Abubakar Sani is a veteran Kannywood musician who has been in the industry for almost 25 years. In this interview with Daily Trust Saturday, the popular musician, said to be the father of modern Kannywood music, shares his experiences, how music can fight banditry and many more.
How did you venture into music?
I ventured into the industry due to the passion I have for music. Later, I realized it’s not about passion alone, you can also earn money from it. Today, academics are studying our lyrics in their researches. That is a source of joy to me. Many of my songs have been studied in many universities for undergraduate and post graduate researches. So, I have realized that I am contributing my quota in enlightening people. These are some of the things that kept me going up to this level, and we are still moving ahead.
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You are said to be the father of modern Kannywood music. Who are your role models?
As far as I am concerned, any musician I listen to, I call him my role model. Even if I have never met him, for the fact that I sat and listened to his music and perhaps learn something from it, they are my role model.
Which genre of music do you like most?
When we came into the industry, it was only movie music we do, and Hausa movies are more of love stories; so, all the songs are on love and relationship.
We later started making albums of our music collection and selling them. After some time, some of us started looking at the reality on ground and singing about them.
That was how I changed the narrative and started doing something. You see, during the peak of domestic violence and abuses, where many wives stab their husbands, or a husband stabbing his wife, I looked at the issue and sang ‘kari ki yanka mijinki’ which means don’t kill your husband. And I also sang on drug abuse and others.
Now, the prevailing issue is moral decadence among our youth. They are the leaders of tomorrow and their lives are in great danger. If they go astray, we are all in danger because we will all face the consequences. They are the face of kidnapping and banditry. They are the ones snatching ballot boxes during election and many other things. So, I am thinking on how we can address these problems using our music.
It is high time we all change our tunes from the usual love relationship songs to songs that will address these issues because I am sure we can bring changes.
How long have you been into music?
I have been into music for almost 25 years and still counting.
Which of your songs do you consider the best?
I love all my songs. This is because the one you may think is the best may not be the best to your fans. But there are some songs like ‘Bazar bazara’ and ‘Wakar waka’ that I like mentioning in some instances. These songs have been studied in many universities in Nigeria.
Your first song is yet to hit the market after almost 25 years, why?
(Laugh) it is true my first song is not yet out and people have been asking for it. I didn’t release it simply because it was not melodious.
How many young musicians have you trained in those years?
Training means many things. Even giving advice is a form of training. So, in that case, I can say I did that for many musicians. But I can’t mention names. They mention it themselves; saying I am their godfather.
Your songs are said to have long-life span because up till now, people are still enjoying your old songs, what is the secret?
The simple secret is that I am using knowledge in my music. When we came in, the people we met like Sani Yusuf Ayagi, Dandurumi, Alkhamis D. Bature and others were doing their music based on knowledge. So, we built on that.
That is why it is a challenge to our young musicians of today. They are yet to surpass our efforts of the past 20 years. This is a big challenge. That is why I always advice them to invest in research. Research here means they should look for relevant issues and do music based on that.
Musicians have been singing on love, but marital problems are still happening. This is because they are only singing on the love before marriage, but are not telling the couples of the reality after marriage.
Why are southern musicians more popular and richer than their northern counterparts, and what are you doing to bridge the gap?
The problem is from both the musicians and our people. A northerner attends an event and says he doesn’t want our music to be played, he will prefer southern music. But southerners patronize and support their people more. If for example a Yoruba musician releases a song and says he wants a copy of his CD to go for N10,000, his people will do anything possible to buy it to support him. But in our case, it is like some people are waiting for us to release our songs so that they will get the pirated copy and start selling it for as low as N20 or N50 not minding how much I spent. Our people are not helping us.
For example, few months back, I saw a video of language class in China, where they played my song ‘Zakka’ and they are studying it.
On the part of the musicians, that is why I have been emphasizing on going back to school. I went back to North West University where I studied Film and Television and to Bayero University Kano where I studied Mass Communications all to update myself.
I am now more enlightened and educated. And I want our politicians and other stakeholders to be organizing seminars on music and other arts.
Do you think YouTube can save northern musicians?
I don’t think so. CD was the best option for us, but unfortunately, CD market is no longer there. You see during the time of CD, I can sell CD of N20 million or even N30million, but if I am to make N20million from YouTube, it is going to be very difficult. So, YouTube alone is not enough.
How can musicians help in tackling societal challenges?
Knowledge is very important, and young musicians should learn from their seniors.
You see the issues of kidnapping and banditry; we can help fight it with ease. These bandits are youth who are being exploited and brainwashed into criminalities. You see how tattered they look after they are arrested, and then of the millions they collected, they will be given paltry N30,000.
So, we can start counter narrative songs if the government comes in. We will produce songs reminding for example the Fulani among them of their original custom of fulaku, telling them who they are and advising them to go back to who they were.
Fulani love music and they are always with radios. So, government should come in and help in organizing events where the Fulani and their leaders will be invited and we will do live events, gather together with them, engage them and listen to them.
People have been waiting for your new songs, when are they coming out?
I have two albums presently, but I am confused on how to release them. They have many good messages that I want to release but the medium to release them is giving me sleepless night. But people should be patient. One of the albums is ‘Matsalarmu’ with collection of six songs that are based on the current/trending issues. The other one is ‘Labarin zuciya’ which is a mixture of love and some lessons shared. They will be very good.
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