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THE DEVELOPMENT OF VIDEO FILM IN NIGERIA: A RETROSPECTIVE ACCOUNT

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Abstract

The Nigerian video film has emerged a strong element of Nigeria’s popular culture. It has established for itself the unique characteristic ability to meet the entertainment and educational needs of the cross spectrum of the Nigerian society. It is patronized by the honorable members of the National Assembly, members of the executive and by the low peasantry class in rural Nigeria. Nigerian home video has also become a huge export of Nigeria's popular culture. However not all scholars and analysts can recall the evolution of Nigerian video film and the historical and cultural elements that shape its current form. The home video has emerged as a very powerful and popular medium of communication in Nigeria. But in spite of this huge popularity, not many analysts understand the historical complexities that have shaped its current form and structure. Issues like the hugely debated distribution patterns and other policy Issues. An examination of the history and origin of the Nigerian home video can without doubt lead us to its current reality or the reality that it aspires to project. This chapter therefore looks at the historical origins of Nigerian video film as a way of putting in focus and proper perspective its current challenges and future direction.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF VIDEO FILM IN NIGERIA: A RETROSPECTIVE ACCOUNT
Aduku Armstrong Idachaba
Introduction
The Nigerian video film has emerged a strong element of Nigeria’s popular culture. It has established for
itself the unique characteristic
ability to meet the entertainment and educational needs of the cross
spectrum of the Nigerian society. It is patronized by the honorable members of the National Assembly,
members of the executive and by the low peasantry class in rural Nigeria. Nigerian home video has also
become a huge export of Nigeria's popular culture. However not all scholars and analysts can recall the
evolution of Nigerian video film and the historical and cultural elements that shape its current form. The
home video has emerged as a very powerful and popular medium of communication in Nigeria. But in
spite of this huge popularity, not many analysts understand the historical complexities that have shaped
its current form and structure. Issues like the hugely debated distribution patterns and other policy
Issues. An examination of the history and origin of the Nigerian home video can without doubt lead us
to its current reality or the reality that it aspires to project. This chapter therefore looks at the historical
origins of Nigerian video film as a way of putting
in
focus and proper perspective its current challenges
and future direction.
The origin of Film Industry
The history of the film industry in Nigeria could be traced to the pre-independence era. The first film
(not video film) was exhibited in August 1903 at the Clover Memorial hall Lagos.
According to Alfred Opubor and Onoura Nwuneli (1979:2), The medium of film was itself new in those
days, and still technically in its infancy. Content was largely documentary. The first showings in Lagos,
according to the Lagos Standard, included scenes of a steamer moving through water, shown with the
vividness of life, and scenes of the coronation of King Edward VII in 1904. One of these newsreel also
presented a brief glimpse of the Alake of Abeokuta, a Yoruba king of western Nigeria during a visit he
made to England.
Hyginus Ekwuazi (2001: 4) records that, colonialism privileged the documentary film, but in this case, the
films were made from the political-economic imperative of fostering cohesion and orientation within
the colonial framework. He adds that in the early films, the colonized i.e. the indigenes functioned in
only minor roles and that colonial cinema failed to achieve any meaningful transfer of technology. Alfred
Opubor and Nwueli (1979) record that in 1947, a Federal Film Unit was established by the colonial
administration, and most of the films coming in then were supplied by the central office of information
in London. They note that the unit produced only documentary films and newsreel, and that though film
production was not really encouraged, the colonial office of information made sure the documentaries
produced by the Post Office unit in London were given sufficient distribution through the British Council
and such other bodies like the Church Missionary Society (CMS) in Nigeria. They record that school
premises, village halls, open spaces, civic centers, proved to be adequate theatres for the screening of
the films; this was complimented with mobile film units - van, a 16mm projector, a reel of 16mm and a
collapsible screen.
But the documentary films did not dominate for too long, as soon after feature films emerged on the
scene. Hyginus Ekwuazi (2001:5) in his article, "Perspective on the Nigerian Motion Picture Industry",
recalls that with independence, the sources and types of films were diversified, with predominantly
feature films; coming from just about anywhere. With this development therefore the documentary was
therefore seriously relegated in the distribution-exhibition circuit. Alfred Opubor and Onuora Nwueli
(1979:6) record that ‘Some of the early feature length films Produced in Nigeria include Moral
Disarmament (1957) and Bound for Lagos (1962) produced for the Federal Government of Nigeria in
1962.
According to them, an oil company, Shell-BP of Nigeria Limited, also released a full length feature film
Culture in Transition in 1963. They note that Kongi's Harvest (1970) was among the significant films that
were made by private film makers. Kongi's Harvest was a version of a play written by Wole Soyinka and
produced by Francis Oladele, directed by a black American Ossie Davis. It was a satirical commentary on
the First Republic of independent Nigeria. It was about power politics, preventive detention and image
making.
They recount that, in April 1975, cinema history was made in Nigeria, when the first feature film in a
Nigerian language Ibo-was produced by Ola Balogun of Afrocult Foundation Limited. The film, Amadi
(1975) was an instant success with Igbo and non-Igbo audiences alike. According to them Amadi
was a novelty in the history of Nigerian cinema, though the acting may have been sloppy by Western
standards, the film lacking cinematic aesthetic finish and poor technique to the sophisticated audiences
but for the local audience - the local appeal of a spectators mother tongue and his natural fondness for
familiar scenes and way of life was quite exciting, interesting and revolutionary.
In terms of the distribution of the films they state that distribution and Exhibition, was expectedly in the
hands of the colonial administration in the colonial times. But with independence the federal
government opened the distribution circuit to private Nigerians though the federal government
remained the major producer, distributor and exhibitor. They further note that, film distribution and
exhibition has developed more than any aspect of cinema culture in Nigeria, noting that feature film was
perhaps the only mass medium in Nigeria that the government does not directly control or effectively
participate in distribution or exhibiting. Current realities however show that government has moved
strongly into regulating the distribution patterns. The film and video centers board has released a set of
licensing regimes that hope to establish some measure of control over the hitherto non- regulated
public sector driven distribution and marketing sector. The indigenization decree of 1972, among other
things gave exclusive monopoly for the distribution and exhibition of feature films to Nigerians with the
capital and business contacts, but left the question of production open. In spite of this law, the
distribution circuit in Nigeria was still been controlled by foreign companies mainly owned by the English
and the Lebanese and this was largely responsible for the failure of local films to circulate as evidenced
in the failure of Kongi's Harvest.
Hyginus Ekwuazi (2001:vii) in his preface to Hyginus Ekwuazi et al (2001) Transition from Video to
Celluloid, notes that it was the slump in cinema production which is traceable to the structural
adjustment programme, which eventually led to the decline and eventual death of cinema in Nigeria.
According to him,
Cinema production went into decline and puttered off within the last one and a half decades.
Only two cinema films Oselu and Bab Zack have been licensed for public screening. With no
indigenous productions taking .place and no foreign films coming in, the theatres went into a
long period of desuetude and then re-emerged as churches and revival centers. And so, enter
first the reversal and then in its wake, the home video with cheaper and simpler technology.
Examining the emergent schools of film 1n Nigeria, Ogunsuyi (2007:21-39) identifies three schools of
film in Nigeria. According to him, the Yoruba film school emerged from the incorporation of indigenous
theatre expressions and the Yoruba traveling theatre traditions into film. He lists Ija Ominiran (1997)
Aiye (1979) Ayanmo, Orun Mooru (1985) as some of the early Yoruba films. He states also that the
Yoruba traveling theatre moved into screen in stages, first it was television then cinema and later video.
He states that the Yoruba film has a followership that comes naturally from the Yoruba theatre goers of
the theatre belt of Nigeria. The Yoruba film school combines the structural features of both the
narrative and dramatic texts. Edward Ossai (2006:4) in his article, "Emerging political discourse in
Nigerian films", states that the Yoruba film like most cinemas the world over evolved from the theatre.
He notes that notable theatre practitioners like the doyen of Nigerian theatre, Hubert Ogunde and his
pedigrees, Kola Ogunmola, Duro Ladipo, Moses Olaiya, Oyin Adejobi and Ade Afolayan, opened the
floodgate of film production in the Yoruba axis. According to Ossai, Ogunde adapted his stage plays into
films wholesale with the same actors, commitment and devotion. Timothy Asobele (2003: 4) says that
the materials from which the Yoruba films are made are to a large extent the cultural realities of the
people of the Yoruba countries, some go into the fount of the peoples believe systems, while some
look into the Yoruba Jansenism philosophy of ineluctability of destiny. He states that the Yoruba
indigenous films portray the cultural aspects of society or re-enact the mythical and historical events
that once took place in their domain. The subjects may vary but they all project the rich cultural life of
the Yoruba ethnic group
.
The Hausa film school which is the second film school did not take off as early as the Yoruba. Kofoworola
cited by Hyginus Ekwuazi (1996: 57) states that 'the relative hermiticism of Islam precluded any
indigenous secular performance tradition in the core north, added to this is the prevalence of Indian film
culture'. Steve Ogunsuyi (2007:31) notes that the business of producing indigenous feature film in the
north did not begin until the mid 1970. He states that during the pre-independence era films produced
in the north were mainly documentaries, though according to him these did not sufficiently pass for
what can be called Hausa film. Hyginus Ekwuazi (1996:31) says that what therefore actually comes
across as Hausa films are the post-independence feature films and some documentaries on Hausa
culture in the Hausa language about northern Nigeria. He adds that whether the themes of such films
are social economic or political, they can always be linked to the store house of the groits and their
diverse perspectives of narrativity which tend to marry Islamic ethics and indigenous African ethics.
Steve Ogunsuyi (2007) recounts that with the production and release of Shehu Llmar (1977) by Alhaji
Adamu Halilu, who also made Kania of Kebbi, the true Hausa feature film came to the scene. The film is
an adaptation of a book of the same title by the late Nigerian Prime Minister Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa
Balewa. Other known Hausa feature films include, Ruwan Bagaja by Ramalan Nuhu and Kurba na Barm
(1992) and of course the famous Kasarmu ce by Mallam Sadiq Tafawa Balewa.
Brian Larkin (1997: 122) in his article, "Hausa Dramas and the Rise of Video Culture in Nigeria", notes
that the production of Hausa video films developed out of older forms of popular culture, particularly
the 'wasan kwaikwaiyo' or drama which has a long tradition in the Hausa society and still continues to
be popular. But they have become so popular that 'an average Hausa female writer wants her book to
be adapted into movies'.
The third school the Igbo school, according to Steve Ogunsuyi (2007:31) is very recent. Apart from
Amadi (1975) by Ola Balogun there existed no Igbo feature film in the first decade of Nigerian film
making history. He notes that today the Igbo video films are many and represent a proportionate
percentage of indigenous films in the country with films like Living in Bondage (1992) Circle of Doom
(1992) and Taboo (1993). He states that neither of these films can be said to be particularly folklorist,
because they present at the very best, the kind of mixture of the characteristic elements of the
institutionalized cinema; experimentations and twists together with aspects of Igbo culture to stress
their individuality
.
The
Era of Video Film
Regarding the history of Nigerian video film, there are several accounts of the origin of the video-film
industry in Nigeria. While some attribute it to Kenneth Nnebue and his video Living in Bondage (1992)
others say it began with the disagreements between two producers, Amaka Igwe and Zeb Ejiro, with
NTA, which led to the, withdrawal of their programmes from the station. During this same period there
was a big influx of VHS and BETACAM tapes into Nigeria, and having been denied the option of airing
their programmes on the NTA the duo found the VHS and BETACAM tapes a veritable source of sending
out and selling their progammes, hence the arrival of the home video industry. Other accounts say Jide
Kosoko and Bello Salami, started the revolution, when following decline in viewership of their Yoruba
drama shows they found the video format as avenue to sell their art.
Jide Kosoko (2007:17) states that Ola Balogun, Duro Ladipo, and Ade Love played a major role when
they came out with Ajani Ogun in 1976, the film which was a huge success was followed with others by
Hubert Ogunde and others. To him the Yoruba pioneered films in the country. Kosoko states that
following the film Ajani Ogun, the home video was pioneered by Muyideen Aromire who made the first
home video titled Ekun, and this was in 1988. He further states that the reputed Living in Bondage
(1992) was only produced in 1992, and states even his own work Asiri Nla was produced earlier in 1992
and that it sold 150,000 copies. He however acknowledges that the entry of Living in Bondage changed
everything. According to him 'the way they entered the industry changed everything. 'In fact their
entrance assisted us in moving up ourselves technically.' Emeka Nwabueze (2007:40) explains that it is a
mistake to generalize that Living in Bondage, was the first home video, noting that it could be described
as the progenitor of Igbo films, since referring to it generally as the progenitor of the Nigerian movie is
tantamount to disregarding the works of Hubert Ogunde and Ola Balogun. Obi Rapu, acclaimed first
director of the first home video Living in Bondage, state that his involvement into the home video was a
deliberate move by him to practice his skills and knowledge at film directing, which he had learnt from
Ola Balogun. According to him, when he couldn't raise the 30,000 pounds, required to make a film, he
found the video format as an avenue to actualize his dreams of being a filmmaker and subsequently
transferred the cinematic culture to video, that is after he was rejected by Ogunde and other
established filmmakers. To him, the Yoruba theatre played a crucial role in the evolution of the Nigerian
film, and to him, the major bane of the video in Nigeria is the absence of a philosophy or intellectual
thrust.
Whatever the accounts of origin of film and video in Nigeria may be, what is established however is that
the video industry has emerged as a child of necessity and has proven so far to be a veritable child at
that. Toyin Akinosho (2008) captures the potential of the emergent potential of Nigerian video-film
when he states that we would be flogging what we all know if we restate that the sector that shows the
most promise in helping Nigerian arts reach its fullest potential has been the Nigerian movie industry.
He notes that Nigerian movie is a must see in Nairobi slums and in the imperial palaces of
Johannesburg's upper middle class. It is the image of choice for both the masses. According to him, the
African everywhere wants to see 'Nollywood' because for the first time, someone like him is the hero on
the screen. His story is been told vigorously. Akinosho believes that with such a mass audience finally
tucked away under its belt the African film industry must now step forward and stake a claim on the
global cinema stage. Hyginus Ekwuazi notes that activities in the home video circuit in Nigeria and the
diaspora has become so frenzied that the three release centers of Idumota, Lagos; Iweaka Road,
Onitsha; and Kano account for some twenty releases per week. According to PriceWaterCooper of the
USA, the movie industry is projected to gross revenue of 600 billion by 2010. Alder Consulting believes
that the home video industry in Nigeria is worth 522 billion naira per annum, adding that it is
responsible for a lot of ancillary entrepreneurs and provided jobs for many. Ekpe Dawodu (2007),
president of the Nollywood Foundation believes that the industry has generated over 30,000 jobs in its
entire production chain. Henry Nelson (2007) executive director retail banking of Eko bank says that the
video industry is very viable, he notes that the bank, four weeks after the released the movies Caught in
the Middle (2007) and 100 days ill the Jungle (2007), the bank embarked on these productions
with some private producers in the Nollywood, like Fred Amata, Richard Mofe-Damijo and Charles
Novia. Nelson acknowledges that sales from the film were unprecedented assuring that the Nigerian
film industry holds a lot of promise. Franco Shashi, the American producer of the documentary says
the Nigerian video industry is amazing and that its achievements are a source of inspiration to so many
Americans. He says it is incredible how the Nigerian producer has been able to use the new technology
to turn out stories from folklore and other traditional and cultural sources. Agreeing with Shasi,
Onokome Okoome (2007: 39) explains that it is unclear why Nollywood is receiving so much attention
outside Nigeria, though it could be to him a sort of curiosity from Africa, something like a flash in the can
so to say. He notes that Nollywood has become a global phenomenon, because the outside world is
beginning to pay attention to it. Onokome believes that this is so because it speaks to aspects of social
live that many people live, it speaks to and debates social and cultural anxieties the way that no other
media has done before. It also gestures to political discourse in very surreptitious manner. He notes that
Nollywood invests the individual, especially the individual living in the city with a new sense of person.
He adds that Nollywood is a speech, its mode of discourse, albeit a popular mode of discourse that has
its own regime of social meaning that we must pay attention to. He sees Nollywood as a serious
industry. According to him,
It is a serious industry, which produces culture as it produces society. And in turn society
influences its social and cultural markets. It offers explanation to things we do in the dark. It is
eloquent about the life we live but will not speak about in public.
Commenting on the emergence of the Nigerian home video, Tunde Kelani (2005:39) states that, the
advent of the video, brought some respite to a few film makers, because film was dying gradually.
According to him "while many may wait till today for the day when they will be able to afford film stock,
a few like myself decided to take advantage of whatever opportunity video technology could offer".
Reuben Abati (2005:3) notes that, the Nigerian film industry from its colonial beginnings to the present
is perhaps the fastest growing section of the culture market, the video revolution of the 1980s and the
growth of enterprise in this direction have turned the Nigerian movie industry, into perhaps the third
largest market for movies in the world, after America's Hollywood and India's Bollywood. According to
him, Nigerian movie stars are fast emerging as cultural symbols and ambassadors. The movies generate
substantial foreign exchange, job opportunities and have acquired so much identity as a brand, that they
are now shown daily on MNET-OSTV cable television. They have become so influential as purveyors of
the Nigerian way, that they have attracted a ban in Ghana. Abati, further states that by the same token
video telecast or broadcast on television in Nigeria has grown phenomenally. According to him through
video, identities are constructed, and the country can convey a sense of its own identity, therefore he
recommends that it is just as well that the Nigerian authorities should begin to speak of branding the
country through movies and culture. Oby Ezekwesili (2007) states that the video industry in Nigeria is
about to reach the tipping edge, that is the point where it can have an epidemical effect or impact, on
the perception and the interpretation of meaning on the Nigerian people. She recommends that the
industry will need to stay tuned and focused and that as an important and emerging industry it should
have the interest of the country at heart. Today the popularity and viewership rating of the home video
industry is so high that in virtually every home and community, the patronage is visible. The National
Film and Video Censors Board states that about two thousand films are released monthly, this high
patronage is because the people can easily identify with the issues, the language, the characters, songs,
proverbs, idioms and other aspects of Nigerian culture, that are reflected in the films. This has also
accounted largely for the acceptability and appreciation of the video industry. The video industry in
Nigeria has also impacted hugely on the economy of the country. Nigeria's finance minister Okonjo
Iweala (2005) is quoted as saying that the industry has made over 30 billion Naira for the national
economy in the past ten years, its export potential is high as it assumes unbelievable viewership in the
whole of Africa and worldwide. Kwaghkondo Agber (2005:1) states that it has generated an estimate of
45 million euro per annum. Assessing the industry Hyginus Ekwuazi (2001:viii )asserts that, the industry
is vibrant, noting that in the last one and half decades well over 2000 Nigerian video films have been
pumped into the national market place from its major release points Lagos, Onitsha and Kana. He,
however, identifies the following as problems of the industry,
a)
High preponderance of debutante production i.e. people who are making their first video
thereby creating a lot of dilation in the production subsection.
b)
An
indifference to professionalism-specialization i.e. it is an all comers affair in which anyone
could play just about any role on whatever side of the camera.
c)
Rather than fund productions through producers, the marketers themselves assume the role of
producers thereby determining the storyline, the actors and the scenery. Nothing in their
backgrounds prepared them for the roles they are assuming so glibly
.
Other problems not stated here by Ekwuazi which are crucial and central to the development of the
industry are the obvious loss of thematic originality and focus, leading to concentration on rituals,
pornography and alien cultures. Very much unlike traditional African drama, the Nigerian home
video, is yet to succeed in preoccupying itself contentually and thematically with creating significance
and meaning that will meet the aspiration and the goals of the people, as a medium of mass-culture or
popular culture. Ferni Shaka (2007: 39) states that part of the problem he has with the Nigerian video
film industry was that they were too wordy. Emeka Nwabueze (2007:40) identifies the lack or absence of
qualitative scripts as the major problem of the industry. He states that without a
good script there can
be no
good film. He believes that a good script is the first step to a good film. A good script to him even
if it is not excellent must have a vision and an appropriate message so that the interpretation can be
realized by a good director. The bottom line according to him is for the film to communicate significant
message to the recipient. Foluke Bello (2007) questions the motives in Nigerian movies when she asks
about, how great the stories of Nollywood are. She chides the industry for producing what she calls
'microwave productions' because of the speed and haste in producing most of these films. Catherine
Acholunu (2000: 55) aptly captures the scenario when she states that,
Ritual murder and witchcraft are becoming the order of the day in the Nigeria home video
movie, thus driving more jobless youths towards this satanic exercise. All these developments
are aborting government efforts at bringing development to the people. Nigerian film makers in
their bid to make quick financial gains are unfortunately flooding the market with poor quality
films that erroneously project the impression that Nigerian culture is a culture of witchcraft,
Satanism and human sacrifices. Because children and youths are the primary consumers of films
and home video products, these films have done incalculable moral, mental and psychological
damage to growing children.
According to Enemaku Ogu (2003:72) many critics have decried this appalling treatment of themes in
the Nigerian home video. He states that Akpabio had studied the synopsis of 1547 video films submitted
to the Film and Video Censors Board and found out that 60.1 percent of the productions were negative
in their slant. To Ogu, this high occurrence of negativity puts a mark against the ethical structure of the
industry. He believes that because Nigeria operates a capitalist economy characterized by the pressure
to maximize profit at all cost and minimize losses, exploitation, unbridled competition and other
hallmarks of capitalist accumulation, morality does not feature prominently in western capitalist
development and video producers in this economy tend to capitalize on all social factors, including
moral frailties to maximize profit. Supporting Ogu's views, Popoola (2003:135) in his article, "Nigeria and
the Challenges of Violent Films", notes
that,
A worrisome aspect of all the films is that, none of them actively canvass for the
discouragement of the negative tendencies acted out on screen. Many of the film producers,
merely see their art as means of livelihood and do not see themselves as possessing
responsibility to society.
He notes further that, the failure by movie producers to make any strong comment against social ills is a
shortcoming of the films that use violence in their messages. To him the implication is that such films,
rather than ameliorating violent acts in the society tend to aggravate them.
The
Future
of Nigerian Video
In projecting a future direction for the Nigerian video film, Hyginus Ekwuazi (2005:35) states that film
should recognize that the nation, is a continuous project, a project always in the making always
interrogating governance and citizenship and scripting social positions for the viewer or reader. He notes
that it may be used to dictate views and positions and could also be used as part of social
transformation in which the oppressed express their problems and grievances. Films therefore should
play more than passive roles in the ideological, perceptional and socio-political concerns of government
in its relationship with the people. It is in this light that Reuben Abati (2005:4) states that it should be
clear that the definition of the challenge of a philosophy for film and television in Nigeria is inextricably
linked to the prevailing
philosophy of governance and the existence of a national consensus, above
politics and all forms of diversity which govern the Nigerian character, the citizens sense of identity and
his understanding of his place in the world.
He emphasizes the need for film producers and other people involved in the sector to fuse the motives
of the films and the developmental aspirations, of the country into a national consensus or philosophy,
and further note that,
In Nigeria, there is no linkage between statehood and the goals of the private sector in charge of
that industry. The reality is that the Nigerian movie industry is in the hands of marketers, who
are interested in profit, driven by the stupidity of the average man, rather than any nationalistic
ideals. The missing link in this interfacing is government and enabling cultural philosophy.
According to him, America reflects a good example of how the interfacing of the private film producer
and government can create the structures of a national consensus built on the overriding principle of
national philosophy. He again notes that
,
The interface between culture and state power in the United States is governed by a shared
vision of American supremacy in the world order. The superior vision is that
of a world that is dominated by American business interest of an international system that is
subordinated to the American economy, the American way, with America occupying an
undisputed number one spot in international relations. American films fly American flags,
they celebrate the American way. Censorship is not imposed, it is organic. Cultural
establishments in the US enjoy their independence, access to information is guaranteed but the
establishment in the United States serves the state, because of the existence of an elite
consensus about the purpose and direction of statecraft.
In the year 2005 the Nigerian government began a process of historical reengineering with President
Obasanjo advocating and recognizing the import and potential of the movie industry for the re-
projection or reconstruction of the national identity through a project tagged the 'Image project.' The
new consciousness is that the Nigerian video can be used to repackage Nigeria. It was therefore with
great hope and expectation that actors, producers and citizens received President Obasanjo's decision
for government to collaborate with home video producers to sell the national image, Due to changes in
government and an apparent lack of will for continuity of government projects once there is a change at
the helm, the project is currently suffering a lack of continuity
.
Nigeria is currently reflected in most of our video as reputed for fraud, child trafficking and prostitution,
corruption, political instability and collapse of infrastructure and filmmakers and analyst believe that the
Nigerian video can correct this image. It is however inexplicable that the Image Project has suffered a
lull, after it was launched in 2005. The National Film and Video Censors undertook a tour of United
States of America and the United Kingdom, with some notable stars of Nollywood, just to showcase a
positive image for the country. Ever since, the 'Image Project', has gone to sleep, perhaps due to
inconsistencies in government policy, following change of government leadership.
Concluding Remarks
It is however my strong believe that the future of Nigerian video lies in giving a positive image for
Nigeria. Our video works must through themes and other idioms evolve stronger ethical, moral and
developmental objectives. Traditional Nigerian society celebrates honesty, hard work, collective
heroism, and communal harmony, deceit and lies were not condoned and hard work, not fraud was a
virtue.
Also supporting the need to explore traditional values and philosophy, in our film, Enernaku Ogu (2003:
77) in his article, "Ethical foundation of the Nigerian Video Film", states that,
Re-organizing Nigerian moral rubrics to accommodate morality, conscience and virtue may be
the first step towards reconstructing the ethical foundations of the home video industry.
Although morality may not sell as much as pornography, violence and other artifacts of western
culture, it pays greater dividends when examined from the philosophical perspective. Other
measures such as peace, progress, moral development, eternal values, and virtuous lifestyle
must be put into consideration, the producers of video films owe the society a duty to promote
the greater good of the society, and ennobling virtues, which the society covets, should find
expression in the video productions. Recourse to positive moral values in traditional Africa could
'go a long way in helping to reconstruct the moral and ethical foundations of the
Nigerian video film.
Ogu prescribes the following as typical virtues for video practitioners in their productions.
i. Don't celebrate disaster, failure, misfortune, prostitution.
ii. Respect moral values such as respect for the aged, sympathy for the afflicted and love for the
underprivileged
iii. Emphasize honesty, truth and contentment
iv. Be considerate about the impact of your action on the larger society
v. Be true to yourself and be faithful to your friends and neighbors.
These could be articulated as the national ideology, a deliberate government policy that will chart the
value thrust or direction of aspects of Nigerian life, including its video. A sort of national challenge which
inspires national consensus or ideological philosophy based on the principles of collective and
participatory involvement of the entire citizenry in the development of the nation.
Instructively, the Nigerian National Film Policy proposal (2004) among other things is intended to
achieve the following:
i. The integration of traditional and modern communication media structures. This is imperative
to communicate new realities and possibilities effectively to the different segments of the
society in the language and form best understood and appreciated, specifically, the film and
video which is an art stands out as potent medium of mass communication for the promotion
projection and promotion of national values, norms, ideals and aspirations across cultural
boundaries
ii. To serve as means of developing arts, culture film-video as platform and instruments of national
integration, international image building, the enhancement of Nigeria's leadership role in Africa
and its commitment to the advancement of democracy.
iii. Encourage the production and exportation of local films and video, project and propagate
Nigeria's rich culture heritage and values through cultural exhibition and film-video.
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University Press.
Bepo, Ademiju (2007)' Fimiliar Flips, New Illusion and Creative Symbols:
The Playwright, Video Technology and the Generation Challenged', in Beyond the screen, The Motion
Picture Industry. Jos, National Film Institute.
Ekwuazi, Hyginus (1987) Film in Nigeria, Jos .Moonlight Publishers.
Ekwuazi, Hyginus (2001)'Perspectives on the Nigerian Motion Picture Industry.' Making the Transition
from Video to Celluloid. Jos. Nigerian Film Institute.
Ladebo, Ladi (2001)'Scripting/Directing'in Ekwuazi.H et.al (ed) in Making the Transition from Celluloid.
Jos: National Film Institute.
Larkin, Brian (1997) 'Hausa Drama and the Rise of Video Culture in NigeriaIn: Nigerian Video Films,
Jonathan Haynes. Jos. National Film Institute. Kenya. ACCE.
Miachi, Tom (1980)"Masquerades as Agents of Social Control in Elias: Journal of lgala Land. Ayingba.
AADP
Nwabueze,Emeka (2003) vision and Re-vision. Selected Discourse Oil Literary Criticism. Enugu. Ephata
Press, Nigeria.
Ogu, Enemaku (2003)"Ethical Foundations of the Nigerian Video Film: Towards a construction",
Contributed in Africa Video Film Today Swaziland., Academic publishers.
Ogunsuyi, Steve (2001)"Style and Medium in the African Folkfilm in llorin Journal of Performing Arts.
Volume
1 Number 2.
Ogunsuyi, Steve (2005)"Marketing the Nigerian Movie: Distribution and Exhibition." Society of Nigerian
Theatre artiste SONTA publication..
Ogunsuyi,Steve (2007) African Theatre Aesthetics and Television Drama in Nigeria. Abuja. Roots Books
and Journal limited.
Ogunsuyi, Steve (2004) 'The Nigerian Video Critical Arguments'. Society of Nigerian Theatre Artiste
SONTA publication.
Conferences and Seminars
Agber, Kwaghkondo (2005) "The Home Video Industry and The Nigerian economy", Paper Presented at
Society of Nigerian Theatre Artiste SONTA, Conference, Benue State University Makurdi;7- 10, June.
Agber, Kwaghondo (2007) 'Scripting the Nigerian Home Video Film. 'Paper presented at the Post-
Graduate Seminar, Department of Theartre Arts University of Abuja. Abuja November.
Akinosho, Toyin (2008) 'Packaging African Cinema for a Global Audience 'Presented at BOBTV Film
Market at Sheraton Hotel, Abuja. March.
Ekwuazi, Hyginus(2006) 'The Challenges of Nation Building: Film &Audio-visuals as Tool For Effective
Public Information Management'. A paper presented at Meeting of Public Sector Audio- visual
Production Depts. Abuja. April.
Opubor, Alfred (2004)' Technology and Democracy in Africa, Convergence, Concentration and control'
Paper presented at International Conference for Africa Broadcasters, AFRICAST, Sheraton Hotel. Abuja
October.
Newspapers and Journals
Acholunu, Catherine (2001:55) lnterview in The Guardian,
May 11.
Ekwuazi, Hyginus (2005) "Forging a Union Between Literature and Film Published in Nigerian Tribune.
Dec 13
Nwabueze, Emeka (2007) Interview in Vanguard Newspaper
,
September
... The Yoruba Travelling Theatre troupes could no longer afford the imported celluloid. This development, in addition to the advent of video--cassettes consumables in domestic spaces (Gore 1998, Idachaba 2018) and the insecurity that characterised the late 1980s to early 1990s (Haynes 2007), especially in the case of Benin where the notorious criminal, Lawrence Anini, reigned supreme (Marenin 1987), impacted negatively on nightlife. The nascent cinema--going culture was truncated and the decline in the socioeconomic circumstances of Nigerians meant that cinema leisure became a luxury (Haynes 2007: 1, Olayiwola 2011. ...
Thesis
Full-text available
The Nigerian video film industry, commonly known as Nollywood, has come a long way since its rise in the late twentieth century. Since then, the industry has grown to become one of the major sources of engagement with the Nigerian and the Nigerian diasporic ways of life. At the core of this engagement with the life world of its audience members is their religious life. While many religious organisations in Nigeria have seized the wide acceptance of Nollywood to project themselves and to assemble specific audiences, the dominant religious theme of the video film industry is the spiritual battle between Pentecostal Christianity and African traditional religion. This is especially obvious in the English language Nigerian religious video films. In academic studies of the portrayal of these two religions, many scholars highlight that post-colonial English language Nigerian religious video filmmakers grant preference to Pentecostal Christianity. This thesis examines the representation of Pentecostal Christianity and African traditional religion in Edo language video films, which are part of the Nigerian video film industry. It focuses on a specific genre of Edo language video films that portray the tension between Pentecostalism and indigenous religion. In this dissertation, African traditional religion is used interchangeably with and to reflect Edo traditional religion, which is part of the local discourses that draw on a diverse range of practices that are dynamic and subject to innovations over time. Also, English language video filmmakers references post-colonial film producers. In addition to secondary sources, the study spans two years of familiarisation with the fieldwork site between 2015 and 2017 and a seven-month extensive engagement with the research participants from June 2018 to January 2019. The thesis adopts a qualitative and ethnographic approach based on participant observation, semi-structured and unstructured interviews, and textual analysis. It also uses the quantitative method of questionnaires to retrieve data from a segment of the participants. The thesis argues that unlike English language Nigerian video film producers, Edo language video filmmakers do not privilege Pentecostal Christianity or African traditional religion in their films. Rather than typecast one religion as good and the other as evil, Edo language video filmmakers use the values of the two religions, which they see as similar, to promote the moral and ethical wellbeing of Edo citizens and Benin society. Beyond this, the filmmakers use their films to project a pan-Edo ethnic identity that recreates the historical Benin Kingdom in the twenty-first century. They do this by drawing on the values of Pentecostalism, traditional religion, the institution of the Oba of Benin, the language, royalty more generally, and the historical and traditional figures and sites in and around Benin. As many filmmakers believe that Edo people are excluded from participating in the centre stage of Nigeria’s economic, political and social life because of their population size, they deploy their films to create a visible socio-political and cultural space for Edo people in a multi-ethnic Nigerian nation, and to promote a strong pan-Edo sense of unity amongst the people who trace their origin to the ancient Benin Kingdom in the diaspora. By arguing that Edo language video filmmakers adopt a ‘neutral’ attitude to the portrayal of religion, the study challenges the notion that African film producers prioritise Pentecostal Christianity over traditional religion. It suggests that a new approach should be embraced, which takes into account the highly specific locales in which indigenous African language video filmmakers operate. It also calls for the expansion of on-going debates about ethnicity and cultural nationalism that gives due attention to video and film more generally. The thesis suggests that future research should focus on the portrayal of religion in other parts of Nigeria and Africa to see if they resonate with the findings of this study. This is especially so given that Edo language video film audience members believe that even in the ‘neutral’ portrayal of religion in Edo language films, African traditional religion enjoys a more positive representation.
Article
Full-text available
Nigeria is richly endowed with vast natural resources and an estimated population of about 140 million people who need food for their daily survival. The favorable climatic and topographical conditions of the North central states of Benue, Nassarawa and Plateau place them in a good position to provide food for the entire country. Perceived poverty and food insecurity in Nigeria is not only as the result of cumulative consequences of the general failure of agricultural policies and implementation over time, but also incessant communal conflicts and clashes mostly between the Fulani herdsmen and the host communities. This paper focuses on the challenges that these conflicts pose while considering downward trends in agricultural production in Nigeria and how the Chinese example may act as a panacea. Keywords: Food, Food insecurity, Conflicts, Communal clashes
Yoruba Cinema of Nigeria. Lagos
  • Timothy S Asobele
Asobele-Timothy S.J (2003) Yoruba Cinema of Nigeria. Lagos. Upper Standard Publication.
Fimiliar Flips, New Illusion and Creative Symbols: The Playwright, Video Technology and the Generation Challenged', in Beyond the screen, The Motion Picture Industry
  • Ademiju Bepo
Bepo, Ademiju (2007)' Fimiliar Flips, New Illusion and Creative Symbols: The Playwright, Video Technology and the Generation Challenged', in Beyond the screen, The Motion Picture Industry. Jos, National Film Institute.
Perspectives on the Nigerian Motion Picture Industry
  • Hyginus Ekwuazi
Ekwuazi, Hyginus (2001)'Perspectives on the Nigerian Motion Picture Industry.' Making the Transition from Video to Celluloid. Jos. Nigerian Film Institute.
Hausa Drama and the Rise of Video Culture in Nigeria' In: Nigerian Video Films
  • Brian Larkin
Larkin, Brian (1997) 'Hausa Drama and the Rise of Video Culture in Nigeria' In: Nigerian Video Films, Jonathan Haynes. Jos. National Film Institute. Kenya. ACCE.
Masquerades as Agents of Social Control in Elias: Journal of lgala Land
  • Tom Miachi
Miachi, Tom (1980)"Masquerades as Agents of Social Control in Elias: Journal of lgala Land. Ayingba. AADP
vision and Re-vision. Selected Discourse Oil Literary Criticism
  • Emeka Nwabueze
Nwabueze,Emeka (2003) vision and Re-vision. Selected Discourse Oil Literary Criticism. Enugu. Ephata Press, Nigeria.
Ethical Foundations of the Nigerian Video Film: Towards a construction
  • Enemaku Ogu
Ogu, Enemaku (2003)"Ethical Foundations of the Nigerian Video Film: Towards a construction", Contributed in Africa Video Film Today Swaziland., Academic publishers.
Style and Medium in the African Folkfilm in llorin
  • Steve Ogunsuyi
Ogunsuyi, Steve (2001)"Style and Medium in the African Folkfilm in llorin Journal of Performing Arts. Volume 1 Number 2.
Marketing the Nigerian Movie: Distribution and Exhibition
  • Steve Ogunsuyi
Ogunsuyi, Steve (2005)"Marketing the Nigerian Movie: Distribution and Exhibition." Society of Nigerian Theatre artiste SONTA publication..