Welcome to Nollywood


No this isn’t Hollywood nor is it Bollywood, but it is Nollywood. Nollywood is the film industry of Nigeria. It is also the second largest film industry in the world, in terms of yearly distribution of films, just behind Bollywood and ahead of Hollywood since 2009. Nollywood was a 3 Billion dollar industry in 2014.

For such a big industry it has probably been around for a long time right?
No not exactly.

Nollywood film making began in the early 1990’s when a Nigerian salesman shot a straight to video film ‘Living on Bondage’, on a budget of just $12,000 went on to sell over a million copies. This launched the Nollywood film industry today at its production of straight to video films.

Not a single Nollywood film has been to the theatres.

How is this so?

In the late 1980’s to early 90’s Nigeria’s Capital, Lagos and other African cities became highly dangerous areas of crime and as a result, people wouldn’t leave their houses at night, thus forcing entertainment venues such as movie theatres to close down. People were watching films at home. Films imported from Western cultures or India. Now there are up to 1000 Nollywood films being churned out each year.

The most important aspect of Nollywood is that its films have strong narratives of Nigerian culture.

Nollywood films often reflect on economic, political and cultural transformation in Nigeria. This helps gives Nigerians a sense of cultural identity.  The highest grossing Nigerian film ‘Osuofia in London’ made in 2003 displays the current trend in Nollywood of ‘hybridisation’ of culture. It follows the adventure of Osuofia a poor rural hunter and his travels to London to collect his dead brother’s inheritance. The film displays many themes of clash of Nigerian and British cultures, especially in a scene where Osuofia is trying to order food at a fast food outlet. Osuofia plays a young, childlike character, a simple Nigerian rural worker, who is now being seduced by the wealth and glamour of London.

wgirl1A culturally significant scene in this film takes place, when Osuofia is walking down the street and notices a young woman wearing a skirt sitting on the steps with her legs slightly open, he walks up to her and closes her legs. She is taken off guard and shouts at him. Osuofia explains he is offended with how she was sitting and offended with her reaction towards his assistance. This scene is an emphasis of cultural misunderstanding and shows how his Nigerian background and morals are very different in Western culture.

The constant contrast of cultures also displays the cultural imperialism effect that the western culture has on Nigerian culture. Though is this a common theme in Nollywood films, the aspirations of a ‘better life’ usually in another world, which London is depicted to be.

Photo 1: http://www.arogundade.com/Resources/nollywood-nigeri.jpeg

Photo 2: http://africa.wisc.edu/hybrid/2009/07/07/nollywood-osuofia-in-london/#more-203


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