Yup, I am still on with my music thing! Things are quite now because of the change in focus of our sponsors. You may recall that I regularly organize music concerts at the British Council. Alas, they have a new focus now, and music and concerts are definitely off the menu. With no one interested in doing what the BC was doing, we are back to the dark period of not showcasing young and not so young musical talents. I am trying to see if I can somewhow put together a video and audio CD of the various concerts we have had -- but there is too much work to be done, and I am extremely busy with my almajirci. Sigh. But I am mulling over the process and hopefully when things get a little less hectic, I might do something in that direction; but don't hold your breaths.
The only other avenue for public exposure of musical undercurrents in Kano (where I am based) is via underground circulation of what I call Bluetooth Hits
. These are songs released not via radio play or on CDs, but through bluetooth facility of cellphones. There had been about three of such releases in the last six months that I am prompted to write an ethnomusicological analysis of their subject matter: poetic invective, or zambo
. Since that is a long time coming, I decided to share a few of the thoughts with you (as well as the samples -- more later!).
Traditional Hausa musicians of course are masters at this invective -- Ali Makaho and Haruna Uji war of words, for instance. Even the religious singers -- Masu Yabon Manzo -- were not left out; for instance, Rabi'u Usman Baba's blistering attack ('Yar Wasan Hausa
) on the Hausa film industry for their adaptation of Rufa'i Ayagi's religious poem (Ya Muhammadu
) to a Hausa video film soundtrack, Ya Matana
(by Sani Garba S.K. in Dabi'a
Now it is Nanaye
. Nanaye is a new term for synthesizer Hausa lyrics that have mixed gender singing -- the typical fare of Hausa video film soundtracks (and advertising jingles on Radio Freedom!). It has a male voice, and stringent female call-and-resonse chorus ('yan amshi). Even religious subjects are treated this way (e.g. Bashir Dandago's Fatsumatu
which was a massive hit about two years ago). Some Nanaye singers often cross-over to Rap. An example is Billy-O, whose Billy Tibani
is really a Nanaye song, but rapped over. But perhaps the first Nanaye singer to introduce zambo in his song is Shaba, in his Fati Bappa
(a song disowned by the lady herself in an interview with an issue of Fim magazine) in which he sarcastically rendered:Shaba mai golden voice Shaba, with golden voice
Na daramma mai muryar kare, I am superior to he who barks like a dog
Wani mai wakar hanci He who sings with nasal tone
Sai ka ce ana gudar biki, As if in a ceremonial ululation
Kai idan yana waka See, when he is singing
Kamar an kunna injin markade, He sounds like a milling engine
So na ke ka fito fili I want you come out in the open
Ka nuna yau da ni za kai biki, And challenge me if you dare
In ma rokon Allah And I will pray to Allah
Sai ka zamma dan banzan gari.. To turn you into a guttersnipe
The overwhelming view-- not denied by Shaba himself -- in Kano was that he was referring to a well-known imitation singer (whose speciality is imitating the voice of a popular Hausa video film comedian) and with whom they had an altercation sometime before the song.
When the Kano State Censorship under Mal. Rabo became some kind of Taliban for the popular culture industry in Kano, musicians (or more accurately, lyricists) quickly banded themselves and released an underground song, Ki Yi Shiru Maryam Baba
(which was instantly renamed Rabon Wahala
)Mai karfi da karfin mulki You who use abuse your position
Ba ka fi fa karfin Allah ba Your power is less than that of Allah
Mai karfi da karfin iko And you use you use your legality
Ba ka fi fa ikon Allah ba Allah is more legal than you
Mai karfi da karfin khakhi He who uses the power of his uniform
Bai wuce tasrifin Allah ba His transformative powers are less than those of Allah
Mai karfi da karfin jama'a He who uses the power of the masses
Bai wuce rundunar Allah ba Has nothing on the army of Allah
Allah Kai mukewa kuka Allah we beseech thee
Zalunci ba zai dore ba Tyranny will never sustain itself
Wanda duk ya ke zalunci Whoever terrorises the people
Karshensa ba zai kyawu ba Will surely come to a sticky end!
The fact the Mal. Rabo was a former Commander of Hisbah Corps (moral police) and was indeed fond of his Hisbah uniform is not lost on those who listened -- and love the song. From my inside sources, Mal. Rabo heard the song and was apparently unhappy with the radio play it was receiving from Radio Freedom. He seemed to have complained, and they suddenly stopped airing it. However, my fieldwork indicates he did not do such thing. If anything, he actually loved the song and had it mobile phone! He says it is a good song that urges leaders to be careful and merciful in what they do -- and there is nothing wrong with that.
But the most fiery invective was from Adam Zango -- a session musician turned into an actor, and later Nanaye singer when the acting seemed to have slipped him. He released a Macossa themed video album last year (2007) titled Bahaushiya -- and he was clamped in jail for almost three months for showing an exposed midrif (of a female) during one of the songs. After his release from prison (after he apologized to the Emir of Kano, the Governor, the People of Kano etc), he recorded a song, A Zango Oyoyo
. It was a blistering attack on Kano State and, particularly the Governor, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau. To Bisimillah Allah I start with the name of Allah
Zan wake mugun bawan nan To sing about that horrible servant (of Allah)
Jaki mai harbin nan ya fake da cin addinin nan The kicking donkey, who hides behind the facade of Islam
To Barau ka kama ni, Well, Barau you have arrested me
Kuma ka je ka kulle ni And you have clamped me in a cell
Karshe ma ka daure ni And game me jail term
Ni na ji dadin daurin nan Oh, I am so happy with this jail term
Shi ba daurin Allah ba It is not ordainable by Allah
Ba daurin Manzon Allah ba Nor it is ordainable by His Prophet
Ba kuma daurin Musulunci ba Not even Islamic
Wata motar mota ce Some cars are real cars
Wata motar sai an tura ta Some are just lemons
Wani daktan dakta ne Some doctors are real doctors
Ai wani daktan na abortion ne Others are abortion butchers
Wani tailan taila ne Some tailors are real dressmakers
Wani tailan fid da tsiraici ne Some just make clothes that make you nude
Wani malam malam ne Some Malams (Islamic scholars) are real Mallams
Wani malam bokan iska ne Others are just useless marabouts
Wani gemun gemun taure ne...
And some beards are just like that of billy goats
The icons used in the song of course allude to Shekarau -- who intensified the Shari'ah in Kano (although it did not start with his Governorship) and of course sports a clipped beard typical of Muslim mallams. Other portions of the song allude to Shekaru's dark complexion.
From my fieldwork, I learnt that Zango insisted the song should be deleted from the computers of the studio where he recorded it -- after transferring it to his cellphone. When he migrated back to Kaduna (allegedly after threats to his life from the few who learnt about the song, although did not hear it), he kept playing the song to his friends -- and eventually someone copied it, who bluetoothed it to someone, to someone etc. It eventually came back to Kano. According to Fim
magazine (November 2008), many who heard Zango's song promised to "deal with him" whenever he comes into Kano. In typical Nigerian parlance, it means he will either be beaten, harassed, or worse.
One group that took exception to the song was the K-Boyz -- a duo (stripped from four) of hard core Hausa rappers. After listening to Zango's song, they went to the studio and recorded a blistering counter-attack which they call Bingo
. Bingo is a common name for a dog, and from my discussions with them (Hassan and Ibrahim as they are now), they said they use the word Bingo to refer to Adam Zango as a dog, or as they said in one of the more palatable lines of the song:
Kin haifo jaki You have given birth an an ass
Mawallafin asara Author of misfortune
Da haihuwarsa, tsinanne Rather than giving birth to the cursed one
Gwamma rashin da ne It is better to be childless
Bakin kare Black dog
Ka ce an daure ka don asara You complained of being arrested, misfortuned one
Ka ki bin dokoki You refused to obey the law
Dole ka sha dauri You must therefore be jailed
Da kai da masu binka So you and your followers
duk babbar........(censored!) (er.. can go to blazes -- listen to the song, and you will understand!)
Tsinannu jakai, Cursed, assess
Mawallafin asara Author of misfortune
Ka ce wai Gwamnan mu You said our Governor
Na ta ci da gemu Is making waves with his beard (promoting Islam)
Ka dakata ka ji mu Listen to us
Ai ya fi dai ubanka He is better than your father
Mawallafin asara Author of misfortune
Mai takama da muni You who is preens in his ugliness
Da haihuwarka, tsinanne Your mother shouldn't given birth to you
Gwamma zama ba bu Your non-birth is better than your existence
They used the same format he used in starting the song and ending it. It was simply too strong. They started first by abusing Zango's mother, before moving on to Zango himself and his followers, revealing layer by layer, Zango's previous life. I can't bring myself to reproduce it (there are young people, such as Muhsin
, reading this board), but it made quite a few allusions to an anatomical portion of Zango's father. Recorded with a hard core beat, it is the classical Parental Advisory candidate that you see on some rap CDs. Due to its abusive contents, the song was not played on any radio station in Kano, but became a hit -- gaining popularity through being transferred via bluetooth. Incidently Adam Zango was played the song, and he was reported (in Fim
magazine November 2008) as saying that he doesn't mind, and that it is because he is worth it, that is why they are abusing him. That may be the case; but many would find it odd to be glorified with abuses, rather than praises.
And so it continues. Media technology has provided Hausa youth with the musical power to sustain some of the poetic invectives used by the traditional Hausa musicians and which often could be vicious (e.g. the line in Shata's Bakandamiya
which lambasted kukuma music, and which Ahmadu Doka did not like, and became a basis for his own Bakandamiya
-- and after which he stopped singing (alledgeby because of being "cursed" by Shata for daring to reply to Shata).
Poetic literary invective is nothing new in literature -- having been around since earliest times when writers and poets started putting their thoughts to paper. It is not likely to end either, because someone somewhere will always take an exception to what another artist does. It becomes worrying, however, when it becomes a standard conversational fare, thus taking people's attention from the creative genius of the poet, singer, or writer.
I have uploaded A. Zango Oyoyo
to our servers. Salisu will soon send a link to where you can hear or download them.