Friday, December 18, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

We deleted all the controversial passages

I have been on a book-buying binge the last few days, buying mostly books on Islam, including a Hausa/Arabic Qur'an.

So, tonight, just as NEPA comes back, I crack open one of my most recent purchases, Stories of the Prophets by Imam Ibn Kathir and translated by Sheikh Muhammad Mustapha Gemeiah, office of the Grand Imam Sheikh Al-Azar.

And this is what I read in the translator's note:

"All those Mulsims who speak English as their native language have been, for decades longing for such a work in English, to share in the refutation of all the false accusations and doubts about the infallibility of the prophets and messengers of Allah which some writers raise.

We have elected to simplify the translation to suit the foreign reader. We deleted all the controversial passages; therefore, this text covers most of the important points which are relevant today."

Noooooo..... Nothing strikes gloom in my heart like a statement like this. What controversial passages? What were they? What suits the foreign reader? What are the most important points which are relevant today? So... frustrating...

Monday, November 16, 2009


This is a series of readings I have done today, from first reading the chapters around yesterday’s Psalm (much needed reminder that sweet passionate David, the man “after God’s own heart” was as human and fallible as me)---then free associating as my memory leads to other sacred texts, hymns and prayers from the Anglican, Methodist, Catholic and Greek Orthodox tradition. In the middle, I re-read C.S. Lewis’s perfect little spiritual-novel The Great Divorce, which I have to read at least once a year to revive my imagination and remind me of why I have the faith that I do.

Psalm 143

A Psalm of David

O Lord, hear my prayer,

Listen to my cry for mercy;

In your faithfulness and righteousness

come to my relief.

Do not bring your servant into judgment,

for no one living is righteous before you.

The enemy pursues me,

he crushes me to the ground;

he makes me dwell in darkness

like those long dead.

So my spirit grows faint within me;

my heart within me is dismayed.

I remember the days of long ago;

I meditate on all your works

And consider what your hands have done.

I spread out my hands to you;

my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.


Answer me quickly, O Lord;

my spirit fails.

Do not hide your face from me

or I will be like those who go down to the pit.

Let the morning bring me word of your

unfailing love,

for I have put my trust in you.

Show me the way I should go,

for to you I lift up my soul.

Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord,

for I hide myself in you.

Teach me to do your will,

for you are my God;

may your good Spirit

lead me on level ground.

For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life;

in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.

In your unfailing love, silence my enemies;

destroy all my foes,

for I am your servant.


Come thou Fount of Every Blessing

Robert Robinson, 1758

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

Psalm 139

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

O Lord you have searched me

and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise;

you perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down;

you are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue

you know it completely, O Lord.

You hem me in—behind and before;

you have laid your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me,

your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me

and the light becomes night around me,”

even the darkness will not be dark to you;

the night will shine like the day,

for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being;

you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and

wonderfully made;

Your works are wonderful,

I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you

when I was made in the secret place.

When I was woven together in the depths

of the earth,

your eyes saw my unformed body.

All the days ordained for me

were written in your book

before one of them came to be.

How precious to me are your thoughts,

O God!

How vast is the sum of them!

Were I to count them,

they would outnumber the grains of sand.

When I awake,

I am still with you.

If only you would slay the wicked, O God!

Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!

They speak of you with evil intent;

your adversaries misuse your name.

Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord,

and abhor those who rise up against you?

I have nothing but hatred for them;

I count them my enemies.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me,

and lead me in the way everlasting.


Most merciful God,

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

we confess that we have sinned

in thought, word and deed.

We have not loved you with our whole heart.

We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.

In your mercy

forgive what we have been,

help us to amend what we are,

and direct what we shall be;

that we may do justly,

love mercy,

and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.

May the God of love and power

forgive you and free you from your sins,

heal and strengthen you by his Spirit,

and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.

Anglican Prayers of the People

I Corinthians 12:31- 13

Of Saint Paul:

And now I will show you the most excellent way.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.


So often we speak of love as an attribute, a characteristic. And it is, but it is more. It is also the very Nature of God. We long to love, and in that longing, we long for God. For he is Love.

From I John 4

Of Saint John

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loves us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

I John4:7-12

“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. “

I John 4:16b-18


Charles Wesley, 1747

“Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”

Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heaven to earth come down;
Fix in us thy humble dwelling;
All thy faithful mercies crown!
Jesus, Thou art all compassion,
Pure unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation;
Enter every trembling heart.

Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit,
Into every troubled breast!
Let us all in Thee inherit;
Let us find that second rest.
Take away our bent to sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
End of faith, as its Beginning,
Set our hearts at liberty.

Come, Almighty to deliver,
Let us all Thy life receive;
Suddenly return and never,
Never more Thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
Serve Thee as Thy hosts above,
Pray and praise Thee without ceasing,
Glory in Thy perfect love.

Finish, then, Thy new creation;
Pure and spotless let us be.
Let us see Thy great salvation
Perfectly restored in Thee;
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before Thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise.

Lord, have mercy.

Christ have mercy.

Lord have mercy.

Glory to God in the highest,

Glory to God in the highest

and peace to his people on earth.

Lord God, heavenly King,

almighty God and Father,

we worship you, we give you thanks,

we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,

Lord God, Lamb of God,

you take away the sin of the world:

have mercy on us;

you are seated at the right hand of the Father:

receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One,

you alone are the Lord,

you alone are the Most High,

Jesus Christ,

with the Holy Spirit,

in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

We are Africans Remix- JJC

And one more bit of fabulosity!! We are Africans, aaa-ooo!!

Jesse Jagz - Pump It Up

My current music video obsession--love the rhythm and flow of this... Up, up, J-town...

To buy the album from which this track comes, Jag of All Tradez, click below:

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Interview with Helon Habila at Pambazuka News

Last week I had the privilege to finally meet Helon Habila in person (at George Mason University), after many years of reading his work and communicating by email. He was a gracious host, and it was delightful to hear about his most recent projects.


One of my favourite Hausa songs sung by Abdurrahmane Ayuba (Golden Goose) and used here in the film Hawayena directed by Mansoor Saddiq and produced by Tijjani Asase.

A besotted Adam A. Zango gives the oblivious Kubra Dako his song of love to read...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


October 5
My sun is gone and I am cold and gray

October 6
And after the sun leaves, there are the long dark walks. The sharp wind carries away all thought, and I am cold and clean and empty.

October 13
I walk again in the dark--skin pricked with cold, yet I am warm. What is lost feels nearer than before, what is given up lingers in my smile, what I possess no more fills the cold night. Longing hushed, presence overwhelms me. In the dark, light glows beneath my eyelids. In the cold, warmth radiates out of me.

Those old Sufi poets knew this--when they sang of their beloved, Spirit beyond flesh. Those theologians of the early church with their allegories, who saw Deity between the lines of the lover. Solomon's Shulamite made God.

He is gone, yet He is here. No longer mine, he is Everywhere.

Love fills the night, so that the darkness is yet another aspect of light, the cold so that frozen air is yet another side of warmth.

I leave behind the whispering of the sky and the wind and the trees, yet the wonder stays with me.

Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī says:

All through eternity
Beauty unveils His exquisite form
in the solitude of nothingness;
He holds a mirror to His Face
and beholds His own beauty.

He is the knower and the known,
the seer and the seen;
No eye but His own
has ever looked upon this Universe.

His every quality finds an expression:
Eternity becomes the verdant field of Time and Space;
Love, the life-giving garden of this world.

Every branch and leaf and fruit
Reveals an aspect of His perfection.
The cypress give hint of His majesty,
The rose gives tidings of His beauty.

Whenever Beauty looks,
Love is also there;
Whenever beauty shows a rosy cheek
Love lights Her fire from that flame.

When beauty dwells in the dark folds of night
Love comes and finds a heart
entangled in tresses.

Beauty and Love are as body and soul.
Beauty is the mine, Love is the diamond.

They have together since the beginning of time-
Side by side, step by step.


This is love:
to fly toward a secret sky,
to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment.
First, to let go of life.
In the end, to take a step without feet;
to regard this world as invisible,
and to disregard what appears to be the self.

Heart, I said, what a gift it has been
to enter this circle of lovers,
to see beyond seeing itself,
to reach and feel within the breast.

The Divani Shamsi Tabriz, XII


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Helen Keller moments in language learning OR your mother's admonition ("Don't swear...")

Today while reading a brand new and brilliant (though I'm sure it will be very controversial and hotly contested) book by Rudolf Pell Gaudio, Allah Made Us: Sexual Outlaws in an Islamic African City about 'yan daudu culture in Kano, I realized something about my language-use that I had never quite noticed before. So, I'm sure the following confession will make all of you Hausa-speakers snigger at me... But... I LOVE the zesty gusto of the expression "Zan ci ubanka..." or "uwarka" and have been using it here and there in a joking manner for the past few months. Now, I knew this was coarse and improper language about other people's parents, but I had never sat down and literally translated the expression--though I should have.  I have mostly heard it in playful contexts in which people are teasing each other or abusing someone they are angry at. 

I realized while reading Gaudio's linguistic explanations of certain language used among the 'yan daudu community (and elsewhere), that I had been going about saying literally, "I will fuck your father...." 

Yes, laugh, laugh.

I knew it wasn't proper, but when I realized this afternoon actually linguistically what I had been saying... ai... I think I will try not to say it anymore... (lol) 

I remember the first time I used it in the presence of a filmmaker who has probably used the expression plenty of times himself, he flinched. I should have known then that this Hausa is too "deep for me..." Ku yi hakuri....

Monday, June 08, 2009

What happens to ants who leave home?

And after a long hiatus on this blog, I have a very random question that has absolutely nothing to do with my normal posts, but occupied a good bit of my thoughts on a recent 3 hour road trip.

I noticed all these ants crawling around on the dashboard of the car and on me. And I wondered... what happens to these ants when they get off at my destination? Do they just join other ant colonies? Or do they wander around confused and die? Do the 5 ants who were in the car just happen to get off together and make a new nest together? What happens to them? I don't know very much about insect behaviour, but I have heard that someone could move a bee hive about 20 miles away and the bees could reorient themselves. But what about one bee that happens to get into a car and travels away from its home?

I could probably turn this into some kind of metaphysical meditation/poem on home and belonging, and in fact maybe I will, but for now, it's just the question: "what happens to ants who leave home?"

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Armed Robbers... But we are all fine...

I don't want to write very much write now. I will probably write more privately and then share what I can publically later. But, just to let those of you who follow this blog know, my family and some friends were attacked by armed robbers last night around 9pm in my parent's house. We are all fine. They did not harm anyone physically except for my father whom they shot at from about 5 inches away (it must have been a blank or a cap gun because he was not wounded) and then kicked in the mouth. He sustained only minor bruises and scratches. The rest of us in the house, my sister T. and her friend B., my mother, the PhD from the U.S. who is staying with them K., and two little girls from across the street are all fine. The whole ordeal only lasted about 20 minutes although it felt like much longer. Fortunately, our neighbors heard the first gunshot and the robbers shouting at us to lie down on the floor. They called the mobile police/soldiers who came a little while later. The soldiers shot at the robbers who ran away on foot. 

We are all fine. We have actually been laughing ever since they left. 

There is so much to laugh about. There is so much to be thankful for. 

They took a few things but left us all intact, which is the most important thing.

I will post more as I can.

Thank you for your prayers.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Mukoma wa Ngugi nominated for Caine Prize

I found out yesterday that my buddy Mukoma wa Ngugi has been nominated and shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing. The winner will be announced on July 6, 2009. Past winners have included (oh yes) Helon Habila, Monica Arec de Nyeko, Binyavanga Wainaina, Leila Aboulela,Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, S.A. Afolabi, and others. You can read Mukoma’s nominated short story “How Kamau wa Mwangi Escaped into Exile” , which I was privileged to read still in draft a few years ago before its June 2008 publication in Wasafiri, here.

Congratulations, Mukoma! And good luck! So exciting!

Image courtesy ME (Talatu-Carmen)

Click below, to buy Mukoma's book

Nairobi Heat

Friday, March 20, 2009

Jos Festival of Theatre 2009

Sorry to everyone for having gone MIA on this blog. I've actually started another blog up on wordpress, which has been sucking all my attention away from this one. I still plan to keep this one active...

For those in Jos, I just recieved the following announcement from Jos-ANA



ATHOL FUGARDS WOZA ALBERT directed by Tunde Awosanmi, 20 / 21st March,

BOSE AYENI-TSEVENDE’S MORNING YET AGAIN, a musical based on the book U ARE APOET, written and choreographed by Bose Ayeni-Tsevende,

22nd March SPENCER OKOROAFOR’S VISA TO NOWHERE directed by Eucharia Egah, 23rd March

PHILLIP BEGHO’S SMALLIE directed by Wapi Barau, 24th March

JEAN PAUL SARTRE’S NO EXIT directed by Patrick-Jude Oteh and supported by theFrench Cultural Centre, Abuja , 25th March

ADINOYI OJO ONUKABA’S A RESTING PLACE directed by Emmanuel Degri, 26th / 27thMarch

WOLE SOYINKA’S THE TRIALS OF BROTHER JERO, directed by Austin Efe Okonkwo,28th / 29th March

……………..all plays are suitable for all ages………………….




JOS TIME: 5.00 P.M.


PLEASE CALL 0803 700 0496, 0805 953 5215, 0803 701 8172 further enquiries
Or e.mail: for tickets.

TICKETS WILL ALSO BE AVAILABLE AT THE GATE! Jos Festival of Theatre is made possible by the FORD FOUNDATION and the FrenchCultural Centre, Abuja PLEASE BRING A FRIEND TO THE THEATRE

Monday, February 16, 2009

Girgiza Kai: Shake Your Head: The Lyrics to Nazir Hausawa's industry anthem

I sat down with Nazir Hausawa the other day, and we transcribed and translated his song "Girgiza Kai" ("Shake Your Head"), which has become somewhat of an industry anthem since he released it. The song was played on Freedom Radio for a few days before it was banned. It has since passed on blue tooth from phone to phone. It can be downloaded from his My Space page.

There are a whole collection of songs now that are responding to the current situation in Kano. I hope to eventually transcribe and translate them all and post them. In the meantime, here are Abdulaziz A. Abdulaziz's thoughts on Adam Zango's response to his imprisonment in September 2007.

Girgiza Kai

Ehen. This is Pastor Dan productions. Ziriums…

Mai dokar bacci, ya bige da gyangyed’i.
The one who says sleep is against the law is the one nodding off…

Kar ku taka. Ku girgiza kai kurrum.
Don’t dance. Just shake your head.

Girgiza girgiza
Shake shake

Girgiza kai/ Girgiza kai. Girgiza kai. Girgiza kai.
Shake your head, shake your head. Shake your head. Shake your head.

Girgiza kai. Girgiza kai. Girgiza kai.
Shake your head. Shake your head. Shake your head.

Girgiza kai. Girgiza kai. Girgiza kai.
Shake your head. Shake your head. Shake your head.

Kai karku taka kun san an hana.
Hey, don’t dance, you know they banned it.

Gwamnan garinmu ran nan. Shi ne ya hana.
The governor of our city here. He banned it.

In ka ji kid’a ya yi dad’i. Girgiza kai kurrum.
If you hear a good beat, just shake your head.

Eh, In ka ji kid’a ya yi dad’i. Girgiza kai kurrum.
Yeah, if you hear a good beat, just shake your head.


Kai tsalle waka a gidan giya.
Hey, [stop] jumping and singing in a bar

In an kafa doka. Ku bi ta daidai wisely.
If they make a law, make sure you follow it wisely

Eeeeh, an hana. Eeeeh, sun hana.
Eeeh, it’s against the law. Eeeeh. They said it’s against the law.


Kai ku daina arufta an hana.
Hey stop roughriding, it’s against the law.

Kyale tukin maye sassauta, an hana.
Stop drunk driving. It’s against the law.

Eeeeh, an hana. Eeeeh sun hana.
Eeeeh, it’s against the law. Eheheh, they said it’s against the law.



Kai mai tauye mudu an hana
Hey, you, who weight your measures. It’s against the law.

Algus a cikin wasko, ai shi ma an hana
You, who thin down food. It’s against the law.

Eeeh an hana. Eeeeh, sun hana.
Eeeeh, it’s against the law. Eeeeh, they said it’s against the law.


5. (RAP)

Wanda duk ya hana mu sana’a
Anyone who keeps us from working

Ya Allah ka zuba musa maruru sittin da bakwai
Oh God, send him sixty-seven boils

A ta karshensa shawara da basir mai seedling
On his backside, give him yellow fever and piles.

Sore throat ya kama mak’oshinsa.
May his throat catch fire

Likitoci su kasa ganoshi.
May doctors say they can’t find what’s wrong.

Da Dala da Goron Dutse
So Dala and Goron Dutse [hills in Kano]

Da gidan birni da gidan k’auye
The house in the city and the house in the village

Na hada na cusa a gajeran wandon mmmhmmhmmm
I put ‘em together in the underpants of his mmhmmmhmmm

Bari d’aya ne.Ya ji labari. Bari d’aya bai san komai ba.
One side knows what’s going on. One side has no idea.

Eeeh an hana. Eeeeh sun hana.
Eeeh, it’s against the law. Eeeeh, they said it’s against the law.

Come on.


Mmmmmm, waka ba gadona bace.
Mmmmm, I wasn’t born into singing.

Dan malam ne ni k’yank’yank’yan wasu sun sani
I’m the son of a complete Islamic scholar, everybody knows.

Kar ku ce min na k’i halin malam samsam kurrum.
Don’t tell me I don’t have character.

Na yi karatun boko har da na addini, kwarai.
I’ve done Western education and religious. Oh yes.

Samartaka ce na kad’ana domin zamani.
It’s the way of the young. It’s the beat of our time.

Eeeeh an hana. Eeeeh, sun hana.
Eeeh it’s against the law. Eeeeh, they said it’s against the law

Chorus 2X


Monday, January 26, 2009

Iyan-Tama's case "not listed."

Today I arrived for Iyan-Tama's rescheduled appeal (readers will remember that it had been scheduled for Thursday but the chief justice suddenly had to travel--see two posts back) at 9:51am. The appeal was scheduled for 9:30am, so I was afraid I was late. I waited until 10:43am in the back of the court room with a few other journalists (lawyers at the front), for the chief justice to arrive.

He said that the case was "not listed."

This is the third appeal case I've been to that has been delayed. The first one was dismissed because the court was not satisfied with the way the appeal was prepared. The second one was postponed because the chief justice travelled, and now this third one was "not listed." I do not have a lot of experience in courts of law, but it makes me wonder if all cases have this problem or if it is just Iyan-Tama's....

Friday, January 23, 2009

2:15am raid on Iyan-Tama's family

UPDATE 27 January 2008
See the details of the attack on Iyan-Tama's family at Leadership and BBC.

Sitting in an internet cafe, enjoying the non-stop Hausa musical selection coming from the administrator’s computer (including such banned hits as Maryam A. Baba’s “Rabo Rabo” and Nazifi Asenik’s “Dawo Dawo”) and listening to people snigger about them, I was writing my advisor an email, when I recieved the following text:

"Iyantama’s house was stormed by unknown people who claimed to be sent by some people to terrorise his family. The incidence took place on thursday around 2:15am. The terrorists did not take anything out of the house.

"The hearing of the second appeal of Iyantama’s case is scheduled to take place on monday 26/1/09 at court one Audu Bako secretariat kano by 9:30am.”

(from a member of the MOPPAN Exco. [not sure if i should put the name])
Photo credit: Iyan-Tama with his family. Courtesy of freeiyantama's flickr photostream

Thursday, January 22, 2009

High Court Justice Postpones Iyan-Tama's appeal

Just a quick post for "breaking news." I went at 9:30 am to High Court 1 at Audu Bako secretariate for Iyan-Tama's appeal case. I arrive and sit with Ahmad Alkanaway of the Centre for Hausa Cultural Studies, Sani Maikatanga of Fim Magazine, other reporters from Trust, Leadership, BBC, and elsewhere. After some time, we hear that apparently the Chief Justice, a politically appointed judge who was to hear the case and apparently set the time, travelled and the case will be postponed until tomorrow or Monday.

I catch a ride with National President of MOPPAN, Sani Mu'azu and Ahmad Alkanawy, and on the way to BUK New Site, we branch by the Goron Dutse Prison to see Iyan-Tama again. He joked with the friendly "keeper" and other guards and said (in Hausa--my translation from my memory of what he said) that he was fine. He didn't have a problem in the prison; he just wanted to get out and continue with his life. He also explained that if someone was trying to find the registration for his company "Iyan-Tama Multimedia" and neglected to put in the hyphen, it would not show up in the search. That would explain the "mysterious" (see discussion on the Finafinan Hausa listserve from people who had never heard of her in the film industry or in related publications) Asabe Muktar's claim in the Daily Trust of 8 January that "Hamisu Iyan Tama did not register with the Corporate Affairs Commission" because she supposedly,

" applied for registration to the Corporate Affairs Commission with the names of the two companies, i.e. IYAN TAMA MULTI MEDIA LTD and LENSCOPE MEDIA SERVICES LTD. As it is normally done the names would go for "Availability check and Reservation of Name" at the CAC office. The following information followed my applications: [.... Lenscope Media was found to be registered, while]

2. IYAN TAMA MULTI MEDIA LTD, a letter/notice form from the CAC was sent with the following as content: "The CAC is pleased to inform you that one of your requested names has been approved and will be reserved for 60 days. Approved Name: IYAN TAMA MULTI MEDIA LTD. Serial Number: 1394473 Reserved Until: 25/7/2008. Approved By: Oyindamola Daramola. Submitted By: Ibrahim Adamu. "So Hamisu Iyan Tama did not register with the Corporate Affairs Commission."

Of course, since she did not put "Iyan-Tama" with a hyphen the search would not have come up with "Iyan-Tama Multimedia." It struck me as quite funny that she would "trust" a beaurocratic search over a hard copy of a reciept from CAC that Iyan Tama presented before the court. I had also been surprised to see it in the Trust, because I had seen a slightly different version in the Daily Triumph, a state government-owned publication, which is boringly predictable in their consistent condemnation of the film industry. (See also this recent article by Muhammad Mahmud in The Daily Triumph, a very adamnant supporter of the mysterious "Asabe" on the Finafinan Hausa listserve.)

Following our visit, I also did a brief interview with Sani Mu'azu, excerpts of which I will try to post here later.

Now to post this before the internet cuts out....

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

At the Goron Dutse Prison--Visiting Iyan-Tama

So, in the latest Iyan-Tama news: yesterday, the high court struck out the appeal to bail Iyan-Tama because they were dissatisfied with the way it was prepared... I went to the case, but unfortunately went to the wrong location first and arrived 30 minutes late, just in time for the mass exodus of those there for the Iyan-Tama case from the court.

And before I launch into my meditation on my visit to Iyan-Tama in prison last week, here are some links from yesterday and today's articles. Apparently a film on the recent Jos crisis I had not yet heard about has already been banned by the Censorship Board, and in the meantime more download and viewing centre businessmen have been arrested. Read about it in Leadership and Triumph. There is also an article featuring my good friend Nazir Hausawa and other hip hop artists by AFP at

Last Friday, I and a carload of other film industry folk went to visit Iyan-Tama in the Goron Dutse Prison. I am going to necessarily make the description a bit vague, although there are some details that I would LOVE to put in. Maybe 50 years down the road in my memoirs....

After the necessary preliminaries, we go through a heavy iron door that clanks shut behind us. In front of us is a long dusty field/courtyard with long narrow buildings. It looks like a school, only there are only a few people sitting outside. The long dusty courtyards look deserted. We enter a building to the left and the men behind the desks indicate for us to sit.

Almost immediately Iyan Tama comes in. He is a tall regal prescence even in prison, exuding grace and good spirits. The only sign that he is in prison are the rubber slippers he is wearing. He greets me “Ah, is this Talatu?” and then the others, joking with them, seemingly happy to see us. After the jokes and greetings, he talks about the case, telling us: "I had the receipt for 2008, but I go to court and they say 'Do you have a certificate like this one of 2005, like this one, this one?' They demanded yes or no. I tried to explain that I had registration from CACE, that I had a receipt of payment for the certificate, not a certificate exactly like that of 2005 because they had not yet begun issuing the certicates by the time I was arrested in May 2008." They held up Tsintsiya and asked if this was my film. I said, “Yes, but it's not for sell in Kano.” Although they would not allow him to defend himself, he assured us that the reciepts are on for anyone who cares to see them.

Iyan Tama has always been kind to me when we have met, but I have never interacted very extensively with him. Although I have always thought he had a commanding presence , this time round I was particularly struck by his height, his charm, the aura of power and grace about him--that he greeted us each by name and asked us about details of our work. Although he entered the room as a prisoner, it was as if we were in his waiting room and he came out of his office to greet us. When he plays the governor of Kano in his film Tsintsiya, he is very believable. As he was actually a gubanatorial candidate in Kano state in 2007, I often wonder if that was one of the unspoken reasons that the censorship board reacted so strongly to an otherwise (to me)unoffensive drama that encourages peace and goodwill between city-dwellers of different ethnicities and religious persuasions. Seeing him there in prison, I was struck by his graciousness, his good spirits, his conviction that justice will, in the end, be done.

I hope it is.
This is back when Iyan-Tama was first arrested and released on bail.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Elechi Amadi kidnapped in Niger Delta

I have just found out via the Jos-ANA listserve that Nigerian novelist, playwright, and poet Elechi Amadi, probably most known for his novel The Concubine and prison diary Sunset in Biafra, was kidnapped by militants in the Niger Delta. The only article I have been able to find about it so far is on Bloomberg News

For more information about Elechi Amadi, see his website. (Note: the website does not yet have mention of the kidnapping).

Update 8:52pm: And after my dinner break, I came back to find the news also on BBC.

And a very short piece on Afrique en ligne in English and French. Apparently Amadi is also the chairman of the Rivers State scholarship board.
Update 10:36pm: A friend just im-ed me and let me know that according to, he has been released. It has not yet shown up on google news alerts; but here is a link to the discussion post in which one degini2 says that he has been "returned to his home."
Image Credit: Sun News Online

Friday, January 02, 2009

Hausa Filmmaker and former candidate for Governor in Kano State Hamisu Lamido Iyan Tama Sentenced to 15 months in Prison at Mobile Court

I'm at a desperately slow internet cafe, so these links should serve as the text of this post. Hamisu Lamido Iyan Tama, award winning filmmaker and former gubanatorial candidate in Kano state, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison by a mobile court, for supposedly not registering with the Kano State Censorship Board.

See the details on Abdulaziz Ahmad Abdulaziz's blog article (also published on 1 Jan 2008 in Leadership), on the new blogspot Free Iyan Tama, and Kano State owned Triumph Newspaper.

So anyone reading this from Amnesty International? Human Rights Watch? Any other human rights organization or NGO? This is the time to step up....

Image credit from Free Iyan Tama's Flikr Photostream: Iyan Tama in 2007 at the Zuma Film Festival in Abuja, where he won an award for Best Social Issue film. The day after he returned to Kano, and was arrested for the first time for supposedly not registering with the Kano State Censorship Board, although he had a receipt for payment of registration.
Update: And for the best summary of the Iyan Tama case that I've seen so far, see Ibrahim Sheme's blog (an open letter to Governor Shekarau of Kano State) published in Leadership.