Innocent Ebere Uwah
From Rituals to Films: Exploring the Root Paradigm of Nollywood Films in Village Cultures
Dublin City University
(at time of presentation)
PhD Thesis, Dublin City University, 2009
Religion, Media and Politics in Africa Article
Nigerians have been fascinated with cinema ever since the first film was shown in Lagos in 1903. A local newspaper, The Lagos Standard, commented that it attracted thousands of people and ‘came as a welcome relief to the dull monotony of the town, the amusements of which are few and far between’ (cited in Mgbejume, 1989: 22). After 1945 the ‘movies’ became the principal evening entertainment. Between 1950s and 1960s there were more than one hundred theatre troupes travelling from village to village for evening entertainment and in the 1980s these stage presentations began short film projections. Then came the inexpensive video technology of the late 1980s that skyrocketed the stage presentations to video films and Nollywoodwas created!
Nollywood is the name of the Nigerian national cinema which is being researched in my thesis. It is ‘an industry that developed out of a context related to domestic and international cultural, economic, and political environments and produces films that triples Hollywood’s annual productions’(Kunzler, 2006). The films raise consciousness about the industry as a new and special ‘site’ where village cultures are generated and regenerated. In this paper, I will be showcasing how Nollywood films are a significant corpus of mediated texts which intersect the construction of Nigerian village identity and cultures.