By Chinedu Anarado
‘Trust that if the campaign to end Boko Haram Bombings came with a price tag, our dear Nigerian artistes will sing! #WelcometoNigeria’ Mr Nomoreloss. This quote trended for a while on Twitter yesterday and I am taking this discourse away from music into the movie industry.
Let’s use this opportunity to think through Nollywood as an industry and how it has helped to tell the story of Nigeria and our lives as a nation and as individuals. How well have we demonstrated our plight as a nation through our feature films? Beyond the concept of movies as a means to provide entertainment and income, have we highlighted the aspects of our lives that need to be promoted and demoted the sort needing strong reprimand?
Credit to individual brilliance, Nollywood has grown out of oblivion into a budding industry, with movies being churned out in their hundreds every week. We all know it is rated the 3rd largest movie industry in the world. While you might question the indices used to arrive at this rating, the fact that we have global attention is incontestable. But just like journalism, literature, poetry, social media etc, we need to commit more efforts to using Nollywood as a platform to challenge and repudiate the negative narrative about Nigeria and aspects of our circumstance that are sorry.
From corruption to insurgency, citizen indiscipline, poor governance structures and the irresponsibility of government institutions most facets of our society lie in ruins. Social services are decrepit and we cannot trust government to rise up to stand for its citizens. What this has led to is growing distrust in government. Citizens now fend for themselves turning our society into a battleground for the fittest.
But I hope to start seeing more movie scripts and story lines challenging these issues and creating characters that rebuke those responsible for issues we face today. Kudos to the likes of Stephanie Linus who are using the screens and feature movies to highlight the challenges of womanhood in Nigeria. DRY as a movie highlighted the dangers of female genital mutilation and how it is now another case of violence against women and girls. We need to see more efforts in this direction. Where socio-cultural behaviors that are harmful to the human person are discredited and discontinued.
We need to create feature movies and use entertainment to challenge corruption, challenge bad governance and put politicians and leaders on the spot. Let’s use the fame of Nollywood Stars to demand accountability. This is a tool Nigerians created. Can’t we just think of extending its relevance beyond career, to a tool for social rejuvenation and eliciting good governance?
The characters behind the screens are reaping the benefits of their popularity; endorsement deals and what have you. But why are they also guilty of some of the issues we complain of? Can we hold to account? Do they realise their lives influence those of others? Or that they are role models children and even adults look up to?
We need to take Nigerians to task. Our country is not in the best of situations. Every tool we can muster, we need to deploy, to improve our circumstance and have a better society. India is using it to drive the campaign and advocacy against rape. I am happy that comedies like, ‘The Meeting’ spoke to issues of bribery and poor workplace attitude.
There also has to be some cooperation between movie makers and key development partners, non-governmental organizations, and international development partners. If we cannot do motion picture, documentaries will tell stories better and paint clearer images of our circumstances. Issues to advocate against abound; poverty, water, health, sanitation, insurgency, peace building, discrimination, ethnicity, good governance etc.
Let the words of Nomoreloss ring in our ears and jerk us into action.
About the Author
Chinedu Anarado is an integrated communications practitioner with seven years experience spanning journalism, development communication and advocacy, corporate communication, public relations, digital communication/web content management. You can send him a mail firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @ChineduAnarado