Nigeria: Actor jailed for releasing an uncensored music video

9 April 2008
The actor Adam A. Zango was imprisoned for producing and releasing an uncensored hip-hop video. The incident was a part of the ongoing crisis within the Kannywood film industry in northern Nigeria.

Article by: Kristina Funkeson, Freemuse


According to an article in Weekly Trust, Zango was the first actor to end up in prison for violating the new restrictions of the Kano State Censorship Board. On the 18 September 2007, Zango was in court – accused of violating two aspects of the Kano State Censorship Board’s law: producing and releasing an uncensored music video album.

Portraying nudity

Zango’s uncensored music video album ‘Bahaushiya’ contained six songs. One of the songs was said to have portrayed nudity, writes the Weekly Trust. The music video was created during the period of the Kano state government’s ban on Hausa film production. Zango is said to have travelled to Lagos state to release the album there and later brought marketing copies to Kano.

According to the executive secretary of the Censorship Board, interviewed by the Weekly Trust, Zango’s crime consisted of:
1. not presenting the video to the Censorship Board before it was released
2. marketing the album in Kano despite the ban imposed on the film industry

The executive secretary further explained that “the type of dressing and dancing portrayed in one of the videos contravened the teachings of Islam and Hausa culture as well, adding that the dressing in the video portrayed nudity to a certain degree”, writes the Weekly Trust.

Trial and punishment
Weekly Trust reports that during the trial there was an intense discussion between Zango’s lawyers and the one representing the Censorship Board. After that Zango confessed to being guilty of the two charges.

Zango was sentenced to three months of imprisonment without option or fine on the first charge, and another three months of imprisonment or a fine of 100,000 Naira (about 850 US dollars) on the second charge.

The spokesperson from the Censorship Board announced that any artist violating the law will be prosecuted. “We are determined to sanitise the industry despite the hardship we are going to face”, he told the Weekly Trust.

Leaving the region
According to Leadership Nigeria, Zango fled to Kaduna with his wife, son and mother upon his release from prison. He is just one of many artists who have left the region due to aggressions and the risk of being prosecuted and going to jail. Another reason for artists leaving the region is of course that the new restrictions make it impossible for them to work.

A spokesperson of the Home-Alone Hausa Film Production company told the Daily News: “The prosecution of Adam is a clear indication that the state government is tired of Hausa film artists in the state.”

New restrictions

Freemuse has previously reported about the suspension of film production and the ban of singing in the Kannywood film industry in the Kano state. According to an article in iAfrica, the suspension ended in March 2008, but was followed by 32 new restrictions that practically make film production impossible.

One of the restrictions that are doing most damage to the Kannywood film industry is the ban on singing and dancing. This is a part of a new approach adopted by the new management of the Kano State Censorship Board, in order to ‘sanitise’ the film industry.





Nigeria is well known for its “Nollywood” film industry in the southern parts of the country – producing about 200 films a month in English as well as the local Yoruba and Igbu languages.

The “Kannywood” industry in the north is even bigger, but less known since it’s only accessible to people speaking the Hausa language.

Kannywood started up in 1992 and is today employing over 14,000 people.


‘Nigeria: Kano state bans all films from carrying music’


Leadership – March 2008:

‘The War Against Film-making’ – 3 March 2008:

‘Kannywood hurt by sex scandal’

Daily Trust/ – 3 November 2008:

‘Exodus of Artistes Hits Kannywood despite Peace Parley with KNSG’

Weekly Trust/ – 1 october 2007:

‘How Adam A. Zango Ended Up in Prison’

Home / News / Nigeria: Actor jailed for releasing an uncensored music video