“MATI A ZAZZAU,” Review: A Modern Kannywood Cinematic Tour de Force

"Mati A Zazzau" is a family drama about Hausa traditions and religious beliefs.

Adedibu Liasu By Adedibu Liasu
6 Min Read

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Netflix recently acquired the Kannywood film “Mati A Zazzau”. It is the first Hausa film to be streamed and picked up by a streaming service. This is an admirable accomplishment for Kannywood, a subset of Nollywood in northern Nigeria. Kannywood’s progress and development in comparison to the South is hampered mostly by religious considerations, which result in censoring of films made in the region. So it’s a success for Kannywood and Nollywood in general.

Di’ja as Princess Medina and Sadiq Sani Sadiq as Mati.

“Mati A Zazzau,” due to a lack of strategic marketing and the strict consumption of regional films in the region where these films are produced, will not have a sweeping effect on the Nigerian audience, but it is an enjoyable ride of a movie that calls for a reevaluation of Nollywood and strict regional consumption of films made in or in the region. The film is a sequel to “Lado da Mati,” and it is thought that there will be another sequel to “Mati A Zazzau.”

“Mati A Zazzau” follows the story of a villainous man, Mati (Sadiq Sani Sadiq), who fled to the Kingdom of Zazzau, specifically to the village town of Sauda from the Kingdom of Rimau, following the death of his father, Alhaji Mudi Rimau, who left behind a vast fortune buried somewhere that Mati wishes to claim.

On getting to Sauda, he’s taken to the village head’s quarter, from where he’s then taken to one alhaji Sule, a bedridden man, the deceased’s best friend, and the only person who knows where a huge wealth of boxes are buried. After asking Mati a series of questions, Alhaji Sule confirms Mati’s claim as being the heir to the deceased inheritance. But while on the verge of telling where the treasure is, Alhaji Sule collapses and becomes too weak to talk. Frustrated, Mati promises the village head a share of the wealth if he can make the sick man talk. The greedy village head agrees and sends for the most powerful witch doctors to heal Alhaji Sule.

The avaricious village leader then decides to marry off his daughter, Madina (Hadiza Bell-Olo, the ex-Marvin star known as Di’ja), to Mati, despite the fact that she has already promised and been betrothed to Prince Kuba. But Mati’s nemesis soon catches up with him, as his brother, Ladodo (Tahir Tahir), in collusion with their father’s friend, the clever Mallam Barau (Rabiu Rikadawa), arrives at the palace disguised as a herbalist to treat Alhaji Sule, but in reality, they also want the treasure. As if that weren’t enough, Mati’s brother-in-law, Nafiu (Alhassan Kwalle), and his wife, Asabe (Jamila Umar Nagudu), pretend to be itinerants in order to claim a piece of the hidden treasure. But Alhaji Sule dies, leaving no hint as to where the treasure is, according to his son Ilyasu (Aminu Shariff Momo).

“Mati A Zazzau” directed by  Yaseen Auwal occasionally lacks the dramatic tension required to propel the film ahead. This absence of tension, whether through editing or score, makes certain suspenseful situations appear bland, yet an attentive spectator or audience can still derive some suspense.

The relegation of female characters to little screen time is not a problem in the film or the script, but rather a cultural reality of women in a patriarchal culture, in which women play and are subjugated to secondary parts while males take centre stage. It is this reality that the film attempts to depict.

“Mati A Zazzau” violates the cinematic golden rule of never telling but showing, as viewers are continuously warned and reminded of Mati’s fiendishness with little to show for it. This fatal flaw from the director , Yaseen Auwal, does not jeopardise the storyline or story, but it fails to make Mati memorable as a smart man rather than a murderer who killed his father.

“Mati A Zazzau” is a modern Kannywood cinematic tour de force that elevates the northern Hausa Kano film industry to Nollywood status. The film alters the perception of Hausa filmmakers and Kannywood cinema, with the goal that its success will benefit the Northern film industry, allowing it to compete with Nollywood in the South. With its success, the famous Hausa actress Rahama Sadau, who played Rama, who is impregnated by Mati, breaks the jinx and the barrier, as the co-producer with Sadiq sani Sadiq, paving the way for ambitious Haussa filmmakers to hope and believe that their works are as important as any other and not limited by language.

Sadiq Sani Sadiq’s presence is formidable, lending a humorous twist to Mati’s diabolical character, just like Tahir Tahir, the easily swayed and impressionable brother, Lado, and their scheming uncle, Mallam Barau (Rabiu Rikadawa).

“Mati A Zazzau” is a family drama about Hausa traditions and religious beliefs. The film is a delightful journey that keeps the tension alive with an engaging plot and twists that keep the audience interested throughout. “Mati A Zazzau” is an engaging family drama about family members whose lives are driven solely by greed rather than love.


Mati A Zazzau


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I am Adedibu Liasu, a dedicated film critic and writer with BA in French from Obafemi Awolowo University. I'm enthusiastic about African films, particularly Nollywood. A seasoned blogger who reviews films and promotes African cinema, particularly Nollywood films. Email: [email protected]
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