Nigeria: 11 songs banned by Kano State Censorship Board 




11 songs banned by Kano State Censorship Board

A Kano chief magistrate has banned listening, sale and circulation of 11 Hausa songs, described as obscene, confrontational and immoral.

Chief magistrate Muhtari Ahmed who presides over a mobile court attached to the Kano State Censorship Board said the court is going to prosecute anyone found circulating the songs. According to him, selling the songs, playing them, and downloading them by any means are also banned.

The songs, which the presiding judge now officially has banned, are:

    ‘Oyoyo’ — by Adam A. Zango
    ‘Hasbunallahu’ — by Ala
    ‘Gari Ya Yi Zafi’
    ‘Girgiza Kai (Master)’ — by Nazir Hausawa
    ‘Kowa Yaci Ubansa/Uwarsa’
    ‘Martani’ — by Billy O
    ‘Sankarau’ — by Ibro
    ‘Sauka a Babur’ — by Ibro
    ‘Wayyo Kaicho’

Chief Magistrate Muhtari Ahmed said the order was issued by the court in accordance with Section 97 of the State Censorship Board Law of 2001 and the Cinematography and Licensing Regulation of the same year.

Ahmed explained that by the provision of the said sections of the law, any person who for the purpose of or by way of trade, makes produces or has in his possession blasphemous, pornographic or obscene writing or object that will corrupt public morale can be charged under the law, among others.

Critiques the government
None of the songs apparently attack Islam or Shari’a — they are banned because of a perceived contradiction between the application of Shari’a
 laws in popular culture and lack of enforcement of those same Shari’a laws.

Carmen McCain, a PhD candidate in the Department of African Languages and Literature at the University of Wisconsin, Madison who is currently doing a dissertation research on Hausa films in Kano, Nigeria, notes that “most of these songs are subtly or directly critiquing the censorship board and/or Kano State government, many of them based on the experiences of the musicians. For example Adam A. Zango’s song ‘Oyoyo’ critiques the government of Kano State for imprisoning him. ”

Journalist Abdulaziz Ahmad Abdulaziz published an analysis in his blog in February 2009 where he tells that Zango (also known as Usher) was arrested, trialed and detained in jail for releasing the album ‘Bahaushiya’ which was considered too erotic and disrespectful of Hausa cultural values. “Ever since his arrest, it is rumored that the hitherto artist of modest profile has his fame risen to unpredictable level. Unconfirmed accounts have it that Zango’s Bahaushiya has sold in thousands and even smuggled to Kano where it was initially banned,” writes Abdulaziz.

After his release, Adam A. Zango left Kano for Kaduna, his hometown.

Skewers the Kano State government
Ibro’s song entitled ‘Sankarau’ uses metaphoric language to skewer the Kano State government for imprisoning him.

In a conversation Carmen McCain had with Nazir Hausawa about his song ‘Girgiza Kai’ in February 2009, he explained that his purpose in the song was to point out the hypocrisy of critics by juxtaposing the “work” musicians are doing with “real social ills.”

He uses a proverb at the beginning of his song:

    Mai dokar bacci, ya bige da gyangyed’i.
    (The one who says sleep is against the law is the one nodding off)

Carmen McCain asks: Is it actually legal to ban listening to something in the privacy of one’s own home, as long as one does not distribute or sell it? Constitutionally or under shari’a law?


Carmen McCain (A Tunanina… blog) – 8 June 2009:

‘Mobile Court bans listening to 11 Hausa songs’

Kano State Censorship Board:

Abdulaziz Ahmad Abdulaziz’s blog – 14 February 2009:

‘Review of Adam Zango’s Satire on Censorship and his Incarceration’

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