Art, Activism and the Northern Narrative
The panel on Art, Activism and the Northern Narrative started with a highlight of Rahama Sadau’s latest role on a thriller that will be aired on Ebony TV. The session was loaded with an explosion of arguments like fireworks. The actress of Northern origin Rahama Sadau was adorned in green regalia, dotted with a touch of yellow. This outfit was crossed with a purple veil that illuminated her beauty. Their conversation with Hafsat Abubakar centred on how artists could balance their obligation to society and their art. Rahama recalled with dismay how her acting talent has exposed her and her family to danger in recent times. She informed the audience that she is from a family of six. Her Dad is an Imam, and has been stoned in the past for a role she took in a movie that offended some people’s sensibility. This attack has made her to have a rethink. In her words, “I am fierce. But I love my family. My sister” It is this mind-set that has made her more cautious in her acting career. She has been made the face of rebellion in the Northern film industry because she was the first person to go into the mainstream media. She has taken movie roles outside of the Kannywood movie industry. She hoped that “time will change things,” Moreover, as the movie industry has become more competitive and movies from the north are beginning to receive global attention; people have started making exciting movies that overshadow societal pressures. She said other Kannywood actresses like Nafisa and Mariam have also followed in her footsteps by joining the mainstream movie industry. Rahama was frank and open about personal questions from the audience. She revealed, she did not complete her tertiary education, but intends to return to school this year. Sadau was emphatic that, trauma and fear dictated some of her actions and the roles she had played in movies. The controversy that surrounding her video with Classiq and the suspension she was given was another contentious subject during the conversation. Sadau said she felt nothing was wrong with the video. People in the north are fond of linking religion with entertainment. These two are different, “I have no regret demonstrating my passion in any of my craft, and religion is a thing of the mind”
Balaraba Ramat Yakubu, the leader of MOPPAN and a renowned author of Hausa literature, in her comment made a daring attempt to put Rahama Sadau’s statement into context. She emphasized the fact that the issue between MOPPAN and Sadau was not a personal vendetta. It was a conflict between her and the movie industry in Kano. She claimed that the organisation was trying to mould the actress to imbibe certain values, so that when she goes out the world will see the northern element in her, at the level of culture and religion. This is because, the spotlight is on her. It is through her that the world will see and define a northern Nigerian woman. If she exhibits negative values, that is how the northern women will be perceived. In Balaraba’s Words, “once you have become a star, whatever you do has a direct bearing on your society.” She said, a few years back, they faced a similar issue in Kano, because of it, their homes were traced, they were assaulted, insults were thrown at them in front of their families. So, when this ClassiQ video saga started “I called you to my house and advised you. The things I said, I won’t repeat here. I spoke to you as a mother. You mentioned you don’t care about MOPPAN. No! You should care about MOPPAN. We are colleagues not adversaries. You cannot benefit from MOPPAN and turn around and claim you have nothing to do with it. What we want from women is to marry and give birth to children. When someone watches your movies and read your story, let them see the north in you.”
Rahama Sadau silenced the house when she revealed that her ban by the Motion pictures Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MOPPAN) for an offensive hug on the video of Classiq’s hit song “I love you,” was never officially communicated to her. Neither was she invited to the organisation office to relay a defence. It was important to her for people to understand that she embodies dual personalities. She is anyone her script dictates she becomes and beneath that also a human being with a second life. She said “if MOPPAN claims to be a mother organisation for artist when the video allegation came out,MOPPAN will have called me and listened to me. Today, I have not seen a document detailing my crimes and my ban. I only read about it in traffic and on social media, I have been a loyal member of the organisation”
These exchanges revealed a palpable intergenerational disconnection amongst the northern population. It was a battle between conservatism and liberalism.
An elderly woman spoke in defence of Rahama. She said most of the opinions of men in the audience reek of chauvinism and the objectification of women. Her anger about the hypocrisy of religion was displayed in her gestures. She threw her hands in the air and looked straight into the audience; in a display of audacity and courage. She described the northern elites as opportunist who only invokes religion as pretence to perpetuate patriarchy. She re-jigged our memories to a recent revelation on cyberspace of the hotel escapades of the former governor of Yobe state, Bukar Ibrahim, with two ladies. She said the north was a hypocritical society. A society that creates disparity between what a man can do to be different from the abilities of women. She said Ali Nuhu can act in movies where he is seen kissing and hugging girls but that same right is denied a Rahama Sadau. The core of her arguments is that Rahama Sadau was taunted because she is a woman.
Kinna Likimani, the literary blogger’s comment boardered on the ownership of the female body and who has the right to appropriate it, the burden of responsibility for children and their welfare as a major task of the women. She said women were free spirits who have the right to decide their own narrative.
Written By Katung Kwasu