This article discusses several northern Nigerian video feature films that depict stories about conversion to Islam. Based on three months of fieldwork in 2003 and a close reading of Hausa videos and video magazines, it suggests reading these films against the backdrop of the current process of religious and cultural revitalization associated with reformist Islam and the reintroduction of the shari'a legal code within the northern states of Nigeria since 1999. Video filmmakers have used religious themes—and foremost, conversion stories—to give a "religious flair" to their products, a flair that resonates with the permeation of public culture with fundamentalist Islam. Far from addressing potential future converts, conversions on screen are geared toward a Muslim Hausa-speaking audience. The invention of heroic jihads and successful conversion campaigns may have helped assert northern identities at a time when, on the national level, northern Muslim society felt politically and economically deprived at the hands of a federal government led by a southern born-again Christian president. In a wider context, the link between religion and media suggested by the material warrants a comparison with similar processes in southern Nigeria and elsewhere, where Pentecostal practices have migrated beyond the religious domain to become part of public culture.


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pp. 44-68
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