CULTURAL PROMOTION AND IMAGE PORTRAYAL IN THE NIGERIAN MOVIES
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Entertainment has been one of the vibrant outfits that sustain man and add to his longevity because it plays a very vital role on his psyche. It is generally accepted that the western nations are dominating the entertainment sector in the entire media practice today. Therefore, the need to project Nigeria in the entertainment sector gave rise to the Nigerian Home Movie Industry. The Nigerian Home Movie Industry is nationalistic, a movement that tries to challenge the influx and the influence of foreign culture through foreign movies on Nigerians. Through the movies Nigerians are educated on their indigenous culture as against the foreign culture represented and promoted globally. Several misconceptions about Nigerians are also corrected.
Though Nigerian culture is being promoted, there are still mounting challenges, as the image of Nigeria is being represented positively and at the same time negatively. The problem has to do with local hegemony in form of the money bags who determine what the thematic thrust of each movie made will be. Consequently these persons engage in making movies that are violent, full of crime, obscene behaviours, and movies that encourage behavioral decadence. At the climax of the control of these overlords, there came up what is called alternative hegemony, a struggle by some positive – minded Nigerians to counter the repeated show of crime with movies that are worthwhile and which promote morals.
The focus of this study is to project the hegemonic activities of the Home Movie practitioners in the business of film making. The study takes a closer look at the ways the image of Nigeria is represented and the impact of such representation on Nigerians and the general public, using four Nigerian movies, namely, “Dons in Abuja,” “Hot Girls,” “The Peace Maker” and “The Price”. “Dons in Abuja”, and “Hot Girls” stand for negative image portrayal while “The Peace Maker” and “The Price” stand for positive image portrayal. The objective of this study is to recommend ways of using the Nigerian Home movies as a tool for identity promotion and image laundering for Nigerians in the effort towards national development.
The study adopted various tools in the collection of data; library research on work previously done on areas related to the study. It used for its information materials both in audio – visual and live interviews. The study reveals that the motion picture is one of the fastest and one of the most viable ways of exporting culture for economic gains. It also observes that the Nigerian movies have not succeeded in promoting the culture and image of Nigeria as a result of local hegemony on the side of the practitioners. Most importantly, the study reveals that the movie practitioners are more concerned with enriching their pockets, relegating to the background the cultural implication of such representation. Therefore, it suggests that movie – making for image laundering should not be left in the hands of individual producers but should be sponsored and controlled by government and philanthropic Nigerians who have the development of the
The study establishes that hegemony taken from a positive light can be adopted in making good image portrayal to be the dominant and controlling feature in every movie made in Nigeria as against the dominant and controlling negative image portrayal.
|TABLE OF CONTENT|
|Table of Content||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||x|
|CHAPTER ONE: GENERAL INTRODUCTION|
|Nigerian Home Movies: A Historical Overview||–||–||–||–||8|
|Statement of Research Problem||–||–||–||–||–||–||18|
|Objectives of the Study||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||19|
|Scope of the Study||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||20|
|Justification of the Study||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||21|
|CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW||–||–||–||–||26|
|CHAPTER THREE: THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK||–||–||–||63|
|CHAPTER FOUR: ANALYSIS OF SELECTED NIGERIAN MOVIES||69|
|CHAPTER FIVE: CONCLUSION–||–||–||–||–||–||102|
|Summary and Findings||–||–||–||–||–||–||102|
|Suggestions and Recommendations||–||–||–||–||106|
The years of British colonial rule in Nigeria so much transformed her pre-
colonial culture that, by the time Nigeria gained independence in 1960, a great
deal of the British educational system, British moral values and the English
Language had already become nationally accepted and entrenched in virtually
every aspect of Nigeria’s national psyche. According to Mahdi Adamu in Clark, E
and Jegede, D. (1992:24):
By virtue of the colonial experience, English Language became our official language through which pre-primary, primary and post primary education are taught in this country. Official actions and utterances in this country have shown that to be formally literate, one needs to learn to read and write in English language.
In the field of political culture also, the similarities are clear and distinct. It was the British type of parliamentary democracy that Nigeria’s first democratic
experience was fashioned after from 1960 – 1966 until 1979 when Nigeria embraced the American political system. In the absence of an accepted alternative which is truly Nigerian, Nigeria adopted the European system of governance. Even in commerce, the remarkable similarity is also evident. To further explain this, Mahdi Adamu (1992:26) asserts:
The Nigerian economy has been so intricately tied to the apron strings of one European capitalist economy, that we no longer have our own commercial system different from that of our mentors.
One thing is clear; the advent of colonial administration in Nigeria greatly and negatively affected the development of indigenous socio-cultural structures. This situation is responsible for the continuing dependency relationship between the colonized nations and European nations.
The most obvious implication of this, according to Tylor’s study cited by Bashir in Nasidi and Bello (1991:20) is that some African, hence Nigerian cultures are overwhelmed by western cultures (knowledge, beliefs, arts, morals, laws, etc). Through the media, alien consumer patterns are being promoted among the people of Africa. Consumer societies have been created with lifestyles, values, tastes and inspirations based upon models and commodities of the western industrial countries. The conviction is that the fate of a victim of this cultural imperialism will continue to be decided from outside and in this way its progress and growth will be retarded, as its production and consumption patterns will be fashioned out in accordance with the needs and values of an
alien society. As a result of this, western nations have dominated the cultural and political lives of people in the Third World countries.
The argument above is supported by Bill Ashcroft et al. (2000:49) when they say that no society ever attained full freedom from the colonial system by the involuntary active disengagement of the colonial power until it was provoked by a considerable internal struggle for self-determination or, most usually, by extended and active violent opposition by the colonized.
Today, we live in a global village dictated by high information technology
subsumed in the wider concept and practice of globalization. Globalization does
not mean the same thing for all. According to David Held et al. there exist three
schools of thought who have different views about this phenomenon. These are
the hyperglobalizers, the transformationalists and the skeptics. For the
hyperglobalizers, globalization defines a new epoch of human history
characterized by the emergence of a single global market, resulting in the
“denationalization” of economies and thus in the lack of meaning of the nation
states. An economic logic prevails in this view shared by neo-liberals “who
welcome the triumph of individual autonomy and the market principle over state
power” and by radicals or neo-Marxists for whom contemporary globalization
represents the triumph of an oppressive global capitalism.
The transformationalists embrace it enthusiastically as a positive feature of a changing world in which access to technology, information, services and markets will be of benefit to local communities; where dominant forms of social
organization will lead to universal prosperity, peace and freedom, and in which a perception of a global environment will lead to global ecological concern. The skeptics argue that it is a form of domination by First World countries over under
- developed economies in which individual distinctions of culture and society become erased by an increasingly homogeneous global culture and local economies are more firmly incorporated into a system of global capital. (Bill Ashcroft 2000:111). Central to this work is the notion that globalization is perpetuating deeply rooted patterns of inequality and hierarchy in the world economy, thus creating the economic marginalization of many Third World countries. “It primarily served the interest of the world’s most powerful nation but theoretically, it is said to have the common good at heart and presented development as a set of technical measures outside the realm of political debate”. (Gilbert Rist 1997:78).
The position for or against globalization is taken according to various renditions and perceptions. This difference in understanding is propelled by the different levels of technological, economic and social development of the various peoples of the world. With the trend of events, the world, no doubt, has become a global village, a single entity, but is that all there should be? Are there some things to worry about in this whole issue of the global village? Assessing this global phenomenon, Yakubu Nasidi (1999:33) questions thus:
Where are we African countries in this single place? What does globalization hold in store for Africa? Rather than join in an uncritical celebration of globalization and its supposed benefit, one should further ask, to what extent
have we been globalized and to whose benefit?
What precisely is globalization globalizing?
The core of globalization is to achieve economic hegemony of a few rich states,
the United States of America in particular, as well as the hegemony of western
consumer culture threatening the people’s culture, methods of living and spiritual
values, thereby ensuring the continuous underdevelopment of the Third World
Countries, to use Julian Morris’ word, perpetuating poverty (Toby Miller 2005:91)
High information technology has no doubt made the dissemination of
information easy, globally. The coming and fast advancement of information
super- highways has brought information to the doorsteps of people, and has an
indispensable factor in socio-economic advancement. Typical examples of this
are the computers, Internet and GSM. However, this development is not without
disadvantages, especially to the Third World countries. As positive and laudable
as this impact of information dissemination may be, the
- opening which the information technology has created has an impact on almost all aspects of human life (culture, religion and values are all affected as people all over the world are exposed, more than ever before, to different and alternative views). The fear of cultural imperialism, therefore, underscores a point that globalization could also be seen as a process of harmonization of different cultures and beliefs. Central Bank of Nigeria Review (1998:341).
Or at best, the elimination of weaker cultures by the super- cultures of the west. Thus the central focus of global culture today is the politics of incorporation of
the weak by the strong. This incorporation is total for it affects not only the regional, national and local information network but the different people’s cultures, their ways of life, their taste and sometimes influence even the choice of entertainment (Idegu 2004:20).
Globalization and its fast growth in technology poses a threat also to the indigenous art forms as their mode of presentation seems to be somehow old-fashioned. Some local performances have disappeared and are forgotten. Femi Osofisan (1997:5) observes that with the development of satellites and the internet, the world wide pages CNN comes directly from Atlanta into our bedrooms and parlours, bringing such cargos as the spice girls and the funeral of Princess Diana along with numerous European Sports and comedy channels. Eagerly and enthusiastically, we consume the movies, C.D. ROMS, records produced in Hollywood, etc. Martin and Schumann (1997:74) assert that globalization means little more than the Americanization of the world because of the total dependence on American culture. Mazrui (1980:290) also argues that we have arrived closer to having a world culture of the West than having a world agreement.
This exposure to the American way of life has brought about modernization of tradition causing the fading away of indigenous culture and embracing almost completely western culture. This accounts for the understandable apprehension in traditionally oriented societies where there is some noticeable mounting anxiety about the impact of mass and global
entertainment on the daily life, men – women relationships, sexual immorality and the obligations of parents and children. Old certainties about how human beings should behave have been shattered by new social and sexual mores that the global media has helped and are helping to spread. Families find it difficult to censor what their children and wards see or hear as they remain glued for hours on end to the cable networks on the television (Idegu 2004:21).
It is generally accepted that western nations are dominating the entire media practice today more than hitherto. This has a powerful effect on the culture of the Third World, which is heavily exposed to western values and views that are most often contrary in form and content to indigenous cultures. Western civilization produces the majority of the media (films, news, and comics) because they are far more economically empowered. Therefore the Third World countries are watching media filled with the western way of living, believing and thinking. The Third World countries then start to copy the same thing in their own countries. The effect of this is the destruction of the indigenous cultures of the Third World counties.
The transmission of mass- produced cultural products from the West such as films is now a dominant feature of life in developing countries. It has gone so far in colonizing the minds of Nigerians that today they are losing their identity.
Looking at the behavioural pattern of the youths, the preference attached to western culture is on the increase compared to the relative indifference to indigenous culture. Television and film, because of their visual power and
seductive nature, have played a prominent role in importing western cultures into the Third World countries generally and into Nigeria in particular.
The need to project Nigeria in the entertainment sphere gave rise to an intellectual movement initiated by a handful of writers and private film and performing arts graduates, not only in reaction to and rejection of alien cultural domination but also to reinstate Nigeria’s cultural heritage and re-orientate Nigerians suffering from a colonial mentality. (Adesanya in Haynes 1997:13). The Nigerian home movie industry, as an indigenous art form, is a part of this reformation movement. This industry has come up to challenge, as it were, this western culture masquerading as ‘universal’, by creating and producing films focusing on indigenous themes and issues. The pioneers of the Nigerian Home Movie seek to stop or rather drastically reduce the invasion of foreign cultural products in Nigeria, thereby promoting the Nigerian indigenous culture locally, internationally and globally.
THE NIGERIAN HOME MOVIE: A HISTORICAL OVERVIEW
Humanity, as vibrant as it is, has been sustained, amongst other activities, by the vibrancy of the entertainment industry (Idegu 2004:167). Entertainment has quite a lot of impact on man’s psyche and this has contributed to his longevity due to the regular release of stress. In Nigeria, particularly before the coming of the white man (pre-colonial period), entertainment was part of the people’s folk tradition and culture. This exists in form of festivals, songs, dance,
rituals and story telling. However, our exposure to the western life through colonial administration and post-colonial experience introduced us to foreign media and glamorous forms of entertainment which began to eclipse the truly indigenous forms of entertainment. This statement is buttressed by Ejike Asiegbu (Feb. 14th, 2007) when he asserts that:
At this particular point, most of the television programmes were foreign soaps. We didn’t have our own indigenous entertainment programmes.
Consequently some Nigerians became zealous to create our own form of entertainment. As a result of this zeal, Mirror in the Sun was born, which, according to Amaka Igwe (2007:10), was the first soap opera produced by an independent producer on the Nigerian Television (NTA). This gingered other private individuals to start writing and submitting scripts to the Nigerian Television Authority. Consequently, the NTA came up with Behind the Clouds. People like Zeb Ejiro and Amaka Igwe came up with Ripples and Checkmate respectively. These made huge success and attracted others who came with a lot of ideas but they could not make any headway, as recorded by Amaka Igwe (2007:1) thus:
Because of what Ripples and Checkmate achieved, a lot of young people who desired to do something could not because NTA had a problem. There was reduced sponsorship of play production and a lot of staff were retrenched.
Upon the reduced sponsorship of play productions on television, there was
a massive sack of technicians from the TV stations and from the film units of the
Federal Ministry of Information and from the audio – visual sections of similar
parastatals (Idegu 2004:169). As a result of the economic crunch, the Nigeria
Television Authority started patronizing cheaper but second hand Mexican and
Brazilian soaps, whose themes, storylines and plot structures were often alien to
the Nigerian culture and entertainment values. They were only concerned with
filling the space created by the non – availability of the indigenous soaps they
earlier sponsored. Critical Nigerians watched this trend with concern and
lamented over this development because they felt that the superimposition of
western values and cultures on Nigerians could be detrimental to the moral,
cultural, traditional or even intellectual development and orientation of Nigerians.
This, in turn, could lead to the wiping away of Nigeria’s cultural values.
However, these fears somehow became reduced as the Nigerian home movie
industry, as a cultural practice, has come to present and represent Nigeria in the
Among the critics who were affected by the retrenchment and provoked
by the non-sponsorship of indigenous soaps is Zeb Ejiro, one of the known
television drama producers. Zeb Ejiro (Feb. 14th, 2007), commenting on this,
Though there was problem in NTA and we were out of job, but I see this as a blessing in disguise. I was caged in NTA because they used to censor every drama you present. I didn’t want to be monitored. I didn’t want to hear “this can go, this can not go” I needed to task my creative abilities. Our aim was to change TV programmes because
they were boring at that time. But as we worked, made (our) names, one will want to match success with status for people will want to assess you based on what you have, what you wear and what you drive.
Today, Zeb Ejiro is one of the most prolific home movie producers in Nigeria, both of national and international repute. The response to the influx of foreign forms of entertainment was not only out of love for the promotion of indigenous art forms, but a move to counter poverty as a result of joblessness. This the home movie producers have done by giving employment to many, employment being critical for development. The Nigerian home movies industry emerged when it was needed. It came as a rescue to the Nigerian society, though this, as it is, may not be its utmost task. The pioneers then may not have envisaged that their effort would grow as fast as it has done today. Alozie Uzoukwu (Feb. 14th 2007) opines:
There was a vacuum that was created by the non-existence of local expression and which void the Nigerian home movies has filled, looking at its antecedents. There was no medium that could draw the story home as much as home movie achieved from inception.
A study of the coming of the Nigeria home video industry and its productions can in no small way make one to understand the sum total of being a Nigerian, the people and their cultures. Raymond Williams (1961:61), expressing his opinion of such a study, asserts
- if the art is a part of the society, there is no solid whole outside it. The art is there as an activity, with the production, the trading, the politics, the raising of families. To study the
relationship adequately, we must study them actively, seeing all particular and contemporary forms of human energy, if we take any one of these activities, we can see how many of the others are reflected in it, in various ways. Thus art, while clearly related to the other activities, can be seen as expressing certain elements which could only have been expressed in it.
The Nigerian home movie industry can therefore be seen as representing
the emergent cultural aesthetics that play vital cultural roles as producers
express themselves, and their cultures by mapping out their own space of
articulation based strictly on their emergent aesthetic principle of causing into
being an alternative mechanism of entertainment. For this reason Wole
Ogundele, in Jonathan Haynes (1997:50), states
- the ubiquitous presence of the video play in Nigeria, plus its popularity point to its importance for the production, dissemination and consumption of one specific form of culture.
The Nigerian home movie practice, as an emergent culture, derives its materials from the historic cultural formations and yet is also dependent on the apparatus of the dominant culture to disseminate its message. As old as most stories are, this new entertainment outfit uses equipment and high information technology made available by the dominant group to pass across its stories to its audience. (Idegu 2004: 172). The representation of the folk culture which comprises the past and the present in movies has resulted in their total acceptance as evident in the consumption and pathways of these movies, Zeb Ejiro (Feb. 14th 2007) asserts:
Before Nigerian home movies, we watched foreign movies in our homes and during the vacuum created by the non – existence of an indigenous entertainment, the foreign movies took over the market. 90% of what Nigerians were watching was foreign movies. But when Nigerian home movie came, we (the practitioners) fought the battle, the reverse was the case. Now 90% of what Nigerians watch are Nigerian home movies, only 10% of foreign movies.
However, the Nigerian home movies have also in form and content at
several points tilted towards the reproduction of some foreign cultural values as
opposed to the set out goals, which, as earlier stated, are the creation and
provision of a local expression of the Nigerian society. This clearly can be seen as
the effect of the hegemonic nature of the dominant culture (western culture).
This dominance is no more a forced one but one by consent. The Nigerian
movies practitioners have in their productions of arts yielded to the subtle
manipulation of hegemony.
This influence is traceable to the influx of western films that propagate
western cultures and the exposure of the makers of these emergent home
movies to foreign media productions before the emergence of this indigenous art
form. These foreign cultures have so overtly taken over the whole industry that
their effects are adversely felt by every member of the society. Consequently,
there is an outcry to curb these adverse effects. In this regard, the Nigerian
movie producers are expected not only to be producers of entertainment but
good ambassadors of Nigerian culture, which is the bedrock of development.
Aside from petroleum, Nollywood is the second
highest foreign exchange earner for this country. In addition, Nollywood has created a lot of employment for a lot of unemployed youths of this country.
Before the inception of the Nigerian home movie, at a point, celluloid films dominated the movie market. Ekwuazi (1997:6) records that
From 1962 to 1990, over one hundred films were produced in Nigeria. The 80s was a period of high productivity, and over 40 features were made in this period alone.
Celluloid film is expensive and capital intensive. Because of the cost of production, film makers started finding it difficult producing celluloid films in the early 90s and this led to the decline in the production of feature films. In the face of the high cost of production and lack of assistance from the government, the film makers found it difficult to source and get funds for production. Oluranti Babatunde (1997:9) summarizes the situation, thus:
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