Bello Galadanchi, a PhD holder in Comparative Education is currently among the leading Hausa content creators on social media (basically TikTok and Instagram). The US-born Kano indigene, who has had a stint practicing journalism and currently works as an educationist in China, is also a filmmaker. In this interview, he talks about his breakthrough in content creation using the Hausa language as well as future plans in film-making. Excerpt:
Looking at your educational background, how did you venture into content creation on TikTok?
I studied Film & Video as a minor under the supervision of Charles Dumas from the movie Die Hard at The Pennsylvania State University from 2010-11, because creativity has always been a passion of mine. However, having a Nigerian background means one should use those academic years for more needed careers. As a result, making videos became a hobby and I frequently make videos for students at school. My wife and I share a rich sense of humour, so my sister suggested that I share this joy with the Hausa community on Tiktok.
What informed the theme of your content?
I’m still figuring out the theme, but what I feel drives me is addressing the daily challenges that the common man faces. This is done frequently by media, bloggers, activists, politicians, and clergy but there is not much from an entertainment standpoint. This is certainly an avenue that is untouched and a reasonable platform to raise awareness.
Your content is basically in the Hausa language and mostly mirrors the Hausa culture. Any specific reason(s) for this?
The Hausa language is one of the most spoken languages not just in Africa, but in the world. Now, when you go around Hausa-speaking communities like I did when I was with Voice of America, one gets to understand that the majority of Hausa people have little or no English in their daily lives. So, when an analysis is done about the media they frequently consume, the theme and range of content is very limited. Hausa language and the people are not going anywhere, but the media content they consume is mostly hard news or really shallow. It should be more effective to add a cup of water to a bowl than to a river.
The Hausa entertainment community on TikTok, as well as Instagram and Twitter, looks to be booming every day. Do you consider yourself a pioneer?
Absolutely not, there are creators that had cultivated and attracted a lot of people on these platforms before me, and many of them did a wonderful job. Thanks to them, or I won’t have anyone to look at my content. One can only look closely at the range and style of content that they produce to understand where the boom comes from.
Overall, aside from entertainment, do you have any objectives in mind with your content?
Yes, I’d love to see new motivated and more creative creators appear in the near future. The evolving media market sees a decline in television, radio and print audiences for information, education and awareness. More and more people depend on social platforms and it would be a dream come true for this to be the catalyst that puts youth ahead in providing positive change to our society.
How lucrative is the content creation industry for a typical Arewa content creator?
I hope it is very lucrative to incentivize more creators to put in the work because times are tough for most people. I do this as a hobby and have no intention of earning anything from it in the meantime. I hope content consumers can show more support to their favourite creators which will in turn provide more benefits and encouragement for them to keep creating.
Are you saying you are not yet making money from your content?
Yes, I am not making money.
To what extent do you consider yourself an influencer?
I would say someone who is new in the scene considering that I started in late February. I’m surprised at the growth and support over the short period of time and I believe I’m just getting my feet wet. The fans cover a very diverse range of ages as young as two years old and all the way up to the early seventies. I’d attribute that to the clean and wholesome nature of the content.
You are not currently based in the country but making content that reflects the everyday reality of Nigerians, especially the Arewa people. How do you get the ideas for your content? And are your contents a form of nostalgia?
Three things: first, being an international journalist covering Nigeria from Washington DC provided information gathering skills and tools that enable one to feel the pulse of the country at any time. Secondly, being in a developed country provides a point of reference for comparison on a daily basis which if treated right can make for rich content. Lastly, Hausa children and non-English speakers are missing out on a lot of classic jokes, stories and educational content that is globally known, and I think it’s a great thing to provide that kind of content in a context they can also consume, comprehend and appreciate.
How do you balance your work in the entertainment world with your daily work as an educationist?
As a leader here at school and a homeroom teacher for Primary 1 boarding students, having a disciplined efficient daily routine is imperative to survival. On the other hand, content creation takes very little time out of my day, usually 45 minutes at most for a video. I think being a journalist and making videos for the past 14 years also helps with the experience. That military mentality ensures that at the end of the day, 1 and 1 are added to provide 2 before bedtime with quality control and within range.
Where are you with filmmaking? And what do you think is missing in the filmmaking industry in Arewa?
Great question! I believe filmmaking is like an old friendship that only gets better and matured with time. It is a dream to go back to Nigeria and put together some good stories that will turn heads in Hollywood, and also present our rich and beautiful heritage.
Filmmaking in Arewa is missing what Nigeria is missing as a country – its own backbone. I believe the two have a direct relationship. The history, culture, present reality and vision for the future should be engrained in every film as they are in other films in developed and some developing countries. To entertain and reflect current reality seems to scare most filmmakers, therefore most themes revolve around romance and hints of Bollywood. What’s missing is the overall understanding of the relevance of filmmaking to the development of society and the proper investment of resources into talent cultivation and the working environment in the industry. The culture itself looks down on filmmaking. But, if the education sector is already in a casket, then what am I even talking about?