It is unfortunate that writing and writers remain uncelebrated in Kano. Anywhere in the world the medium to recognise and encourage the works of people is celebrating them in order to inspire the young ones, and also organise special programmes where the related activities would be discussed. I don’t think the people in authority don’t know the merit of supporting the creative writing which is now being overtaken by youth. They are also aware of the consequences of underutilising and not supporting these potentialities of the teeming youth who are looking for the support of our elites.
As I mentioned earlier Kano state is blessed with writers who are writing in the indigenous Hausa language. This attract large market from other states, it even goes beyond West African countries to some parts of Europe. Despite the fact this is to the advantage of the state as it helps in preserving it culture and booming the economy when utilised. What I mean here is that many young writers who are gifted and brilliant were recognised but underutilised, basically because they lack means to publish their works, or even attend fora and workshops that could help them in reshaping their creativity. I know writers Associations in Kano such as ANA are doing their best to promote these young writers, but it goes beyond their capacity. It is a gigantic project that needs a lot of resources. In the 1930s up to the late 70s the northern government invested a lot of resources in the area of literature development. Writers of those days were sponsored to produce novels and books that benefited our country, such as Ruwan Bagaja, Shehu Umar, Magana Ja rice, Idon Matambayi, Kitsen Rogo, Uwar Gulma, Matar Mutum Kabarinsa, So Aljannar Duniya and so on. Prizes were awarded to them for job well done, which motivated them to produce relevant materials that are in line with our culture and tradition.
Why the contemporary young writers are neglected, it is the duty of the whole society to support them so that their creativity can be seriously utilised for our own collective good. I cannot say everything concerning the problems of literature and the way out in this state, but it is pertinent for the Kano state government to look at the issue critically. I knew when the Kano state Governor, Engineer Dr.Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso was preparing to take the mantle of leadership had set a transition committee on Kano State Censorship Board to advise appropriately. This is the board that is duly responsible for anything that has to do with writers and film industry in Kano. I hope the committee has taken note of the previous administrations mistake, where much attention was given to film industry at the detriment of literature development.
I therefore strongly advice that the state government should pay attention to the area of literature development. No doubt literature is related to our education system, because it encourages reading culture among the younger generation. It is obvious that, no generation would develop when young people of that society lack interest in reading. The poor academic performance in our various schools is quite related to an endemic poor reading habit.
It is good if Kano state government through its Kano State Censorship Board organises programmes that would lead to the utilisation of our teeming writers in the state. This can be possible by organising annual prizes on good write-ups that promote culture, tradition and the religion of our people. The programme should help in re-orienting our society by inculcating good values.
The state should organise book fairs and workshops for writers annually, when these are done the young writers in the state would be empowered. The workshops would give room for enhancing their works to tally with the demand of modern world and our society. Organising book fairs is equally important as a means of displaying the product of creativity in our state. Whenever we meet in the national convention of the Association of Nigerian Authors, other writers from the other parts of the countries are amaze to hear the high number of writers, including women who write in the indigenous language. Therefore organising book fair annually would help in promoting and publicising their works.
Another area that I feel needs a serious support is the area of sponsorship, although sponsorship here may be in many stages. It could be sponsoring young writers to produce good manuscripts for publications; it could also be sponsoring their activities. Supporting young writers is a collective responsibility from government, banks, multi-national companies, and non-governmental organisations.
But the truth of the matter is that government should take a leading role, by being the agency for decision making, law and order; it has a vital role to play in the implementation process. Kano State Censorship Board is taking the responsibility of censoring what comes from our writers, but sincerely speaking, it must go beyond that. They should also participate in the promotion of literature; because we have all the ingredients to develop the sector. If in the 1930s, wonderful stories could be developed, why not this 21st Century when the agents of development are everywhere and our lives unfolding in drama.
Another very important area that needs government intervention is the establishment of writers’ village in the state. Recently the Kano state Governor announced his intention to establish a Film Institute. This to us is a welcome development and a good initiative that will enhance the role of Kanywood. Writers’ village would also serve a similar purpose, because it will give room for writers in the state and beyond to develop good creative works.
Finally in this world that is increasingly globalised, it is very important to recognise the value of improving our literature. We have to build on the knowledge of our local community, in order to cope with the globalisation and maintain our relevance. We have to read a lot, and learn to copy from others so that the good things in others can be aped and utilised. This is the only way we can penetrate the international market. I am therefore calling the young writers to read everything that comes their way, because that is where the foundation of their ambition lies. Fiction is more truthful than fact.
Zaharaddeen Ibrahim Kallah is the Branch Secretary of the Association of Nigerian Authors Kano State Branch