Nigerian (Igbo) & intercultural research

Ugochukwu Francoise

Nollywood on your doorstep

 

Connaissez-vous la production cinématographique nigériane? Voici quelques sites Internet à visiter:

http://www.zackorji.net/2005/01/place_holder.html

http://www.nigeriansinamerica.com/articles/2688/1/Emerging-Talents-Nollywood-and-the-future-of-African-Cinema/Page1.html

 

I developed a keen interest in Nigerian video films over the years and started research in this field in 2006. See the Ferguson Centre, OU webpage.

I have also been an external examiner (PhD) on several occasions:

PhD on Nollywood, University of Roehampton, UK (2015)

PhD on Nollywood, University of Westminster, UK (2015)

PhD on Nigerian Literature (Bandele), Cergy-Pontoise University, France (2011)

PhD on Nigerian cinema, City University, Dublin, Ireland (2009)

An International Assessor, PhD in Comparative African literature (Nigeria & Ghana), Department of English and German Studies at the University of La Laguna, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain (2015).

External Assessor, probation Viva, MPhil to PhD on Nollywood, Open University, UK (2015)

External supervisor, PhD, co-supervised with Staffordshire University, Fac. of Computing, Engineering & Technology, on Non-Traditional Film Distribution Reinterpreted for a Digital Future (Nollywood) (2012-13)

 and an informal adviser to more than 20  postgraduate students on Nigerian films.

 

 

Conference abstracts:

 

Le Vidéo film igbo et ses particularités (Paris, December 2013)

 

Les films nigérians, plus connus sous le nom générique de ‘Nollywood’ et dont la production fête cette année 2013 ses vingt et un ans, se nourrissent dans le terreau des trois grands groupes linguistiques de la fédération: igbo, hausa et yoruba, mais témoignent de la fusion progressive des identités linguistiques, ethniques et régionales dans un moule ‘nigérian’, différenciant cependant entre nord et sud. Il est extrêmement rare en effet que ces films, les films igbo en particulier, soient le produit d’un seul groupe: même si leurs producteurs et réalisateurs sont igbo, on trouve dans la distribution des  acteurs igbo, yoruba et autres.

Nous porterons ici notre attention sur les films du sud du pays, pour noter leurs caractéristiques principales. Si beaucoup de choses ont changé en vingt-et-un ans dans la technique des films comme dans leur contenu et leur façon d’aborder les sujets traités, ces films, décrits comme ‘edutainment’ – éducation + divertissement [éducation + entertainment] -  restent avant tout porteurs d’un message, adressé, non pas seulement à l’individu mais au groupe : avatars des veillées de contes et des festivals traditionnels, ils sont destinés à être visionnés en groupe – en famille à la maison, ou dans des lieux publics tels que cafés ou salles - et à générer une discussion au sein de l’audience.

Le message des films fait d’eux les héritiers de la riche tradition orale du pays, évoquant le passé récent ou plus ancien, dénonçant les maux de leur société et guidant la réflexion du public. Les deux films considérés dans le cadre de ce séminaire, œuvre de réalisateurs igbo et tous deux sur le thème du viol, serviront d’illustration à notre propos. 

 

 

Nollywood and the Nigerian policy on same-sex relationships (London, November 2013)

 

While most of early Nigerian films seemed to prefer focusing on culture, history and family matters, from 1999 onwards, some film-makers, encouraged by the advent of democracy after years of military rule, gradually broadened their scope to approach a number of other issues still widely perceived as current societal problems. This led to the production of new films regarded as ‘beyond taboo’, offering an opportunity to re-consider controversial subjects like Islam-Christianity encounters, ethnic politics and sexual practices in the light of current national events affecting their audiences. This paper will consider the gradual introduction of homosexuality/lesbianism in Nigerian films and highlight their links to the subjects of nudity and pornography. It will examine the cinematic treatment of these societal issues and assess its impact by sampling viewers’ opinion on that, as reflected in forum conversations online. It will finally trace possible links between the growing numbers of these films, the federal government’s stand on the issue and expressed public opinion from both within and outside the country.

 

Nollywood and deceptive Eldorados (Lisbon, June 2013) 

 

Nigerian films set partly or fully overseas, in Europe and America, illustrate the widespread belief that those countries are better placed to ensure the happiness and prosperity of Nigerians who can make it there. Until recently, the places chosen for this have been Britain and the USA but the global recession has opened new avenues for Nigerians desperate to escape their countries in search of an elusive Eldorado, and Nigeria has been on the news for drug pushing. Since Bernard Ogedemgbe, Lawal Ojuolape and Bartholomew Owo’s public execution for drug trafficking at Bar Beach, Lagos. Since then, many more Nigerians have been willingly used as 'mules' to carry drugs (mainly cocaine) out of Nigeria, hoping to get out of poverty – a situation which attracted Nollywood’s attention. This paper considers Black Nights in South America (2007) and its sequel Brazilian Deals (2010), both located in Brazil, which seek to warn, a little late, those still toying with the idea of attaining wealth the wrong way. The paper analyses the mechanisms used to convince viewers of the quality of life overseas, while highlighting the bitter lessons taught through the difficulties experienced by Nigerian travellers in the films.

 

Language & identity: the impact of Nigerian video-films on diasporic communities (London, June 2011)

Today, while 54% of Nigerian migrants live in the United States, a significant 10% are found in the United Kingdom, and the Nigerian Diaspora in Britain is probably the largest in Europe. Research carried out between January and March this year shows that meeting others either face-to-face or online through social networks, helps Nigerians keep in touch; this occupies 72.7% of the 2011 respondents for a significant portion of their free time. Part of this recreational time is equally spent together with other Nigerians or Africans viewing video films in Nigerian languages, massively preferred to foreign films. 87.2% of respondents clearly perceive language as part of their cultural heritage and identity, a legacy to be cherished and protected especially in diasporic situations, a vital tool to communicate with older relatives in Nigeria and keep in touch with one’s roots; this marked interest for language also reveals the premium placed on communication among long-term migrants. Those films might be accused of keeping Nigerians abroad in limbo, resisting acculturation and rooted in a ‘neither here nor there’ space, yet they have empowered them to reclaim their culture and history and present it to others. This paper, based on two sets of questionnaires and interviews dated 2009 and 2011, seeks to evaluate the impact of Nigerian video-films among diasporic communities in the UK and reasons behind the success of these films among resettled Nigerians, focusing on Igbo and Yoruba speakers. It investigates the potential importance of language in viewers’ motivations and practices, the role played by the cultural message of the language in identity-reinforcement within the Nigerian community, and the impact of these video-films on the revival of language and cultural practices among diasporic communities.

Nollywood in Diaspora: a cultural tool (Lagos, March 2011)

This paper, focusing on Europe and based on two sets of questionnaire and interviews dated 2009 and 2011, confirms the growing importance of the Nigerian Diaspora in those countries and the strategic position of the UK in the current building of a European network, as evidenced by the creation of ‘Nigerians in Diaspora Europe’ (NIDOE) and other groups. It examines the individual and communal consumption of Nigerian video films by diasporic communities, considers its social, linguistic and economic impact among both first generation migrants and British youth of Nigerian descent, and reasons behind the success of Nollywood among resettled Nigerians. It highlights the premium given to the cultural aspect of these films by viewers, and its link to individual and collective memory and moral values, while showing a gradual shift in interest from the older generation to that of British-born youth. Given viewers’ insistence on the educational value of these films, considered by the majority as a fair reflection of the current Nigerian scene, the paper posits that producers should pay more attention to the content of their films and to their possible impact on other diaspora-linked factors such as the attitude of Nigerians towards their home country and its wellbeing.

 The reception and impact of Nollywood in France - a survey (Mainz, May 2009)

The growing critical literature on Nollywood has been tracking the Nigerian production as it penetrates other African countries, advertising Nigerian cultures, challenging viewers’ expectations and inspiring local productions. Yet the study of the reception and impact of those films in Europe has just begun. This research, based on questionnaires and interviews, seeks to address the gaps in the present knowledge and evaluation of Nollywood in France and across the language divide, in response to Barrot’s challenge (2008: xii) to explore Nigerian home videos as “a phenomenon which remains largely unrecognised, particularly outside of Africa.” It considers the reception of Nollywood films by French nationals, focusing on the Paris region, and compares it with that of other Africans and Europeans, to explore the reasons attracting viewers to Nollywood and the impact of Nigerian video-films on language learning and cultural practices.  

Nigerian video-films on History: Love in Vendetta and the 1987 Kano riots (Ife, January 2009)

This paper considers a Nigerian video-film from 1996, Love in vendetta, featuring Zack Orji and inspired by the 1987 Kano riots, one of the many incidences of violent outbreaks which opposed Christians to Muslims in the 1980s and resulted in thousands of deaths, injuries and arrests. This Nigerian adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet presents two lovers: an Igbo man and a Hausa girl, who plan their marriage in the midst of strong family opposition on both sides. They eventually discover that their parents’ attitude is the result of deep scars left by the 1987 Kano riots and bloodshed. Love eventually prevails, sending a message of hope to the whole country and heralding a time when ethnical and religious differences would be part of the Federation’s rich cultural heritage.
 
 Meeting with the ghosts – Nigerian videos and their ancestral ties (Preston, September 2008)

Since Haynes’s publication of Nigerian Video Films in 1997, the young Nigerian video production has seen a multiplication defying both statistics and established conventions. Offering a mix of urban scenes and village encounters, appealing to both youths and families, reaching out to local audiences in several Nigerian languages including Pidgin and Engligbo, these films have now spilled out of Nigeria to reach the rest of Africa and beyond. This production now attracts a growing number of scholarly papers, with most of the publications emanating from Nigeria and the US and focusing on linguistic features, the treatment of politics, violence and religion in the films, their presentation of women and urban centres or their reception outside the country. While most of those films, produced in Lagos, are set in large towns, usually Lagos, the ancestral village is nearly always the scene of at least one family encounter. Surprisingly, the place of the characters’ ancestral home in this production is yet to be fully investigated. This paper will consider 25 video films – The Battle of Muzanga (1996), Echidime (1996), Evil Men (1998), Okosisi (1999), Earthquake (1999), Izaga (1999), Calabash (2000), Evil Forest (2000), Seeds of Bondage (2001), The Village Hunter (2001), Evil Seed (2001), Conspiracy (n.d), Allegation (2002), In the Beginning (2002), Pound of Flesh (2002), Peacemakers (2003), All My life (2004), Good News (2005), Moonlight (2005), Silence of the Gods (2006), Snake Girl (2006), My Mother’s Decision (2006), Divine Twins (2007), End of Pride (2007), Essence of Life (2007) - to evaluate the importance of the village in the scenarios, its cultural, traditional and religious input and the role it has so far been assigned by film directors.

 Nollywood from obscurity to the limelight: a bibliographical survey (London, August 2007)

 This paper surveys the growing body of scholarly research in English and in French on Nigerian video-films published within the past fifteen years, in order to highlight its focal points. Edited books and articles give a voice to researchers and film practitioners from Nigeria while providing a meeting point between the vibrant Nigerian research culture and its European and American counterparts. They offer a kaleidoscopic view of the field, reveal a keen interest in historical reconstruction and display an effort to build critical tools adapted to the evaluation of this new audiovisual product. A number of publications present a comparative analysis of the francophone celluloid film industry and the Anglophone video-films and weigh their respective local and global impact. Languages are brought to the fore in that venture as communication tools and cultural banners, and studies on that subject reveal the huge potential of language both to divide and to unite. Masters and PhDs defended within the last ten years testify to the gradual warming up of the academic sector to this new element of popular culture, with Nigerian and African-American postgraduate studies at the forefront of this new push. The growing and now visible presence of the Nigerian film industry in film festivals is the occasion for the public to discover a different medium, while more and more African countries adopt the video-film.


[1] The new preface to the English translation of Barrot’s book (2008: xii) still insisted on the need to explore Nollywood as “a phenomenon which remains largely unrecognised, particularly outside of Africa.”

 

Publications on Nollywood:

 2013     Nollywood on the Move, Nigeria on Display, Trier, Wissenschaftlicher Verlag, 260p. ISBN 978-3-86821-498-7 (A study on Nollywood as reflecting on Nigeria’s challenges and a showcasing the country)

2013  Nollywood across languages – issues in dubbing and subtitling (7996 words), Journal of Intercultural Communication (Sweden) 33, forthcoming

2013  Le vidéo-film nigérian dans le prolongement de l’histoire orale, in Clément Dili Palaï & Alain Pangop (eds) Littérature orale africaine : décryptage, reconstruction et canonisation, Paris, L'Harmattan pp.329-344

2013 Nigerian video-films on History: Love in Vendetta and the 1987 Kano riots (4775 words), in Foluke Ogunleye (ed), African Film: Looking Back and Looking Forward, Ife, Nigeria, forthcoming 

2012  Nollywood on the road - Nigeria on display, in Sunday Enessi Ododo (ed.) Fireworks for a Lighting Aesthetician: Essays and Tributes in Honour of Duro Oni @ 60, Lagos, Centre for Black and African Arts & Civilisation (CBAAC) ch.38 pp.465-475

2011   Nollywood, Nigerians’ umbilical cord, African Renaissance (UK) 8(2) pp.59-75

2010   Une enfance en danger. La leçon des vidéo-films nigérians, in Jean Ouedraogo (ed), Figuration et mémoire dans les cinémas africains, Paris, L’Harmattan pp.151-161, ISBN 978-2-296-10353-5

2008   L’Université et les films vidéos nigérians – regard sur quinze ans de recherches, Ethiopiques (Senegal) 80 pp.149-172

Related Conference & Workshop papers

 9-10 November, 2013: Nollywood and the Nigerian policy on same-sex relationships, African Film & Politics Conference, University of Westminster, London

27-29 June 2013 : Nollywood and deceptive Eldorados, 5th European Conference on African Studies on African Dynamics in a multipolar World, AEGIS, Lisbon (Portugal)

01 June 2013: Nollywood in France, a scholar's viewpoint, Nollywood Festival, Paris

 

9 -10 June, 2011:  Language & identity: the impact of Nigerian video-films on diasporic communities in    London, BAAL-IC-SIG on Language, Identity, and Intercultural Communication, A joint Conference of the British Association for Applied Linguistics Intercultural  Communication Special Interest Group and The Annual Bloomsbury Round Table, Birkbeck College, University of London

23-25 March, 2011:  Culture and identity: readings of Nigerian video-films in Diasporic Communities, Reading & Producing Nollywood, an International Symposium, Lagos (Nigeria)

13-16 May 2009:  The reception and impact of Nollywood in France – a preliminary survey (A data-based study on the reception of Nigerian video-films in France, focusing on its linguistic and cultural impact) - Nollywood and Beyond. Transnational Dimensions of an African Video Industry, University of Mainz (Germany)

26-30 January 2009:  Nigerian video-films on History: Love in Vendetta (1996) and the 1987 Kano riots (An analysis of the treatment of historical events in Nigerian video-films, with Love in Vendetta (1996) as a case study) - African Film: ‘Looking Back and Looking Forward', 2nd Ife (Nigeria) Film Festival, – paper presented in absentia 

11-13 September 2008:  Meeting with the ghosts – Nigerian videos and their ancestral ties, The Presence of the Past.  Africa in the 21stCentury', ASAUK Conference, University of Central Lancashire,   Preston (UK)

09 August 2007:  Nollywood from obscurity to the limelight: a bibliographical survey, Nollywood Open University Conference, London

Book Reviews

2012  NAUDILLON Francoise & OUEDRAOGO Jean (eds) Images et mirages des migrations d’après les  littératures et les cinémas d’Afrique francophone, Montréal, Mémoire d’encrier Éditions 2011, 216p. ISBN 978-2-923713-40-3, Journal des Africanistes (FR) 81(2) forthcoming

2011      OGUNLEYE F. (ed) Africa through the Eye of the Video Camera, Manzini, Academic Publisher 2008, 283p. ISBN 0-7978-0025-5; ONUZULIKE U. Nollywood Video Film – Nigerian Movies as Indigenmous Voice, Saarbrűken, VDM Verlag 2010, 126p. ISBN 978-3-639-13564-0; SAUL M. & AUSTEN R. (eds) Viewing African Cinema in the Twenty-First Century – Art Films and the Nollywood Video Revolution, Athens, Ohio University Press 2010, 248p.ISBN 978-0-8214-1931-1, Journal des Africanistes (FR), triple book review, forthcoming

2009     BARROT P. (ed), Nollywood. The Video Phenomenon in Nigeria, Oxford, James Currey 2008, 147p. ISBN 978-1-84701-504-4 (UK), trad. Lynn Taylor, Africa (UK) 79(4) pp. 629-630 

2007     BARROT P. (Ed), Nollywood – Le phénomène vidéo au Nigeria, Paris, L’Harmattan 2005, 175p. ISBN 2-7475-7971-9, Africa (UK) 77(2) pp. 287-288

 

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