Ban on ‘im­moral’ Nige­rian star high­lights north/south split

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

It was just for a split sec­ond that a male singer cud­dled north­ern Nige­rian ac­tress Ra­hama Sadau in a video, but for the lo­cal film in­dus­try it was a sec­ond too much. “Ra­hama has been banned for life from act­ing,” said Sal­isu Mo­hammed, the head of north­ern Kano’s Mo­tion Pic­ture Prac­ti­tioner’s As­so­ci­a­tion of Nige­ria (MOP­PAN) — bet­ter known as “Kan­ny­wood” af­ter Hol­ly­wood. The 24-year-old is one of Kan­ny­wood’s big­gest stars, but MOP­PAN said “her dis­play of im­moral­ity in the mu­sic video is the lat­est of sev­eral in­de­cent con­ducts for which she was sev­er­ally warned and sanc­tioned.” Nige­ria as a whole, com­bin­ing north and south, to­day claims the sec­ond largest film in­dus­try in the world, gen­er­ally known as “Nol­ly­wood”.

It mir­rors the stark con­trast in the coun­try’s religious makeup, with a Chris­tian pop­u­la­tion in the south at odds with the Mus­lim north. In the south, Nol­ly­wood de­picts wealthy women in their 50s court­ing friends of their teenage sons, while stu­dents in skimpy dress se­duce their teach­ers. Noth­ing, it seems, is taboo. The op­po­site is true in the north. Films pro­duced in Kan­ny­wood, named af­ter the ma­jor city of Kano, have the same themes of love, re­venge and be­trayal, but the plots must ad­here to strict Is­lamic rules. Rule num­ber one? Men and woman do not touch.

Cham­pagne show­ers

For ac­tors and ac­tresses from the north who are seek­ing to break into a wider mar­ket, this rule poses a dilemma. “Be­ing in­vited to Nol­ly­wood is a mark of dis­tinc­tion,” says Car­men McCain, a re­searcher on north­ern Nige­rian cin­ema.

“There’s a de­sire to make the Kano in­dus­try well-known glob­ally, but they al­ways need to keep the bal­ance, to not for­get they have a very con­ser­va­tive so­ci­ety,” she said. “The ques­tion is: are Kan­ny­wood ac­tors al­lowed to work in Nol­ly­wood in or­der to be­come big­ger stars?” In the mu­sic video “I love you”, Sadau plays the role of a fruit and veg­etable ven­dor who catches the singer’s eye as he strolls through the mar­ket.

The clip shows none of the sexy moves seen in videos by south­ern Nige­rian stars, where woman “twerk” in biki­nis or take cham­pagne show­ers.

In con­trast, “I love you” sees singer Clas­siq ever so briefly touch­ing Sadau’s shoul­der and gen­tly touch­ing fin­gers as they walk side by side on train tracks. For MOP­PAN, this was too much. It was time to make an ex­am­ple of Sadau. And the move to ban the ac­tress was wel­comed in Kano.

“We are happy that the film­mak­ers have re­al­ized the truth of what we have been in­sist­ing they do, to san­i­tize the film busi­ness which pro­motes im­moral val­ues among our youth,” said Sal­isu Idris, a Mus­lim cleric in Kano.

“We hope this is the be­gin­ning of a new page in the film in­dus­try and we hope the sanc­tion on this ac­tress will be a de­ter­rent to others.” In Au­gust, the pow­er­ful lobby of Mus­lim cler­ics stopped a plan to build a $10 mil­lion film vil­lage out­side Kano, say­ing it would pro­mote im­moral­ity and un­der­mine Is­lamic val­ues.

Sadau on Wed­nes­day posted a long let­ter of apol­ogy to her 53,000 Twit­ter fol­low­ers, but said “in­nocu­ous touch­ing with other peo­ple in my line of work is in­evitable”. The con­tro­versy has come just days be­fore Sadau is set to ap­pear in a Nol­ly­wood-pro­duced TV se­ries “Sons of the Caliphate”, a drama “set in a sov­er­eign state of north­ern Nige­ria” de­pict­ing the lives of three rich men. Promis­ing royal in­trigue, political con­spir­acy, cor­rup­tion, be­trayal and pas­sion, the se­ries aims to de­pict the im­moral side of the north.

For all their bans, the cler­ics won’t be able to stop Sadau from ap­pear­ing in this show made in Nige­ria’s south. — AFP

A cus­tomer searches for lo­cal Hausa films, known as Kan­ny­wood, pop­u­lar among the res­i­dents of north­ern Nige­ria’s city of Kano. — AFP

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