wall of prejudice were to be erected , thus reducing the prospects of the media playing a vital towards national integration. (Kukah 1983:69)
Furthermore, the role played by Radio Biafra on the propaganda side of the war was another demonstration of the media’s commitment to regional interest. Another institution that was instrumental in the promotion of Biafran secessionist propaganda was the Citadel Press established by Chinua Achebe and Christopher Okigbo. Commenting on the story in the first book published by the company: How the Leopard Got Its Claws, Achebe agrees that the story “not only turned the ancient African fable on its head but also clearly had manifestations of the Biafran story embedded in it” (Achebe 2012:177). The recent suspension of two Abuja based journalists: Madina Azaki and Jibrin Babandace from the ‘Stakeholders Corner’ of NTA Tuesday Live programme for allegedly using the programme “to promote northern agenda” is another instance of one of the numerous regionally-connected problems confronting the Nigerian media.
From the foregoing, a keen observer will understand that prior to Nigerian independence; regional politics had established a firm grip on the country’s national fabric. The post-independent media were confronted with the dilemma of blowing their respective regional trumpets at the expense of national integration. The media had to navigate their ways through the dark labyrinths formed and held sway by some political elements whose advancements were tied to the apron string of regional solidarity. Therefore, there is an urgent need for the media to resort to a more radical approach in their campaign for national unity, especially at the moment when symptoms of total disintegration loom large in the horizon. It is one of such radical approaches deployed by Nigeria Home Video that is the subject of this study.
THE NIGERIA HOME VIDEO AND REGIONALISM
It is an error to assume that the Nigeria Home Video is insulated from regional sentimentality. The existence of Nollywood, Yoruba Nollywood and Kannywood (Hausa Home Video) is a justification to this fact. In distinguishing the three genres of Nigerian film, Mike Okunno explains thus:
The Northern or Arewa Movie is actuated by and played out against the backdrop of the dominant Islamic culture of the region...it draws a lot from the Indian film branch. The language of delivery is Hausa and even love scenes cannot be played out without concern for Islamic injunctions on relationship of the sexes. In other words, the cuddling and scenes that are regular fare in Lagos Nollywood are not tolerated in Kano Nollywood. Yoruba Nollywood on the other hand draws it following from Lagos and the West...the language of delivery is Yoruba and themes revolve around witchcraft, infidelity, family squabbles and petty jealousies... then comes the English Language Nollywood which...most people have in mind when they talk of Nollywood... (Etuk 2012:7-8).
The existence of regionally or culturally-based media, especially as it is the case in Nigeria Home Video is a plus to the nation. This is because of the role they play in serving the world audience with varieties of cultural diets, which are a subtle celebration of the nation’s strength that is founded upon its population and the pluralistic nature of its people. Conversely, they can also pose a serious threat to national unity when they are being hijacked by regional bigots.
Above all, the Nigeria Home Video, whether Nollywood, Yoruba Nollywood or Kannywood can only be of immense relevanceto the nation in the present dispensation when it avails itself for the campaign for national integration, thereby contributing its quota in ameliorating the problem of insecurity in the country.
REPOSITIONING THE NIGERIA HOME VIDEO FOR NATIONAL INTEGRATION
The campaign for national integration should among other things, be pursued by Nigerian home videos. Given its presence in most Nigerian homes, the Nigeria home video stands as a veritable tool for this purpose.
The concept of national integration presupposes an awareness of a common identity amongst the citizens of a country. National integration stresses the recognition of ‘oneness’ by the citizens of a given country, even though speaking different languages and belonging to different religions. It does away with inter-cultural, inter-linguistics, inter-religious and inter-cultural differences. It promotes a spirit of tolerance and respect for the view- point of other cultural groups.
Therefore, for Nigeria home video to live up to the expectation of promoting national integration, it must expand its frontier beyond regional borders as its obtainable at the moment. To achieve this, thematic preoccupations of Nigeria films should centre on issues of national concern. Actors and other members of the production crew should be drawn from all regions, or at least should not come from one region. By so doing, the Nigeria home video will provide a conducive platform for the synthesization of different ideas that are useful for the country’s development.
A PERSPECTIVE OF ‘KARANGIYA’
Karangiya is a Hausa film produced in 2012 by Usman Mu’azu and directed by Kenneth Gyang. The film recounts the story off Alhaji Tanko’s (acted by Rabilu Musa aka Dan Ibro) meteoric rise from a peasant member of his community in northern Nigeria to a wealthy womanizer takes into indiscriminate marriages that towards the end of the film, his senior wife Hajiya Babba (acted by Hadiza Mohammed) calls his attention that ‘Alhaji Kasan idan wannan ta shigo gidan nan, mata na talatin da takwas kenan ka aura?’ (That if he brings in the latest wife he’s planning to marry, the record of his wives will be thirty eight). But Tanko does not see anything wrong in that so far as he maintains only four at a time in his house. In a blatant misunderstanding of Islamic injunction, Tanko deems it right to divorce and remarry at will as long as he doesn’t exceed the required number of wives (four). In one of his usual outings with his aide Sangami (acted by Tijjani), Tanko stumbles into a young Igbo salesgirl called Chinyere (acted by Rahama Hassan) in a pharmacy where he goes to buy some drugs. He marries her but divorces her not so long later. Unknowingly to him, Chinyere leaves his house with a month old pregnancy which later gives birth to twins named Uche and Emeka, whose names are later changed to Talle and Mudi (acted by Chinedu Ikedieze and Osita Iheme aka Aki and Pawpaw) respectively. Alhaji Tanko’s nemesis begins to unfold with the return of his twins Talle and Mudi who mobilize their other siblings against their father’s tyrannical way of managing the house.
For instance, with the arrival of Talle and Mudi, the other children are enlightened against running away from their father whenever he returns home. Within a short period of time, Talle and Mudi become excruciating thorns on the flesh of Alhaji to the amusement of his wives. “To koga dai yara ba’a sakan su Alhaji” (It’s unfortunate that children can’t be divorced Alhaji) taunts Hajiya Babba.
The film ends with Alhaji on a sick bed in a critical condition having contacted HIV/AIDS from one of his erstwhile wife, in a manner that justifies the age-long proverb “the way you make your bed, so you will lie on it”. Alhaji sows the seed of immorality and makes a bountiful harvest of same.
FORCES OF UNITY IN THE FILM
The analysis of the film shall be done through “the unconscious rather than the conscious dimensions of text, all the things which its overt textuality glosses over or fails to recognize” (Barry 1992:71). It is also important to note that “A text can be read as saying something quite different from what it appears to be saying...it may be read as carrying a plurality of significance or as saying many different things which are fundamentally at variance with, contradictory to and subversive of what may be seen by criticism as a single “stable” meaning” (Cuddon :72).
The first conspicuous indicator of an effort at national integration in the film is the composition of cast and crew members who cut cross ethnic and religious divides. For example, the artistic partnership between Rabilu Musa (Dan Ibro) and the multiple award winning Nollywood duo Osita Iheme and Chinedu Ikedieze (Aki and Pawpaw) gives the film a true national colouration. The seeming impossibility of such a collaboration still leaves some people in doubt “I saw the poster of the film in Yola and picked interest in it, but some people dissuaded me from buying, arguing that the duo Aki and Pawpaw did not actually act the film together with Ibro, it was all a product of computer manipulation” said Ann Bala, a Nigeria home video enthusiast. In a country where its citizens’ history is shrouded in ageless hatred and mutual distrust of one group against the other, indeed the reconciliation between the sons of Ojukwu and those of Sardauna in the film appears like a fairy tale that will take some a decade to believe. Another glance through the names of some members of the production crew like Kenneth Gyang (Director), Ifeanyi Iloduba (Director of photography (DOP)), Ola Akinrowo (Editor), Jonathan Joseph (Sound man) and Ahmed Hashim (Executive producer) further prove the all embracive nature of the film.
Another important force of unity worthy of note in the film is subtitling. “Subtitling stimulates film literacy among local populations and various social groups.....the deaf hard-of-hearing are transported into the film world through intra-lingual and inter-lingual subtitling” (Agina 2012:62). In the film, Hausa language is predominantly used accompanied by a handful of expression in Igbo language (the Igbo village of scene), but English subtitling is used throughout the film, bridging the chains created by language barriers.
The remix of Nigeria pop song in the scene where Alhaji sings a song lamenting the stubbornness of Talle and Mudi is another glaring effort towards integrating the Nigerian youth into the world of the film. Though the lyrics are in Hausa language, the tune is that of a popular track ‘Danger’ by Nigeria’s popular singers Peter and Paul aka P . The presence of Alhaji, Talle and Mudi combine with the music to produce a unique cultural mosaic.
The choice of Abuja (not Kano as it is in most Hausa films) as the setting of the film is another integrating nature of the film. Even though it has now been turned into an Eldorado of the minority elite class, Abuja still symbolically stands as the ant hill of unity because it is the capital city of Nigeria.
Furthermore, the theme of women marginalization and exploitation explored in the film through the character of Alhaji and how he marries and divorces at will is another viable angle through which national integration is approached. “Thematic constructs have a way of fostering oneness and drawing out sympathy, and in a certain senses able segments of society or some marginalized strata, the tendency is to create some bonding between the disadvantaged group and viewers...” (Agina 2012:63). In the film therefore, the viewers sympathize with all the women that fall prey to Alhaji’s ignoble treatment.
There can never be national integration in a society where one of its section is marginalized based on gender or ethnic background. The film therefore recognizes this fact and captures the plight of women thereby giving them a voice also.
Other areas of our national life which the film frowns at in a subtle manner include religious fanaticism (scene 1), political thugs as we see in the youths that gather in Alhaji’s house to support his political campaign, where he assures them that “za ku sha wiwi! Za ku sha sholi....” (You will all continue to smoke weed and inhale solution!) and insatiable materialism.
The essence of this study is to call on the Nigerian media workers and stakeholders to embrace the culture of trans-regional collaboration in the design of radio and television programmes as it has been done in the case study film Karangiya for the purpose of enhancing national integration. The Nigeria home video should be encouraged by the government to produce films that have direct bearing to national unity. The media should begin to purge their contents of regionalism syndrome to be replaced by sincere emphasis on national integration. Objectivity should not be sacrificed for subjectivity especially in the discharge of the duties of media workers. When all these are put into consideration, it will indeed be another giant stride by the Nigerian media towards promoting national integration and combating the current challenges of insecurity.
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