Movie Review – HIJIRA

Director: Iliyasu Abdulmumini Tantiri
Producer: Naziru Dan Hajiya
Story: Iliyasu Abdulmumini Tantiri
Language: Hausa
Year: 2016
Company: Kumo Production


The Hijra (migration/exodus) of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and his companions from Makkah to Madinah is an epoch in the history of Islam. It is featured notably in the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet. Although the Prophet was born and raised in Makkah and had preached for many years there, persecution forced him along with the few that believed him to migrate. The Islamic Hijri calendar began from that time. The choice of the title for the film cannot be unconnected to the Prophet’s Hijra.

Oftentimes, the bond between cinema and the orthodox religious and cultural institutions is marked by disquiet. Many people reject film, seeing it as a subtle way to debase their religion and culture. Presentations of bedroom scene, or virtually anything denoting sex or other tabooed subjects, for instance, are still frown at in Kannywood. Several filmmakers are, therefore, relentless in their efforts to counter this argument, to correct the (mis)conception. Some have gone far and recently adapted the famous story of As-Habul Kahfi (The Seven Sleepers) from the Qur’an. There are quite a number of other films meant for Islamic evangelism. The epic drama, Hijira is arguably one of such.

Plot Summary
The film is a mixture of a quite romantic comedy and adventure. It begins from a scene of mass burial of the victims of an infectious plague that ravages the village of Madaci. As they bury some corpses, more are brought forward. The King calls for an emergency meeting. There is disagreement as to whether to stay in the town or leave. The Chief Imam is of the opinion that everyone should remain, basing his point with the Islamic injunction that says when there is a an outbreak of plague in a land, nobody should enter it; and if the plague breaks out in a place one lives in, do not leave. The King accepted this, thus goes, along with other chiefs, to address the townspeople.

While addressing the townspeople, a member of the village, Bala comes with a sad story that the plague has finished ravaging the neighboring villages and has spread to Madaci. Asked how he came to know about that, he said he is from there and has seen corpses all around. He is thus instructed to stay back; he refuses. The Sarkin Yaki (i.e. Chief Guard) kills him. The remains of Bala is said to be very deadly as it should not be touched by anyone, and its decomposition will equally harm all. The King, therefore, has a quick change of mind and, there and then, declares the start of the exodus.

The execution of Bala is a can of worms. His mother vows to avenge him by imploring his choleric brother, Zubabu to slay Sarkin Yaki whenever and however he gets a chance. Other conflicts include the thievish and snobbish nature of the Prince; the love triangle between Rabo and Chiko where both love Saratu, a beautiful girl who is betrothed to the latter. An acerbic, old man called Baba Manga, on the other side, openly objects the exodus and fearlessly criticizes the King.

As the migration begins, mistrust, rancor, conflict, artificial and natural disasters envelop the migrants. A group of bandits launches a fatal attack on them. Chiko murders Rabo. Saratu avenges her heartthrob by getting married to Chiko only to stab him to death on their first night. The Prince poisons the King, takes charge and sacks Sarkin Yaki. Zubabu challenges Sarkin Yaki in a physical combat and loses. Terrible epidemic and deadly spirits descend on the other migrants, and kill many. Gambo, the town’s physician tries his best possible but to no avail. Finally, the remaining few reach a town but its border guards deny them entry. Famine and wild animals devour them, including the Sarkin Yaki. Only a single child, the narrator of the story, survived.

The star-studded film, Hijira was apparently a big project, planned in a span of months or more, and carefully directed and produced. The casting largely fits, the narrative sequentially connected, the mise en scene presented well, and so on and so forth. The filmmakers and the actors of Hijira can’t be easily forgotten in the film industry. As with any film, nay, everything else, Hijira has some imperfections.

For instance, the story is told through an omniscient point of view, but in the end a narrator (a different point of view called restricted) is introduced. The narrator should have said at least a line from the beginning, to let spectators know that the film is actually a narration. Likewise, the makeup and the special effects leave much to be desired. First, you cannot have all the victims of a war with wounds on their neck or head only and no any other part of their bodies. Second, the scene where some spirits descend on the migrants looks so much artificial.

Other contextual mistakes include the mass grave scene. The people burying the dead use their bare hands. The least experienced person knows that the remains of the victims of any contagious disease are not touched with uncovered hands. This, even in the film, is soon contradicted as the Madaci townspeople are cautioned to not have any body contact with anyone infected with the disease. This is, in fact, the reason why they had to migrate, to run as far away as they can from the dead body of Bala.

From the religious perspective, the character of Gambo betrays the possible idea of the film. Doubtless, it is a common practice among the traditional doctors to use incantation and invocation, showing Gambo doing the same is incongruous. His medicine should be Islamic-compliant to corroborate the points already highlighted by the character of the chief imam who uphold the virtues of Muslims.

The trio of forced marriage, gender rivalry, and singing and dancing are the usual elements of Kannywood films. Hijira, however, defy this straitjacketing by avoiding all the three, for the aim is to proselytise Islam and to caution the faithful on the adherence to the Prophet’s sayings. There have been similar films before it such as Ga Duhu Ga Haske (dir. Aminu Saira, 2011), Yankin Imani (dir. Imran S.I Ashir, 2013), Ana Muslim (dir. Abubakar S. Shehu, 2014), and, above all, As-Habul Kahf (dir. Aminu Saira, 2013). Yet, none is without song and dance – the practice generally condemned as caricaturing Hindi cinema – as Hijira is. Apparently, both the precepts of Hausa culture and Islam are considered and safeguarded in addition to the film’s being very likely original. Therefore, the few content and technical lapses cannot take away all its other credits. The film is by and large worth your naira. I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Reviewed by:
Muhammad Muhsin Ibrahim,
Dept. of Theatre and Performing Arts
Bayero University, Kano;


Kannywood (English) Movie Preview: There is a Way


Production:    Jammaje Productions

Producer:       Abba El-Mustapha

Ex. Producer: Kabiru Musa Jammaje

Cast:               Abba El-Mustapha, Nuhu Abdullahi, Hauwa Maina, Zainab Booth, Rabiu Rikadawa, Sani Mu’azu, Bankaura and others

Director:         Falalu A. Dorayi

Release Date: N/A

A well-known fact to virtually everyone who cares to follow, however marginally, the goings-on in the Hausa film industry aka Kannywood is that it is a haven for amateurish actors and actresses, incompetent directors, antiquated gadgets for production and post-production works, shoestring-budgeted films, trite and frivolous themes in films and many other deficiencies and unmentionable things. But that is neither always the case nor true. There are skilled, even certified actors and actresses, directors, producers, etc that are, nonetheless, largely eclipsed by the poor others who, unfortunately, make the majority. Many people have been bitterly complaining about these issues while some others have lost all interest in Kannywood films for the same reason.

I once wrote an article in which I expressed my serious concern and displeasure on how numerous Hausa films are flagrantly, poorly subtitled in wrong English. The subtitles oftentimes serve a contrary purpose: those with little or no grasp of Hausa language watching Hausa films end up puzzled, confused. The shoddy subtitle equally exposes, among other things, the educational level of the people in the industry, and by and large, in their region. Worse still, the actors, in other times, use ‘Eng-ausa’, a hotchpotch English-Hausa code-switching and mixing, in their dialogues. The English language is often erroneously used and mispronounced. But all that will soon be a history with the emergence of the second (Wasila [English version] is actually the first ever, but that was done more than a decade ago) Kannywood film in ‘Standard’ English language.

The new film entitled There’s a Way shows there is of course a way forward for Kannywood. Directed by Falalu Dorayi, one of the bests of the industry, There’s a Way is a star-studded film set and shot in Northwest University, Kano, select mansions and other strategic, picturesque locations in Kano. I have watched only the film trailer of 2 minutes and 41 seconds length, but from the little I was able to draw out of that, the film has a multi-dimensional thematic concern whose preoccupation perhaps is the notorious, despicable behaviour of our university lecturers, specifically their pervasive attitude towards the female students. Other sub-themes include the menace of begging, examination malpractice, student unionism, social cleavage, etc.


The executive director of the film, Kabiru Musa Jammaje, a renowned English teacher, writer and a host of a weekly special English program on Freedom Radio, Kano deserves a particular mention. I am sure he is aware of the ugly fact that film production is not a lucrative business as it outwardly seems due to, chiefly, piracy problem and absence of cinemagoing culture in this part of the world. It is however said that nothing ventured, nothing gained. Thus, his resolution to do it anyway is a bold, yet commendable action, a welcome development and an auspicious undertaking. It tells us – ‘armchair critics’, as we are inaccurately termed – that we should, as we could, do something about what we consider wrong in what we criticize.

Lest you are not aware, rendering film in non-English, indigenous film industries like Kannywood is a common practice around the world. The ace Nigerian filmmaker, Tunde Kelani produces film in both English and his native language of Yoruba. In Bollywood too, Mira Nair is famous for her English films such asMonsoon Wedding (2001), The Namesake(2006), etc.

I am impressed not because of the language used in the film alone, but for the message the film stands to send across cultures and regions. I hope There’s a Way will not disappoint us. We are eagerly waiting to see how Jammaje’s well-paid and Dorayi’s carefully selected cast, which comprises some famous, veterans like Bankaura, Hauwa Maina among others, will dazzle, entertain and finally educate us through their craftsmanship and expertise.

Written by:

Muhsin Ibrahim,

Bayero University, Kano


ALI yaga ALI Preview : Buy Original DVD! Get Entertained!! Win Prizes!!!

ANNOUNCEMENT: To contribute toward fight against piracy, the makers of ALI yaga ALI will reward buyers of their ORIGINAL DVD with prizes such as Android phones, DVD players, Generators, scratch cards, etc. Questions will be announced on TV, Radio and internet channels. All you have to do is to buy ORIGINAL ALI yaga ALI DVD, watch attentively and answer the questions. Remember! Winners will be required to present evidence of purchase of original DVD. Good luck!

Three things are certain: 1- Death, 2- NEPA will interrupt the light, 3- Aminu Saira/Ali Nuhu combination always pays off. The third is, well, atleast an expectation that will come packaged along with Kabugawa Production’s ALI yaga ALI as it arrives market Wednesday, 26th of November.

The audience of Hausa movies has all every reason to be optimistic. Oh yes! There is no question that ALI yaga ALI delivers in terms of visual spectacles (Watch the trailer here) as the movie is bathed with gorgeous photography. Also it seems to have all the trendy, carefully chosen ingredients for a comedy-on-its-sleeve drama hit- an attractive cast, sharp dialogue, laugh-out-loud backs-and-forths and a beloved director.

Funny, tense and loaded with drama, ALI yaga ALI is a story of a cheating couple Ali Nuhu and Jamila Nagudu. Unaware of each other’s presence one day, we have the husband Ali Nuhu bringing his girlfriend Hadiza Gabon, and the wife Jamila Nagudu bringing her boyfriend Sadiq Sani Sadiq to their villa. Jamila Nagudu, in a moment, finds herself playing dual characters, one side of her afraid and anxious, and the other, jealous and aggressive. Her panicky boyfriend Sadiq Sani Sadiq is trapped in a toilet carrying his boss’ shop’s key with the boss angrily threatening to sack him. Her husband Ali Nuhu is cheating on her with another woman Hadiza Gabon, the woman she feels obliged to destroy.

Restrained by Jamila Nagudu, Hadiza Gabon grows freakier as she is urgently requested to show up at her matrimonial home by her father Rabi’u Rikadawa who learned of her departure without her Husband’s consent. Ali Nuhu is forced to serve as a shield for his girlfriend against his wife… With Ibrahim Birniwa’s script element that tightly holds the movie together, and a director that knows how to play the tension, ALI yaga ALI strikes the dramatic and comedic tone early on and moves with it. The contrasting style of a drama and a comedy has lent the movie some interesting wrinkles.

REMEMBER: Buy original DVD to stand a chance of winning great prizes.

Previewed by:Anas Abdullahi

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Production: SAIRA MOVIES.
Producer: Nazifi Asnanic.
Cast: SadiQ Sani SadiQ, Zaharadeen Sani, Sadiq Ahmad, Hadiza Gabon, Al’amin Buhari and others.
Director: AMINU SAIRA.
Release Date: N/A

SAIRA MOVIES have always been a subject of relentlessly dubious advance buzz. JAMILA DA JAMILU and GA DUHU GA HASKE were redeemers of faith. DAN MARAYAN ZAKI emerged with technical breakthrough. MALIKA was a sensational entertainment. LAMIRAJ addresses a technological phenomenon in Islamic terms. And now, SAIRA MOVIES, a production governs by the code of ethics “films and audience must interact, for neither can exist without either”, in its attempt to form an idealised society returns with a movie having love story at its core DAGA NI SAI KE.

Heart-felt performances of cast portraying a story full of emotionally alive moments have always being the centre of SAIRA MOVIES’ focus. DAGA NI SAI KE, in perfect conformity with the trend, delivers plenty of that inspired partly by YAKUBU M KUMO’s script so human and true to life, and partly by AMINU SAIRA’s direction capable of portraying headache so realistic.

DAGA NI SAI KE is a multi-dimensional story teller full of dilemma and conflicts that will delve you into realism, fantasy and messiness of romance in a coherent plot through convincing story twists, suspenseful setup blended with powerful messages and still remains within the realms of believability. DAGA NI SAI KE brings a concept one wouldn’t dare kannywood across with.

DAGA NI SAI KE has four expertly crafted lead characters that struggle with their individual obligation; Sadiq Sani Sadiq is an optimistic student whose family’s financial end is dead and who believes that if you are passionate and devoted to your dream, success will come. He shoulders his family’s dream. Sadiq Ahmad is a doctor whose service and integrity is heavily applauded. He is blessed with both grace and intelligence. Zaharadeen Sani was born with a silver spoon and morally unbalanced. He gets what he always wants. Hadiza Gabon is infectiously beautiful and rationally in-place. She is disciplined and gracious.

The four embedded lead characters, complemented by supporting characters such as Al-Amin Buhari, Tijjani Faraga, Hajara Usman Hadiza Muhammad etc, take you into breathtaking moments of wonders and unexpectations. DAGA NI SAI KE is a feast for both ears and eyes, an expression of AMINU SAIRA’s gifts and visions, a hugely rewarding experience: rich, soulful and exciting in a way that only comes from seeing a master at work.

Written by: Anas Abdullahi
Twitter: @a9united1