Abdalla Uba Adamu
I was tagged in a FB thread lamenting the perceptions of Hausa popular culture studies by Muhsin Ibrahim on how such course of action is looked down upon. Indeed, he related personal bad experiences on his encounter with what one might call ‘culture purists’ who do not see anything worthwhile studying about contemporary popular culture. I feel that my response should be enlarged beyond the one I gave in order to reach wider audiences and stimulate debate.
‘So, what exactly is ‘popular culture’? Without being bogged down by technicalities, it is simply what people like. Often referred to also ‘mass culture’. Which differentiates from ‘elite culture’ preferences of the high order of the society. Elite culture is often favored because it is seen as cultural representative due to its historical purity. For instance, Shata is elite culture, while Rarara is popular culture. Both were singers. But while Shata was a griot whose lyrics represents the historical antecedents of his society and culture, Rarara was a singer whose lyrics represent his pocket.
Thus, everything people do can come under the purview of popular culture – fashion, food, literature, cyberculture, sports, architecture, theatre, drama, films, music, art, you name it, it is popular culture. It is the dominant culture. Some of the universities that teach popular culture in the world include Harvard, Cambridge, MIT, Stanford, to name some of the top ones, plus thousands of others.
So, why study popular culture? There are many reasons, but one of the most compelling is social awareness. Such study makes us aware about important social issues. You may not follow Hausa TV show operas, but they illuminate critical tensions within communities and some reflect the ideals of the political culture; Ado Ahmad Gidan Dabino’s “Kwana Casa’in” is a case in point. Mediated popular culture gives creators opportunities to be creative.
Thus, popular culture can raise awareness about important social issues. TV shows, films, and music often address topics like discrimination, environmental concerns and mental health, sparking discussions and encouraging positive change. For instance, in Kano in early 2023, AA Rufai Bullgates [sic] an individual with mental health issues became a popular culture media celebrity due to his delusions of grandeur; at one stage he bought Kano State for ‘gangaliyan’ naira – his coinage. It took the social media to make people aware of the extent of his illness – and stop exploiting his guile.
The contempt with which we approach studies of Hausa popular culture – or, let me modify, modern/contemporary culture – allowed a big room for others to be experts on us. In this way, researchers such as Mathias Krings, Carmen McCain, Novian Whitsitt, Brian Larkin and Graham Furniss came to dominate the documentation of Hausa popular culture.
In 2007 I was a visitor in Graham Furniss’s house in London for lunch, and I was blown away by a bookshelf covering a whole wall devoted to his documentation of Hausa romantic (soyayya) fiction containing over one thousand volumes. In Kano we refused to even acknowledge such novels existed, and at one conference, I heard a University Librarian describing them as ‘trash’. Now, if you want to study the earlier novels in the genre, you can only find them in the Library of the School of Oriental and African Studies, courtesy of Graham Furniss – while they are not available in Bayero University Kano.
Novian Whitsitt, an American, became an expert on the feminist ideologies of Bilkisu Salisu Ahmed Funtuwa and Balaraba Ramat Yakubu – two wonderful and brilliant female writers we ignored. He made a name out of researching their novels – and he had to learn the Hausa language first before he could even read the novels. In Kano, where we speak Hausa, we looked down on these writers. Now, if you want any reference to the works of these ladies, you have to go to Amazon for his books, for he is considered expert on Hausa feminist writers.
Matthias Krings collected more Hausa cinema tapes than any European researcher and established a vibrant Hausa film reference library in Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany, where he is based. In Kano we refuse to even acknowledge that Hausa film is worth studying – until we gave the study a shove and held an international conference on Hausa films in 2003 – the first of its kind in the whole of Africa in studying an indigenous African language film industry. Even the practitioners – filmmakers, producers, directors – don’t see the value in studying their works, believing that such is done to denigrate them, rather than a critical analysis of their art. When I established Yahoo! Groups social network in 2001 – long before Facebook – those who entered the group were constantly fighting us for studying their art.
In any event, it was Brian Larkin from New York who even opened up the doors in 1997 with his brilliant paper, “Indian Films and Nigerian Lovers: Media and the Creation of Parallel Modernities.” Soon enough he became the only reference point on the emergence of modern mediated Hausa popular culture. I could go on, but you get the point.
As for music, no one cared – until the Talibanic censorship regime from 2007 to 2013 in Kano, favorably enabled the separation of Nanaye soundtrack music from Hausa films, creating independent Hausa Afropop music genre. It also led to the emergence of Rap music among young Hausa lyricists from 2013 – the year of creative freedom for Hausa popular culture. Billy-O produced the biggest hit Hausa Afropop hit of the year with ‘Rainy Season’, producing a brilliant Enghausa song accompanied by Maryam Fantimoti.
No attempt was made to internationalize the study of the emergent music genres by anyone. They were all obsessed with studies of the songs of griot acoustic musicians, believing that the Afropop genre is a passing fad. Seeing a room for documentation, I entered into the field. In any event, I was considered a loose cannon in the whole Hausa ‘adabi’ canon. Luckily for me, my foray into Hausa popular culture, or ’Adabin Hausa’ as they often call it (while I prefer ‘Nishaɗin Hululu as the Hausa term for popular culture) was from the prisms of Stuart Hall (Birmingham School) and Frankfurt School critical theory perspectives. Most importantly, I was analyzing popular culture as a mass-mediated communication, rooting myself firmly in communication theories. I was not interested in etymology, morphology, syntax, grammar, pragmatics, stylistics or other branches of the study of literature in my analysis (I profess ignorance of these branches). My focus was that something was happening, it was providing a stethoscope on the social awareness pulse. We need to document it. It was no longer acceptable to let others become experts on us.
Thus, studying or even debating mediated popular culture was definitely frowned upon in northern Nigeria. I believe I am one of the few flying the flag of the discipline – such that it has now crept its way into a university curriculum. Next semester (December 2022/23), I will be teaching M.Sc. Popular Culture in the Department of Mass Communication – one of the very few Departments in the country courageous and bold enough to do so. It’d be a fully interactive class, touching all aspects of what gives us social awareness through mediated popular culture.
Now, to the question of Murja Ibrahim Kunya, a TikTok influencer who speaks at more than 100 km per second. She is important enough to have a Wikipedia page. Dr. Muazu Hassan Muazu was one of the lecturers teaching EEP 4201 – Venture Creation and Growth course in the School of General and Entrepreneurship Studies (SGES), Bayero University Kano. We once taught the course together. In the first semester (2022/2023) examination, question #5 went like this: “Murja Kunya and Me Wushirya are bloggers who trend by causing scandalous contents on their social media handles, for that reason, they are given advertisement jobs. If they do that they become – (a) influencer marketers, (b) brand ambassadors, (c), trading agents, (d) marketing managers.” Students are to choose one which they believe was the correct answer.
What drew attention was the focus on the activities of TikTokers – activities not taken seriously, especially those of Murja Kunya who elicited different reactions from different people. One posting on Facebook even labeled her a mental health patient. And yet, here a university is asking academic questions on their activities. The entire 70-item question paper included references to various brands – KEDCO, Rufaidah, Salima Cake, A.A. Rano, L&Z Yoghourt, Sahad Stores, MTN, Chicken Republic, and so on. All these are marketing HUBS. Why not TikTokers? Marketers are looking for audiences – notice how those silly and irritating videos pop up on news sites on your device to attract your attention? Dr. Mu’azu’s inclusion of cyber popular culture in his course – and Chicken Republic, dealing with food, IS part of popular culture – to me, is a brilliant acknowledgement of the popular culture and its social relevance. Crazy, drugged, attention-seeker or not, people follow Murja Kunya. That means audiences, that means market – making her a perfect vehicle to advertise products. So, what’s wrong with that? If a woman frying ƙosai by the roadside has the same level of audience attraction, we should also acknowledge her as a marketing potential. That does not mean we endorse what they do – it means we are interested in reaching out to their audiences to buy our products.
Without pop culture, we wouldn’t be able to understand generations, so knowing gives us all a better understanding. Overall, a critical analysis of pop culture and media can help to shed light on the ways in which media interacts with the society and can help to promote more informed and nuanced understanding of media’s role in shaping our world.
Now, print Ale Rufa’is Bullgates gangaliyan note and purchase your village.
Abdalla Uba Adamu,
is a Professor of Media and Cultural Studies, Bayero Universe, Kano. This was first published on his Facebook account.
President Tinubu: Stunts of the Salesman
By Abdulaziz Abdulaziz
It was pin drop silence. All heads turned to his side of the hall listening as the man gently, but firmly, made a case for his country to this crème de la crème of the Saudi Arabian economic bureaucracy and business community. He grabbed attention with an off the cuff speech that exuded confidence, authority, assurance and truthfulness. It was a little wonder his audience followed through and nodded all through!
The setting was the Saudi-Nigeria Business Summit and the speaker was President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. It was a forum held on the sidelines of the recent Saudi-Africa Summit held in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia.
President Tinubu went into the meeting hall at the JW Marriot Hotel in upscale Riyadh as the President of Nigeria. By the time he picked the microphone he quickly wore the garb of a chief salesman for a product he is excited to market.
It was an effortless exercise in sophisticated arts of marketing and advocacy. It was a presentation from the heart that was as unpretentious as it was unscripted. He spurned out the facts and the figures, reeled out the justifications and tickled the boardroom chiefs where it mattered without appearing weak or pitiable. It was a classic case of economic diplomacy and salesmanship at the highest level.
Since the beginning of his campaign for office, one of the most frequent words on his lips has been “prosperity”. President Tinubu is a prosperous man. His life is tinged with footsteps of prosperity, from the corporate world where he was a successful businessman to the prosperous political career that was capped with his election to the highest office in the land.
It had not always been rosy for him. He had told his story again and again to motivate the younger generation and inspire the country. He had toiled to reach the top. He knew the pains of want and starvation, and the sweetness that comes with economic liberation and prosperity. It is the latter that President Tinubu is desperately working to see that all Nigerians have tested.
He had the lifelong ambition to lead his fatherland. He has fulfilled this ambition. He could, if he chooses, stay back and enjoy the pecks that come with it and pass the time in office. But because the ambition was not a vain one, President Tinubu is up and doing. “I campaigned for it. I begged for the job. I even danced to get elected. There is no excuse!” That is his mindset and the philosophy of leadership for him, and it is for this mindset that he is willing to go to any length to ensure that he bequeath to Nigerians a prosperous country that everyone desires.
It was in his quest for this objective that the President chose to use his time in Riyadh to address the country’s top boardroom chiefs. It turned out to be not just another meeting or a boring address from just another President. It was dazzling interaction that stole the minds of almost everyone in the room, by their own admission.
“We came with high expectations but you have exceeded them,” said the Saudi minister of investment, Khalid Al Falih, who moderated the three-hour session, after the rousing applause that greeted President Tinubu’s address to the Saudi business community. The minister had in his welcome address spoke about how they had followed President Tinubu’s campaign promises and how he started off with the “boldest economic reform agenda in decades” for Nigeria, likening it to happenings in Saudi Arabia.
Mohammed Abunayyan, Chairman of Saudi’s ACWA Power confessed to being “inspired and motivated” by the President promising to see how his company can make foray into Nigeria. In the same vein, Abdulrahman Alfaqiq, the CEO of Saudi oil trading company, SABIC, promised to upscale their business relationship with Nigeria due to the assurances he got from the top. They were just a few of the many who spoke in glowing terms about the President and in optimistic sense of the new business environment being created by President Tinubu for domestic and international investors.
This was not the first time and certainly not the last. In September, the President’s participation at the G20 Summit in New Delhi, India, was a potpourri of achievements. He maximally used the time to network with the right people and seek out investments for Nigeria.
It was, in every sense, a bumper harvest for the country as the President came back with a basket full of goodies amounting to billions of dollars in investment pledges. Most of the commitments are in areas dear to the heart of the President and at centre of our quest for development. These include the $3 billion promised by Jindal Steels for iron ore processing to aid Nigeria’s drive for industrialization, Skippersells’ plan to invest $1.6 billion in the power sector by building 2000MW power plants across the country in 4 years, Indorama’s pledge for $8 billion expansion of their petrochemical facilities in Rivers State, a billion
dollars secured by the Defence Industry Corporation Of Nigeria (DICON),
The President’s last trip to Germany for the G20 Compact with Africa Summit also garnered as much fruits with the signing of the $500 million gas and renewable energy pact with the German government, among others.
As a young man, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu was trained as an accountant. He was a very good student, his records show, who finished from the Chigaco State University with flying colours. In the aftermath, he pursued strings of career opportunities in Accounting and Auditing. He left his job on his own volition and ventured into politics. But in his new job President Tinubu is demonstrating that beyond his training in Accountancy, as omo iyaloja he has imbibed not a few skills from his revered mother and notable businesswoman to apply in his bid to market Nigeria to investors and the larger international community.
Abdulaziz is Senior Special Assistant to the President on Print Media. He’s on X @AbdulFagge
MTN Scholarships: Transforming Lives of Nigerian Students
In the corridors of Bayero University, Kano, two exceptional students from the Department of Chemical Engineering, Abdussalam Ojoshobo Adejo and Obeyemi Adebiyi, are shining examples of the transformative power of the MTN Scholarships.
Initiated by the MTN Foundation, these scholarships, have become a beacon of hope and opportunity for Bling students and those pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) courses across Nigerian universities, polytechnic and colleges of education.
MTN set up the Foundation in 2004, and commenced operation in 2005, with the goal to provides platforms and opportunities for their scholars to connect to their aspirations and realise their potential from which the nation will benefit.
MTN made it a point of duty to have youth development as a pillar for the Foundation, and one of the ways to express the commitment is through scholarship.
The Foundation Executive Secretary, Odunayo Sanya said “Till date we have given about 12,700 scholarships, expended the sum of N3 billion for indigent students who are science-based in the last ten years.”
Telling the success story, Abdussalam Adejo, currently in his fourth year of study, hails from Kogi State. His journey with the MTN scholarship began as a dream nurtured during his secondary school days.
Witnessing a senior student receive the prestigious scholarship at the Federal University Minna, Niger State, fueled Abdussalam’s determination to strive for academic excellence and secure the coveted award.
After completing his second year at the university, Abdussalam navigated the rigorous application process, ensuring he met the required Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) threshold of 3.5.
The competition, as he describes it, is fierce, with an estimated three thousand or more applicants annually from various institutions nationwide.
“Despite the competitiveness, I was lucky to be among the less than five hundred selected applicants,” Abdussalam adds.
Abdussalam’s dedication paid off, earning him a spot among the select few who received the scholarship in 2022.
“The offer comes with a payment of two hundred thousand Naira every semester from the year of award till your final year, and for you to renew that scholarship, it’s not an automatic payment; you have to maintain a certain CGPA of 3.5 above for the subsequent levels,” says Abdussalam.
Additionally, MTN sponsors specific courses, offering opportunities for students to enhance their skill sets without financial constraints.
“Some of those courses that we have taken open my eyes. I participated in an Internet of Things, I also took a course on cybersecurity, I took a course on soft skills development.
Basically, it has really contributed positively to my life, and I am happy to say that there has been a lot of improvement after the scholarship,” Abdussalam emphasizes.
Reflecting on the impact of the scholarship, Abdussalam attests to its life-changing nature. Financial burdens were alleviated, allowing him to focus on his academic pursuits and excel in his studies.
The scholarship served as a catalyst for personal growth, eliminating the need to seek financial support from his parents.
“Once you remove financial challenges from students, fifty percent of his problem has been taken care of,” Abdussalam states.
“It has been 80 to 90 percent motivation to my life both in academic and career growth,” he concludes.
He extends a heartfelt thank you to MTN for bringing smiles to the lives of students through the foundation’s commitment to education.
“I am happy to say that there has been a lot of improvement after the scholarship. I am grateful to MTN for putting smiles on the faces of students through the scholarship from MTN foundation.”
Obeyemi Adebiyi, another beneficiary from the Department of Chemical Engineering at Bayero University, shares a similar sentiment.
Originating from Osun State and residing in Jigawa, Obeyemi echoes the narrative of how the MTN scholarship has profoundly influenced his life.
“Actually, having the scholarship and been expose to the opportunities that has come with the scholarship, because for you to even renew your scholarship there is skills you need to obtain which you need to submit result of that skill, may be you take programming course you need to submit the certificate like at least two, which is part of the requirement.” Obeyemi stated.
“Now gaskiya, I am energise after the scholarship, I feel like sky is my limit, because I don’t have that monetary worry that will limit some of the I can do, it has been a life changing experience after the scholarship, I am super charge.” He emphasizes.
The MTN Foundation Scholarships continue to serve as catalysts for academic excellence, breaking barriers and fostering a brighter future for BLIND and STEM students in Nigeria.
Tinubu and Ganduje Shouldn’t Play with Fire in Kano
By Farooq A. Kperogi
In a predictable, premeditated, and carefully choreographed judicial charade, the Court of Appeal on Friday upheld the verdict of the Kano State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal that reversed the electoral triumph of NNPP’s Governor Abba Yusuf of Kano State. I sincerely hope this assault on justice isn’t the spark that ignites an inferno in Kano—and in the country.
The signs had been evident since early October that a predetermination had been made that irrespective of the facts, the flawed, preplanned judgment of the election petition tribunal must be preserved at all costs.
For example, on October 6, the Head of the Legal Department of INEC in Kano State by the name of Suleiman Alkali wrote a curious letter stating that INEC, which had declared NNP’s Yusuf as the validly elected winner of the governorship election in Kano, was no longer interested in defending its declaration.
“I have been instructed by the commission headquarters that INEC as an umpire has no reason to appeal any judgment,” he wrote. “Consequently, the National Commission in charge of Legal Services and National Commissioner in charge of Kano zone directed that the appeal be withdrawn and all processes for all appeals should be forwarded to the Kano Office.”
In response to the jolt and outrage that the letter generated, Sam Olumekun, INEC’s National Commissioner and chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, said Alkali wasn’t authorized to write the letter, pointing out that the letter had “since been withdrawn and the officer reprimanded.” We weren’t told the nature of the “reprimand” because it was a lie.
That was exactly what played out when INEC acted in cahoots with Ahmed Lawan to steal APC’s Bashir Machina’s Yobe North Senatorial District primary win, which the Supreme Court affirmed in a shameless show of what I called judicial banditry.
(Retired Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammed quoted his colleague’s quotation of my abrasive censure of the Supreme Court in his parting shots at his colleagues even though he and his colleague didn’t give me credit— and slightly misquoted me. I said in a February 6 article titled “Lawan and Supreme Court of Shameless Judicial Bandits” that “Nigeria’s Supreme Court is, without a doubt, a rotten gaggle of useless, purchasable judicial bandits. The highest bidder gets their judgement.” Dattijo used “voter” where I used “rotten.”)
Anyway, on September 5, 2022, an INEC lawyer by the name of Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, had filed an affidavit at the Federal High Court to discredit the result of its own election that had declared Machina as the winner of the Yobe North APC senatorial primary election.
In the aftermath of the shock and fury that attended this, Festus Okoye, at the time INEC’s National Commissioner and chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee Festus, repudiated Ikpeazu’s affidavit and said, “the Commission will review its quality assurance protocols, including the preview by appropriate ranking Officials of all processes filed on its behalf to ascertain their correctness in all material particulars with all reports and all information at its disposal before their presentation so that a situation like this is not repeated.”
Well, that situation was repeated in Kano in October this year, almost exactly a year later. It seems to be a well-practiced pattern. INEC first flies a kite, sees how high it flies, then crashes it. But the whole point is to prepare the minds of the public for what is being hatched so as to minimize its shock value when it finally materializes.
If the outcome of the Ahmed Lawan and Bashir Machina case is any guide, it means INEC is deeply complicit in Ganduje’s chicanery and plot to steal Yusuf’s governorship. It might also mean that the “judicial bandits” I talked about at the Supreme Court are waiting in the wings to feast on another stolen electoral dinner. I hope I am wrong.
The second indication that this appeal court judgment was a well-rehearsed theater came when the appeal court completed its deliberations on November 6 but deferred its judgment until November 17 and then requested that security be heightened in Kano in anticipation of the publicizing of its judgement. Only people in a dry run for the abortion of justice ask for anticipatory protection from their potential victims.
As I pointed out in my September 23, 2023, column titled “Why the Kano Verdict Can’t Stand,” it is apparent that former Kano State governor and current APC national chairman Abdullahi Ganduje has resolved to damn all consequences and use the federal might at his disposal to wrest the power that his party and his flunkey lost to Rabiu Kwankwaso and his son-in-law in the governorship election.
“APC appears intent to get back through judicial manipulation what it lost through the ballot box,” I wrote. “It’s a higher-order, more sophisticated, and less primitive version of the broad-day electoral heist they perpetrated in 2019 after former Governor Abdullahi ‘Gandollar’ Ganduje lost to the same Abba Yusuf.”
In a defiant disregard for potentially untoward consequences, Ganduje—of course, with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s blessing—has decided to pull all strings to snatch judicial victory from the jaws of electoral defeat.
As I will show shortly, both the election tribunal and the appeal court are not even pretending to be fair in their judgments. They have already been handed a verdict and mandated to fish for evidence to justify it. The verdict, of course, is that NNPP’s Abba Yusuf must go and must be replaced by APC’s Nasiru Gawuna.
In rhetorical studies, we call that finalism, that is, a conclusion in search of evidence. Psychologists call it “motivated reasoning,” that is, tendentious interpretation intentionally designed to produce a predetermined outcome. Philosophers call that armchair hermeneutics, that is, reasoning that ignores the evidence.
The Daily Trust reported Justice Moore A. Adumein as predicating the nullification of Yusuf’s victory on the fact of his not being a member of the NNPP when he was nominated by the party. “As rightfully found, Yusuf Abba was not a member of the NNPP at the time he was purportedly sponsored by his party and he was not qualified to contest the March Governorship Election,” Justice Adumein reportedly said.
Yet, in quashing the election of APC’s House of Representatives member Musa Iliyasu Kwankwaso and reinstating NNPP’s Yusuf Umar Datti as the validly elected member to represent Kano’s Kura/Madobi/Garun Malam Federal Constituency seat, the same appeal court said two weeks ago that “the issue of membership of a political party is an internal affair, which no court has jurisdiction on,” according to the LEADERSHIP newspaper.
I had thought that this was settled law. As I wrote in a previous column, “A May 26 Supreme Court ruling also says rival parties have no right to question the validity of the internal decisions made by other parties unless they can prove that they suffered demonstrable harm as a result of the internal decisions another party took. So, the Kano governorship election tribunal’s verdict on this issue will be as dead as a dodo upon appeal.”
The question now is, why is NNPP’s Yusuf being held to a different standard? I get that Kwankwaso and Yusuf didn’t handle their victory well. Instead of being happy, their victory roused destructive vengeance and mean-spiritedness in them. But that’s no reason to steal their legitimately earned victory.
I am certain that NNPP will take this case to the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court is guided by its precedents, which is never guaranteed, I have no doubt that it will invalidate the judgements of the lower courts.
But this is clearly not a legal issue. It’s a battle for political supremacy in Kano between Ganduje and Kwankwaso in which Ganduje is deploying the courts as cudgels to fustigate Kwankwaso.
My advice for President Tinubu is to be very watchful because this is really treacherous territory. Righteous anger over obvious injustice—on top of ongoing existential torment in the country—can spark violence whose consequence we can’t predict.
Farooq A. Kperogi is a Professor of journalism and emerging media at Kennesaw State University, U.S.A
This article was first published on his Facebook page.
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