Kannywood- Does Northern Nigeria have a Sector In Nollywood

The Nigerian film industry daily unravels new surprises for everyone who seeks it.

Nigeria, being dominated by three major tribes Yoruba, Hausa, and Igbo. It’s interesting to know that each of the tribes somehow has found their way into the Nollywood industry and have dominated most of it. Asabawood, YouTube movies are some of the sectors known to us, but behind these curtains, the prestigious “Kannywood” sector exists and functions. Kannywood is the popular corporate name for the Hausa Language Cinema and films.

This sector of the Nigerian Film industry specifically puts Hausa Talents in the spotlight and first set up a stage and fan base among locals for them. Before the big screens and breaks. Kannywood Films, music and comedy revolves around northern Nigeria making it very relatable to the majority of them and a little complex for us.

The name Kannywood comes from the Compilation of “Kano” And “Hollywood” and was coined in 1998, 4 years before the term “Nollywood” came into existence. It became a thing in the late 1990s when Sunusi Shehu Daneji of Tauraruwa Magazine coined the term Kannywood which would later get popular and become a reference name for the film industry in Northern Nigeria.

How it All Began

The Hausa Cinema and Film Industry is a product of RTV Kaduna and Radio Stations, Kaduna in the early 1960s. Legends like Dalhatu Bawa and Kasimu Yero led to the drama productions which would become popular in northern Nigeria amongst the locals.

Later, in the 70s & 80s, Usman Baba Pategi and Mamman Ladan brought in Hausa comedies which dominated and later became popular amongst her target audience. In the 90s, there was a challenge because most Hausa Audiences had found Bollywood Films Interesting.

Movies that were initially synthesis of the main Bollywood films later evolved and became really popular, subsequently attracting the target Audience. Turmin Danya (“The Draw ”), 1990, is seen as the first successful Kannywood Film. Follows by others like Gimbiya Fatima in Da So Da Kauna, Munkar, Badakala and Kiyarda Da Ni, etc.


The leadership dynamic in this sector is unique and unlike any other. The leadership sector has an Organization which directs their affairs. A Censoring Committee that was created by Kannywood Filmmakers, Markets and Producers also existed at the time.

The local censoring team was later converted to a board and named Kano state censorship board by Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso in 2001. Dahiru Beli the first executive secretary of the board.


Kannywood did not have it easy few years after it was incorporated as it faced lots of backlash and sanctions. In 2003, with the rise of Izala and the coming to power of Ibrahim Shekarau, a Muslim faithful. He initiated a campaign against Kannywood. This led to the censoring and consequent ban of many films and jail terms for filmmakers who had earlier flawed the.

The censorship, restrictions and penalties threw the sector behind paving way for nollywood and many other sectors of industry to come through and stand tall while she sat and watched. A released Sex tape of a popular actress in 2004 led to a severe backlash from the islamic government for the actress.

It further led to the censoring of Romantic Hausa Films, music and novels followed by actors, actresses and filmmakers jailed by the government. Materials and books promoting the Kannywood industry were equally burnt. Later in 2011, a liberal government made for a little freedom and stretching of legs for the industry as it was short lived and was collected back in 2019 after the governorship re-election.

The new government launched a series of attacks on a few movie directors and musicals through the Censorship board. A movie director, sunusi Oscar, And Naziru M. Ahmad, a musician, were all arrested and taken to court over accusations of releasing songs without the board’s permission. Actors like Rahama Sadau has faced multiple Sanctions and is crowned of Kannywood’s most controversial actors.

Others like Sadiya Haruna, Nafisa Abdullahi, Mustapha Naburaska, Adam Zango amongst others have all faced some kind Backlash over their activities by both the Censorship board and northern Government as a whole. Kannywood is a hub for top Nollywood actors and exceptional actors like Ali Nuhu, Rahama Sadau, Uzee Usman, Adam. A. Zango, Sadiq Sani Sadiq, Hadiza Aliyu, Nafeesat Abdullahi, Yakubu Mohammed amongst others.

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  • Ezenwa Okonkwo

    Ezenwa Okonkwo is the Senior Writer, Film & TV Business at InsideNollywood.Ng. He is a well-rounded storyteller, poet, and screen writer with a flare for the silver screen. Ezenwa also has an eye for documentary-themed photography and wields a curious mind that’s constantly shifting from “what if” to “what next”.

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