The confrontations between Kannywood and social critics seems to have subsided. The critics seem to have succumbed to the fact that while the Hausa movie industry has its ills, its existence and essence in the society is now justifiable: that is, it plays a pivotal role in educating and informing a society that can be correctly described, to a larger extent, as an “ignorant” one.
They had to retreat, for this ‘educating the society’ campaign is tossed into trailers, movies, and interviews. In fact, more than fifty percent of our movies seem dedicated to this campaign, so much that they spend a lot of their running time on fairly irrelevant scenes in which our characters sit around teaching us life advice; also, actors and filmmakers spend most of their interviews blabbering about how their movies promote the society. The enthusiasm is admirable, but still: Does Kannywood bring that much benefits apart from being a mere source of entertainment? Let’s have a look at the current state of things.
With all the hype on education, enlightment, and awareness, one would think our knowledge about the world has increased by many folds; contrarily, the curriculum still revolves around three programs: love, family affairs and fighting families presented in the most conventionally clinched way that exists. No “single” movie has primarily addressed a major problem of our society such as ignorance, disunity, over-parenting, reluctance, etc; or discussed the impacts of modern-day issues such as drug, social media, unemployment, etc; or explored a major medical condition, historical event (ofcourse, with the exception of Ashabul Kahfi). In fact, audience, who have spent chunk of their life immersed in these movies, may still not know that the world is round, or that obesity causes diabetes, or that sickle cell anemia isn’t caused by wizards and witches, but a condition that is actually preventable.
Truth be told, some of the movies actually try; however, they end up lacking depth and deviation from the aforementioned romantic and family dramas. Our movies lack the audacity to deviate from the norm and try something else as they require quantities of songs and cliches to mask preposterous plots and weak dialogue. Jinin Jikina for instance, was supposed to promote girl education; unfortunately, instead of focusing on the central premise, it was served in songs and relationships. When your characters are driven by love, ruled by love and twisted way desperately in love, it’s difficult to believe your movie is about anything else. The world is just too complex, too poetic and too filled with sheer wonder to be dictated by simplistic notions of love and cheap family affairs.
One may argue that film is an image of a particular society and the “timidity” in our film industry is just reflecting an “ignorant” society. In other word, Kannywood is simply showing the reality of our society. Really? If Kannywood is really reflecting our reality, why do all the parents in our movies always have a single son or daughter when a typical Hausa man has many children? Why do most of the rich guys in the movies own a factory when we have handful factories in our community? In fact, since when do people start breaking into a song and dance and become surrounded by backup dancers? Our movies are but mismatch of practices and ideas- some are ours, some are foreign, and some are fictional. It won’t do any harm to add “intelligent” spices.
This ‘educating the society’ isn’t informational but behavioral, then. If nothing else, Kannywood teaches us the profitability of being good, for goodness is always endorsed and rewarded, while badness is condemned and punished. The major setback to this motion is this: the ideas of right and wrong are based on morality, and how ironic does this sound- Kannywood teaching morality? It is no longer deemed inappropriate in Kannywood to dress indecently; Courtship in Kannywood knows no limit; in fact, any sense of decency and reservation in woman, which constitutes an integral part of our identity, is rendered pointless. I find Kannywood assisting in making our culture to become, over time, debased.
The most troubling aspect is how actresses are shown as lustrous objects through near-nude dresses, enticing walks and dances. Spreading these images may incur serious ethical and spiritual ramifications. Call it traditional if you have to- or local if you must to- but it’s “islamic” that women dress properly. I could remember one of our filmmakers saying ‘his becoming a filmmaker’ was motivated by the will to counteract debauched western practices by, I suppose, vindicating our cultural and religious practices; the major criticism you hear of the west is their engrossment in lust- so now, is this wanton and blatant display of women promoting or sabotaging western practice? Our filmmakers need to inquire into this famous movie quote “the story isn’t the message.”
May be I am being too harsh on Kannywood, but when “education” is mentioned, mental and moral development naturally come to mind. let me, at this critical moment, try not to give in to one of the things they teach me, you know, being ‘narrow’ (pls if I am, try to forgive me, I watched a lot of these movies). How about inspiration? Yes inspiration! for, artistry, they say, is the ability to inspire. The first category of people we should expect to get traces of this sample from is the youth; so now, does Kannywood inspire our youth to be great? I will have to go with ‘no’.
In place of teaching our youth the priorship of duty, responsibility and hardwork, Kannywood is teaching our youth that love is the prime objective in life. Our youth are taught that parents are “enemies” standing in the way of true love. Our youth are taught that educational institutions aren’t learning centres but love zones. Our youth are taught that love is above everything and everyone. Take Daga Ni Sai Ke for instance: the film was ranked ‘the most educative film of 2013’, yet, one of its characters- a professional doctor for that matter- “intentionally” married a woman with HIV putting his “love” above his life, personal and social responsibility. This isn’t only stereotypically childish but also an abuse to humanity.
For children, Kannywood is deeply corrosive. Nowadays, some of the “hit” movies (Zawarawa, Ali yaga Ali, etc) are centred around premarital/extramarital affairs in which sexually suggestive scenes and comments run throughout the movies. Our children may internalise these languages and scenes, and….. You know what? Let’s just call it a day.
But let’s answer this: Does Kannywood “educate” the society- well, not in the informational, moral and inspirational sense of the word. But you never know with these people. If they can turn a “bokoless” into a billionaire in matter of seconds, and vice versa, you won’t know the direction they will approach this one.
Written by: Anas Abdullahi