Monday, June 05, 2006

Kano, Monday, May 6, 2:20am, Living with filmmakers

I'm not quite sure why Jos, Plateau State is still showing up on my blog, since I've been trying to change it to Kano since last week. At any rate, I am now in Kano, currently typing on my hostesses laptop since mine has not yet been configured for the dial-up access we have from 11pm-6am.

This will be brief, as I do intend to sleep tonight, but I seem to have landed (to use Louisiana English for a minute) smack dab in the middle of Hausa writers/film community--my first few days have exceeded all expectation. I spent most of the day Saturday and Sunday with Ado Ahmad Gidan Dabino, the author of the bestselling In da So da Kauna and current chairman of the Association of Nigerian Authors, Kano chapter, who I met last year and wrote a paper on (the paper on In da So da Kauna, not him--too tired to figure out how to phrase that properly). And I am living with several film practioners. (A fascinating subculture that I'm not quite sure what to make of yet--it's quite urban and different from any of my other experiences in this country.) In fact, as usual, everything seems to be moving a little bit too fast for my comfort (I like to take my time and research everything extensively ahead of time, but I seem to always be plunged straight into the action, knowing very little, learnig on the run--kind of like getting the West Africa Research Association pre-dissertation fellowship for this summer--it was just a trial run application, but since I got it this year, I plunge ahead, hoping that I don't humiliate myself too badly discussing things I know so little about. I keep trying to remind people, I am a student, I am here to learn, I know so little...)

At times like this, I wrote in my journal today "sometimes the way things happen, you have to rise to the occasion," like my hostess Zainab sitting on my bed this afternoon and dialling up any number of Hausa film stars (and I mean THE biggest stars) Ali Nuhu, Sani Musa Danja, Saratu Gidado, Ishaq Sidi (and so on)telling them there was a researcher from America here who wanted to meet them and then handing me the phone. I did not tell her that I have had a lifelong phobia of phones. That I used to sit at my editing job in New York and give myself a ten minute pep talk before picking up the phone and dialling some free lance factchecker or illustrator that we wanted to offer a job. That all these phone numbers I am collecting here (including that of Sadiq Balewa whose film Kasar Mu Ce, I helped teach last semester in the class Hausa Verbal Arts in Translation that I TAed for) fill me with dread. I must take advantage of this contact info while I am here,of course, but I'm panicked at the thought of just picking up a phone and cold calling someone like that, especially people whose busy fame sort of echoes out of their voices over the phone. (I probably should not be writing this on my blog--so as to maintain the appearance of unflustered and professional preparation--but I'm going to post this anyway.) After that series of heart-pounding brief conversations, I sat down and wrote a series of questions in Hausa to have on hand should I find myself suddenly and unexpectedly interviewing some actor/director/screenwriter/producer/writer that I run into. My next job is to prepare individualized questions for each person Zainab called today. The next few days will be a flurry of cramming.

Anyway, so, yeah, things are going far better than expected thus far, except that my Hausa is completey disappointing me--I can't manage it in these cold calls--although I was speaking fine Hausa to friends who called me up in Madison a few months ago in Madison. Hopefully that is just the transition stage and the anxiety of the new, and surely it will improve as I become more comfortable here. Everyone is so very nice.

More photos, excerpts from interviews etc. when I get my own computer configured for the internet. For now, I must get offline and go to bed.


Anonymous said...

hi, how are you i want to ask you some stuff about the movie stars because i m from niger but now i m in the usa and i love hausa movies, here is my e-mail please write me

Talatu-Carmen said...

I'd be happy to answer any questions, but I'm really no expert. A great site for learning more about Hausa movies and movie stars is

all the best