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By Henry Chukwuemeka Onyema (Nigeria)


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     There are those who see nothing wrong in the recent directive by the Kano State Censors Board to all literary associations, movie producers, actors and actresses in the state to register their works with the Board or else lose the right to operate in Kano. All works that do not comply with this order will be confiscated. These people will proclaim the Kano State Government as the custodian of morality, culture and religion. To them the course of all that is good is served by the actions of Governor Ibrahim Shekarau and his minion, Abubakar Rabo, the Director-General of the Kano State Censors Board.Maybe they will affirm that these men' s actions will push back the assault of decadent Western civilization.

     But this is the beginning of totalitarianism. I am not surprised at the actions of the Kano State Government because anti-intellectualism is a culture for all dictators , psuedo-democrats, bigots and zealots. No true religion spurns the acqusition of knowledge.The marketplace of ideas is a diversified one, and buyers and sellers are free to choose and drop.If a film producer and an actress committed lewd acts, as stated by the Kano authorities as the reason for this draconian stance, must every idea-creator in Kano pay for their misdeeds?Who empowered Kano to impose hypocritical standards on anyone? If public morals have been assaulted by the actions of the said thespians, then let the public put them out of business.The film guilds are not dead in Kano, or has Rabo run them out of town?

    This matter goes beyond the efforts of the Kano State Government to regulate public morals and intellectual materials within its domain. It is also about the freedom of expression in Nigeria. Does Kano' s laws supersede the country' s constitution of 1999? It is also about the right to inform and be informed; to educate and be educated; to think and reason; to build a society fit for sane men and women.Today it is the Kano State Government; tomorrow a Niger Delta State Government can ban poems about the Niger Delta crisis in its domain. Recently the National Assembly commenced efforts to curb the next edition of the BBA (Big Brother Africa) in Nigeria.

     All lovers of true freedom, especially the freedom to imagine , to think, to create, must speak up.For it was the people' s silence, more than any state policy, that sent Afghanistan under the Taliban back to the age of the dinosaur, and castrated the former Soviet Union under the communists.Ideas must flourish so that a society worthy of humanity is created.

      The days of the barbarian must not resurrect in Kano State.
      Henry Chukwuemeka Onyema (also spelt Onyema) is a Nigerian teacher
      and writer. He can be contacted via

FOOTNOTE:Kano is one of the great and predominantly Muslim states of Northern Nigeria.In recent years the booming movie industry in Nigeria, known as Nollywood, and predominantly a Southern Nigeria-driven success story, has flourished in the North. To regulate the industry and check excesses, including piracy, the government set up the National Censors Board. But what Kano State is contemplating is beyond the pale.