Boycott Kabafest Backfires

shadowed by her government paid police orderly, Hadiza Isma, the woman at the centre of the storm strolled across the hall, waving and smiling. It was one finally stab at the face of one of social media’s most prolific boycott campaign in Northern Nigeria.

The sin of Hadiza, who was undoubtedly the brains or the purse behind KABAFEST was that she was married to Nasiru Elrufai, a man who seems to be born to controversy. Liberal as they were, artists in Northern Nigeria couldn’t stomach the tought of giving publicity to the man who was rumoured to have ordered one of the most brutal clamp downs on civil liberties in democratic Nigeria.


From arresting bloggers to gunning down Shiites, the sins of ElRufai against the liberal left are many, but when I saw Hadiza Isma flanked by writers to die for like Leila Aboulela, the Nigerian in me couldn’t help but wonder if the boycott campaign wasn’t some sort of liberal conspiracy all along. And that’s because, before the #BoycottKABAFEST hash tag started trending, I haven’t even heard of it. My Nikab wearing sister saw the hash tag and cringed “Allah ya kara” before retweeting it a dozen times, no doubt thinking as many have, that they’d seen the end of it.

But BoycottKABAFEST has made true that saying: “bad publicity is better than no publicity”. Young girls from all over the North have trooped to Kaduna just so we can make sense of what the fuss was all about.

Today, like on the first day, Gusau institute is full to the brim with ordinary people. While trying to discredit the event, the boycott campaign have achieved something ElRufai could have only hoped for, they’d made ordinary Northerners like me interested in this event. So after hearing the serenading melody of Ken Gynag, I called my Wahabi sister and invited¬†her to join me for the last leg of the event. I just had to find a subtle way of thanking for retweeting those boycott hash tags


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