Muslim Martyrs and Pagan Vampires

Popular Video Films and the Propagation of Religion in Northern Nigeria

Authors

  • Matthias Krings University of Mainz

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/post.v1i2_3.183

Keywords:

Islam in Northern Nigeria, Conversion to Islam, Religion and Media

Abstract

In December 2000 the government of Kano State in Muslim northern Nigeria reintroduced shari’a and established a new board for film and video censorship charged with the responsibility to “sanitize” the video industry and enforce the compliance of video films with moral standards of Islam. Stakeholders of the industry took up the challenge and responded by inserting religious issues into their narratives, and by adding a new feature genre focusing on conversion to Islam. This genre is characterized by violent Muslim/pagan encounters, usually set in a mythical past, culminating in the conversion of the pagans. This article will first outline northern Nigerian video culture and then go on to explore local debates about the religious legitimacy of film and video and their influence upon recent developments within the video industry. By taking a closer look at video films propagating Islam it will focus on three points: first, videomakers’ negotiation between the opposing notions of religious education and secular escapism; second, inter-textual relations with other (film)cultures; and third, political subtexts to the narratives, which relate such figures as Muslim martyrs and pagan vampires to the current project of cultural and religious revitalization.

Author Biography

Matthias Krings, University of Mainz

Matthias Krings is Junior Professor of Anthropology and African Popular Culture at the University of Mainz, Germany. SInce 1992 he has conducted research in Nigeria on spririt possession, internal migration, and small media. He is currently involved in a research project on the reception and remediation of Nigerian video films in East Africa.

References

Adamu, Abdalla Uba. “Enter the Dragon: Shari’a, Popular Culture and Film Censorship in Northern Nigeria.” Lecture, University of Cologne, November 15, 2004.

Adamu, Yusuf M. “Between the Word and the Screen. A Historical Perspective on the Hausa Literary Movement and the Home Video Invasion.” Journal of African Cultural Studies 15 (2002): 203–13.

Bach, Daniel C. “Application et implications de la Charia: Fin de partie au Nigeria.” Pouvoirs 104 (2003): 121–33.

Bamalli, Firdausi Musa, Zainab Muhammad, and Hannatu Aliyu Namaibindiga. “Letter to the editor.” Fim 9 (2000): 4.

Behrend, Heike. “ ‘Call and Kill’: Zur Verzauberung und Entzauberung westlicher technischer Medien in Afrika.” In Signale der Störung, ed. Albert Kümmel and Erhard Schüttpelz, 287–300. Munich: Fink, 2003.

Brain, Robert. “Child-Witches.” In Witchcraft, Confessions and Accusations, ed. Mary Douglas, 161–79. London: Taylor & Francis, 1970.

Furniss, Graham. Poetry, Prose and Popular Culture in Hausa. Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1996.

Gruber, Matthias. “Cultural Epics. Die Konstruktion von Geschichte in nigerianischen Videospielfilmen.” Master’s thesis, University of Frankfurt, 2004.

Gunning, Tom. “The Cinema of Attractions: Early Film, its Spectator and the Avant-Garde.” In Early Cinema: Space, Frame, Narrative, ed. Thomas Elsaesser, 56–62. London: British Film Institute, 1990.

Gwarzo, Tahir Haliru. “Activities of Islamic Civic Associations in Northwest of Nigeria: With Particular Reference to Kano State.” Afrika Spectrum 38 (2003): 289–318.

Haynes, Jonathan, ed. Nigerian Video Films. Athens: Ohio University Center for International Studies, 2000.

Jäger, Ludwig. “Transkriptive Verhältnisse: Zur Logik intra- und intermedialer Bezugnahmen in ästhetischen Diskursen.” In Transkription und Fassung. Bericht des Kolloquiums Mainz 2004, ed. Gabriele Buschmeier, Ulrich Konrad, and Albrecht Riethmüller. Mainz: Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, in press.

Larkin, Brian. “Indian Films and Nigerian Lovers: Media and the Creation of Parallel Modernities.” Africa 67 (1997): 406–40.

———. “Hausa Dramas and the Rise of Video Culture in Nigeria.” In Haynes, Nigerian Video Films, 209–41.

———. “From Majigi to Hausa Video Films: Cinema and Society in Northern Nigeria.” In Hausa Home Videos: Technology, Economy and Society, ed. Abdalla Uba Adamu, Yusuf M. Adamu, and Umar Faruk Jibril, 46–53. Kano: Centre for Hausa Cultural Studies and Adamu Joji Publishers, 2004.

Last, Murray. “La Charia dans le Nord-Nigeria.” Politique Africaine 79 (2000): 141–52.

Mazrui, Ali. “Shariacracy and Federal Models in the Era of Globalization: Nigeria in Comparative Perspective.” Paper, International Conference on Restoration of Shariah in Nigeria: Challenges and Benefits, Nigerian Muslim Forum, London, England, April 14, 2001. http://www.shariah2001.nmnonline.net/mazrui_paper.htm (accessed October 22, 2005).

Meyer, Birgit. “Impossible Representations: Pentecostalism, Vision and Video Technology in Ghana.” Institut für Ethnologie und Afrikastudien, Universität Mainz, Working Papers 25 (2003). http://www.ifeas.uni-mainz.de/workingpapers/Meyer.pdf (accessed October 10, 2005).

Morgenthal, Esther. “Sprachliche und kulturelle Kontaktphänomene im bori-Kult der Hausa: das Beispiel der Gwari Geister.” Master’s thesis, University of Hamburg, 2005.

National Film and Video Censors Board, ed. Film and Video Directory in Nigeria. Abuja: NFVCB, 2002.

Oha, Obododimma. “The Rhetoric of Nigerian Christian Videos: The War Paradigm of ‘The Great Mistake.’ ” In Haynes, Nigerian Video Films, 192–99.

Peters, Ruud. Islamic Criminal Law in Nigeria. Ibadan: Spectrum Books, 2003.

Rubin, Martin. Showstoppers: Busby Berkeley and the Tradition of Spectacle. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993.

Ryan, Pauline. “Color Symbolism in Hausa Literature.” Journal of Anthropological Research 32 (1976): 141–60.

Servant, Jean-Christophe. “ ‘Shariahphrenia’ Reigns in Northern Nigeria.” World Press, November 18, 2002. http://www.worldpress.org/article_model.cfm?article_id=928&dont=yes (accessed October 10, 2005).

Sreberny-Mohammadi, Annabelle, and Ali Mohammadi. Small Media, Big Revolution: Communication, Culture, and the Iranian Revolution. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 1994.

Published

2005-12-03

How to Cite

Krings, M. (2005). Muslim Martyrs and Pagan Vampires: Popular Video Films and the Propagation of Religion in Northern Nigeria. Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts, Cultural Histories, and Contemporary Contexts, 1(2-3), 183–205. https://doi.org/10.1558/post.v1i2_3.183

Issue

Section

Articles