06-24-2018  1:38 am      •     
The Skanner Report
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NEWS BRIEFS

AG Rosenblum Seeks Info from Oregonians

Oregon Attorney General seeks information on children separated from families at border ...

Community Forum: How Does Law Enforcement Interact With Vulnerable Populations?

Forum will focus on public safety and examine mental health and addiction issues ...

King County Council Recognizes Juneteenth

The Metropolitan King County Council recognizes a true 'freedom day' in the United States ...

Unite Oregon Hosts ‘Mourn Pray Love, and Take Action’ June 20

Community is invited to gather at Terry Schrunk Plaza at 6 p.m. on World Refugee Day ...

MRG Foundation Announces Spring 2018 Grantees

Recipients include Oregon DACA Coalition, Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe, Komemma Cultural Protection Association ...

On the hunt in Oregon for a rare Sierra Nevada red fox

BEND, Ore. (AP) — In a dense forest at the base of Mount Bachelor, two wildlife biologists slowly walked toward a small cage trap they hoped would contain a rare red fox species. Jamie Bowles, an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife technician in Bend, and Tim Hiller, founder of the...

Lawsuits allege racial profiling in Portland-area businesses

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Several African Americans are suing big-box stores and restaurants in Oregon, claiming employees at those places wrongly accused them of stealing because they were "shopping while black."A Portland law firm has filed five lawsuits alleging racial profiling at businesses in...

Abuse survivor finds new life, success in Pacific Northwest

VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — Jonathan Dutson long dreamed of moving to the Pacific Northwest, where its lush greenery offered a respite from the scorching Arizona sun he grew up beneath. But Dutson was looking as much for a new home as he was looking for an escape.Dutson was one of 700 who walked...

Alaska city honors Guardsmen killed in crash after '64 quake

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A month after the second most powerful earthquake ever was recorded, the Alaska port community of Valdez remained in ruins.A hulking Alaska National Guard cargo plane's mission April 25, 1964, was to deliver Gov. William Egan to oversee efforts to rebuild the town on...

OPINION

How Washington’s 'School Achievement Index' Became School Spending Index

New assessment categorizes schools not by quality of education, but level of funding officials believe they should receive ...

Black Mamas Are Dying. We Can Stop It.

Congresswoman Robin Kelly plans to improve access to culturally-competent care with the MOMMA Act ...

Hey, Elected Officials: No More Chicken Dinners...We Need Policy

Jeffrey Boney says many elected officials who visit the Black community only during the election season get a pass for doing nothing ...

Juneteenth: Freedom's Promise Still Denied

Juneteenth is a celebration of the de facto end of slavery, but the proliferation of incarceration keeps liberation unfulfilled ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Lawsuits allege racial profiling in Portland-area businesses

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Several African Americans are suing big-box stores and restaurants in Oregon, claiming employees at those places wrongly accused them of stealing because they were "shopping while black."A Portland law firm has filed five lawsuits alleging racial profiling at businesses in...

Racist tropes in Ramadan TV satires anger black Arabs

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — In an attempt to capitalize on what's become a ratings bonanza for Arabic satellite channels during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, two comedies struck the wrong chord with audiences when their lead actors appeared in blackface.Criticism was swift on...

Chaos on the border inflames GOP's split with Latinos

When more than 1,000 Latino officials __ a crop of up-and-coming representatives from a fast-growing demographic __ gathered in Phoenix last week, no one from the Trump administration was there to greet them.It marked the first time a presidential administration skipped the annual conference of the...

ENTERTAINMENT

Han Solo's Blaster from 'Return of the Jedi' tops auction

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Han Solo's Blaster from the "Return of the Jedi" has sold for 0,000 at a Las Vegas auction.Julien's Auctions says Ripley's Believe It or Not bought the item Saturday.The sci-fi weapon was the top-selling item at the Hollywood Legends auction.The blaster was part of a...

Ornate NYC theater, used for years as a gym, to be restored

NEW YORK (AP) — For years, Long Island University's basketball team played in a French Baroque movie palace in downtown Brooklyn.The gilded wall fountains, plastered statuettes and towering, one-of-a-kind Wurlitzer organ pipes of the historic Paramount Theater were preserved by the...

Vinnie Paul, co-founder, drummer of Pantera, dies at 54

Vinnie Paul, co-founder and drummer of metal band Pantera, has died at 54.Pantera's official Facebook page posted a statement early Saturday announcing his death. The label of Hellyeah, his most recent group, confirmed the death but neither statement mentioned Paul's cause of death.His real name...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

France, Belgium seek UNESCO recognition for WWI memorials

BRUSSELS (AP) — France and Belgium are urging UNESCO to designate scores of their World War I memorials and...

Sanders says she was told to leave Virginia restaurant

WASHINGTON (AP) — White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was booted from a Virginia restaurant...

New Zealand leader names daughter Neve, leaves hospital

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford...

Beyond World Cup: Advocates call attention to Russian abuses

MOSCOW (AP) — Wrapped in national flags, jubilant fans dance at midnight in the streets of Moscow, smiling,...

In about-face, Iraq's maverick al-Sadr moves closer to Iran

BAGHDAD (AP) — Muqtada al-Sadr, the maverick Shiite cleric who emerged as the main winner in Iraq's...

Mattis to visit China as Taiwan, S. China Sea tensions rise

BEIJING (AP) — U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who has accused China of "intimidation and coercion" in...

Suleiman Maharazu, centre, the owner of Maharazu Bookshop, sells books to young girls in his shop in Kano, Nigeria. In the local market stalls are signs of a feminist revolution with piles of poorly printed books by women, as part of a flourishing literary movement centered in the ancient city of Kano, that advocate against conservative Muslim traditions such as child marriage and quick divorces. dozens of young women are rebelling through romance novels, many hand-written in the Hausa language, and the romances now run into thousands of titles. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
MICHELLE FAUL, Associated Press

KANO, Nigeria (AP) — Nestled among vegetables, plastic kettles and hand-dyed fabric in market stalls are the signs of a feminist revolution: Piles of poorly printed books by women that advocate forcefully against conservative Muslim traditions such as child marriage and quick divorce.

They are part of a flourishing literary movement centered in the ancient city of Kano, in northern Nigeria, where dozens of young women are rebelling through romance novels. Hand-written in the Hausa language, the romances now run into thousands of titles.

Many rail against a strict interpretation of Islam propagated in Nigeria by the extremist group Boko Haram, which on Sunday posted video showing dozens of the 218 girls militants abducted from a remote school in April 2014.

"We write to educate people, to be popular, to touch others' lives, to touch on things that are happening in our society," says author Hadiza Nuhu Gudaji, whose views have gained a recognition unusual for women in her society.

Gudaji's novellas are so popular that she is invited to give advice on radio talk shows. She describes how she was able to influence the future of a 15-year-old who called in, begging the novelist to persuade her father not to force her into marriage.

"We said: 'The father of this girl, you are listening to us, you hear what your girl is saying," Gudaji recounts. "'If you force her, maybe the marriage will not end so well, maybe the girl will run away and come to a bad end.'"

A few weeks later, the girl called to say thank you, and that she was back in school — a striking example of the kind of power the author wields.

The novellas are derogatorily called "littattafan soyayya, meaning "love literature," Kano market literature or, more kindly, modern Hausa literature. Daily readings on about 20 radio stations make them accessible to the illiterate.

"It's a quiet revolution," says Ado Ahmed Gidan Dabino, a male novelist, essayist, actor and head of the Kano branch of the Nigerian Writers' Association. "Nothing hard-hitting, but small, small, and gradually challenging."

They have become so popular that young girls call in to say they're learning to read because they want to follow more stories. That is no minor feat in a region that has more children out of school than almost anywhere on earth.

In northeast Nigeria, the birthplace of Boko Haram, only one in five girls has had any formal education. Parents routinely pull 13- and 14-year-olds out of school to get married, and even the name Boko Haram means "Western education is sinful."

Boko Haram denounces the Western influences that are inextricably entwined with the romance genre — an argument Gudaji firmly rejects. Her 16-year-old son was blinded in one eye and took seven bullets during a 2014 Boko Haram attack on Kano's Grand Mosque. Boko Haram has also kidnapped girls from the Chibok school and married them off to militants.

"What they are preaching and doing is not in the Quran, it's un-Islamic," she says, waving a hand with a flower painted into the palm in violet-colored henna. "They are not really against education — their problem with the education of girls (masks) their own agenda."

Although the romance industry caters largely to women, it's often men who profit. The best-known reader on the radio is a man, journalist Ahmad Isa Koko, who raises his voice an octave to imitate a woman's.

Book hawker Adamu Said buys 70 novellas at the market one recent day, boasting that he can deliver them via motorbike to villages inaccessible by car. He purchases them for about 130 naira (65 cents) and sells them for 200, and has been doing so for 12 years.

"I make a comfortable living," says the 30-year-old, who makes enough to support his wife and 6-year-old boy.

Nigeria 2Photo: Author Hadiza Nuhu Gudaji, left, during a radio talk show on her novels in Kano, Nigeria. In the local market stalls are signs of a feminist revolution with piles of poorly printed books by women, as part of a flourishing literary movement centered in the ancient city of Kano, that advocate against conservative Muslim traditions such as child marriage and quick divorces. dozens of young women are rebelling through romance novels, many hand-written in the Hausa language, and the romances now run into thousands of titles. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

The Maharazu Bookshop has piles of paperback novels reaching to the ceiling, some gathering dust on the floor. Two teenage girls look at posters of just-published books but are unable to read the titles. They say they just like the pictures.

Owner Suleiman Maharazu is going through a list from a middle-aged woman reader who is too shy to be interviewed without the permission of her absent husband. They have titles that translate as The Importance of Love, Big Tragedy, Your Face is Your Passion, The Beauty of a Woman is in Cooking, and The Woman Who Lost Control.

"I don't read them, I just sell them," says Maharazu.

Only a couple of the Hausa novels have been translated into English. Sin is a Puppy that Follows You Home was translated by Indian publishers and subsequently made into a Bollywood movie. The book is available on amazon.com, which describes it as "an Islamic soap opera complete with polygamous households, virtuous women, scheming harlots, and black magic."

Author Balaraba Ramat Yakubu, a veteran founder of the movement, was herself a child bride twice, after her first husband returned her to her family, and she only learned to read and write as an adult.

Critics say the novellas give girls unrealistic expectations, inspire rebellion and are un-Islamic. The most famous disgraced book is "Matsayin Lover," about lesbian love at a girls' boarding school, dating back to 1998. Abdulla Uba Adamu says his own friends and fellow writers forced him to remove the book from the market, though he insists it reflects reality.

The books may sound dramatic, but they often mirror life. In one recent Kano court case, a prosecutor sought the death sentence for a girl forced into marriage at 13 to a 38-year-old man whom she poisoned and killed. A human rights lawyer managed to get the girl freed, but her family rejected her because they had to return the bride price paid for her.

Sometimes the reaction is violent. Last year, one young writer was badly beaten. Young men gang-raped another in her home after she published a book about women's rights in politics, according to Gidan Dabino.

Some books are also banned or censored for steamy content. Gudaji says the Censorship Board has seized many books from the market. She hasn't had problems because she's careful.

"If I want to write about a husband and wife, there is a limitation," she explains. "A kiss is allowed but nothing deeper, or I will be fighting with that Censorship Board."

Gudaji has an iPad and smartphone, but says she writes best by hand, lying on her stomach on her bed. The completed story is taken to a business center, where a clerk types it up and puts it on a memory stick. With that, she's ready to go to a bookseller or publisher and bargain. Sometimes, a bookseller will buy a book and have it published himself. Often, however, the writers pay a printer and then take the books to a seller.

The romances are cheaply printed with covers of photo-shopped stars from Nollywood, Nigeria's burgeoning film industry, or Bollywood, the Indian variety some writers are accused of plagiarizing. Many writers end up losing money.

Gudaji's first novel challenged a tradition where poor rural parents will send a child to family members in the city, hoping the child will be educated. Often they are turned into domestic slaves instead, ill-treated and raped by men in the home.

Her second novel addresses the scourge of divorce and how to deal with problematic husbands. In northern Nigeria, a man can divorce a woman simply by pronouncing three times, "I divorce you." When that happens, the former wife leaves alone and may not know what has happened to her children.

Not all the romances challenge the status quo. They range from the universal Cinderella story of a poor girl marrying a prince to how to behave when your husband takes a second wife.

And even for Gudaji, tradition still holds. Happily married, she still has to seek the permission of her husband to allow two male journalists into her home. She was not a child bride, she insists, though she is 38 and her oldest daughter, Khadija, is nearly 21. Khadija is studying physics at Kano's Northwestern University.

Gudaji explains the role of a dutiful daughter when parents want to arrange an unwelcome marriage.

"A girl may love a boy but if they don't suit, you have to stop her, and a girl has to obey her parents — 100 percent," she says, looking at her daughter and brooking no argument. "She must obey your rules and regulations."

 

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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