The Nigeria Hausa Movie industry, Kannywood, has banned actress Rahama Sadau for what the Hausa culture considered as immoral act: Hugging.
Ms. Sadua, who is one of the top star actresses in the Hausa-language film industry, had performed in a music video where she was hugging and cuddling a Nigerian pop star, Classiq. This had triggered outrage from offended viewers calling for her punishment.
As much as some culture deems hugs between a man and a woman as an innocent act of affection, some part of the country believes otherwise. The ban was imposed by the Motion Pictures Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MOPPAN), and means Sadau will no longer be allowed to perform in any films made in Kannywood – the northern Nigerian film industry named after its base in the city of Kano.
According to leaders in the industry, the actress had repeatedly failed to adhere to the conservative values of the region, thus her performance in the music video with singer ClassiQ was the last straw.
The chairman of MOPPAN, Muhammadu Kabiru Maikaba, confirmed to BBC that the ban was “total.”
“This is not the first time that she has been doing these wayward things. We have been warning her, but she still went ahead to dent our image.”
The code of conduct in the Hausa-language film industry which started in the year 2000, said that actors must adhere to the rules that come with being a Kannywood star – that is, love scenes and open romance.
However, Sadua has tendered an apology for offending anyone through her role in the music as a market stall worker who falls in love with the singer, ClassiQ, and the pair are shown holding hands and sitting together in scenes which would be described as chaste by Western standards.
She said it was an innocuous touching and never meant to offend anyone. While some criticized her, others defend her, saying, Ms. Sadau’s had been singled out because she’s a woman. They point to pictures of Kannywood actors such as Ali Nuhu, who are seen hugging and even kissing women and argue that they have not been castigated in a similar manner.
The Hausa film industry had been under pressure by Islamic clerics who accused them of promoting immorality and distracting the young generations from what is important.
This has probably prompted the industry to uphold a strict ethical code and Ms. Sadau seems to be the scapegoat.