Influence of Low budget Nollywood productions on the distortion of African culture


Low budget Nollywood productions on the distortion of African culture

Since  1903,  when  the  first  screening  of  a  film  took  place  at  Glover Memorial  Hall, in  Lagos, cinema  has  evolved  through  the  colonial  era, the  independence  era, the indigenization  era and  the Nollywood  period (Mgbejume 1989; Okon 1990; Onuzulike 2010). A major event shaping the Nigerian  film industry  was  the  Structural  Adjustment Programs  (SAPs)  Nigeria  went  through  during  the  1980s;  the  SAPs  impoverished many Nigerians  (Ogundimu  2009; Olayiwola  2007). With  celluloid being very  expensive,  film-makers  had  to  rely  on  other  formats  to  tell  their stories.  An  important  event  that paved  the way  for Nollywood  was  the traditional Yoruba Travelling Theatre movement of the 1980s, pioneered by director Chief Hubert Ogunde and his contemporary Ola Balogun (McCall 2002; Onuzulike 2010).. Many have credited Living in Bondage for ushering in the name ‘Nollywood’ (Abah 2008; Haynes 2000, 2005).Nollywood,  which mirrors  the names  of Hollywood  and Bollywood,  is the name of  the Nigerian  movie  industry. Despite  the fact  that Nigeria  had been producing movies since the colonial period, the movie Living in Bondage (1992),  which sold  over 750,000  copies, is  typically credited  with ushering in Nollywood  films  (The Economist  2006). A  2006 survey  conducted by  the UNESCO  Institute  for Statistics  (UIS) classified  Nollywood as  the  second-largest film  producer  in the  world, only  behind Bollywood.  Hollywood was ranked  third.  The  survey  found  that  Bollywood  produced  1,091  feature-length films, Nollywood produced 872 (all in video format) while Hollywood released 485  major  film productions  (UNESCO Press  2009). These  statistics are relevant because it is often assumed that Hollywood makes more movies since  it  is  more  popular  and  has  significantly  higher  marketing  budgets. Conversely,  while  Nollywood’s  marketing  budget is  minimal, the  distribu-tion of video films is cheaper and has wider appeal, in part because it is rela-tively easy for consumers to access video films. The industries also diverge in that Hollywood  predominantly  portrays the western world while Nollywood depicts the African world. There are positive  and  negative  aspects to  the  Nollywood phenomenon. Some of  the  benefits are  that it  has provided  a platform  for Africans  to tell their own stories,  and  it makes employment options available to many indi-viduals.  The  industry employs  about one  million people  in Nigeria,  which makes it  the  second-largest employer  in Nigeria  after the  agriculture sector (The Economist 2006). The National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) estimates  that  the  industry  generates  sales  of  between  $200  million  and $300 million  per  year, and  provides substantial  revenue to  the government. Nollywood also creates venues for minorities and the voices of non-dominant ideologies to be heard, in part because it is not uniformly constructed or influ-enced by corporations.  As  a  by-product for  Africans,  Nollywood serves  as  a source of cultural preservation. The  negative aspects  of Nollywood  include that  it  continues  to  depict some  stereotypes that  were  originally  formulated  and perpetuated  by  the West. Nevertheless,  video  films have  created an  avenue for  Africans to  tell their  own  stories as opposed  to receiving western  versions. McCall argues that the Nigerian video industry, however,  has  changed  [the West’s telling of African stories and values] forever. In market stalls and corner stores across Nigeria, and increasingly  in  cities and  towns  across  Africa [and even in the US], these market-driven movies have become the engine of distinctively African popular culture