Film: 5729

Places + Locations | 1960 | Sound | B/W


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Festival In Kano, Northern Nigeria, south of the Sahara desert, Africa. The Islamic mosque and Ramadan season 1960's

Close up of horses hoofs walking along a dirt road. The horsemen are the council members of the Emir, or leader of the city of Kano. Trumpeters announce the horses with a fanfare.
In a studio, the narrator of the film shows the camera a map and points to where Kano is in Northern Nigeria. The narrator lights a cigarette as he talks to the camera..
Kano city centre. Crowds of people all dressed in white robes go about their daily business, some carry black umbrellas to shade themselves from the sun. It is the month of Ramadan and people are fasting from dawn until dusk, narrator explains that this means not even taking a sip of water during daylight hours, and the temperature is 115 degrees in the shade. Donkeys laden with high piles of sacks on their backs. View of the new white mosque in the centre of the city. Views of the mosque and its towers. View of Kano city from the top of the mosque overlooking the streets below and mud brick buildings. Street level views of some of the buildings with highly decorated patterns carved into the mud bricks. Traditional roof projections of the buildings - they are called dogs-ears. A house that looks like it is built or red bricks, but they have been painted onto the mud bricks. The ancient city walls with the old and new gates into the city. The ancient walls, people and goats walk along the top of the walls. Kano market place, 50,000 people use the market that has been there for 1000 years. View of market traders sitting under shade cloth. People wear white robes and shade themselves with umbrellas. Clay pots sold at market. Man in a mud hut making mud pots, he starts with a lump of clay and hits it until he has fashioned it into a pot then he smoothes the sides with a wooden paddle and taps it into shape. The man can make one pot every ten minutes. A shack with people weaving cloth on small hand held looms, they use their feet to work the looms, the cloth comes out in long stripes. The strips are sewn together to make cloth for clothing. They dying pits in the centre of the city where the cloth is dyed. Certain families operated the dying pits as part of their family tradition. Men sit by the dying pits which look like clay ovens. They dye cloth all day by dipping it and draining it. A man using indigo dye that is made locally. When cloth is dry it is beaten with mallets until it is thin and shiny like corrugated steel. It is then sold to wealthy merchants who use the metallic fabric for their turbans. Some men also wear a white 'bowler hat' which sits over their turban to protect it. A barber in the market square shaves customers with an open razor. Close up of a man getting a shave, he has traditional ceremonial scarring on his face. A man gets his head shaved.
A cobra snake on the ground. A snake charmer works two cobras at the same time, snake charmer looks very weird. He entertains the crowd. He pulls a cobra snake by the tail. Another snake charmer has a python, he wraps it around a boys head like a turban. A boy holds up a large python for the camera. He puts its head in his mouth. The cobra charmer does not want to be out done so he puts a cobra's head in his mouth.
A village outside Kano made of grass huts. Women in the village pound grain in pots. Young naked child also pounds grain in a pot. A chicken runs past. Woman looks at camera. Narrator says these villagers are not negro but some other race and that their skin is lighter. Baby with ceremonial scarring so that he looks like his face has whiskers like a cat.
Back in Kano city centre, crowds of merchants go to the Emir's palace, the leader of the city who is treated like royalty. Inside the palace, some rooms have Western influence others are decorated very traditionally. The Emir's throne. Emir's bodyguards on horseback outside the palace. Bodyguards wear elaborate robes. The royal trumpeters hold very long trumpets in one hand and they play a fanfare for the Emir everywhere he goes. The Emir presides over a court hearing. He sits on a cushion outside, the councillors, witnesses and accused sit on the ground before him. The councillors assist the Emir to judge the case.
Narrator talks to a Muslim about the fasting of Ramadan.
At the end of Ramadan there is a big festival. At the festival. 1000 horsemen come out of the palace, the riders and horses have fine robes and decorations on them. The procession sets off, the court jesters wear hats like English medieval jesters. The Emir appears dressed in white robes. Crowded streets and the procession follows the Emir towards the prayer grounds outside the city walls. 50,000 people kneel and pray to Allah. Vast area of people all praying together, the prayers are broadcast over a loud speaker system. After the prayers everyone goes back inside the city walls and they wait for the Emir to return. While they wait the crowd is entertained by street performers doing stunts on bicycles. People can eat again and vendors with trays of dates and groundnuts and cigarettes sells their goods to the crowd. Local comedians entertain the crowd, a woman with a blacked up face like a golly wog pulls faces, an old man pulls faces. Two male dancers, one pulls a face at the camera. Boy leads a blind man through the crowd. The Emir's horsemen return, their horses have gold cloth draped over them. Musicians on horseback. Close up of musicians playing traditional instruments. The crowd surges forward when they hear the Emir has returned. He is on horseback under an elaborate royal umbrella. The Emir makes a speech. The crowd listen. The horsemen take it in turns to gallop towards the Emir to prove their loyalty. The festival is over and the crowd disperse.

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