Saturday, 23 February 2013

(47): Dual Professorship, borderless scholarship (III)

Thus, by 2010 he had become one of the world’s leading authorities on Hausa media popular culture, evidenced in the dozens of books, journal articles and book chapters he has published in the area (see, for instance, his website, Foundation for Hausa Performing Arts).This, in addition to over 50 conferences in Nigeria, Niger and countries like US, UK, Germany, Morocco, Senegal, Egypt, Ethiopia, Turkey, Switzerland, Cameroon and South Africa.
In March 2012, he took up appointment as the European Union Visiting Professor of Media and Cultural Communication at the University of Warsaw, Poland, where he taught a course on African popular culture, as well as another one on global dimensions of folktales. His visit in Poland culminated in a guest lecture he delivered at the Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, the Polish Academy of Science, Warsaw in June 2012.
On his return to Nigeria, and taking into consideration his considerable contributions to the area of media and cultural communication, he was encouraged by the Bayero University authorities to submit his papers for possible promotion to the Chair of Media and Cultural Communication In the Department of Mass Communication where he had been teaching since 2006 (and supervising MSc and PhD students) in order to boost the development of the field in the university, and also add to the manpower strength of a proposed Department of Theater Arts and Film Studies in the University.
On Wednesday 30th January 2013, the Council of the Bayero University Kano approved the recommendation of his assessors that he should be promoted to the position of Professor of Media and Cultural Communication, and be transferred to the Department of Mass Communication. Prof. Adamu, to the best of my knowledge, is the first person from northern Nigeria to have double professorship and in two different disciplines (Education, and Media Studies).
The journey was not easy for him, for it took 15 years to establish his intellectual credibility in mass communications (from 1997 when he was first promoted to professor of Science Education, to 2012 when he was promoted to professor of media and cultural communication). Along the line, though, he had pioneered a radical approach to the study of media and its impact on traditional cultures. His works,    ranging from critical analyses of media censorship to rap vocal wars among Hausa musicians, and most significantly, his intertextual analyses of translocation of literary and visual cultures from other parts of the world to Hausa societies, including studies of posters, artworks, have opened up new vistas of research for other researchers who were unsure of the dividing line between mainstream mass communication, with its focus on print and broadcast journalism, and a more redefined media studies.
His pioneering use of digital technologies to record local performances and share them on content sites such as YouTube also created a community pool of what he refers to as ‘citizen anthropologists’ who can now digitally record ordinary, but significant lives, and share them to the world to provide a more balanced picture of traditional communities.
Again, as far as I know, he might probably be the only professor of media and cultural communication in Nigeria. If not, then his addition to the surely small pool would greatly help to open up mass communication and bring it to the current age where the boundaries are blurred, and SNSs have enabled the creation of new virtual avatars that are often doppelgängers of their creators – drawing new attention to social identity theory, where the society is no longer what we know, but is made up of digits and buttons in the virtual matrix.
In conclusion, I congratulate Professor Abdalla Uba Adamu, and the Bayero University community for this achievement. I couldn’t think of a better way to conclude this series, than with the words of one of Professor Abdalla’s students, and equally another intellectual in his own right, Dr Salisu Shehu, who stated that “our teacher is also a man of candor, never given to kumbiya-kumbiya or gossips. How would he have time for these vanities when he always has one paper to write or one conference to make lead presentations or globe trotting across the continents to distinctively make spectacular outings and presentations in academic and intellectual fora?. Allah Ya ja Kwana, Ya Kara lafiyar Farfesa. Allah ya  kara basira. Allah sanya tsoron Allah a cikin ilimin. Allah sa ya zama hanyar tsira duniya da lahira [Long live the Professor. May Allah bless him with a sound health, increase him in wisdom, inculcate God’s consciousness in his knowledge, and may He make it a source of salvation in this world and the hereafter]. The Aminu Ala's of this world must be rehearsing some bakandamiya to celebrate the double Professorship”.

17th February, 2013

Thursday, 14 February 2013

(46): Dual professorship, borderless scholarship (II)

Professor Abdalla Uba Adamu was  born in Daneji, the city of Kano, northern Nigeria, and he was employed as a Graduate Assistant in Science Education in the Department of Education, Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria, in 1980. By October 1997 he had become Professor of Science Education and Curriculum Studies – the youngest professor from Kano at the time at 41 years. His undergraduate training was in in Biology and Plant Physiology Education (at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, 1979), and his postgraduate specialization at the Masters level was in History and Philosophy of Science (University of London, 1983), while for his D.Phil. (at the University of Sussex, England, 1988), he specialized in Human Resource Development.
His intellectual internationalization started in 1991 when he was appointed Visiting Associate, Center for Studies in Higher Education, University of California, Berkeley, United States as Fulbright African Senior Research Scholar. He was the first person from the north of Nigeria to become a Senior Fulbrighter, even though at that time he was only 35 years! His residency in Berkeley led to a book, Reform and Adaptation in Nigerian University Curricula, 1960-1992: Living on a Credit Line published in 1994 in New York by The Edwin Mellen Press. In 1993 he set another record as the first academic from northern Nigeria to be invited  by the Rockefeller Foundation as Visiting Resident Scholar, Bellagio Conference and Study Center, Italy where he developed ideas for a book on higher education.
In 1999, in the wake of the public furor that trailed the popularity of Hausa contemporary fiction,  he changed the focus of his research to media and cultural communication, starting with observations about the then burgeoning Hausa popular literature – an engagement that led to many lively debates in the pages of newspapers in northern Nigeria, especially the New Nigerian Weekly under the guidance of Ibrahim Sheme who actually facilitated and mediated all the discussions on Hausa popular literature. Prof. Adamu’s deep interest in computing and literary expression led to his developing Hausa hooked characters (Ɗ, ƙ, ɗ, ɓ, Ƙ, and Ɓ) as font sets to facilitate Hausa wordprocessing in 1996. His engagement with the Hausa literati soon merged with similar interest in Hausa video films in 2001 and by 2003 he had facilated the convocation of the first conference on Hausa video film industry in Kano – a first, not only for the Hausa film industry, but also for any African video film industry; an endeveaor which led to a book, Hausa Video Films: Economy, Technology and Society, co-edited by Prof. Yusuf Adamu and Prof. Umar Faruk Jibril (Kano, Center for Hausa Cultural Studies, 2004).
When Internet became available in Kano sometime in 2000 he quickly seized its social networking potentials long before Facebook became a reality in 2004 by creating online communities on Yahoo! Groups channel to discuss Hausa music, literature and film in 2001. This not only brought the attention of the larger networked world to Hausa popular culture, but also provide an opportunity for others to develop similar virtual communities aimed at discussing all aspects of contemporary life of the Hausa, both at home and in Diaspora.
His cultural activist engagement in the communicative aspects of Hausa popular culture within the context of what he always refers to as ‘transglobal media flows’ made the Department of Mass Communication to employ him as a Part-Time Lecturer in 2006, where he was given courses to teach that eventually included Online Journalism, Advanced Media Research Methods, Critical Writing and Review, Aesthetics and Film Criticism, and Media Studies at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. 
In 2008, Prof. Adamu was appointed country partner by the Volkswagen Foundation, Germany, in its project, Passages of Culture, which networks African (Bayero University, University of Yaoundé, Cameroon and the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa) and European Universities (University of Basel, Switzerland and Freiburg University, Germany). The project seeks to determine, through extensive research involving some 10 PhD students, how culture moves intertextually between one literary passage to another. Prof. Adamu was also appointed advisory to the proposed board for the Center for Study of Music in the World of Islam, Abu Dhabi (which had its origins in a conference in Morocco), and which engaged him in a project on visual preservation of Hausa children’s songs.
Prof. Adamu is also one of the few, that can be called ‘practitioner-scholars’. Not only does he teach media theories and popular culture, he actualizes it. By 2012 he had recorded ethnomusical and religious performances in both video and audio which ranged from re-recording of Aliyu Namangi’s nine-volume Wakokin Imfiraji [Songs of Salvation], to beggar minstrel music, and female Fulani children’s camp songs; as well as Sufi religious performances by bothQadiriyyah and Tijjaniyyah Sufi adherents in Kano.
As a Music Director, Prof. Adamu recorded what he called ‘Hausa Classical Music’ – a performance of four musical pieces (without any vocals) by three traditional Hausa musicians playing gurmi (sort of shortened lute), duman girke (bongos) and sarewa (flute) in 2006. He called the band, ‘Alfijir’, [dawn], to indicate the new direction he hopes to forge for Hausa music. Three of the instrumental compositions last for over 15 minutes, with the fourth closing the performances at 4 minutes. In 2008 he obtained private funding to produce a documentary on the Kano Horse Pageantry festival, Hawan Sallah, which takes places after Ramadan and during Eid-al-Hudha. He called the film, ‘Equestrian Elegance’. The film was directed by Bala Anas Babinlata, and was reviewed by Carmen McCain. In addition he had organized seven musical concerts for the British Council when it was in Kano, always introducing elements of fusion – for instance, creating what he called. ‘Kukuma Rap’; rap lyrics with Hausa kukuma beat. He has established a YouTube Channel to share his ethnomusicological recordings.
01 Rabi al Thani 1434

Thursday, 7 February 2013

(45): Dual professorship, borderless scholarship

This piece is a personal tribute to my teacher, mentor and intellectual associate, on his appointment as a professor of media and cultural communication at Bayero University, Kano, the first person to achieve that position after acquiring a professorial chair in science education back in 1997.
I knew Professor Abdalla Uba Adamu, first on the pages of newspapers through his writings that cut across media, cultural studies, education and identity representation. My first contact with him was between late 1998 and 1999 as a young undergraduate student of Mass Communications at Bayero University, Kano.
The word internet was quite new in Nigeria then, and I wanted to know about it, our elder brother Professor Yusuf Adamu took me to his office, but the Prof was not around, Professor Yusuf Adamu asked whether I have ever used the internet, the answer was a capital NO, he quickly on the computer in Prof Abdalla’s office and opened the Google search engine, what would you like to search? Asked Alhajin Koko, the name we call Professor Yusuf Adamu at home. Anything, I replied, he searched the words “Kano Wall”, and there came pages on the history of Ganuwar Kano. We left the office after waiting for a while, but then for me, knowing his office was the first step in establishing contact with Professor Abdallah. Almost every week I will branch at his office and greet him, until sometime around 2000 when I was appointed the editor of Kano State Student’s Journal. I went to Professor Abdalla to request for contribution into the Journal.
That very week I wrote a short piece in the Weekly Trust newspaper very critical of a former military governor from Northern Nigeria. Professor Abdallah turned to me and said, “so you were the one who wrote about the former military governor, be careful, he is a mafia”, but the smile on his face told me that he wasn’t threatening me, but it is the way teachers test the resolve of their students. “come back next week for the article”, on arrival the following week, the article, on Professor Abdalla’s contribution to the creation of Hausa fonts was there on the desk of his secretary Malam Kiyawa. That was the turning point, my visits became regular, and he would always call me in case he has any work that requires the input of a student.
In the same year, I started a programme in radio Kano II, FM station called Islam in Focus and Muamalat, previously run by Sheikh Muhammad ibn Uthman and Dr Salisu Shehu. I regularly invited lecturers from Bayero University, Kano, and that was how I came in contact with our teachers like Professor Aliyu Dauda, Professor Bashir Galadanchi, Professor Aliyu Baffa Umar, my great friend and senior colleague Dr Farouk Sarkin Fada and many more. One day I invited Professor Abdalla as a guest to discuss the role of the internet in Islam, and we recorded it in three series. After the recording on our way back, after a brief stop for lunch in Mr Biggs, while driving around Gidan Murtala round-about, he asked me a question, what is your plan, what would you like to be? I told him everything about myself, my thirst for knowledge and desire to be a university teacher.
From that point, Professor Abdalla made it a project to advise me, provide me with books, and engage my service in the different projects that he handles whether at Bayero University, for non-governmental organisations, state institutions etc. When I was writing my undergraduate project on the “historical development of the internet and its utilization in Africa with reference to Nigeria” he provided me with at least 90 percent of the materials for the project.
It was through him that I met several individuals at the intellectual, political and even international level. These include the likes of Dan Masanin Kano, Alhaji Yusuf Maitama Sule, Malam Ibrahim Ado Kurawa, Malam Ibrahim Sheme, Professor Abubakar Rasheed, Professor Hamman Yola, Professor Abdurrashid Garba, Professor Saidu Babura, Professor Gidado Tahir, Professor Ibrahim Suleiman of ABU Zaria, Governor Attahiru Bafarawa, the late Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Muhammadu Maccido, the Emir of Zazzau, the late Talban Bauchi Dr Ibrahim Tahir, Wazirin Katsina Dr Sani Abubakar Lugga, Miss Gillian Belben, Merryl Wyn Davies, the author of Why do people hate America? (Along with Ziauddin Sardar), Professor Ziauddin Sardar, another accomplished author; Professor Graham Furniss, Prince Phillips and Queen Elizabeth during the Commonwealth summit in Abuja in December 2003 etc.
Sometimes he gave me assignments that I felt, were by far beyond my capacity to handle, when I hesitated, he would say “you can do it”. I can’t forget when in 2003, as a Youth Corp member, he asked me to travel alone from Kano, to go and convince a governor about a programme on Islam and the media to be held in his State. On another occasion, as a Graduate Assistant, he gave me the near impossible task of producing a conference paper on the contribution of Nana Asma’u, the daughter of Sheikh Usman Danfodio within three days, an area completely different from Mass Communication. Professor Abdallah was doing this to develop my capacity when I was between the ages of 23 and 25.
Throughout my studies in the United Kingdom, from masters to PhD, he supplied materials, worked to get assistance from the Kano State Scholarship Board for me, or called to advice on what I need to do to succeed. So when I heard about his appointment as a professor of media and cultural communication by Bayero University, Kano, on 30th January, 2013, it was a welcome development, first because I am aware of his contribution in this field, secondly, it is an area that require high caliber professors to develop, and nurture younger academics for the development of the field. But who is Professor Abdallah Uba Adamu? Join me next week for an update insha Allah.
22nd Rabi al Awwal, 1434
2nd February 2013