KABAFEST17 might actually be dead in the water before take off, that’s if decent people answer the call coming from numerous corners to boycott the arts festival, which has proven the largest in Northern Nigeria aside from Abuja’s.
The boycott campaign is being led by people who disagree with the organiser’s decision to accept funding from the Kaduna State Government. It seems that like the APC, Mal Nasiru might call himself progressive, but he’s actually hard sold to Nigeria’s progressives.
From clamping down on free speech to the Shia massacres, the sins of ElRufai’s government has made it an artistic liability with the very liberal and progressive art scene in Northern Nigeria.
“We disagree with having a tyrannical government that murders its own people using our artistic works to white wash it self” Gimbiya Haruna, a member of the Boycott KABAFEST Campaign told me. Like most of her fellow campaigners, Gimbiya sees the hands of the Kaduna First Lady in KABAFEST. “Everyone organising is somehow a boy of El Rufai’s wife and they are selling it out as some kind of independent event”
Like most attempts to silence a government in Nigeria, the boycott will probably never work. The speakers and attendees will find it really hard standing up to Nigeria’s money guzzling governments. But the main triumph of the campaign is the traction it had managed to get, one would think that like the Emir Sanusi affair, Northern liberals would rally to protect this really really important event of cultural expression, they were found divided at best. The campgain has managed to once more, dent the liberal image of the most socially progressive government in Northern Nigeria since the Rimi Government of Kano.
At the end of the day, the victor in all of this is the retro-shiekh who would rather the millions go to some useless Quranic recitation competition. He sits laughing and watching as these liberal fools tear each other apart.