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How Nollywood Redefined Conversations on African Cinema and Culture

How Nollywood Redefined Conversations on African Cinema and Culture

The Nigerian film industry is currently the biggest and largest film industry in Africa, because of the development of Nollywood in over two decades. Nollywood has become an African magic story with the popularity of home video movies produced in Nigeria and widely distributed locally and internationally by both the legitimate marketers and movie pirates who sold Nollywood home videos from shops to the streets of major cities in Nigeria; Lagos, Ibadan, Abeokuta, Onitsha, Asaba, Enugu, Owerri, Aba, Port Harcourt, Benin, Warri, Uyo, Calabar, Kano, Kaduna, Jos, and then exported to the towns and cities in other countries in Africa. 

– Mnet’s Africa Magic channel took Nollywood movies to African homes through millions of subscribers of cable TV network in Africa and increased the popularity of Nollywood movies and the major actors and actresses became famous household names in the continent.

– The phenomenon of Nollywood attracted the western media with countless reports on the African magic of Nollywood that “churns out about 50 full-length features every week, making it the world’s second most prolific film industry after India’s Bollywood, reported The Economist. The New York Times, BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, ABC, Fox and many others have done their own major stories on Nollywood.

– “Nollywood: Lights, camera, Africa” by The Economist of Dec 16th 2010 is the best report so far and a must read for Nollywood fans, movie buffs, students, scholars and others. 

– There are currently over 50 books on Nollywood, including, “Nollywood: The Video Phenomenon in Nigeria” by Pierre Barrot (2010), “Viewing African Cinema in the Twenty-First Century: Art Films and the Nollywood Video Revolution” by Mahir Saul and Ralph A. Austen (2010), “Moviedomthe Nollywood Narratives: Clips on the Pioneers” by Shaibu Husseini (2010), “Nollywood Video Film: Nigerian Movies as Indigenous Voice” by Uchenna Onuzulike (2010), “Representations of Nigerian Women in Nollywood Films” by Naomi Brock (2012), “Global Nollywood: The Transnational Dimensions of an African Video” by Matthias Krings (2013), “African Movie Time: Watching Nollywood, Ghallywood and Beyond” by Lipamboli Molongi (2014), “NOLLYWOOD MIRROR® series ” by Michael Chima Ekenyerengozi (2013 and 2014).

– The most expensive book on Nollywood is “Nollywood” by Pieter Hugo, (2009).

– Nollywood has become an influential cultural and political medium in Africa as it was reported that Ivorian rebels in the bush stopped fighting when a shipment of Nollywood DVDs arrived from Lagos during the First Ivorian Civil War.

– Kenyan and Zambian mothers said that their children now talk with accents copied from Nollywood movies.

– When the President of Sierra Leone lured famous Nollywood diva Genevieve Nnaji to join him on the campaign trail, he attracted record crowds at his political rallies.

– Nollywood spurred Ghanaian filmmakers to develop their own Ghollywood and Riverwood in Kenya, Ugawood in Uganda and Bongowood in Tanzania.

– The Gambian government has engaged Nollywood filmmakers to produce movies in the Gambia and help to develop the Gambian film industry since 2007. President Dr. Yahya AJJ Jammeh of Gambia said: “Nollywood and Ghollywood have been able to capture and tell our stories better than any outsider can do. Africans relate to your stories and same with those in the diaspora and the Caribbean and around the world. You are great African ambassadors and you must continue to achieve and surpass what you have today as you have made us proud.”

– Obi Emelonye’s 2011 award winning fantasy film “The Mirror Boy” was shot in the Gambia and UK and co-sponsored by the Gambian government. Another Nollywood Gambian movie is “My Gambian Holiday” directed by Kensteve Anuka and produced by Tom Oviawe and starring top Nollywood star Desmond Elliot with Gambian stars Gaviva Tamakloe, Awa Gassama, Modou Musa Ceesay, Oley Saidy Khan. 

– The popularity of Nollywood in Kenya is legendary with Nollywood diva Rita Dominic as the most celebrated Nigerian movie star in Kenya and played the leading role in Kenya’s award winning movie “Shattered” for which she won the Best Actress award at the Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) in 2012 and at the 2012 Kalasha Film and Television Awards in Kenya.

– “The popularity of Nigerian films in Kenya is massive especially among the ladies. They have grown in this country to a level where some local TV stations have even dedicated the majority of airtime to them. As if that is not enough, Kenyans are even picking up the Nigerian accent and it has now become a commonality to find people in the streets or around you speaking like Nigerians as if they were born in the most popular country in Africa. Words like “oga” and “chineke” have become standard words in the streets. You also won’t be surprised to find that Kenyans know almost all Nigerian actors and their full biographies and yet they hardly know our own actors.” – THE KENYA FILM INDUSTRY: WHY NOLLYWOOD HAS THE EDGE

– Nollywood movies on Kenyan television: an exploratory study of Kenya Nigerian Movie audiences and their motivations.” – Mwanthi, Shadrach M:

– In Ethiopia, Nollywood movies have taken over Bollywood movies in popularity and have been dubbed into amharric, the official language of Ethiopia, which is the second-most spoken Semitic language in the world, after Arabic. Nollywood home videos are openly pirated in the towns and cities with bootleg copies sold in shops on the streets.

– The stories of the phenomenon of Nollywood across cultures in Africa will never end and thanks to the Africa Magic Channel of DStv, MultiChoice’s digital satellite TV service in Africa, the notorious pirates on almost every street in Africa and on the internet and Iroko TV for making Nollywood, Nigeria’s number one global brand of mass culture.

– “Nollywood video productions are not just providing entertainment to residents of mega urban slums such as Makoko in Lagos or Kibera in Nairobi, but have penetrated gated communities of highly educated people in Sub-Saharan Africa and the African diaspora,” said Dr. Oluyemi Oyenike Fayomi, a senior lecturer at Covenant University in Nigeria at the 14th General Assembly of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) held in Dakar from June 8-12, 2015.

– “Ideally, the rising popularity of Nollywood productions could be attributed to the level of scholarship of film-makers who are constantly investigating opportunities, genres, production and distribution of those films in Nigeria, the rest of Africa and the diaspora,” said Elizabeth Giwa, a researcher on the rise of the Nigerian film industry.

– See “Nollywood’s runaway success has inspired a New Nollywood in Nigeria and beyond” by Lizelle Bisschoff, University of Glasgow on

– Cultural critics complain about “macabre scenes full of sorcery” in the films. The more alarmist describe Nigerian directors and producers as voodoo priests casting malign spells over audiences in other countries. They talk of the “Nigerianisation” of Africa, worrying that the whole continent has come to “snap its fingers the Nigerian way” –

– Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO said on Nollywood in 2009: “Film and video production are shining examples of how cultural industries, as vehicles of identity, values and meanings, can open the door to dialogue and understanding between peoples, but also to economic growth and development. This new data on film and video production provides yet more proof of the need to rethink the place of culture on the international political agenda” 

– Zhejiang Normal University (ZNU) in Jinhua, Zhejiang Province opened a center for research in African Film and TV on December 11, 2015, so that Chinese people will learn more about Nollywood and African cinema.

– Nollywood has boosted the economy of Nigeria with hundreds of thousands of jobs created on numerous sets at various locations of film productions all over the country and the Nigerian film industry is now estimated to be worth more than N859.9 billion ($4.3 billion).

– Nigerian box office revenues, which have nearly doubled since 2009, are projected to grow an additional 70 percent by 2018, to $171 million a year, according to a report by the consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.


Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima, Publisher/Editor  of NOLLYWOOD MIRROR

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Emma Ayalogu

ONTOLOGICAL SOLIDARITY, as it was called by Victor Okhai, that was how it all started when it was applied during the shoot of LIVING IN BONDAGE and afterwards; it has always been based on ONTOLOGICAL SOLIDARITY: The concept of being your brother’s keeper. This is Nollywood’s contribution to world cinematography and story telling.

Gloria Ernest-Samuel

I am worried that an article on Nollywood could miss out particularly Jonathan Haynes "Nigerian Video Films" in the list of books on Nollywood. It remains the first book on Nollywood and shares discourses the some of the pioneer productions of Nollywood for instance, Living in Bondage written by Ekwuazi, Onome : Gender and Class issues written by Okome among many others. I hope it is just an oversight, and not a mischievous attempt at re-writing facts on Nollywood.

Yeah! Good one

Yeah! A good one. So long as it positive.


Informative article. What’s important is that Nollywood does actually hone itself as a monolithic industry and one that ring fences its who makes film on the continent. It’s also important that the type of propaganda that it puts out is positive to Africans both on the continent and in the wider diaspora.

If it is indeed to build and maintain a sustained legacy to even compare with Hollywoods 110 + year history it must to hone itself to realise the greatness that it can be without selling out to Westerners.

D O P kingsley chuks

I thank God for the level we have arrived in our movie productions here in Nigeria, am a Nollywood Director of photograph (D O P), a script writer and aslo a production. Kingsley chukwudi Onwughai(csn) in my name. We are trying our best here in Nollywood, we still have so many challenges. Like lack of government investment in nollywood, piracy, low standard films and so many more. I wish we go higher than were we are now and produce better films with great qualities and world class, over the years I have worked with some directors like Ugezu J Ugezu, Chidi Chikere, austin (soundmind) Nonso Ekene Okonkwor, Amani j Amani, Kalu Anya e.t.c actors, Ken Erics, Gentel Jack, Chioma Chukwuka Akpo. Pete Edochia, Nkem Owoh, Eni Edo just to mention a few. Cinematographers like David Odumuyiwa(fish pole), Gentle touch, Chuks Nwali, J P, Kester, e.t.c. Costumer like Uche nancy, Ogo, Amara, e.t.c. Props and set like sean Israel, oku, so many that I can’t mention all, very good make up artist like akeem, mama africa, and many others. We have good editors and effect masters like kalushia, steve, ikechukwu and more more, we are so ready to take nollywood to the zenith if only Government and other corporate bodies can come in and invest into nollywood movies productions, together we can make things much better in Nollywood. Thanks…………long live Nollywood…………long live Asaba Nollywood…………….long live Nigeria ( kingsley chukwudi Onwughai ‘csn’ 08038154969)

Mojisola Sonoiki

Not only has Nollywood redefined conversations on African Cinema & Culture, it has also shaped peoples perception of who we are as Nigerians especially the Women.
On a trip I took to Nairobi a few years ago, I visited the National Museum with a Kenyan friend of mine. He advised me not to speak at the ticket checkout so that the cashier wouldn’t know I wasn’t Kenyan and I could pay the Kenyan rate to enter the museum as opposeed to the exorbitant tourist rates
Little did I know that Ms ticket chasier had been watchijng Nollywood movies. She asked my friend in Swahili if I was Kenyan and my friend said yes. She looked at me and said in English "no she’s not, she is NIgerian".
Mind you I hadnt said a word!. At this point I burst out laughing and then asked her how she knew I was Nigerian. She said "I watch Nollywood" films. Then she proceeded to tell me how troublesome, aggressive and wicked Nigerian women are..based on the films she has seen….ahhhhh I said…. but I couldn’t blame her. I went back to my hotel room and sat down for a while and thought about what this woman said. I flickef through the African Magic Channel and watched a few flicks…and she wasn’t wrong
Nollywood Filmmakers, please be aware of the power you have when creating content.

Hannah Saunders

I saw a Nollywood film and I personaly thought it was quite shocking, the film said it was meant to be a comedy however it was in no way funny- the protrayal of women was unacceptable.

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