Nollywood: The Past, the Present, and the Future
As a rising Movie Production power-house, Nollywood has come of age. Less than a decade, this icon has become the envy of the whole world, especially with its focus on producing Movies for Nigerians, and mostly by Nigerians – both at home and abroad. As if it has a life of its own, it has risen from the days of abyss when people wonder if the name really mean anything up to a point now when the name “Nollywood” means Nigerian Movies and Nigeria Music, not just to Nigerians but to Africans and people of all walks of life. Nollywood is a common name now known to people of Kenya, South-Africa, Ivory coast, and so on – just to name a few
Despite the early critics who insisted the name “Nollywood” stink of another colonial imperialism, majority of Nigerians and Africans has , de-facto, come to recognize this name as a phenomenn that has come to stay; although many asserted that the coining of the name “Nollywood” was borrowed from foreign country, a concept that is identical to “Hollywood” and “Bollywood”, the truth remains that everything about Nollywood – actors, genre of movies, plots, consumer – are Nigerian focused.
One always wonder a while back if Nollywood will ever become relevant to the aspirations of Nigerians defining their own movies and setting free their movie production capabilities from the grip of foreign production studios, studios that determine what will be produced, who will produce what, and when to produce. Although most Nigerian movies are produced within a short timeframe ranging from a few weeks to a few months, the quality has consistently improved – in fact, the quality of movies produced these days are rated first class. The industry has learned and has improved a lot.
Despite the conditions: epileptic power supply, unstable, deteriorating economic condition, Nollywood has crawled its way to the third most visible movie industry on our planet; despite the several years of repressive military regime, wreck less political class, uncertain daily-living in Nigeria, Nollywood manages to attain a third place, after Hollywood and Bollywood, in the league of global movie power-houses. In fact, there is a constant confusion on which one comes second – Bollywood or Nollywood.
Until the recent technological breakthrough of the last decade in terms of cheap means of movie production, the history of movie-making in Nigeria was the story of an unprofitable Endeavour filled with tears and financial ruins because most of those who attempted to produce movies always end up with a red-inked balance sheet. As a result of this imbalance, most Nigerians consume mostly foreign movies. Legendary movies such as Fist of Fury (1972), means of the Dragon (1972), key in the Dragon (1973). Even right before that, famous movies such as “Bruce Lee” in (Lo Wei’s, the enormous superior (1971) were common.
In the face of all odds, there are several old actors who were able to move beyond stage performance and were able to go into movie production. But these exceptional talents were far and in-between. They were very few, and their story is not always of consistent success. Many who were able to produced one very good movie ended up having only one time success story to tell. Great performers such as Ola Balogun, Eddie Ugbomah, and late Herbert Ogunde – based on the old celluloid capability of the 70’s. are considered the father of modern day Nollywood.
The Music artists delivering cutting-edge Nigeria Music have benefited substantially from the opportunities created by the presence of Nollywood in Nigeria – these artists have done exceptionally well considering their skills to blend music of local origin with other genre of music ranging from Bob Marley to Jazz and so on. They have benefitted immensely from Nigerian business men who opened successful online distribution channels to allow Nigerians showcase their talent to the rest of the world. Nigeria-centric sites such as NaijaMotion.com, like their counter-part YouTube.com represents a substantial opportunity for Nigerian Musician to show-case their talent to the rest of the world.
Back to Nollywood: although the movies were originally created for Nigerians living in Nigerian, it has, over the last decade, become a staple for Nigerians in Diaspora – a common tool for staying connected to the home front; with the prevalence of the internet, easier and faster means of distribution, Nollywood movies are now consumed not only in Nigeria but in hundreds of other countries; interestingly enough, not just by Nigerians, but by citizens of all other countries. Nollywood, indeed, has come a very long way. Looking into the future, I see Nollywood becoming a power to be reckoned with on the same scale that Hollywood, uncontested for several decades, has dominated, dictated and morphed social-cultural activities and identities around the Globe.