Nigeria: Banned Hausa rapper uses internet for alternative distribution



Banned Hausa rapper uses internet for alternative distribution

Hausa rapper Ziriums satirical song ‘Girgiza Kai’ (Shake Your Head) was banned by the Kano State government. Instead, Ziriums uses online sites to distribute his songs, reported blogger Carmen McCain.

Ziriums has released his album ‘This is Me’ online. During a July 2009 film interview, Ziriums talked about the album he hoped to release and his struggle with censorship in Kano. Carmen McCain was given permission by the filmmakers to transcribe the interview and posted it on her blog:

Ziriums: “Maybe they are going to ban it as well, but I’m sure it is going to be on internet, my myspace address, my facebook address, and it is going to be on Bluetooth […] Bluetooth is the fastest way we use to spread our message. Because they will not air our songs on their radio stations. I can remember the time I finished ‘Girgiza Kai’, the one they banned. I took it to radio stations; they played it once, you know. From the censorship board, they wrote a letter to them, you should not play this song again, you understand? And they stopped airing it. And from that day, no one aired my song again and later now they banned it.

I think Bluetooth helps us a lot because I can put it on my phone. My friend will listen to it and say oh give me and I’ll push it to him. Then through that, it will go all over, all over, not even Nigeria, not even Kano, not even Nigeria, itself. It can go anywhere. Because now if I put it in your handset you carry it to the US. […] I’m going to release my album. I’m working on it. And when I finish it, maybe probably it is going to be sold in Kano. We’ll see how I will go behind the national constitution. I’ll go there and stand and use it. Because I am a Nigerian as well. Since Timaya and P-Square can sell their album in Kano, why not I? Why? Why can my album cannot be sold in Kano? I must censor it? Who said so? I will not do that.

I’m looking at myself as Timaya and P-Square and any damn artist in the country. I’m looking at myself as the same thing as them. We don’t have any differences. The only difference is that they have their albums outside. People know them. You understand? They have the opportunity that we couldn’t get. If I have the opportunity or the chance they have, I could have reached or I could have passed their level. So my album is going to be sold in Kano insha Allah. With censors or without censors.”

About Ziriums
Having started his musical career in Kano, collaborating with Hausa entertainers like Adam Zango, Abbas Sadiq, Billy-O, Alfazazi, Osama bin Music, and others, Ziriums was featured on CNN in August 2008.

Ziriums moved to Abuja in 2009, where he collaborated with Abuja-based musicians Yoye, S. Solar, T-Rex, and others. His contribution to S. Solar and T-Rex’s song “Government Money” helped turn a Nigerian version of Busta-Rhymes “Arab Money” into, what Carmen McCain argues is a subversive piece that critiques the corrupt money-obsessed culture of Abuja.

Ziriums has performed at the pre-parlour music festival in Niamey, Niger, at Kano’s British council, at Ceddi Plaza in Abuja, and the Savannah International Movie awards, as well as other locations. He is also featured in Saman Piracha and Alex Johnson’s upcoming documentary Recording a Revolution.

To learn more about Ziriums, visit Ziriums’ myspace page.
Two of his music videos can also be watched at his youtube channel. He also has a Facebook fan page.


Click to read more about music in Nigeria


Carmen McCain’s blog – 7 September 2010:

‘Hausa rapper Ziriums releases album “This is Me” and music video single online. Lyrics included here’

Go to top
Related reading on

The government went on to commission several other musicians to record music albums promoting its policies. They included Nhaka Yedu by the Air Force of Zimbabwe Band; Rangarirai by Peter Majoni; Hoko by Simon Chimbetu and; Tongogara and More Fire by Andy Brown. These albums received excessive airplay on radio and television which led to several other musicians, who without being commissioned by government began to record favorable songs so as to capitalize on this need, and in the process receive airplay. Others like Brown were awarded with funds by government to build a recording studio with the rest awarded contracts to play at state functions and major national events.

Television and Radio Campaign Jingles
Apart from recording music albums, government had other ideas for television and radio. It began to record and release a series of Chave Chimurenga (its now war) music campaign jingles.
By September 2004, there were several music jingle titles dominating the airwaves and they included Kwedu Kumachembere, Sisonke, Our Future, Siyalima, Mombe Mbiri Nemadhongi Mashanu, Uya Uone Kutapira Kunoita Kurima, Rambai Makashinga, Sendekera Mwana Wevhu and Zesa Yauya neMagetsi. Save for Zesa Yauya neMagetsi which centers on the rural electrification programme, the rest of the music jingles promote farming and the land redistribution programme.

Before the launch of the music jingles, government terminated television and radio advertisements contracts for private companies saying it was the corporation’s new programming policy.
The termination of these contracts was facilitated so as to create space for the new music jingles which were to occupy all prime time slots on both radio and television. The music jingles are played every time before and after the hourly news bulletins on all four radio stations, and the sole television channel. To many listeners and viewers, the music jingles are irritating as they dominate all programming, exhorting all viewers and listeners to the land issue.

Munyaradzi Hwengwere, the then Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) chief executive until 2003 defended the Chave Chimurenga music jingles saying they “were not propaganda material but advertising, paid and initiated by government and it would be a crime for the national broadcaster to limit people’s freedom, ideas and creativity”. An estimate made in 2003 for one Chave Chimurenga music jingle titled Rambai Makashinga showed that for radio (four stations) it was being played approximately 288 times a day, which amounts to 8 640 times per month. On television the advert was flighted approximately 72 times a day, which amounts to 2 160 times a month.

Zimbabwean poet and musician Chirikure Chirikure said the music jingles were shallow, poorly targeted and a waste of state funds. “I have seen people switching off their radios when these music jingles play. They are insulting,” says Chirikure adding that instead the government should be promoting national policies.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Zimbabwe Charter says the Chave Chimurenga music campaign jingles were discriminatory in their use of language and derogatory of those with dissenting views. “The music jingles in fact violate norms governing language use, especially in an African context. The music jingles violate the expectations of viewers and affect receptivity hence the outcry by listeners and viewers.”

Government Control of Radio and Television
And in ignoring calls to liberalise the airwaves so as to open the doors for independent players who can broadcast the so called “politically incorrect” songs, government has made sure that such compositions are never heard by the majority of Zimbabweans who rely on radio and television as their source of entertainment and information.
Zimbabwe, apart from Swaziland is the only country in the region whose electronic media is directly under the control of government. There are four radio stations and one television channel in Zimbabwe.

By controlling radio which is easily accessible to the majority of the 13 million Zimbabweans, government has managed to censor and control music content on the airwaves.
While the government has silently blacklisted songs by outspoken musicians that mysteriously disappear from the airwaves, it has also muted a programme in which it is recording music that replaces the “banned” songs. The participation of cabinet ministers (and Moyo in particular who is charge of the electronic media) in the music productions was itself a clear message to all radio Disc Jockeys (Djs) and presenters that they had to favourably play the series’ releases regardless of their popularity with listeners. It was also a clear message that those songs which were against government policies had to be done away with. At Radio Zimbabwe, the most listened to station which broadcast in Zimbabwe’s two main languages of Shona and Ndebele, management issued presenters with continuity sheets which spelt all programming for various shifts and what time to play particular music productions. The continuity sheets became the daily instruction manual for presenters.

Popular Radio Zimbabwe presenter and producer Eric Knight who had worked for the radio station for more than 12 years fled the country in 2003 for the United Kingdom citing fear for his life after he refused to play songs from the government sponsored productions. He alleges that his friends from the army, police and Central Intelligence Organisation advised him to flee from the country as his life was in danger.
“My only sin was refusing to be a yes man. I and my other colleagues who also left Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) were labeled opposition Movement for Democratic Change political party supporters. I personally refused to play the album Hondo Yeminda on air. “I joined ZBC as a broadcaster and not as a politician. There was lots of ‘rubbish’ that we were required to broadcast but I resisted,” Knight said in an article he wrote for Zimbabwe’s banned independent daily newspaper Daily News while in the United Kingdom.
Brenda Moyo, a presenter who had worked for Radio Zimbabwe for more than 18 years was struck-off the station’s register after she played two black listed songs. She left the country and is now based overseas. Brenda Moyo had played Black Roots song Jongwe (the ruling Zanu PF party symbol of a cock) and Portia Gwanzura’s song Zvinhu Zvanetsa (things are difficult). These songs had been black listed and banned from radio because of their focus on the political gridlock and economic hardships prevailing in Zimbabwe. In Jongwe, the singer calls for the killing and cooking of the cock while in Zvinhu Zvanetsa, the musician talks about the tough economic situation that Zimbabweans face everyday. After the alleged ban of her song Zvinhu Zvanetsa, musician Portia Gwanzura relocated to the United Kingdom in fear of her life.

Andy Brown
Andy Brown – paid by the government