|Kano state recently banned all films from carrying music, wrote Elizabeth Dickinson from Kaduna on 28 October 2007.
According to an article by Elizabeth Dickinson about a theatre play which has been banned by what the calls ‘the Hisbah Commission’, this ban on the play and a following court case, as well as the ban on music in films, are just examples of what she terms ‘a new clampdown on artists in the Sharia states’ in Northern Nigeria.
Several Nigerian newspapers report that Kano State Film and Video Censors Board has suspended all film production activities in the state for six months.
At first the board imposed a three-month suspension after a sex video clip of a popular actress, Maryam Hiyana, went public. The Kano State Film and Video Censors Board then extended the suspension from three to six months, effective from 13 August 2007 to 21 February 2008, and it reeled out new restrictive measures to check the film industry which has gained a reputation for what Nigerians term as “song and dance sexuality films”. The state-owned film regulatory organ banned the actress Maryam Hiyana from appearing in any film for five years.
Artist ‘exodus’ from Kannywood
Kano is a busy centre for the production of films in the Hausa language which is spoken in northen Nigeria. Isma’il Muhammad Na’abba, chairman of the production company Unique Ventures, told the Nigerian Weekend Magazine that presently over 150,000 people are benefiting from the Hausa film industry in Kano which among Nigerians, for the same reason, is often referred to as ‘Kannywood’. According to him the suspension will cause a massive exodus of artists from the state.
The Executive Secretary of the Kano State Censorship board, Ustaz Abdulkarim Abubakar Rabo told Weekend Magazine that the expected mass exodus of the artistes from the state would not make government to reverse its earlier decision.
Singing and dancing
Women in Kano State were banned from riding in the same buses as men in July 2005, and from riding behind men on motorcycles. The Islamic Sharia law is enforced by a 9,000-strong religious police force, called ‘Hisbah’ – ‘the Islamic law enforcers’ – with the power to fine people who ignore the new rules. State governor Ibrahim Shekarau launched the implementation of the new law about separation of the sexes in buses in front of 10,000 chanting supporters at a ceremony at Kano city stadium in 2005.
“Our aim is to be at the forefront of conducting our activities decently and to protect Allah’s Sharia,” Ibrahim Shekarau said.