Tijjani Usman, popularly known in the movie industry as Tijjani Faraga, has indeed made his presence appreciated in the Hausa movie industry. A versatile actor in all ramifications, Tijani talks about his involvement in politics as well as travails in the movie industry, among other issues. Excerpts:
Weekend Magazine: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Tijjani Usman: My name is Tijjani Usman known in Kannywood and other film making avenues as Faraga. I started primary school in Plateau State and finished in Kurna Primary School in Kano State. I obtained a diploma in Mass Communication and did a certificate programme on film production at the National Film Institute Jos. I am presently married with kids.
WM: How did you get into film making?
Usman: I was involved in TV production before the advent of what is known today as Kannywood or Hausa movies. My early stage passion for the screen was what made me get trained as a movie producer.
With the advent of the Hausa film making industry, I started getting smaller roles in the home videos and people involved in the production of Hausa movies that are closer to me like Ali Nuhu started getting me roles in the movies. That was how I started and rose to my present status in the industry.
WM: Was it easy getting there?
Usman: You see, what people fail to understand is that fame or success doesn’t come to you on a platter of gold. I could remember that I will go to a location and wait for seven days just to get a role in a movie and that did not deter me from aiming at what I wanted in the movie industry. Today, as Allah wills, here I am a full inclined national film artist in Nigeria.
WM: How did you get the stage name ‘Faraga’?
Usman: Well, it isn’t a stage name but a nickname I got from my father while growing up. I got the name while I was a child learning the Islamic education doctrine; and during those periods I was always coming first, among my peers, in memorizing my portion of the holy Qur’an. My father became so pleased with my performance that when discussing my issue, he will refer to me as ‘The boy with a special gift’ (Faraga) and that was how people started referring to me as Tijjani Faraga.
WM: Recently, you were actively involved in politics. Does that mean Faraga has quit film making?
Usman: Everyone is at one time or the other an active politician, my political involvement doesn’t mean I have quit the film making industry. To be more candid with you on this, I am more into the film making industry than ever before. My recent involvement in politics isn’t out of the contrary; I am exercising my fundamental human right as a lawful citizen of Nigeria.
I am promoting a politician that I believe has the capability to successfully lead this country to the Promised Land. Former Governor of Bauchi State Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu doesn’t need much introduction, because every Nigerian knows what he did in his state as a governor, as well as what his achievements while serving in different capacities in the affairs of this country.
I personally believe in one Nigeria and that is why I am promoting a presidential aspirant that will ensure the oneness of this nation.
WM: Don’t you think this will be another case of use and dump?
Usman: I am aware that many politicians have been using our colleagues for their political gains and this has been the trending pattern for sometimes. However, we have observed and made some references on issues that had happened before, we are convinced that Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu isn’t like the others.
We have resolved to support his bid to the end and we are optimistic that the good people of Nigeria will see the good things in him that we have seen.
WM: Do you have any regrets being an actor?
Usman: I have never had the feelings that I am doing the wrong thing and that is why as a Muslim, I always look at what will protect my religion first and then what will protect my integrity as a northerner with a culture to guard.
I always screen scripts given to me to see if I can fit into the character’s role specified in the script. It is so open that everyone knows that I have never hidden my reservations on any script. If a story has lapses, I always make suggestions to those concerned and if they are not willing to change the lapses discovered, I will reject that role.
WM: Can you cite any instance of such roles you rejected?
Usman: There was this role that I advised one of our colleagues not to take because it seemed unfit for his personality; I don’t want to mention the name of the movie but those who know what I am saying can tell what film it was.
Unfortunately, due to some unforeseen reasons he failed to listen to my advice and he took the role. Unfortunately, now that the movie has been released into the market, he has been regretting not taking my advice to an extent that he feels like quitting.
WM: What are your memorable moments as an actor?
Usman: As a trained actor who has spent a lot of years in the film making business, I can say one of my memorable moments was when the Sultan of Sokoto invited me to his house and related to me as an important personality. I always feel elated whenever I remember that occasion. I never knew what we were doing has a recognition of such important personalities in Nigeria, so that singular incident has clearly shown that there are highly placed personalities who have regards for what we do.