Written by Comfortina Crown-Creed
For every migration, there is usually an original base, a starting point from which such a journey is initiated. This migration could be due to a natural instinct to procreate thus ensuring a species continuity or simply as part of a survival strategy. The usual feature of a migration phenomenon, most especially in animals is they often return back to their original habitat to continue their regular life only to migrate again if its migration season should return. Humans too, in different aspects of life do migrate for similar or different reasons.
It seems the Hausa movie stars are no exception as a few of them have been seen to migrate from their home base, the Kannywood, which is what the acclaimed movie industry of Northern Nigeria is called, to Nollywood the Nigerian version of the famous Hollywood. The reason for this development was not deliberate nor for lack of acceptability by the Hausawas, or even to venture forth and conquer new market opportunities, but was borne out of the sheer need to survive, in this case Censorship.
When the authorities of the home base of Kannywood i.e. Kano State Government placed an embargo on the Hausa movies industry for their belief that the new crop of actors in such films are portraying the Hausas, their culture and tradition in the wrong perspective to the world, thereby tarnishing the peoples’ cherished image and heritage and corrupting the youths, it became necessary for the film makers and actors in the region to find a much more conducive environment within which to continue their trade without hindrance.
Consequently, “Necessity is the mother of invention” took effect as the popular adage goes. Neighbouring cities welcomed such movie makers with warm hands and provided them with ample room to keep producing movies for the consumption of the Hausa speaking populace. Thus stars like Ali Nuhu, Sani Musa Danja, Isa Idris and Magaji Mijinyawa among a few others started migrating to states like Kaduna, Jos, Bauchi, Abuja etc in the first instance, before subsequently venturing further south to Lagos and ending up in motion pictures of Nollywood, from where they would keep their passion alive and hit their home shelves with not only films of Hausa origin, but contemporary English movies.
Though the ‘migrants’ were established stars in Kannywood with many followership among the youths and women in their region, they soon discovered the difference between a well and a lake. Many found it virtually impossible to scale the major barrier preventing them being assimilated into their national movie industry. Nope, it was not ethnic, social or religious biases, nor was it lack of talent, good looks or ability to act. It was the inability to speak good, clear and sound English. But out of the many that came from Kannywood struggling to break the ice into the main stream Nollywood movie lane, only two Ali Nuhu and Magaji Mijinyawa, have so far managed to come to limelight. And of these two, fame and stardom seem to have chosen the former rather than the latter to celebrate, at least for now.
Acknowledged to be a huge star in Kannywood movie industry by all standards and by most movie buffs in the Northern states and even by Hausa speaking people in Africa (Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Ghana etc) and abroad, Ali Nuhu is known for his suavy ebony good looks and ample talents and thus his migration to Nollywood was a natural development waiting to happen. But, like a cub in a lion’s pride, he had to be forced out to discover whether he can grow to become a lion himself.
And this finally came, through Kano Films Censorship Board, a parastatal of the ruling government of his original base i.e Kano (from which the Hausa movie industry got its name) had a head-on collision with members of Kannywood, which decided to sanitize the film making business, most especially those produced originally in the state for the consumption of its populace.
Ali Nuhu being versatile and determined, and not hindered as many of the other Hausa actors by the inability to speak fluently the Nigeria’s lingua franca i.e. Queen’s English, deemed it a challenge to strive for something ‘Nobel’ in his pursuit for fame and stardom in Nollywood. His entry into the Nigerian movie scene began with his outstanding performance in his first film Sitanda, which won him accolades and multiple awards both at home and away. The success of that maiden stint opened the gate of offers, giving him good opportunities to be featured in many films in Nollywood, thus boosting his morals and confidence and so he realized that Nollywood has a place for the likes of him and other serious, properly educated Hausa movie actors.
From then on, there was no looking back as he gathered momentum and outshined his former star status, though heavily criticized by his Hausa counterparts and his fans for going through the whole mile by touching, holding, hugging and pecking or outright kissing his female co-actresses in such Nollywood films, which was unheard of and definitely unacceptable in the Hausa movie industry.
Some of the films he featured in include among others, Spirit Of A Dancer, Crime Kingdom, Fulani Boy etc. At present, Ali is into directing and producing films in Kannywood using his experiences gained from Nollywood. This has given him the impetus to produce hit movies in Hausa such as Sai Watarana and Carbin Kwai, nominated for various awards, one of which includes the actor’s son in the nomination.
Information recently had it that Sani Musa Danja, another huge Kannywood star is preparing to join the migration bandwagon from Kannywood to Nollywood. He has been offered to feature in a film Ali Nuhu rejected for reasons best known to him. Sani Danja, the first Kannywood Glo Ambassador as he is popularly known, initially left Kannywood to Abuja and later on joined the bandwagon of Nollywood migrants by producing hip-hop music, one of his earliest passions.
He used to call himself “Michael Jackson na Hausa” (Hausa Michael Jackson) way back when he was just a small fish in the Kano entertainment sector due to his mimicking the King of Pop’s dance steps and of course acting in some Hausa television dramas and movies. His latest project, a hip-hop musical album which is believed to feature the likes of 2Face and D’banj could be as controversial as his involvement in political campaigns, which almost cost him his life, is set to storm the industry soon. The question here is, could this be another case of Kannywood to Nollywood migration?
Yet again, another enthusiastic star is Isa Idris who has successfully migrated into Nollywood pictures recently. He has featured in English Nigerian films both in behind the scene roles as a director of photography (DOP) and an actor. For the Hausa movies trackers, Isah is credibly believed to have payed his dues as a K2N migrant, featuring in some mainstream films of Nollywood.
Well, how about the other side of the coin? Whatever happened to Kannywood female stars? Is there no story to tell about their migrating to Nollywood? Clearly their case is entirely different. Investigations show that their responses are always on the negative. Possibly due to the North dislike for young women appearing in such films and some who agreed to be interviewed commented thus; “I don’t have the fundamental requirement needed i.e. the language (English) for me to be featured in Nollywood movies.”
Another said “I can’t fit in perfectly in Nigerian films due to our (North/South) cultural variations”. Yet another shyly expressed that “I’m the timid type and so would find it difficult to cope with acting there, especially in roles that might require boldness and confidence i.e. romantic scenes. You know there they can touch or hold you in their films and such is not permissible in our films due to cultural and religious reasons”
These were some of the various responses of Kannywood female actresses when asked why were they left out of the migration. Though many of their reasons are justified, many people who do not understand the implications of such issues in the life of a typical female actress of Northern extract usually considered such reasons flimsy and inexcusable. They believe that the major problem of the female movie stars, though quite as popular and well celebrated as their male counterparts is their inability to speak English fluently too, just like so many of the male actors, which is of course the main obstacle that can obstruct or deter any talented actor or actress from migrating to Nollywood from Kannywood.
Again these actresses may lack the necessary exposure as well as professional ethics compared to their southern counterpart. For these and other reasons not mention, the female actresses migration from Kannywood to Nollywood has remained if not elusive, but bleak and definitely unpopular. However nobody knows what the future may hold as regards such a migration for the movie girls, whether they would eventually come of age and join the race or not. A Northerner who has made his mark before the advent of Nollywood is versatile and legendary movie icon, Kasimu Yero popularly known as Uncle Gaga in the drama ‘Wisdom Is An Asset’. Up till this day, no actor from the north has been able to achieve thisfeat until recently when dark gangling star Ali Nuhustormed the industry with a bang.
So for anyone to say that the movie stars of Kannywood migrated to Nollywood for no just cause, is indeed a misinformation. For it was borne out of the need to survive against all odds, clearly proving the truth in the saying “To every disadvantage, lies golden opportunities waiting to be tapped”
©2012 SWS.Comms All Rights Reserved