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Documenting Hausa popular literature

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Documenting Hausa popular literature
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Documenting Hausa 'market' literature
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Furniss, Graham ( Author, Primary )
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Hausa language -- Literatue
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Africa -- Nigeria
Africa -- Niger
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13.473597 x 6.558458

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VIAF (name authority) : Furniss, Graham : URI http://viaf.org/viaf/56635753

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Full Text
Documenting Hausa Popular Literature
Graham Furniss1
School of Oriental and African Studies
From the earliest period of the production of printed Roman script books in the north of
Nigeria, a primary concern was the economics of book production. The conundrum was how to
break out of the 'chicken and egg situation' whereby it was not possible to 'create' a reading
public unless there were sufficient, affordable, and readable books that a potential reader would
want to read; on the other hand, without an existing commercial market for books, how could
any publisher continue to publish? (East 1943). The main government-funded agency, the
Northern Region Literature Agency (NORLA), that undertook the publication of the
overwhelming majority of Hausa language books in the 1950s (Skinner 1970), was forced to
close when its losses became unsustainable.
In the early 1980s it looked as if a breakthrough was about to occur. A new generation
of young people were benefitting from the introduction of Universal Primary Education (UPE)
in 1976, even if that introduction was less than 100 per cent effective. At the same time, the
economic boom in Nigeria had meant that a large number of publishers had geared up to cash in
on the schoolbook market, forming partnerships between existing or new local publishers and
international conglomerates (Macmillans with the Northern Nigerian Publishing Company
(NNPC); Hodder & Stoughton with HudaHuda Press; OUP with Ibadan University Press;
Longman Nigeria). I remember being told in about 1980 that NNPC had a list of some 75 titles
that they were preparing to publish over the ensuing years. The collapse of the Nigerian
economy in the 1980s put paid to all that. Some publishers continued to publish on a much
reduced scale; some like NNPC, the holders of the backlist which represents the bulk of Hausa
publishing, pretty near stopped publishing at all, and have produced little or nothing new ever
since. The economic measures which sent the Naira plummeting, cut back on Ministry of
Education book purchasing budgets, severely reduced the buying power of public sector salaries,
and brought state education to its knees, effectively kicked any prospect of a take-off in formal
publishing well into touch. Babangida's nominal refusal to accept IMF terms for a financial deal,
and his subsequent introduction of 'SAP' measures to meet their demands, put paid to a lot
1 This paper first appeared in print as Furniss, Graham (2000) 'Documenting Hausa "market" literature', in T. A.
Barringer (ed.) Africa Bibliography 1998, pp. vii-xxxiii, Edinburgh University Press for the International
African Institute My thanks are due to Ibrahim Malumfashi, Brian Larkin, Murray Last, S B Ahmad, Barry


more than publishing. However, the young people who had been ten or twelve years of age
when UPE had been introduced, were, by the end of the 1980s, in their early twenties. With a
familiarity with reading, some money in their pockets, and with typewriters and then word-
processors on their desks, some of them decided to do it themselves. It is bitterly ironic that
when formal publishing collapsed, there was an explosion of writing in Hausa, surely not
something the World Bank would have expected as a consequence of its carefully modelled
econometric outcomes. Against all the odds, and the IMF, Hausa cultural creativity took a new
turn.
In this short paper I will focus upon one of the facilitative mechanisms in this cultural
movement the writers' club. Clubs and societies have played a significant role in the
development of Hausa literature poetry writing in the early 1970s in Kano, for example, was an
activity fostered by two poetry circles, the Hikima Club (Furniss 1994) and Hausa Fasaha. The
former was a functioning association where members met each week to read and discuss their
poems; the leader, Mudi Spikin, exercised control over who was given access to the regular
weekly radio slot that the Club had obtained on Kano radio, and he also led the debate over
appropriate topics for public poetry and appropriate positions to take on a variety of moral and
social issues. Fissiparous tendencies arose as a result of contention over the degree of control he
exercised and through quarrels about relative status within the Club. The rival association at that
time, Hausa Fasaha, under the leadership of Akilu Aliyu, hardly ever met, had a membership
spread across northern Nigeria, and was essentially a mechanism for establishing relative status
among poets who rarely if ever met under the auspices of the association. Poetry writing and
performance was, and still is, a mechanism for public debate about many topical social and
political issues all within a strongly moralistic framework of debate. Forming clubs and
associations for the purpose of status ascription rather than to pursue a particular activity is not
uncommon. Reading and discussion circles (see the role of the Bauchi Discussion Circle in the
early history of northern politics where Aminu Kano and Sa'adu Zungur debated the practice of
colonial administration (Yakubu 1999: 33-44)) were a feature of early northern opposition to
colonial rule. The establishment of groups of intellectuals to debate the nature, norms and
prospects of society were not an innovation of the colonial era, however. The Islamic reform
movement of the early nineteenth century was centred around a veritable intellectual hive of
debate and discussion on Islam and society. Notable within that movement were a woman and
Burgess, Malami Buba and the participants in the Social Histories of Reading workshop, Cambridge, July 2000,
for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper.
2


her sisters, Nana Asma'u, daughter of the Shehu, see (Boyd and Mack 1997; Boyd and Mack
2000).
That which is in northern Nigeria now sometimes called Adabin Kasuwar Kano 'Kano
Market Literature' (sometimes called Soyayya Books 'love stories'), and which here is generally
referred to as 'Hausa popular literature' has been the subject of a long-running public debate in
the newspapers, (particularly in the section of the New Nigerian entitled 'The Write Stuff edited
until recently by Ibrahim Sheme), and cultural magazines such as Garkuwa:2 a debate led by
journalists and university academics such as Ibrahim Malumfashi, Ibrahim Sheme, Yusuf M
Adamu, Abdalla Uba Adamu, Muhammad Danjuma Katsina, and others. Ibrahim Malumfashi
(personal communication) tells me these debates have been documented by Abdalla Uba Adamu
through an 'Annotated Bibliography of Soyayya Criticism from Newspapers', deposited at
Bayero University Library in July 1999. The literature has been written about by Brian Larkin
(1997), by Novian Whittsit, and briefly by myself (Furniss 1996: 54-5) outside Nigeria. The
popularity of cultural magazines such as Garkuwa and film magazines Fim edited by Ibrahim
Sheme, and Tauraruwa. attest to the widespread interest in many aspects of current forms of
cultural production among particularly younger urban people in Nigeria.
The first question is how extensive is this literature? My own collection runs to about
400 titles; Ibrahim Malumfashi and Salisu Yakasai tell me (April 2000) they have a collection of
about 450 titles. Following an assertion by Aisha Umar Yusuf in an article in the Weekly Trust
that there were some 2500 KML titles, Yusuf M Adamu responded by indicating (in 1998) that a
bibliography in the posession of himself, Ibrahim Malumfashi and Ado Ahmad Gidan Dabino
indicated some 600-700 titles (Adamu 1998). Abdalla Uba Adamu, writing earlier this year
(Adamu 2000) refers to his own catalogue of 443 books produced up to December 1999. In
1993, Abba Rufai told me he had purchased about 85 titles for the library of the Centre for the
Study of Nigerian Languages (CSNL), part of Bayero University, in Kano, but in a more recent
conversation in Kano it appears that the CSNL has been so starved of cash over the last years
that they have not been able to keep abreast of the rate of publication. Very few of the books
have ISBN numbers; there is, as far as I know, no central agency looking to establish a definitive
collection, and the books themselves appear in the market and bookshops and then disappear
just as quickly. The need for an authoritative and comprehensive listing is acute, as well as an
2 According to Yusuf M Adamu (Adamu 1998) the 'soyayya debate' began in 1991 when Ibrahim Sheme
introduced a literary column in the Hausa language newspaper, Nasiha, and two articles by Ibrahim Malumfashi
3


archive of texts. While volumes are apparently in preparation discussing the merits of the
arguments on both sides of the 'soyayya debate' (see the interview with Abdalla Uba Adamu,
New Nigerian Weekly. 29 April 2000), I am not aware of any published listing of works
produced through this period of Hausa prose literature. Since private collections have been for
centuries some of the most durable ways of retaining the heritage of Islamic manuscripts, it may
be that private collections will be the saviour of this literature too. Nevertheless, any attempt to
account for the range of writers and writing in this period would undoubtedly benefit from some
published list and some known depository for texts.
Sometimes a book will run to 200 pages, but more usually a book of that length or longer
will be split into parts and sold as separate sections, sometimes consecutively divided into
chapters and so paginated but also sometimes renumbered in each part. In arriving at a guess at
the extent of this literature, there are two aspects we need consider. First, according to Ibrahim
Malumfashi, the more recent rise of a video film industry has begun to put paid to the
production of such books, essentially not because there is a lack of readers, but because many of
the authors have themselves gone into film production (Malumfashi 2000). This may mean that
there has been a tailing off of book production, although this is disputed by others. Second, in
regard to the production of books within the clubs, the way in which those clubs established
their conventions for what goes into a book may help us to approximate the extent of their lists.
In the next section I set out some information on three writer's clubs, two of which were
based in Kano (Raina Kama (RK) 'Deceptive Appearances' and Kukan Kurciya (KK) 'The Cry
of the Dove'), and one in Kaduna (Dan Hakin Da Ka Raina 'The Splinter You Ignore').3 The
first Raina Kama and Kukan Kurciya books date from the late 1980s. Malumfashi (personal
communication) suggests that Rabin Raina by Talatu Wada Ahmed was about the first. Wa Zai
Auri Jahila? Who would marry an ignorant woman?' by Balaraba Ramat Yakubu of Raina Kama
is dated 1990; Soyayya Gamon Jini 'Love that joins the blood' (?) by Ibrahim Hamza Abdullahi
Bichi of Kukan Kurciya is dated 1987, and while these two contain mention of the group or have
the group logo on the cover, a number of earlier books which make no mention of the groups
are later incorporated into listings of group publications (e.g. Budurwar Zuciva 'The heart's
desire' 1987 for RK by Balaraba Ramat Yakubu). Many of the books are undated. A rough
appeared, critical of the quality and worth of the emerging 'Kano market literature (KML)'; see also Larkin
(1997:430-1).
31 have not myself undertaken fieldwork on the operation of these clubs and the information I present here is
gleaned from the books they have produced and from Nigerian newspapers such as the New Nigerian and the
Weekly Trust as well as magazines such as Garkuwa 'The Shield'.
4


dating can sometimes be obtained from a useful feature of many of the books produced in the
early 1990s, namely the fact that lists are sometimes provided at the beginning or end of the
book of other titles by members of the group. These lists are usually split into 'already
produced' and 'forthcoming'.
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Z?. KaFiZi^. Au^dU Klhir IndiflnHAiii
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S Djkan'e'MnrfbYJ.ibftfvm Muhzr-iad
3P Sa ModsY* Hama Ami-Ji Na lmia
31 AhL.Ksj-iau ^mioa rakwia
Plate 1: From a Raina Kama book: LH: list o/RK titles in print; RH: list of forthcoming titles
The lists, such as in Plate 1, are a useful way of building up a preliminary catalogue of the
titles produced by the group, and 'forthcoming' items do sometimes then appear in later 'already
produced' listings; however, the lists of 'forthcoming' items have to be treated with caution.
The existence of some Raina Kama titles can be further verified by the miniaturised photocopied
front covers that appear particularly in early volumes, see Plate 2.
5


Plate 2: From a Raina Kama book:photocopied front covers o/RK titles.
In my own collection of Raina Kama works I have some 52 volumes, not all of which are
separate titles, since, as I indicated above, a title is often split into a number of parts. Going on
the basis of volumes that are listed in later RK titles, I estimate that I have about half of the
known output of the group. A preliminary guess therefore would indicate that the 75 titles from
the three clubs discussed here that are in my possession constitute perhaps half of an estimated
150 (roughly) total production. If the same proportions were to apply to my overall collection
then the total corpus for the cbcade of the 1990s would be perhaps around 700. Larkin,
however, (1997: 418) estimates 200 books at about the middle of the decade, so perhaps 450-500
is a closer estimate for the decade as a whole, much closer to Yakasai and Malumfashi's figure
referred to earlier. Malumfashi (personal communication) indicates that a very recent study by
one Kiyawa, 'Gudummawar kungiyoyin marubuta wajen habaka adabi: nazari daga birnin Kano'
(Contribution of writers' groups to the development of literature: a study from Kano city) lists
71 titles from Raina Kama, 14 from Kukan Kurciya, and 17 from another group, Kungiyar
Matasa Marubuta 'Young Writers' Association'.
The identification of a volume as being one produced by the group is most clearly
evident in titles produced in the early 1990s, when there was often a logo (see Plate 3) on the
front cover,
6


Plate 3: Writers' club logos: Raina Kama, Kukan Kurcija and Dan Hakin da Ka Raina
In addition to the listings of the titles on inside pages (see Plate 1) and photocopies of
other covers (see Plate 2), a number of early RK titles contained a photograph of the six 'leaders'
of the Raina Kama group, the woman writer, Balaraba Ramat Yakubu, and five men, Dan'azumi
Baba Chediyar Yan Gurasa, Ado Ahmad Gidan Dabino, Aminu Abdu Na'inna, Hamisu Bature,
and Aminu Hassan Yakasai (see Plate 4).
.HSjiv-aSalatito Hamate

$tito A
.waaidaga cikin shy9aba.fimn kungtyar nwubuta Umuto
Hfausa Raina Kama (Kmc)
Plate 4: Photograph ofRjzina Kama leaders as it appears in numerous RK titles
Many RK titles also give a list of bookshops where the group's titles can be bought. In
their desire to 'strengthen Hausa culture' they also included in some of the early titles an
7


explanation of a new orthography for Hausa which the group wanted to promote, using signs
that were unlike both the Arabic script and the Roman script in which Hausa has traditionally
been written; not only was there an alphabet presented, there were sample pages of text written
by hand in this invented script, with an exhortation for people to take up a truly 'Hausa'
alternative to Western or Arab influence (see Plate 5).
kunnenka nawa?
Duk wanda ya ke son ya san abin da wannan rubutu na
££ ya kunsa, to ya yi toCari y a gane -cfannanh^Qa
da^ke Casa. Bugu da Sari kuma, su waJannan haruffa an
t£e7u ne don kishin Hausa, latabmsu kuma shme,
Rub" Hausawa, da ma duk wanda ya so ya key.
Su waannan haruffa ba na kowacce inn Kabila
ba ne a duk fa Kama saboda tsabar son buntasa harshen Hausa t
tirkire su. Sannan sun faro daga dama ne sabanin na
bTawa da ya faro daga hagu Za'a iya
haraf. a samansa an sa na boko don a gane sh. sosai.
Haka kuma, ba sin da wani bamboo. gunn
am fan i da shi da na boko, yadda duk ak, am^na
boko gurin haJa haruffa da wasula, sh.
bambicin kawai, shi ta dama ya faro, don Car.n bay^.
sai a tuntub. wacfannan shugabann. na fcung.yar Rama
Kama......
J b r
b
^ >> f e
5 i 5r J V
/ 6
v
* i
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Plate 5: Raina Kama new script for writing Hausa
The most recent title I have that maintains the RK logo is from 1999, but it is interesting
that a recent book by Balaraba Ramat Yakubu (Ina Sonsa Haka 'I love him so') bears no
indication of Raina Kama membership, and the list of other titles is of her own earlier volumes
only. It would seem that in recent years the presence of the Raina Kama writing group has
become somewhat attenuated, perhaps linked to the fact that a number of members have gone
their own ways in founding their own publishing enterprises and more recently, video film
production companies, of which more later.
Kukan Kurciya similarly made use of a logo and group tide listings, but not a photograph
or other identifying feature. I have some 20 volumes that are marked as Kukan Kurciya that run
up to 1999. Perusing the lists of KK tides and authors it is clear that membership of KK has
been generally distinct from membership of RK, except that in one instance a volume by Ahmed
8


Mahmood Zahraddeen (Garin Masovi. 'As lover/ the lover's town'(?) n.d.) lists Balaraba Ramat
and her books as being of Kukan Kurciya.
Many of the books have little indication of how or when they were produced.
Nevertheless, it is clear that in the absence of formal publishers, the early volumes in particular
were produced by an arrangement between the author, and/or his or her agents, and a printer.
So RK titles in the early 1990s were often printed by Bamas Printers, or by Gidan Dabino
Publishers (the business name of Ado Ahmad?) and Nuruddeen Publications, while a number of
RK titles in the later 1990s have the name of a bookshop, Garba Mohammed Bookshop,
prominently displayed on the back. Balaraba Ramat Yakubu's books from an early period are
produced by Ramat General Enterprises. The same Garba Mohammed Bookshop is
prominently displayed on a number of the later titles from the Kukan Kurciya group, while
another prime mover in that group, Ahmed Mahmood Zahraddeen, and others are printed by
Zahraddeen Publishers (although interestingly his first (?) book, Kogin Soyayva. 'The river of
love' is first printed in 1988 by Mai Nasara Printing Press) and it is only later that he is
established with, presumably, his own press (going by the name). Clearly it has sometimes been
the bookshop which has taken on the entrepreneurial role that would otherwise have been that
of the publisher. Malumfashi (n.d.:5) puts it very succinctly, 'Within a span of less than 10 years,
a powerful group of book sellers are now in control of this lucrative business. They buy books in
bulk and pay the author/publisher in instalments. Right now the booksellers have become
bookshop owners, publishers, writers and editors all in one. They not only buy published works
but also scout for a promising love story and sponsor its publication, they may give a writer a
story angle that they are sure will sell, and after the production of the text, they finance the
publication and distribution.'
Both the above groups are based in Kano. The third group, Dan Hakin Da Ka Raina, is
based in Kaduna and would appear to be a later association, in that the first volume I have that
displays its logo dates from 1994. I have only 6 volumes that display the logo, but a volume
from 1997 (Zainabu Abu 'Zainab Abu' by Umaimat Usman Ali) lists 30 other DHKR titles. A
recent volume (Ko Ban Ce Ba...l 'Even if I don't say...' by Tanko Baba Kadara Gidan Kaura,
1999) names five elected officers of the group. While RK and KK seem to have less mention of
the group in recent publications by erstwhile members, this group would appear to be still
growing. An attack upon the leadership of such writers' groups accusing them of high-
handedness and a lack of care with the group's resources is made in a recent issue of Garkuwa
9


(Umar 2000). Perhaps issues of control and status became an issue again, as with the poetry
clubs in the 1970s.
In the early 1990s these books were selling at about 15-20 Naira, and as I indicated
elsewhere, that compared with the cost, at the time, of a Coke at 5 Naira and a modest meal at
30 Naira (Furniss 1996: 55). The prices have, I believe, remained similar in relative terms,
although a small volume will now cost 80-100 Naira or more. I do not know how writers were
able to raise capital for the initial printing of their books, a great deal of work still needs to be
done on the commercialization of the local book trade and the way in which local entrepreneurs
saw the potential for investment in a profitable commodity. Clearly, when the move began some
four or five years ago into video film production, a number of commercial enterprises were
quick to exploit the urban market for both VHS video equipment and for Hausa language video
films, which quickly began to squeeze the Indian video film dominance of the market, even
though (or perhaps precisely because) much of the cinematography and singing styles directly
mimicked Indian film (see Larkin (1997) and (1999) for an extensive discussion of the influence
of Indian film).
An important element in the early development of Kano market literature was the
intervention of university academics, particularly from Bayero University in Kano. Many
acknowledgements in these books provide fulsome thanks to academic staff who clearly
provided encouragement, proof-reading, and other advice to these budding writers. Notable
among these figures were the late Ibrahim Yaro Yahaya, a mainstay of Hausa cultural studies in
the University, and Dr Sa'idu Muhammadu Gusau, the bulk of whose own work had been on
court praise singers, but who clearly was a key figure in encouraging these writers of fiction and
who provided many a preface to their books. It is some of these same academics who have
engaged not only in the 'backroom' role, but have led a debate in the newspapers and magazines
about whether this literature represents ephemeral, unworthy, frippery that will quickly fade
away, or is the beginnings of a serious and important cultural movement. Opinions differ,
however the pivot of the argument is the issue of whether this literature is properly promoting
Hausa customs in conformity with Islam or is a corrupting influence.4 Attack and defence are
often framed in these terms. Even more is this a burning issue with the advent of video films.
Women have been prominent in the development of this writing, and they have been
equally significant as readers. While only 20% of the publications in my Raina Kama collection
10


are by women, recent years have seen a rise in the proportion of books that are written by
women, not necessarily within the framework of a writers' club. Ibrahim Malumfashi (personal
communication) has documented about 70 women writers of Kano Market Literature and their
titles in a paper presented at the 17th Conference of the Linguistic Association of Nigeria, 1999,
held in Zaria. I was told in Kano in April (2000) that the high number of Mills & Boon style
romances is a reflection of the demand coming from women readers. Perhaps the most
significant public presence of women is as stars within the video film industry and also, as in the
case of Balaraba Ramat Yakubu, as writers/directors/ producers.
A further comment made to me in April was that the model provided by the rise of
video hire shops (membership fee and then rental for individual items) has been directly
borrowed and translated into the world of books. Abdalla Uba Adamu, writing in the New
Nigerian refers to 'commercial libraries' where a book can be hired for five Naira (Adamu 1999).
One of the most remarkable transitions in recent years has been the move from books
into video film. Many of the stories in the books now known as Kano Market Literature or
Hausa Popular Literature are built around dialogue and action, a characteristic that was also
present in earlier prose writing of the 1940s and 1950s. Such a writing style made it relatively
easy to work from a story to a TV drama, and a number of the Hausa TV drama series ('Magana
Jari Ce', for example) derived their story lines from texts. With the experience of staging
comedies and social commentaries that had been accumulating in the TV stations and in the
drama department of ABU, for example, it was not difficult conceptually to move into video
film. I am not familiar with the story of how Raina Kama writers made the transition into film
but it is clear that when Balaraba Ramat Yakubu became Ramat Productions, sd also Ado
Ahmad became part of Gidan Dabino Video Productions, Dan'azumi Baba became part of RK
Studios, and many other film production companies mushroomed in the late 1990s. 'Films of
the book' included Wa Zai Auri Jahila 'Who will marry an ignorant woman?' and Alhaki
Kwikwivo 'A misdeed is like a puppy...' by Balaraba Ramat Yakubu, In Da So Da Kauna "Where
there is love and desire' by Ado Ahmacf, Jidali 'Struggle' and Kvan Alkawari 'The beauty of a
promise...' by Dan'azumi Baba, Kwai a Baka 'An egg in the mouth...' by Aisha Chediyar 'Yan
Gurasa, Rikicin Duniva 'This deceptive world' by Dan'azumi Baba became 'Bakandamiyar
Rikicin Duniya'. Malumfashi (n.d.:5) indicates the scale of the enterprise involved, 'the KML
4 Larkin (1997: 430-2) discusses the origins and nature of the debate sparked off by Ibrahim Malumfashi and
others in 1991.
li


group has over 300 video cassettes to their credit, using of course some of their best selling
novels as source material'.
The themes of this literature circle around the perennial issues of crime, violence, money,
power, status, love and marriage. Running through these themes are debates about modernity
and tradition, often graphically represented on the front covers of the books fighting and
criminal activity is at one moment in a world of warriors on horseback brandishing cutlasses, and
in another dominated by AK 47s, shotguns and shades, with the occasional admixture of both
worlds. Money, power and status are most graphically represented through the activities of rich
businessmen, contractors and officials. Here the trappings of satellite television, mobile phones
and the ubiquitous Mercedes are the markers of the powerful elites and their ill-gotten gains. It
is on love, marriage and power that the majority of stories are focused. The stories of true love
between age-mates thwarted by the intervention of a rich and powerful man are legion, with the
conflict between obedience to parents and true love being the hook on which much anguish
turns. The explosion into public culture of issues which were hitherto less generally apparent has
been accompanied by the establishment of public profiles for many women as writers and
latterly as actresses, directors and producers.
While this short essay has focused upon the problems of documenting 'Hausa popular
literature', the issue of the documenting of the mushrooming video film industry is equally as
pressing. Hausa language video films have created a new cultural market and have pushed
Indian films on video out of their dominant position, and they have reduced the importance of
the cinema through the growth of a TV watching culture, not only in private homes (where
women particularly can gather) but in bars and other semi-public places. Indian film-makers (as
well as video film-makers from southern parts of Nigeria) are apparently looking to bring their
expertise and investment into northern Nigeria, and there have been calls to resist, although
many Hausa video films both imitate singing styles and romantic interludes directly from Indian
films (for further discussion of cinema and video film see, for example, Larkin 1999 and 2000).
The rate at which Hausa video films were being produced by March 1999 prompted the
Association of Video Retailers in Kano to call on the producers of video films to limit their
launching of films onto the market to no more than two per week because the video retailers
could not cope with trying to ensure supply (Fim 1, March 1999, p. 14).
5 This title is summarised and discussed by Larkin (1997: 425-9), along with another book, Kishin Kumallon
Mata by Maryam Sahabi Liman.
12


The conundrum that faced the early producers of Roman script literature was two-fold:
how to create a critical mass of readers to sustain an economically viable literature industry, and
how to create a virtuous circle of communication and development such that the readers of
literature became discussants of literature and in turn writers of literature.6
In examining cultural production as manifestations of civil society lodged between the
apparatus of the state and the economic forces that drive the collapse or growth of a country like
Nigeria, we can identify elements that seem, at least at first glance, to have come together to
provide a perhaps unexpected dynamism. At the level of our first conundrum, government
policy in education produced an urban critical mass of young potential readers readers who
were familiar with popular English-language literature circulating in Nigeria but who were also
familiar with, and clearly taken by, the narratives, the romance, and the cultural styles of Indian
film. Access to formal publishing houses was not necessary to reach that market, printing
presses were sufficient for the Kano entrepreneurial spirit to succeed. As Larkin describes,
groups of writers began to address problems and issues from their own personal lives in their
writings issues with which other people in urban northern Nigerian could identify. At the level
of our second conundrum, this new arena of cultural production, which later slipped sideways
into video film (with a number of consequences, for example relating to the public prominence
of women as stars and writers), was itself the subject of another superstructural level of public
debate a debate about the content of books and films, an interpretative process that now
covers content, writers, producers, directors and assesses them and their products in terms of
wider issues concerning the values, purposes and constraints of 'Hausa culture' and, crucially,
their legitimacy and appropriateness within Islam. In this interplay between generations of
university people, journalists and writers, we see perhaps one of the virtuous circles which go to
make up an essential component of a sustainable civil society.
Kano has been the city at the centre (but not the only place), of the debate, not because
it is the only city with an intellectual elite to take the debate forward, but because the interest
among the general population of this largest city in the northern states has meant that there has
been a ready market for first the literature, then the video films and now the cultural magazines
too. As commodities, books and videos have been profitable and in demand, entrepreneurs
have invested, writers, actors, directors, and publishers have gained fame (and notoriety), critics
have sustained long running debates about books and films, religious leaders have endorsed and
6 The biography of one of the first writers of Hausa novels, Abubakar Imam, is illuminating in this regard (Mora
1989).
13


warned, and the habits of reading, and artistic production have become entrenched. Civil society
may be under strain from the dire economic conditions of contemporary Nigeria, and the
political tensions may be extreme as Nigerians expect reform and renewal from a civilian
government, but debate about people's hopes and aspirations, and their view of what is
happening to society proceeds undiminished in new forms and with new voices.
14


REFERENCES
Adamu, Abdalla Uba (1999) "Idols of the marketplace: literary history, literary criticism and the
contemporary Hausa novel." New Nigerian Weekly. 12 June.
Adamu, Abdulla Uba (2000) "Criticism and the growth of knowledge: coda to an unfinished
sympathy." Weekly Trust May 5-11.
Adamu, Yusufu M. (1998) "Hausa novels: beyond the great debate." New Nigerian Weekly. 18
July-
Boyd, J. and B. B. Mack (1997). Collected Works of Nana Asma'u. Daughter of Usman dan
Fodivo (1793-1864). East Lansing, Michigan State University Press.
Boyd, J. and B. B. Mack (2000). One Woman's Jihad: Nana Asma'u Scholar and Scribe.
Bloomington, Indiana University Press.
East, R. M. (1943). "Recent activities of the Literature Bureau, Zaria, Northern Nigeria." Africa
14(1): 71-7.
Furniss, G. (1994). Ideology in Practice: Hausa Poetry as Exposition of Values and Viewpoints.
Koln, Rudiger Koppe.
Furniss, G. (1996). Poetry. Prose and Popular Culture in Hausa. Edinburgh, Edinburgh
University Press for the International African Institute.
Larkin, B. (1997). "Indian films and Nigerian lovers: media and the creation of parallel
modernities." Africa 67(3): 406-39.
Larkin, B. (1999). "Theaters of the profane: cinema and colonial urbanism." Visual Anthropology
Review 14(2): 46-62.
Larkin, B. (2000). "Hausa dramas and the rise of video culture in Nigeria." In Jonathon Haynes
(ed.) Nigerian Video Films, pp. 20941. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press.
Malumfashi, Ibrahim (2000). 'Jana'izar adabin kasuwar Kano', Garkuwa 1 (January): 23; 2 (April):
31.
Malumfashi, Ibrahim (n.d.) "Current trends in Hausa fiction: the emergence of Kano Market
Literature". Unpublished paper.
Mora, Abdurrahman (ed.) (1989). The Abubakar Imam Memoirs. Zaria: NNPC.
Skinner, A. N. (1970). "NORLA: an experiment in the production of vernacular literature 1954-
1959." Revue des Langues Vivantes 36(2): 166-75.
Umar, Bashir Ahmad (2000). 'Shugabannin kungiyoyin marubuta sun zama dodanni!', Garkuwa 1
(January): 27.
Yakubu, A. M. (1999). Sa'adu Zungur: An Anthology of the Social and Political Writings of a
Nigerian Nationalist. Kaduna, Nigerian Defence Academy Press.
15


Full Text

PAGE 1

Documenting Hausa Popular Literature Graham Furniss 1 School of Oriental and African Studies From the earliest period of the production of printed Roman script books in the north of Nigeria, a primary concern was the economics of book production. The co nundrum was how to break out of the chicken and egg situation whereby it was not possible to create a reading public unless there were sufficient, affordable, and readable books that a potential reader would want to read; on the other hand, without an existing commercial market for books, how could any publisher continue to publish? (East 1943) The main government funded agency, the Northern Region Literature Agency (NORLA), that undertook the publication of the overwhelming majority of Hausa language books in the 1950s (Skinner 1970) was forced to close when its losses became unsustainable. In the early 1980s it looked as if a breakthrough was about to occur. A new generation of young people were benefitting from t he introduction of Universal Primary Education (UPE) in 1976, even if that introduction was less than 100 per cent effective. At the same time, the economic boom in Nigeria had meant that a large number of publishers had geared up to cash in on the school book market, forming partnerships between existing or new local publishers and international conglomerates (Macmillans with the Northern Nigerian Publishing Company (NNPC); Hodder & Stoughton with HudaHuda Press; OUP with Ibadan University Press; Longman N igeria). I remember being told in about 1980 that NNPC had a list of some 75 titles that they were preparing to publish over the ensuing years. The collapse of the Nigerian economy in the 1980s put paid to all that. Some publishers continued to publish on a much reduced scale; some like NNPC, the holders of the backlist which represents the bulk of Hausa publishing, pretty near stopped publishing at all, and have produced little or nothing new ever since. The economic measures which sent the Naira plumm eting, cut back on Ministry of Education book purchasing budgets, severely reduced the buying power of public sector salaries, and brought state education to its knees, effectively kicked any prospect of a take off in formal publishing well into touch. Ba bangidas nominal refusal to accept IMF terms for a financial deal, and his subsequent introduction of SAP measures to meet their demands, put paid to a lot 1 This paper first appeared in print as Furniss, Graham (2000) Document ing Hausa market literature, in T. A. Barringer (ed.) Africa Bibliography 1998 pp. vii xxxiii, Edinburgh University Press for the International African Institute My thanks are due to Ibrahim Malumfashi, Brian Larkin, Murray Last, S B Ahmad, Barry

PAGE 2

2 more than publishing. However, the young people who had been ten or twelve years of age when UPE had been introduced, were, by the end of the 1980s, in their early twenties. With a familiarity with reading, some money in their pockets, and with typewriters and then word processors on their desks, some of them decided to do it themselves. It is bitt erly ironic that when formal publishing collapsed, there was an explosion of writing in Hausa, surely not something the World Bank would have expected as a consequence of its carefully modelled econometric outcomes. Against all the odds, and the IMF, Haus a cultural creativity took a new turn. In this short paper I will focus upon one of the facilitative mechanisms in this cultural movement the writers club. Clubs and societies have played a significant role in the development of Hausa literature p oetry writing in the early 1970s in Kano, for example, was an activity fostered by two poetry circles, the Hikima Club (Furniss 1994) and Hausa Fasaha. The former was a functioning association where members met each week to read and discu ss their poems; the leader, Mudi Spikin, exercised control over who was given access to the regular weekly radio slot that the Club had obtained on Kano radio, and he also led the debate over appropriate topics for public poetry and appropriate positions t o take on a variety of moral and social issues. Fissiparous tendencies arose as a result of contention over the degree of control he exercised and through quarrels about relative status within the Club. The rival association at that time, Hausa Fasaha, u nder the leadership of Akilu Aliyu, hardly ever met, had a membership spread across northern Nigeria, and was essentially a mechanism for establishing relative status among poets who rarely if ever met under the auspices of the association. Poetry writing and performance was, and still is, a mechanism for public debate about many topical social and political issues all within a strongly moralistic framework of debate. Forming clubs and associations for the purpose of status ascription rather than to pur sue a particular activity is not uncommon. Reading and discussion circles (see the role of the Bauchi Discussion Circle in the early history of northern politics where Aminu Kano and Saadu Zungur debated the practice of colonial administration (Yakubu 1999: 33 44) ) were a feature of early northern opposition to colonial rule. The establishment of groups of intellectuals to debate the nature, norms and prospects of society were not an innovation of the colonial era, however. The Islamic reform movement of the early nineteenth century was centred around a veritable intellectual hive of debate and discussion on Islam and society. Notable within that movement were a woman and Burge ss, Malami Buba and the participants in the Social Histories of Reading workshop, Cambridge, July 2000, for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper.

PAGE 3

3 her sisters, Nana Asmau, daughter of the Shehu, see (Boyd and Mack 1997; Boyd and Mack 2000) That which is in northern Nigeria now sometimes called Adabin Kasuwar Kano Kano Market Literature (sometimes called Soyayya Books love stories), and which here is generally referred to as Hausa popular li terature has been the subject of a long running public debate in the newspapers, (particularly in the section of the New Nigerian entitled The Write Stuff edited until recently by Ibrahim Sheme), and cultural magazines such as Garkuwa ; 2 a debate led by journalists and university academics such as Ibrahim Malumfashi, Ibrahim Sheme, Yusuf M Adamu, Abdalla Uba Adamu, Muhammad Danjuma Katsina, and others. Ibrahim Malumfashi (personal communication) tells me these debates have been documented by Abdalla Uba A damu through an Annotated Bibliography of Soyayya Criticism from Newspapers, deposited at Bayero University Library in July 1999. The literature has been written about by Brian Larkin (1997) by Novian Whittsit, and briefly by myself (Furniss 1996: 54 5) outside Nigeria. The popularity of cultural magazines such as Garkuwa and film magazines Fim edited by Ibrahim Sheme, and Tauraruwa attest to the widespread interest in many aspects of current forms of cultural produ ction among particularly younger urban people in Nigeria. The first question is how extensive is this literature? My own collection runs to about 400 titles; Ibrahim Malumfashi and Salisu Yakasai tell me (April 2000) they have a collection of about 450 titles. Following an assertion by Aisha Umar Yusuf in an article in the Weekly Trust that there were some 2500 KML titles, Yusuf M Adamu responded by indicating (in 1998) that a bibliography in the posession of himself, Ibrahim Malumfashi and Ado Ahmad Gi dan Dabino indicated some 600 700 titles (Adamu 1998). Abdalla Uba Adamu, writing earlier this year (Adamu 2000) refers to his own catalogue of 443 books produced up to December 1999. In 1993, Abba Rufai told me he had purchased about 85 titles for the l ibrary of the Centre for the Study of Nigerian Languages (CSNL), part of Bayero University, in Kano, but in a more recent conversation in Kano it appears that the CSNL has been so starved of cash over the last years that they have not been able to keep abr east of the rate of publication. Very few of the books have ISBN numbers; there is, as far as I know, no central agency looking to establish a definitive collection, and the books themselves appear in the market and bookshops and then disappear just as qu ickly. The need for an authoritative and comprehensive listing is acute, as well as an 2 According to Yusuf M Adamu (Adamu 1998) the soyayya debate began in 1991 when Ibrahi m Sheme introduced a literary column in the Hausa language newspaper, Nasiha and two articles by Ibrahim Malumfashi

PAGE 4

4 archive of texts. While volumes are apparently in preparation discussing the merits of the arguments on both sides of the soyayya debate (see the interview with Abda lla Uba Adamu, New Nigerian Weekly 29 April 2000), I am not aware of any published listing of works produced through this period of Hausa prose literature. Since private collections have been for centuries some of the most durable ways of retaining the h eritage of Islamic manuscripts, it may be that private collections will be the saviour of this literature too. Nevertheless, any attempt to account for the range of writers and writing in this period would undoubtedly benefit from some published list and some known depository for texts. Sometimes a book will run to 200 pages, but more usually a book of that length or longer will be split into parts and sold as separate sections, sometimes consecutively divided into chapters and so paginated but also some times renumbered in each part. In arriving at a guess at the extent of this literature, there are two aspects we need consider. First, according to Ibrahim Malumfashi, the more recent rise of a video film industry has begun to put paid to the production of such books, essentially not because there is a lack of readers, but because many of the authors have themselves gone into film production (Malumfashi 2000). This may mean that there has been a tailing off of book production, although this is disputed b y others. Second, in regard to the production of books within the clubs, the way in which those clubs established their conventions for what goes into a book may help us to approximate the extent of their lists. In the next section I set out some inform ation on three writers clubs, two of which were based in Kano (Raina Kama (RK) Deceptive Appearances and Kukan Kurciya (KK) The Cry of the Dove), and one in Kaduna (Dan Hakin Da Ka Raina The Splinter You Ignore). 3 The first Raina Kama and Kukan Ku rciya books date from the late 1980s. Malumfashi (personal communication) suggests that Rabin Raina by Talatu Wada Ahmed was about the first. Wa Zai Auri Jahila? Who would marry an ignorant woman? by Balaraba Ramat Yakubu of Raina Kama is dated 1990; S oyayya Gamon Jini Love that joins the blood (?) by Ibrahim Hamza Abdullahi Bichi of Kukan Kurciya is dated 1987, and while these two contain mention of the group or have the group logo on the cover, a number of earlier books which make no mention of the groups are later incorporated into listings of group publications (e.g. Budurwar Zuciya The hearts desire 1987 for RK by Balaraba Ramat Yakubu). Many of the books are undated. A rough appeared, critical of the quality and worth of the emerging Kano market literature (KML); see also Larkin (1997:430 1) 3 I have not myself undertaken fieldwork on the operation of these clubs and the information I present here is gleaned from the books they have produced and from Nigerian newspapers such as the New Nigerian and the Weekly Trust as well as magazines such a s Garkuwa The Shield.

PAGE 5

5 dating can sometimes be obtained from a useful feature of many of t he books produced in the early 1990s, namely the fact that lists are sometimes provided at the beginning or end of the book of other titles by members of the group. These lists are usually split into already produced and forthcoming. Plate 1: From a Raina Kama book: LH: list of RK titles in print; RH: list of forthcoming titles The lists, such as in Plate 1, are a useful way of building up a preliminary catalogue of the titles produced by the group, and forthcoming i tems do sometimes then appear in later already produced listings; however, the lists of forthcoming items have to be treated with caution. The existence of some Raina Kama titles can be further verified by the miniaturised photocopied front covers th at appear particularly in early volumes, see Plate 2.

PAGE 6

6 Plate 2: From a Raina Kama book: photocopied front covers of RK titles. In my own collection of Raina Kama works I have some 52 volumes, not all of which are separate t itles, since, as I indicated above, a title is often split into a number of parts. Going on the basis of volumes that are listed in later RK titles, I estimate that I have about half of the known output of the group. A preliminary guess therefore would i ndicate that the 75 titles from the three clubs discussed here that are in my possession constitute perhaps half of an estimated 150 (roughly) total production. If the same proportions were to apply to my overall collection then the total corpus for the d ecade of the 1990s would be perhaps around 700. Larkin, however, (1997: 418) estimates 200 books at about the middle of the decade, so perhaps 450 500 is a closer estimate for the decade as a whole, much closer to Yakasai and Malumfashis figure referred to earlier. Malumfashi (personal communication) indicates that a very recent study by one Kiyawa, Gudummawar kungiyoyin marubuta wajen habaka adabi: nazari daga birnin Kano (Contribution of writers groups to the development of literatu re: a study from Kano city) lists 71 titles from Raina Kama, 14 from Kukan Kurciya, and 17 from another group, Kungiyar Matasa Marubuta Young Writers Association. The identification of a volume as being one produced by the group is most clearly evident in titles produced in the early 1990s, when there was often a logo (see Plate 3) on the front cover,

PAGE 7

7 Plate 3: Writers club logos: Raina Kama, Kukan Ku rciya and Dan Hakin da Ka Raina In addition to the listings of the titles on inside pages (see Plate 1) and photocopies of other covers (see Plate 2), a number of early RK titles contained a photograph of the six leaders of the Raina Kama group, the wom an writer, Balaraba Ramat Yakubu, and five men, Danazumi Baba Chediyar Yan Gurasa, Ado Ahmad Gidan Dabino, Aminu Abdu Nainna, Hamisu Bature, and Aminu Hassan Yakasai (see Plate 4). Plate 4: Photograph of Raina Kama lea ders as it appears in numerous RK titles Many RK titles also give a list of bookshops where the groups titles can be bought. In their desire to strengthen Hausa culture they also included in some of the early titles an

PAGE 8

8 explanation of a new orthography for Hausa which the group wanted to promote, using signs that were unlike both the Arabic script and the Roman script in which Hausa has traditionally been written; not only was there an alphabet presented, there were sample pages of text written by hand in this invented script, with an exhortation for people to take up a truly Hausa alternative to Western or Arab influence (see Plate 5). Plate 5: Raina Kama new script for writing Hausa The most recent title I have t hat maintains the RK logo is from 1999, but it is interesting that a recent book by Balaraba Ramat Yakubu ( Ina Sonsa Haka I love him so) bears no indication of Raina Kama membership, and the list of other titles is of her own earlier volumes only. It wo uld seem that in recent years the presence of the Raina Kama writing group has become somewhat attenuated, perhaps linked to the fact that a number of members have gone their own ways in founding their own publishing enterprises and more recently, video fi lm production companies, of which more later. Kukan Kurciya similarly made use of a logo and group title listings, but not a photograph or other identifying feature. I have some 20 volumes that are marked as Kukan Kurciya that run up to 1999. Perusing th e lists of KK titles and authors it is clear that membership of KK has been generally distinct from membership of RK, except that in one instance a volume by Ahmed

PAGE 9

9 Mahmood Zahraddeen ( Garin Masoyi As lover/ the lovers town(?) n.d.) lists Balaraba Ramat and her books as being of Kukan Kurciya. Many of the books have little indication of how or when they were produced. Nevertheless, it is clear that in the absence of formal publishers, the early volumes in particular were produced by an arrangement bet ween the author, and/or his or her agents, and a printer. So RK titles in the early 1990s were often printed by Bamas Printers, or by Gidan Dabino Publishers (the business name of Ado Ahmad?) and Nuruddeen Publications, while a number of RK titles in the later 1990s have the name of a bookshop, Garba Mohammed Bookshop, prominently displayed on the back. Balaraba Ramat Yakubus books from an early period are produced by Ramat General Enterprises. The same Garba Mohammed Bookshop is prominently displayed on a number of the later titles from the Kukan Kurciya group, while another prime mover in that group, Ahmed Mahmood Zahraddeen, and others are printed by Zahraddeen Publishers (although interestingly his first (?) book, Kogin Soyayya The river of love is first printed in 1988 by Mai Nasara Printing Press) and it is only later that he is established with, presumably, his own press (going by the name). Clearly it has sometimes been the bookshop which has taken on the entrepreneurial role that would other wise have been that of the publisher. Malumfashi (n.d.:5) puts it very succinctly, Within a span of less than 10 years, a powerful group of book sellers are now in control of this lucrative business. They buy books in bulk and pay the author/publisher in instalments. Right now the booksellers have become bookshop owners, publishers, writers and editors all in one. They not only buy published works but also scout for a promising love story and sponsor its publication, they may give a writer a story angl e that they are sure will sell, and after the production of the text, they finance the publication and distribution. Both the above groups are based in Kano. The third group, Dan Hakin Da Ka Raina, is based in Kaduna and would appear to be a later associ ation, in that the first volume I have that displays its logo dates from 1994. I have only 6 volumes that display the logo, but a volume from 1997 ( Zainabu Abu Zainab Abu by Umaimat Usman Ali) lists 30 other DHKR titles. A recent volume ( Ko Ban Ce Ba Even if I dont say by Tanko Baba Kadara Gidan Kaura, 1999) names five elected officers of the group. While RK and KK seem to have less mention of the group in recent publications by erstwhile members, this group would appear to be still growing. An attack upon the leadership of such writers groups accusing them of high handedness and a lack of care with the groups resources is made in a recent issue of Garkuwa

PAGE 10

10 (Umar 2000). Perhaps issues of control and status became an issue again, as with the poe try clubs in the 1970s. In the early 1990s these books were selling at about 15 20 Naira, and as I indicated elsewhere, that compared with the cost, at the time, of a Coke at 5 Naira and a modest meal at 30 Naira (Furniss 1996: 55) The pr ices have, I believe, remained similar in relative terms, although a small volume will now cost 80 100 Naira or more. I do not know how writers were able to raise capital for the initial printing of their books, a great deal of work still needs to be done on the commercialization of the local book trade and the way in which local entrepreneurs saw the potential for investment in a profitable commodity. Clearly, when the move began some four or five years ago into video film production, a number of commerc ial enterprises were quick to exploit the urban market for both VHS video equipment and for Hausa language video films, which quickly began to squeeze the Indian video film dominance of the market, even though (or perhaps precisely because) much of the cin ematography and singing styles directly mimicked Indian film (see Larkin (1997) and (1999) for an extensive discussion of the influence of Indian film). An important element in the early development of Kano market literature was the intervention of unive rsity academics, particularly from Bayero University in Kano. Many acknowledgements in these books provide fulsome thanks to academic staff who clearly provided encouragement, proof reading, and other advice to these budding writers. Notable among these figures were the late Ibrahim Yaro Yahaya, a mainstay of Hausa cultural studies in the University, and Dr Saidu Muhammadu Gusau, the bulk of whose own work had been on court praise singers, but who clearly was a key figure in encouraging these writers of fiction and who provided many a preface to their books. It is some of these same academics who have engaged not only in the backroom role, but have led a debate in the newspapers and magazines about whether this literature represents ephemeral, unworthy frippery that will quickly fade away, or is the beginnings of a serious and important cultural movement. Opinions differ, however the pivot of the argument is the issue of whether this literature is properly promoting Hausa customs in conformity with Is lam or is a corrupting influence. 4 Attack and defence are often framed in these terms. Even more is this a burning issue with the advent of video films. Women have been prominent in the development of this writing, and they have been equally significant as readers. While only 20% of the publications in my Raina Kama collection

PAGE 11

11 are by women, recent years have seen a rise in the proportion of books that are written by women, not necessarily within the framework of a writers club. Ibrahim Malumfashi (perso nal communication) has documented about 70 women writers of Kano Market Literature and their titles in a paper presented at the 17 th Conference of the Linguistic Association of Nigeria, 1999, held in Zaria. I was told in Kano in April (2000) that the high number of Mills & Boon style romances is a reflection of the demand coming from women readers. Perhaps the most significant public presence of women is as stars within the video film industry and also, as in the case of Balaraba Ramat Yakubu, as writers/ directors/ producers. A further comment made to me in April was that the model provided by the rise of video hire shops (membership fee and then rental for individual items) has been directly borrowed and translated into the world of books. Abdalla Uba Ada mu, writing in the New Nigerian refers to commercial libraries where a book can be hired for five Naira (Adamu 1999). One of the most remarkable transitions in recent years has been the move from books into video film. Many of the stories in the books n ow known as Kano Market Literature or Hausa Popular Literature are built around dialogue and action, a characteristic that was also present in earlier prose writing of the 1940s and 1950s. Such a writing style made it relatively easy to work from a story to a TV drama, and a number of the Hausa TV drama series (Magana Jari Ce, for example) derived their story lines from texts. With the experience of staging comedies and social commentaries that had been accumulating in the TV stations and in the drama department of ABU, for example, it was not difficult conceptually to move into video film. I am not familiar with the story of how Raina Kama writers made the transition into film but it is clear that when Balaraba Ramat Yakubu became Ramat Productions, s o also Ado Ahmad became part of Gidan Dabino Video Productions, Danazumi Baba became part of RK Studios, and many other film production companies mushroomed in the late 1990s. Films of the book included Wa Zai Auri Jahila Who will marry an ignorant w oman? and Alhaki Kwikwiyo A misdeed is like a puppy by Balaraba Ramat Yakubu, In Da So Da Kauna Where there is love and desire by Ado Ahmad 5 Jidali Struggle and Kyan Alkawari The beauty of a promise by Danazumi Baba, Kwai a Baka An egg in the mouth by Aisha Chediyar Yan Gurasa, Rikicin Duniya This deceptive world by Danazumi Baba became Bakandamiyar Rikicin Duniya. Malumfashi (n.d.:5) indicates the scale of the enterprise involved, the KML 4 Larkin (1997: 430 2) discusses the origins and nature of the debate sparked off by Ibrahim Malumfashi and others in 1991.

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12 group has over 300 video cassettes to their credit, using of course some of their best selling novels as source material. The themes of this literature circle around the perennial issues of crime, violence, money, power, status, love and marriage. Running through these themes are debates about mod ernity and tradition, often graphically represented on the front covers of the books fighting and criminal activity is at one moment in a world of warriors on horseback brandishing cutlasses, and in another dominated by AK 47s, shotguns and shades, with the occasional admixture of both worlds. Money, power and status are most graphically represented through the activities of rich businessmen, contractors and officials. Here the trappings of satellite television, mobile phones and the ubiquitous Mercedes are the markers of the powerful elites and their ill gotten gains. It is on love, marriage and power that the majority of stories are focused. The stories of true love between age mates thwarted by the intervention of a rich and powerful man are legion, with the conflict between obedience to parents and true love being the hook on which much anguish turns. The explosion into public culture of issues which were hitherto less generally apparent has been accompanied by the establishment of public profiles for many women as writers and latterly as actresses, directors and producers. While this short essay has focused upon the problems of documenting Hausa popular literature, the issue of the documenting of the mushrooming video film industry is equally as pressing. Hausa language video films have created a new cultural market and have pushed Indian films on video out of their dominant position, and they have reduced the importance of the cinema through the growth of a TV watching culture, not only in priv ate homes (where women particularly can gather) but in bars and other semi public places. Indian film makers (as well as video film makers from southern parts of Nigeria) are apparently looking to bring their expertise and investment into northern Nigeria and there have been calls to resist, although many Hausa video films both imitate singing styles and romantic interludes directly from Indian films (for further discussion of cinema and video film see, for example, Larkin 1999 and 2000). The rate at whi ch Hausa video films were being produced by March 1999 prompted the Association of Video Retailers in Kano to call on the producers of video films to limit their launching of films onto the market to no more than two per week because the video retailers co uld not cope with trying to ensure supply (Fim 1, March 1999, p. 14). 5 This title is summarised and discussed by Larkin (1997: 425 9) along wi th another book, Kishin Kumallon Mata by Maryam Sahabi Liman.

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13 The conundrum that faced the early producers of Roman script literature was two fold: how to create a critical mass of readers to sustain an economically viable literature industry, an d how to create a virtuous circle of communication and development such that the readers of literature became discussants of literature and in turn writers of literature. 6 In examining cultural production as manifestations of civil society lodged betwee n the apparatus of the state and the economic forces that drive the collapse or growth of a country like Nigeria, we can identify elements that seem, at least at first glance, to have come together to provide a perhaps unexpected dynamism. At the level of our first conundrum, government policy in education produced an urban critical mass of young potential readers readers who were familiar with popular English language literature circulating in Nigeria but who were also familiar with, and clearly taken b y, the narratives, the romance, and the cultural styles of Indian film. Access to formal publishing houses was not necessary to reach that market, printing presses were sufficient for the Kano entrepreneurial spirit to succeed. As Larkin describes, group s of writers began to address problems and issues from their own personal lives in their writings issues with which other people in urban northern Nigerian could identify. At the level of our second conundrum, this new arena of cultural production, whic h later slipped sideways into video film (with a number of consequences, for example relating to the public prominence of women as stars and writers), was itself the subject of another superstructural level of public debate a debate about the content of books and films, an interpretative process that now covers content, writers, producers, directors and assesses them and their products in terms of wider issues concerning the values, purposes and constraints of Hausa culture and, crucially, their legitim acy and appropriateness within Islam. In this interplay between generations of university people, journalists and writers, we see perhaps one of the virtuous circles which go to make up an essential component of a sustainable civil society. Kano has been the city at the centre (but not the only place), of the debate, not because it is the only city with an intellectual elite to take the debate forward, but because the interest among the general population of this largest city in the northern states has me ant that there has been a ready market for first the literature, then the video films and now the cultural magazines too. As commodities, books and videos have been profitable and in demand, entrepreneurs have invested, writers, actors, directors, and pub lishers have gained fame (and notoriety), critics have sustained long running debates about books and films, religious leaders have endorsed and 6 The biography of one of the first writers of Hausa novels, Abubakar Imam, is illuminating in this regard (Mora 1989).

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14 warned, and the habits of reading, and artistic production have become entrenched. Civil society may be under strain from the dire economic conditions of contemporary Nigeria, and the political tensions may be extreme as Nigerians expect reform and renewal from a civilian government, but debate about peoples hopes and aspirations, and their view of what is happen ing to society proceeds undiminished in new forms and with new voices.

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15 REFERENCES Adamu, Abdalla Uba (1999) Idols of the marketplace: literary history, literary criticism and the contemporary Hausa novel. New Nigerian Weekly 12 June. Adamu, Abdulla U ba (2000) Criticism and the growth of knowledge: coda to an unfinished sympathy. Weekly Trust May 5 11. Adamu, Yusufu M. (1998) Hausa novels: beyond the great debate. New Nigerian Weekly 18 July. Boyd, J. and B. B. Mack (1997). Collec ted Works of Nana Asma'u, Daughter of Usman dan Fodiyo (1793 1864) East Lansing, Michigan State University Press. Boyd, J. and B. B. Mack (2000). One Woman's Jihad: Nana Asma'u Scholar and Scribe Bloomington, Indiana University Press. East, R. M. (1943). Recent activities of the Literature Bureau, Zaria, Northern Nigeria. Africa 14 (1): 71 7. Furniss, G. (1994). Ideology in Practice: Hausa Poetry as Exposition of Values and Viewpoints Koln, Rudiger Koppe. Furniss, G. (1996). Poetry, Prose and Popular Cu lture in Hausa Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press for the International African Institute. Larkin, B. (1997). Indian films and Nigerian lovers: media and the creation of parallel modernities. Africa 67 (3): 406 39. Larkin, B. (1999). "Theaters of the profane: cinema and colonial urbanism." Visual Anthropology Review 14 (2): 46 62. Larkin, B. (2000). "Hausa dramas and the rise of video culture in Nigeria." In Jonathon Haynes (ed.) Nigerian Video Films pp. 209 41. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press. Mal umfashi, Ibrahim (2000). 'Jana'izar adabin kasuwar Kano', Garkuwa 1(January): 23; 2 (April): 31. Malumfashi, Ibrahim (n.d.) "Current trends in Hausa fiction: the emergence of Kano Market Literature". Unpublished paper. Mora, Abdurrahman (ed.) (1989). The A bubakar Imam Memoirs Zaria: NNPC. Skinner, A. N. (1970). NORLA: an experiment in the production of vernacular literature 1954 1959. Revue des Langues Vivantes 36 (2): 166 75. Umar, Bashir Ahmad (2000). 'Shugabannin kungiyoyin marubuta sun zama dodanni!' Garkuwa 1 (January): 27. Yakubu, A. M. (1999). Sa'adu Zungur: An Anthology of the Social and Political Writings of a Nigerian Nationalist Kaduna, Nigerian Defence Academy Press.