...Redifining Journalism for Development

Interview: Social capital is essential for one’s growth, ‘random’ contacts can help you get a job or acquire skills – Dr Muhsin


Interview: Social capital is essential for one’s growth, ‘random’ contacts can help you get a job or acquire skills – Dr Muhsin

Neptune Prime’s interview with Dr Muhsin Ibrahim, academic, co-founder and editor of The Daily Reality (online newspaper), blogger, philanthropist, social media influencer, Netizen, author, and Kannywood analyst.

Background: My name is Muhammad Muhsin Ibrahim. I was born and raised in Lokon-Makera, Gwale LGA, Kano. I am 37.  Like every Muslim-Hausa man, I attended Islamiyya schools. I studied at Gwale Special Primary School, Gwale, Government Technical College, Kano and Bayero University, Kano, in Nigeria. I did my master’s degree in India at Lovely Professional University, Punjab and PhD at the University of Cologne in Germany. I read BA (Ed.) English, MA in Theatre and TV and my PhD focuses on the Hausa language, culture and film.

When did you start writing?

I started writing in secondary school. My earlier writings were mostly short pieces or letters to family members and friends. We wrote to each other to practice writing and use words in context to polish our skills. But while in SS 2, I started writing more seriously. One of such manuscripts later became my first novel, A Weird Hope. By coincidence, I recently published the second edition of it on Amazon.  How did you start?  This is a tough question. I have been an avid reader for as long as my memory can recall. My late father’s best friends were his books – and he kept a mini library, which he constantly updated until his old age and subsequent death (RIP). Thus, I can say I grew up loving books. Coupled with this, something remarkable occurred in my life. That was when I felt the need to record that in a book, albeit in fiction. For clarity’s sake, A Weird Hope is not my story per se. Nevertheless, some life events inspired me to write the story or parts of it. I shall write a memoir, which is arguably a  more factual narration, about that later in my life, in sha Allah.

What are your challenges?  I could have done more with more support. I could not get money to publish my first book. I thought I would get financial assistance from some family members and friends, but it did not work. I was fortunate to meet a publisher who was incredibly kind and compassionate. My greatest dream of publishing my book became a reality with his assistance. I set aside my NYSC allowance to repay him at a later date. His name is Alhaji Hussain Burji. I am immensely grateful for his help.

Any regrets In life in general?

Well, some issues are private. I can only mention one regret here: a Facebook post about someone. My intention for the post was misunderstood by many. Moreover, when they confronted me, I reacted defensively, and things quickly escalated out of control. Eventually, I had to tender an apology. I wish I could erase that episode in my life.

Projections: I pray to become a full-time writer. I am an academic and love teaching. However, I love writing more. Unfortunately, it does not pay. One has to be extra lucky to earn enough to get by. That discourages many budding writers from committing themselves to it.  Mentor

Professor Abdalla Uba Adamu is my number one mentor in my academic life. We have come a long way, about 20 years together. He did not only encourage me to study Kannywood, but he also co-supervised my PhD in faraway Germany. Many other people, especially my older brother, Zahraddeen, have helped me, and they (re)shape my views.


Aerophobia. Unluckily for me, I have to fly a lot in my life.


I love reading, writing and travelling. I also enjoy watching documentaries.

Best food

Rice and beans.

You wrote a book on Kannywood and published papers about the industry. What fuelled your interest in the entertainment industry? Do your interest in this industry influence your life in any way?

I firmly believe that Kannywood is too important to be ignored. Hence, foreign scholars started writing and talking about it as far back as 1997, just five years after the release of Turmin Danya, considered the industry’s maiden production. Hausa folks are in the best position to talk about their film industry. Thus, I stepped in.  Studying Kannywood broadens my understanding of the Hausa people, culture and society. Some cultural practices, tropes, and religious interpretations, among other things, that I barely paid attention to became significant or otherwise. My explorations led me to discover more about us, our region and our country.

Is it possible to be part of the industry and still maintain the dignity and respect of people?

This is a tricky question. As an academic, I avoid judging people. I am also not in the best position to moralise. I leave that to religious scholars.

Why do people frown or look down on the industry and anything concerning it?

This happens due to a combination of reasons. Hausa people culturally consider issues in binary: good or bad. Globally, the film is primarily for entertainment. To entertain their audience, actors, men and women, have to mingle. Since such interactions among opposite genders are culturally and religiously frowned upon, those doing so in films are seen as trespassing ethnoreligious and cultural boundaries. However, the actors will always argue that they are just playacting. Others go further to claim they are preaching, and the debate continues.  Frankly, some Kannywood critics are hypocritical. They are just as good as the actors in private or even worse. However, they always condemn them thanks to public religiosity. The same people consume their films. I conducted research recently. My findings revealed that the more transgressive video content is on social media and YouTube, the more viewers it attracts. Who watches the videos? Not spirits!  What’s the secret to fluency in speaking and writing in English?

Practising and accepting corrections.

You have a strong bond with Nigeria, especially Kano. You seem to be very much attached to your roots. Why do you keep stressing about your people, the happenings in the country, and all? Why are you this passionate about your Nationality? 

Africans do not have a better continent than Africa. As black people, we get judged quickly due to our skin colour in several parts of the world except in “sub-Saharan” Africa. Thus, I firmly believe that we need to fix our home. Moreover, if other countries can get it right, why can’t we? We are all equal human beings. So, if we fight corruption, get an education, and create jobs, we will overcome our challenges. I will delightfully stay in Kano, Nigeria and nowhere else.

You know, the whole idea of Japa is to run away from our problems and start afresh. Why are you so different?

The above answers this question. Additionally, I am “different” because I believe we can achieve what others did. We just need to be honest, decisive and resolute. As much as we try to integrate with our host communities in foreign countries, we often or seldom, as the case may be, get reminded that we are “aliens”. This happens to people born here or even second-generation immigrants. Blacks are the most profiled people, but folks of Turkish and Arab descendants are not spared either. Remember Mesut Özil?

How do you combine writing/ teaching/ family life?

I have learned to manage time. I often compel myself to do everything at its proper time. Luckily, I have a supportive wife – I am grateful. Despite her support, I sometimes need to remind her that thinking, reading, and writing are my capital (“jari” in Hausa); I use that to pay the rent and other bills. Funny but true.

What is your advice to Nigerian Youth?

I will always tell them to study hard, learn skills and live peacefully with as many people as possible. Social capital is essential for one’s growth. ‘Random’ contacts can help you get a job or acquire skills; they can become your customers if you are into a business, etc. It’s pretty unlikely to get all these from among one’s blood relatives.


Editors note:

In this first season of our interviews, we plan to feature writers, authors, poets, and the like, who have done exceptionally well and have contributed immensely to the public via their work in their diverse fields of endeavours.

If you feel there is someone we need to feature who matches the above-mentioned qualities, kindly bring him/her to our attention.

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

  1. Sabiu Abdullahi says

    Ma Sha Allah!

    Your words are really inspiring.

    1. Aisha Musa Auyo says

      Thank you.

  2. Bikkos Ibraheem says

    There was so many things I needed to hear.

    This is really helpful.

    1. Neptune Prime says

      Thank you for this feedback.

  3. Nafiu Zakari says

    This is inspirational, worth reading and emulating.

    1. Neptune Prime says

      Yes, sure.

  4. Aliyu Musa Dada says

    This is helpful.
    Thank you.

    1. Neptune Prime says

      Thank you, too.

  5. Muhammad Muzzammil Bashir says

    So inspiring!

    1. Auyo Aisha says

      We are glad you find it so. Thank you.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.