African Women, Nigerian film industry, Nigerian movies
When the Nigerian film industry, famously referred to as Nollywood burst into the world of film-making in the early 1990s, Africans and indeed the entire black world applauded and cheered at an industry that was not only homegrown but also one that was ready to finally show the world that Africa had finally found its place into that bastion of white Western civilization the movie and television screen (Onuzulike 1). It was also seen as an opportunity to tell the African story to fellow Africans and the rest of the world and challenges the stereotypes that had for long been entrenched in the Hollywood-authored movie scripts. Here, at last was a chance to show the side of Africa, Africans and the black race in a way that the predominantly white Hollywood had never done and which the other major movie industry Bollywood, based in India had completely ignored.
Nigerian movies are popular not just in Nigeria but also in other African countries where the viewers identify with the culture and are at home with the social and religious environments in which most Nollywood video films are immersed. The Nollywood movies are so popular that, commenting on their popularity, a BBC staffer noted that Nollywood films are full of dramatic and simple storylines where a distraught woman yells Ah, you want to kill me now, Oo!, yanking her hair, complete with contorted facial expressions and then dares the man: No, not me, not today, no! and her body, shuddering, she transforms into a vicious vengeful mongrel with loud, blood curdling growls.
[...] Unfortunately, this medium has only been used to further institutionalize and very strongly engender negative and stereotypical representation of the woman, and more specifically, the African woman (Onuzulike 20). As a result, the African films fail to depict women in their true light in contemporary African society. Instead women are shown as distraught creatures that rely on superstition, charms and their wiles to get power and prestige. This is often also wrapped in criminal acts, prostitution and other rogue-like behavior (Dabale 2). [...]
[...] This is somewhat similar to what happened to black women who had to endure slavery (Francois 8). There is no portrayal of a powerful, articulate, educated black woman comfortable in her own skin in many of the mainstream films that continue to be made today be they in Hollywood, Bollywood or Nollywood. In many western movies, blacks are often cast in parts where they are the junior staff, with preset prejudices on their abilities; their intelligence, their sexuality and where they are shown as helpless victims and shown in a bad light even and almost always end up playing unimportant or only supporting parts (Dabale 2). [...]
[...] In Omata Women, four Nigerian women try everything from fraud to murder to black magic in a bid to gain wealth and power. For a while, they appear successful but eventually, in true exaggerated Nollywood style, they each eventually destroy themselves, their family, their beauty and even their lives as it all implodes in their faces. In More than a Woman, a beautiful rogue, Trechia, passes herself off as a man and steals from the most well guarded stores in town. [...]
[...] White Controlled Media Portrays Black/ African Women in a Negative Light in Order to Uplift White Women: White Women's Heaven is Black Women's Hell . N.P Sept Web Apr Francois, Tiffany S. "How the Portrayal of Black Women has shifted from Slavery times to Blaxploitation films in American Society." High Point University Sept. Web Apr Onuzulike, Uchenna. "Nollywood: The Influence of the Nigerian Movie Industry on African Culture." The Journal of Human Communication: A Journal of the Pacific and Asian Communication Association : 231-42. [...]
[...] It is particularly telling that even female Nollywood producers have also adopted this attitude in the movies that they produce (Prinsloo 9). In conclusion therefore, despite this bleak picture, Nollywood still has the ability to challenge and change these stereotypes. And it is able to do it as part of African communities inviting and initiating change on their own and not imposing some kind of foreign ideology or practice on the continent (Prinsloo 10). This would be the right way for African society to fight for change from within and also provide an appropriate vehicle for this message to be carried not just throughout Nigeria, Africa and the entire black community but also to the rest of the world. [...]
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