I had a conversation earlier today with a few friends about Hausa representation in Dare Art-Alade's new video for "Ba Ni Kidi."
My friend took issue with Dare's "weird" Hausa (the title is grammatically incorrect, he thinks), but I'm more concerned about the circus, the monkey, the magic... it just felt a bit too Aladdin's Genie for me. It is almost like the singer forgot the song was in Hausa, and decided to go Arabian Nights route instead.
I only mean to make an observation -- and not pick on Dare Art-Alade -- when I say that this video has me thinking about Hausa people and their place in Nigeria's mainstream culture. The only thing even remotely Hausa about me is my name, but it's worth lending a thought to the representation of the Hausa -- or lack thereof -- in Nigerian pop culture. And no, I don't mean somebody saying "Nagode Jesu" in church songs, or Style Plus singing a hook to a song in the language.
In addition to being, according to some observers, the least likely to be educated in Nigeria, Hausas have been left behind in Nigeria's popular culture. The artist Zaaki never did get other Hausas to come to the fore in Nigerian music. I am not aware of any major Hausa actresses in Nigerian films who identifies with being Hausa the way Funke Akindele and Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde do with being Yoruba, or Genevieve Nnaji, Patience Ozorkwor (sorry if I'm butchering it), Stephanie Okereke and Rita Dominic are so obviously Igbo. Hausa films are much younger an industry than Yoruba and Igbo ones, but I wonder about their distribution in Lagos; if they only get around in Kano and Kaduna, it will only strengthen Hausa's isolation from Nigeria's mainstream. I am Yoruba, and the people and culture are so thoroughly a part of pop culture that one cannot but notice Hausas' absence when one compares. Couple this with the power Hausa elites have in Nigeria's polity, you get a lot of room for resentment and misrepresentation aided by silence of the group in the mainstream.
And then there's this video.
What makes the video so repellent to me is the near voicelessness of the people whose language and image is used in this song. I know Dare probably just means to put together a fun, interesting music video, but I know that if someone put together a not-so-flattering/ even slightly mocking video on Yorubas, there'd be more of a reaction across followers of Nigerian music. I wonder what a Hausa person would think seeing this, and how they will feel about their inability to affect the way they are being depicted in the popular culture of their own country.