By Chinelo Eze

15 May 2022   |  
9:00 am

On 21th February 2022, the Nigerian government, via its minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, after declaring a national emergency on ritual killing, placed a ban on Nollywood creation of money ritual content films. The government had also accused the film industry of the increase of ritual killing among youths.  This claim by the…

Nancy Isime and Ini Dima-Okojie. Photo Credit: Idris Dawodu For Guardian Life

On 21th February 2022, the Nigerian government, via its minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, after declaring a national emergency on ritual killing, placed a ban on Nollywood creation of money ritual content films. The government had also accused the film industry of the increase of ritual killing among youths. 

This claim by the government struck a blow to the Nollywood industry. In their defence, Lancelot Imasuen, a film director, questioned the government, asking, “When did the industry become the problem of bad governance, bad roads and the reason for the economic downturn? The Nigerian film industry has always been portraying what is evidently wrong with the country and proffering solutions.” 

Since the first release of ‘Living in Bondage’ in 1992, such films have stirred the conversations in money rituals, which highlight this vice largely evident in society. The stories of Clifford Orji, and the likes, gave more flesh to such stories that Nollywood depicts. 

To be fair, these ritual killings mirrored in the films were not farfetched from the realities and it continues to this day. In recent times, such practices have been rebranded to “Yahoo plus” and with elections around the corner, most Nigerians know to stay safe.

However, the long great love of Nollywood depicting ritual killings as thematic concerns is getting detangled and shifting its lens. In recent times, Nollywood has awakened itself to a different perspective of storytelling as the Nollywood industry comes of age. 

So far, the new generation of Nigerian writers are engrossed in and critical of socio-cultural norms while audaciously addressing issues that were cautiously spoken of in hushes. A typical example is gender-based violence, which is now a round table discourse. Women of the 21st century in Nigeria are beginning to speak up about traumatic experiences faced in their homes. And Nollywood is listening.

Another plus with these new waves of feature films is that they appeal to a wider audience, as they are more relatable in other societies. For instance, ritual-themed films can go as far as Nigeria and some other countries without being accepted as it is disconnected from the new generation of audience.

As it is with fresh waves of telling the Nigerian story of survival, the backstage process of creating these films has seen a change in production leading up to entire evolutionary cinematography. Nigerian feature films like Oloture, Eyimofe, Citation, LionHeart and many more have reflected the diverse realities of Nigerians.

In the buzzing Netflix “Blood Sisters” released series, emphasis has been placed on stereotypes in marriage, family and upbringing. It goes on to mirror the effects of some vices like physical abuse that run into manslaughter, just like the real-life story of deceased gospel singer Osinachi Nwachukwu.

Sex trafficking discourse is another concern that Nollywood feature films are beginning to give listening ears to. With families dealing with missing daughters, girls forced into prostitution, or willingly sacrificing themselves to support a poverty-stricken family, the industry reflects such heart wrenching tales to its catalogues of stories. A film that projected such succinctly with a gripping storyline is the film “Black Rose” as we watch the once innocent Rose turn into a shadow of herself from being sexually groomed.

The dysfunctional family dynamics is a theme that features frequently these days. It shows how families are torn apart in many ways, physical as well as psychological. Films exhibit traits of dysfunctionality as the root cause of blown-out cancer. In line with dysfunctional families comes the family wars where siblings throw away their bloodline connection and fight to their death.

The flamboyance in many Nollywood films can’t be ignored, as some of the outfits in the films can be described as fashion on steroids. The new Nollywood is self-conscious and is taking ample time to glam characters and even add a spark to the scenery that leaves you wondering, “Is this Nigeria or obodo oyibo?” This added attention raises the aesthetics which lures by being eye-catching.

Nollywood still has its shortcomings but is also displaying the ability to catch up fast while telling authentic Nigerian stories of the highest quality embedded in its culture and traditions.

Source: The Shifting Lenses Of Nollywood On Society — Guardian Life — The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News

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