BBC Hausa is the Hausa version of BBC World Service. This news avenue has become an important arm of journalism in Nigeria and a major player in politics. How much do you know the station? Here are five things you need to know about the station.
1. It is more than just a radio station
The archetypal image of BBC Hausa is that of a Hausa man sitting by his roadside kiosk with the radio held by his ear. Perhaps this was so, then and even now, but this is not a true picture of what the BBC has become. It has gone beyond the radio. Labaran Duniya now have a visual and text versions; they have a big presence online. There site BBChausa.com redirecting to BBC.com/hausa is a heavily read site commending as much as 60 million views per month. The site is one of the top ten visited sites in Nigeria.
The online presence is huge. As of February 2018, they have 237 thousand followers on Twitter, 21 thousand subscribers on YouTube, 12 thousand followers on Google+ and 1.7 million followers on Facebook. In addition to this, they boast of large engagement and interactions.
2. It doesn’t serve Nigeria alone
While Nigeria is its biggest market, BBC Hausa is not a solely Nigerian station. It serves Hausa West Africa which includes Niger Republic, Chad, Cameroun, Ghana. To buttress this fact, BBC Hausa has offices in not only Nigeria, going beyond the continent to site an office in China. The fact that it is now online is another indication that it serves more than the Nigerian market.
3. The station became a source of political controversies under Buhari
BBC Hausa has always played roles in every political dispensation. This peaked under the Buhari Administration. In October 2016, the wife of the president Aisha Buhari gave an interview to the station. In the interview, she discussed the politics and situation of the country. When the interview was aired, it hit the country like a thunderbolt and shook the politics of the country. In the interview, Mrs. Buhari claimed her husband is being dictated to and that his government was subverted, concluding that she would not campaign for him in 2019 if things continued this way.
Buhari was in Germany attending a meeting with the German chancellor Angela Merkel. When asked by journalists what he thought of his wife’s view, he dismissed it with the now infamous “my wife belong to the kitchen and the other room” sparking outrage.
In June 2017, after spending weeks in a London Hospital which was the second of such lengthy medical vacation in the year, Buhari spoke to Nigerians in the occasion of the conclusion of Ramadan fast which ushered in Eid-el-Fitr feast; perhaps, there is an added incentive being to disabuse claims that he was dead or incapacitated. But this speech was not embraced by the whole country because many felt it was not meant for everyone as he spoke in Hausa, not the official English language, and spoke to the BBC and not to any of the national media house.
4. BBC Hausa is older than Nigeria
BBC Hausa began operation in Nigeria in March 1957, more than three years before the country became independent. It was founded as part of the 33 local versions that BBC World Service initiated in order to expand its reach. Hausa emerged as one of the five languages BBC selected in Africa. The other African languages are Swahili, Kirundi, Afan Oromo and Somali.
5. BBC Hausa is not the only international news organization in the Hausa language.
There is also the Voice of America Hausa, shortened as VOA Hausa, known in Hausa as Muryar Amurka. Voice of America is a US-government funded broadcasting organization that targets the world outside of the states, begun in 1942 in the thick of World War II and later served as the main propaganda channel of the US during the cold war.
VOA broadcast has both TV and radio versions, transmitted in 42 foreign languages of which Africa has seven. Besides Hausa version that began in 1979, the other African languages include Swahili, Somali, Afan Oromo, Kirundi, Ndebele and Shona.
The Radio France International is another international media running in the Hausa language as RFI Hausa. RFI is online and on-air 24 hours a day. Hausa is one of the two indigenous African languages it broadcasts in although it has Arabic, English and French versions for Africa.
Rediyo DW is the German broadcast in Hausa. Deutsche Welle translated as the German Wave. The German Wave which includes versions in many major world languages such as English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Chineses, Japanese, Greek, Dutch, Urdu began its Hausa broadcast in the 1960s.