Nollywood, is Nigeria’s version of Hollywood - the movie industry born out of the need for Nigerians to tell their own stories in their own way using cinemas and home videos. She became official in 1993 with the release of Nigeria’s first ever commercially produced home video “Living in bondage” starring Kenneth Okonkwo and a host of other Igbo stars. The movie which became a hit with local audiences gave many other actors and actresses hope of making a meaningful career for themselves and investors as well who saw the profit making potential.
By 2013 - 20 years later - Nollywood is one of the most lucrative sectors of the Nigerian entertainment industry producing movies in their hundreds and offering employment for many hitherto unemployable folks.
Movies produced are done mostly in English, Yoruba or Hausa depending on which region the movie’s audience are based. The Hausa have their separate coinage – Kallywood – and is extremely popular in Northern Nigeria where many Hausa speaking folks watch them alongside Indian movies.
The Yoruba movie industry on the other hand is highly prolific with many actors and actresses actively engaged in various movies almost on a weekly basis making it a massive movie factory. The English sector is dominated by Igbo traders who call the shots and parade themselves as marketers with the actors and actresses mostly from south eastern Nigeria (Igbo speaking part of Nigeria).
Notable Nigerian Actors and Actresses
Some notable actors and actresses in Nollywood include; Genevieve Nnaji, Omotola Jalade – Ekehinde, Rita Dominic, Jim Iyke, Ramsey Noah, Desmond Elliot, Richard Mofe Damijo, Tonto Dike, Funke Akindele, Aki and Paw Paw, Joke Silver to mention a few.
Some Problems Nollywood faces till date
Piracy is the main problem hampering the growth of Nollywood as it’s almost impossible to produce a movie in Nigeria without the pirates having a field day at the expense of the movie producers. Law enforcement against piracy is very weak making it difficult to arrest and punish offenders. Also the shot callers in the industry are traders who are only interested in the commercial success of movies but not the quality. As a result movie production standards suffer as quacks and inexperienced script writers, movie producers and other important personnel are poorly chosen to make a movie happen. There’s also the problem of poor government support since the enabling environment for the industry to really boom has continued to elude the industry due to failure of government to enact policies that favour it’s growth.
Achievements of Nollywood
Nollywood has become Nigeria’s biggest brand ambassador to the world as almost all of the black world including the Caribbean, West and Central Africa and even Africans living in the developed world look to them for entertainment and connection with Nigerian lifestyle.
Nollywood has also created employment for millions of people either directly or indirectly making many millionaires out of people who may have never had a chance to be financially independent.
The industry has also given some prestige to theatre performances and acting as a profession. Nigerian Actors and actresses who prior to the 1980s were scorned and looked down on by many as nothing but drop outs and people with little hope for success in life now command respect locally and even globally as they are often times viewed as role models by teeming fans.
Nollywood has also balanced the World’s misguided views about Nigerians as our movies give accurate description of Nigeria and its people.