Saturday, September 30, 2006

Hausa film series notice

The Hausa language group will be starting a Hausa film series starting this coming Monday. We will be meeting every Monday (exceptfor October 16) in VH 579 from 6-8:30pm for the rest of the semester. Many of the films we will be showing are subtitled and are appropriate for a non-Hausa speaking audience. If you are interested in getting an idea of the Hausa language aspect of the Nigerian video-film phenomenon, which is quite different aesthetically and thematically from Nigerian films produced in English, feel free to stop into VH 579 any Monday evening. If you'd like to be put on the email list for updates on what we will be watching, send me an email.

The theme for October will be representations of HIV in Hausa film. We will be starting this Monday (October 2) with the first part of the three part series Jan Kunne, directed by and starring the controversial Sani Musa Danja. The film, which was featured in the Wall Street Journal a few years ago, tells the story of a love triangle between the rakish university student Babangida, the virtuous secondary school student Jamila that he is in love with, and the poor street hawker Mariya, who is in love with him. When HIV/AIDS enters their lives, they are forced to make difficult decisions which lead to unexpected joys.

After finishing Jan Kunne, we will watch Waraka (the Cure) on October 30. This film explores the impact of HIV/AIDS in a more rural setting. Waraka won an award from the Kano State Censorship Board (!) for its carefully researched representation of rural life. Both films are subtitled in English. The schedule for October is as follows:

Oktoba 2: Jan Kunne 1
Oktoba 9: Jan Kunne 2
Oktoba 16: a break
Oktoba 23: Jan Kunne 3
Oktoba 30: Waraka

Jan Kunne 1,2,3. Dir. Sani Musa Danja. Kano: 2 Effects Empire,
Waraka. Dir. Bala Anas Babinlata. Kano: Klassique Films, 2005.

Please feel free to pass this message on to anyone else you think might be interested. Hope to see some of you there! If you can't make it for one or two parts of the series, the films can also stand alone. I will explain what happened in the other parts before we begin each film.


Texter said...

Hi, I would come if I were in your city!
Just curious: waraka, in arabic, at least with a certain pronunciation, would mean paper... does it have any connection to that meaning in hausa?

Talatu-Carmen said...

An interesting question. I've always understood "waraka" as meaning a "cure." But when I looked it up in Abraham's dictionary to answer your question, it says "waraka" is a verb which mans "understood." Abraham lists an example as "Na sami waraka" -- "I understand." (Literally something like "I've found the answer/understanding [perhaps "cure" to my need to know?]") In the context of the film, this is quite interesting because the film addresses the Q'uranic verse that says that "there is no disease without a cure" often cited by people who don't believe that HIV exists. I've seen the film once and I need to watch it again before I can make any interpretations, but the producer Dr. Ahmad Sarari told me that his goal was to address this verse in several ways 1) There is no disease without a cure; however, there may be a disease for which a cure has not yet been found. 2) The ultimate cure for any disease and the maladies of life is "aljanna" or heaven.


So, the film ends with a verse (possibly this same verse that the doubters use--i wish i spoke arabic...) from the Q'uran being sung as the girl with HIV is lowered into the earth. In this case the "warke" (cure) is very much tied to the "waraka" understanding of this verse. In a way, this is the answer to the question of how God could allow such a disease: in death there is an understanding of or answer to the trials on earth.

To continue with the meanings of words. "Warke" is a verb that means "recovered from illness" or "cured" etc. "Warka" is a noun that means "leaf of tree or book" or "sheet of paper," and Abraham does say that it comes from Arabic.

Now, I wish I were a bit more of a linguist than I am, because there seems to be a really interesting relationship between them. Understanding/recovery/leaf of book. I wonder if it could have something to do with rubutun sha, the idea of drinking the chalk from the slate on which a verse from the Q'uran is written to heal some malady. The malam (teacher)also being a spiritual physician as well. This metaphorical linkage of understanding, with words, with recovery. A fascinating concept.

Thanks for the question. It gives a lot to think about. I love this conversation we're having because it's giving me all the rough brainstorms with which to start my conference paper.

And on the idea of the NGO that we were discussing earlier. The NGO impulse is definitely a part of this film. The producer told me that he applied for funds from USAID and others to take a small generator and projector to show the film in villages and other rural areas to help with HIV education. He didn't get the grant--probably because the way HIV is concieved (the idea of finding an answer in death rather than life) doesn't really fit what most NGOs are trying to do. The film departs from that agenda in other ways as well, while addressing concerns that are also relevant to the local community. People often told me that they thought the advertisments on how HIV is spread focused too much on sex--that of course HIV was spread through sex, but because of the focus on it, people weren't willing to come out and admit that they had it because of the stigma that surrounded it. Because of that, they argued the other aspects like passing through blood etc. should be emphasized more. To that end, this film has the main charachter, a young girl, getting HIV by getting cut on a glass broken and bloodied by her brother while cleaning up after him. (He had gotten HIV by visiting a prostitute).

Once again, this highlights the idea of bringing a threatening symbol of behaviour not sanctioned by society into the sacred space of the home. It's problematic in many ways, yet continues a certain conversation about modernity/tradition/gender that has been going on for a while.

Texter said...

Hi again, This is all very interesting, and I've enjoyed the conversation as well... it reminds me of the best of being in academe. Good luck with your paper writing... To comment back to your comment on the other post, I think you are right to focus on your primary texts (the films) .. the secondary reading can come in time. I'm sure you can brainstorm alot of original ideas just by close reading and interpreting the films. FYI, another secondary text, though are those by Paul Farmer, MD, Phd, who writes about health and poverty (AIDS in Haiti, etc), issues of causation etc. Might be helpful to you in time... Oh, and how are you feeling (strep?) Hope you feel better...

Texter said...

p.s. forgot to say that, yes, I think there may be fruitful connections between "waraka" as "cure" and as paper, or knowledge, or text or...????? I am grooving on the idea of recovery (or healing? or wholeness) linked to words. lots there to think about.