Sunday, October 28, 2007

Shari'a Court bans satirical play in Kaduna

Shehu Sani's satirical play on the political misuse of shari'a, The Phantom Crescent, has been banned from being performed or circulated by the Kaduna upper shari'a court. According to Shehu Sani the recent "Hiyana" scandal "became an excuse for a new onslaught against artists," spreading out from the ban on film and harsher restrictions on novels to the ban on his play in Kaduna. See the article here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

3:40am: Why I love Hausa films

It is 3:40am, and I am cutting, cutting, cutting extra words out of a fellowship proposal that is too verbose and too vague, and too BS-y, which is a shame because I know this stuff really well. It's just hard to say when you have to put all the details of research methods, background, argument in 10 pages, when you haven't quite ironed out your dissertation proposal yet.

So, this post is just to say why I love Hausa films. I love Hausa films because I can click on my you tube clips at 3:40am when I am stressed out of my mind and they make me smile. Yes, the editing is corny, and there are mispellings in the subtitles, and the melodrama is sometimes over the top, Yes, they make me laugh here in on my hard chair at 3:45am. But I also love them because there are beautiful compositions, and fast, obsessive, editing, and strong colour motifs that run through the trailers. I love them because the music is so obsessive that I listen to it minimized as I write, and the deep focus shots and the stop motion dances are so mesmerizing that I have to go back and watch the whole thing over again. At 3:46, when I'm stressed because I've overphilosophized my project, I go back to the concrete videos and know I have to keep on, because it is my opportunity to work with artists who make a living from their art. And no matter how denigrated they are, they'll figure out a way to make it work, insha Allah.

No, I don't like censorship, but in some ways, the adaptations people come up with because of censorship makes more creative products. I've been watching early Hollywood pictures that couldn't show violence so came up with creative off-screen sound. I think it will work the same for the Hausa films.

But, oh, I mourn those brilliant song and dances. I hope that the ban on those is lifted--because they encapsulate so much sheer creativity on so many different levels and are at the very heart of what I want to write about.

Because I love it. That's why I'm up at this time, and why I'm in this cold place, stressed out all the time. Because I love it.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

cherish the day

Sade makes me lonely. I sit on a hard wooden chair in front of a blinking computer screen. I have been putting off this grant application all weekend. I have gone through half of the anthology of Hausa film essays. I have reread my own past grant applications and those my friends have sent me. I have brainstormed on paper. I have rethought my entire project 10 times. This morning, I went to a one hour mass at the Catholic Church down the street and then came back to lay in my bed, warm under a down comforter. The rain fell outside and the air from the open window was sharp on my face. The radiators clanked and creaked. I lay in bed making myself write the proposal in my head, dream the proposal. I wake to the phone ringing. It is my mother together with my brother, who is back in Nigeria on a preliminary documentary project. We chat until they are interrupted by a Skype from my Dad calling from Khartoum. I eat a quarter bag of chips and salsa at the kitchen table, trying to write down in a notebook the proposal I had dreamed. When I finally go to the other room and lift the screen and try to write, it is dark outside. I watch 20 minutes of the screensaver, my life in photos: weddings, other people’s children, my pregnant cousin, stills from Hausa films and an old black and white German vampire film, graduations, parties, conferences, famous African writers, unflattering close-ups of people I don’t know, and my own solitary self portraits in teapots and distant mirrors. Sade sings a mournful Hallelujah. I tap on the keyboard to face the march of words again.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Barka da sallah!!

To my Muslim Friends,

Barka da sallah! Happy Eid Al-Fitr!! Allah ya ba da albarka!


(and in other news I went to a Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie reading and panel discussion tonight, and RANDOMLY bumped into a woman who had been two years ahead of me in high school. She comes up to me and says... you look so familiar... and so we go quickly down fourteen years of life history, where we had overlapped in certain places but not met, till we got to high school in nigeria and that was where it was... what a lovely small world it is...)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Albashi 2 trailer

Today I called my friend Abbas Sadiq, the intense, one-of-a-kind-dressing Hausa actor and director, to see how he is doing during this suspension of the Hausa film industry. "Babu aiki, wallahi," he told me. "kawai muna jira..."

So, one of the things that upsets me so much about the Hausa film wahalla is that thousands of people are out of work. How exactly are they supposed to live now...? And when the suspension is finally lifted will anyone have any money left to make films?

And the dancing and singing has been banned as well (See Ba Haushe Mai Ban Haushi's post on the new censorship guidelines). Wallahi, ina so in kuka da na tunani a kansa."

Not being able to do anything about it really, other than write and rant, I spend the afternoon that I was supposed to be spending writing a grant application, uploading singing and dancing numbers to You Tube....

So, here's the trailer for Abbas Sadiq's Albashi 2, the sequel to Albashi (salary) that I wrote my big paper on that I've given at so many conferences. How can they ban this wonderfully creative dancing and singing? How? Kash! Wayyo! Kaico!