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“Gautan Faɗa da Hujja ba Gautan Faɗa da Makami Ba”: Ishaq Ɗan Uwa Rano’s iconic voice

By Professor Abdalla Uba Adamu

When Savannah Radio Kano went on air in 2002 (before becoming Freedom Radio Nigeria in December 2003), it became an instant magnet that attracted thousands of followers – and this long before the advent of social media as a commodity. For me, the main attraction was the MD, Faruk Dalhatu. He is an incredibly nice, innovative and kind person with whom we had several interfaces when he established the Midtown Business Center in Kano. During his tenure at MBC, he provided innovative services that no other business center offered at the time in Kano. MBC was virtually the first in everything connected to business computing.

It was not surprising, therefore, that Freedom Radio became a role model of innovative broadcasting when he took over as the MD almost immediately after the Station became fully operational. I have featured numerously as a guest on Freedom Radio through all its regime changes and the production system has maintained the superlative qualities Faruk established. The innovative freedom given to artists was what made the station stood out among its struggling peers at the time, both local and national, even now some 22 years after its establishment.

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Consequently, for me, another attraction was the Kano Music Express music program which Faruk curated. Having studied at Ohio University, US, has the effect of making you amenable to innovations in music! It was a radio show focusing on Rap, a favorite genre of mine. The program gave young aspiring MCs opportunities to showcase their verbal skills – producing some of the most innovative songs in Hausa Rap music. Through the program, I was able to curate about 100 standout Hausa Rap songs that will shake any crowd in New York city, despite being in Hausa language.

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Then the political programs and the creation of Sojojin Baka—Vocal Warriors. Guys who were sponsored to have a few seconds slot to protect, project or lambast a particular politician in Kano and Jigawa States. Not to everyone’s taste, but the creative controllers at Freedom Radio believe in fair hearing and balancing out opinions. And not being owned or sponsored by the Government meant they had the leeway to provide services that people wanted. Sometimes, however, this freedom often causes issues for Freedom Radio.

Then the voices. Two of them in particular. Abubakar General and Ibrahim Ishaq Rano, more commonly referred to as Ɗan Uwa Rano. They were the ones that attracted me to the political programs. I spent the whole of my life listening to music. Some vocalists were amazing, others were terrible, in their case, I only hang on to the band because of the music. Abubakar General’s deep baritone voice could stand out in any Italian Opera. Deep, rich, textured, and without being nasal, it made his news and presentations a pleasure to listen to.

Now, to Ibrahim Ishaq Ɗan Uwa Rano. Also, incredibly amazing voice. One social media outlet described it as ‘Iconic’. I could not agree more. When Abubakar General left Freedom in 2015, the vocal attracting power of the Station fell on the larynx of Ishaq. His main program was Kowanne Gauta, a political program aired between 9.00 to 9.30 p.m. on weekdays.

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His fantastic voice was complimented by his rapid-fire smooth flow – like a fast-flowing river in a shallow bed. Usually, people listen to radio while engaged in something – the radio being in the background. Not when Ishaq is presenting. You have only a Hobson’s Choice – listen to him and stop whatever you were doing. Not possible to mix the two because you don’t want miss a word of what he was saying. He is truly gifted.

I was so taken by the power of his powerful delivery that I sought out his number just to appreciate him. I was therefore pleasantly surprised when one day he just popped into my office and introduced himself. Not only did he have a powerful voice, he is also a commanding and charismatic person. He has the voice and personality to attract crowds. That meeting was the start of a long sustaining relationship between us, with him looking up to me as a mentor – a position I gladly accept.

I was shocked therefore when he resigned from Freedom Radio on June 11, 2024. I am not aware of the intricate internal politics of the Station, but I felt sad at his resignation, because, for me, he remained one of the most significant reasons for listening to Freedom Radio.

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When his segment clashes with an activity that prevented me from listening to him live, I record it for listening offline (I even have a phone purposely for this). I can only wish him the best for the future. The jingle theme of his program, “gautan faɗa da hujja ba gautan faɗa da makami ba” perfectly describes his resignation. Out of sight, however, is not out of mind. I am glad that he has a YouTube channel (Dan’uwa Rano TV) since 2020. Like Yakubu Musa Fagge, it gives him greater freedom to be his creative self.

The late great Hausa griot, Alhaji (Dr.) Mamman Shata sang: “Gaya wa mutane na, kowa ya rasa Shata yayi asarar waƙa”. I will reverse the sentence, “Kowa ya samu Ibrahim Ishaq Ɗan Uwa Rano, ya yi nasarar murya.” I foresee better prospects for him in the future. Allah Ya yi masa jagora.

Adamu writes this piece from the Department of Information and Media Studies, Faculty of Communication, Bayero University Kano, Nigeria

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