The posting on Alhaji Sani Lamma as a Kannywood Fountainhead on 12th December, 2023 has elicited quite a few sympathetic responses. Some respondents wanted to know whether he is alive (some even prayed for the repose of his soul, assuming he was dead already!). Others were sad at how he was neglected in the recognition he deserves as a founding member of the Kannywood industry.
Starting an industry is a collective effort. Sani Lamma was a key component of that effort. That the industry developed to its current vibrant level can be attributed to his tenacity and doggedness in ensuring an industry was established in his creative vision. Despite his importance in the early days, he did not venture beyond selling video tapes, doing his video coverage and selling absolutely rare recordings from his shop in Gwammaja, Kano. Almost every wannabe Kannywood filmmaker had to pay homage to Sani Lamma – either to find a plot to rip-off from an obscure Indian film, or to get guide on how to dub tapes from multiple sources. He knew it all, and shared it all, running from a poorly equipped, dusty but valuable work/shop.
Through the help of Ahmad Salihu Alkanawy (who connected me to him in the first place, but then that’s a story for another day), I was able to get his cell number and called him. Once I established he is on this planet, I asked for directions to his shop and on Wednesday 13th December I met up with him in front of the boarded up (with bricks!) shop which I visited last in January 2001. He has, of course, changed in the intervening 22 years, but at 70 years (he was born in 1953), he still extremely strong and agile.
It was a happy reunion for both of us, as he is a very pleasant and deeply charming gentleman – full of stories of the cinematic culture of youth in the 60s through 1980s which pulled him into its vortex and led to his being a founding member of Kannywood. We spent an hour talking about my book and his other Fountainhead colleagues (of whom more later in subsequent postings).
Unfortunately, his shop is closed because the owners wanted the entire plot back. He moved his archives to an upstairs shop in an adjoining mini-mall (originally referred to as Gidan Ɗan Buzu). It is really sad to see all these archival tapes of both local and foreign films gathering dust in this digital era of YouTube sharing. Yet, they like the owner, are a valuable slice of the history of popular culture in Kano. Enjoy the pictures of the visit.