Cultural Promotion and Image Portrayal in the Nigerian Movies

Cultural Promotion and Image Portrayal in the Nigerian Movies
Cultural Promotion and Image Portrayal in the Nigerian Movies

Cultural Promotion and Image Portrayal in the Nigerian Movies

 

ABSTRACT

In Nigeria, the Nollywood which is the household name for the movie Industry in Nigeria can be described as a potential tool for the promotion of cultural identity and national development. However, there seems to be some lapses and permissiveness of undesired contents in most Nollywood films which tend to imprint negative socio-cultural images of the country in the mind of viewers. The main objective of this study was to examine the Cultural Promotion and Image Portrayal in the Nigerian Movies. Research questions were set to guide the study. The study, however, recommend ways of using the Nigerian Home movies as a tool for identity promotion and image laundering for Nigerians in the effort towards national development. The study adopted various tools in the collection of data; library research on work previously done on areas related to the study. It used for its information materials both in audio – visual and live interviews.

The study reveals that the motion picture is one of the fastest and one of the most viable ways of exporting culture for economic gains. It also observes that the Nigerian movies have not succeeded in promoting the culture and image of Nigeria as a result of local hegemony on the side of the practitioners. Most importantly, the study reveals that the movie practitioners are more concerned with enriching their pockets, relegating to the background the cultural implication of such representation. In addition, the study revealed the potential for cultural representation and portrayed of the diverse indigenous cultural heritage of the Nigerian society in Nollywood is immensely high. This, one would say, could help in ensuring cultural renaissance in the face of erosion of our cultural values due to globalization.

Cultural Promotion and Image Portrayal in the Nigerian Movies

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1     Background to the Study

Film is one of the significant tools of communication available to human society. In Nigeria, the Nollywood which is the household name for the movie Industry in Nigeria can be described as a potential tool for the promotion of cultural identity and national development. However, there seems to be some lapses and permissiveness of undesired contents in most Nollywood films which tend to imprint negative socio-cultural images of the country in the mind of viewers. Lately, Nollywood movie producers have started looking socio-cultural themes and concepts to drive home the quest for promoting Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage so as to limit the effect of globalized media contents on our socio-cultural development and national integration.

The Nigerian movie entertainment industry popularly known as Nollywood is a very powerful communication platform. The industry evolved on the platform of Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage in the arts. The talents from traditional street theatres, traditional story telling cultures and early attempts at indigenous television programming also made enormous contributions to this evolution. In building on the antecedents of indigenous cultural values, Esan (2015) is of the veins that “Nollywood evolved around a dominant language structure which also reflects the original geopolitical structure of Nigeria. Nigerian’s Nollywood remains the dominant film industry in Africa that is poised to championing the projection of the Nigerian cultural values through film.” The development of Nollywood dates back to the colonial era, through the efforts of the European merchant, colonial administration and the church (Ibe, 2014).

Today, much emphasis is still being placed on the social interactions that spectators bring to ‘reading’ films (Campbell, 2015) and the way meanings are made by their reception and interpretations. This study’s filmic analysis aims to arrive at the interpretation of cultural symbols invested in films to gain meanings of the socio-cultural activities among the communalistic people of Africa and Nigeria, in particular. In this way, the Nigerian national cinema is being used to explore the representations of Africa from across Europe and America. Since ‘a film is not only a sequence of moving images but also an organized mixture of images, words, texts, music and noises that are characterized by a constant displacement and circulation of meaning’ (Jensen, 2012). What all these show is that in films, there is an ample array of meanings that can be made of human societies, especially of African continent and people, given the dominance of their representations. Nollywood films embody much of the history and stories that could be read to illustrate that filmic text conveys a huge range of meanings of societies and their cultures as seen in most studies done already in film studies.

The Nigeria movie industry evolved on the platform of Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage in the arts. The talents from traditional street theatres, traditional story telling culture and early attempts at indigenous television programming also made enormous contributions to this evolution. For building on the antecedent of indigenous cultural values, Esan (2018) states that;- ‘Nollywood evolved around a dominant language structure which also reflects the original geopolitical structure of Nigeria. The industry thus has three distinct sectors; Yoruba movies, Igbo movies and Hausa movies. The movies tend to reflect the cultures in these areas and are often produced and distributed from the commercial nerve center in these regions and Lagos-the nation’s commercial capital. This structure has been inherited by the Nigerian film and video censors Board as a basis of classifying the videos. There are also English Language productions and what has evolved as a distinct category – the Engligbo, so labeled because of the tendency to use both Igbo and English languages.’

The ethnic affiliation around the industry is very clear in the storylines, shooting location and sometimes even in the cast. To this end, it becomes easier for audiences to relate to and identify with Nollywood. The collateral challenges fostered by Nollywood are as a result of diverse interests, needs and preferences of its heterogeneous audiences. This heterogeneity is rooted in the range of ethnic, linguistic, religious and other socio-political factors within Nigeria and other parts of Africa that constitute the primary market for Nollywood movies (Esan, 2018). It is therefore important to restate here that culture identifies a people and is central to primordial and self- determination sentiments in the themes of its movies. This study therefore, aims to examine the Cultural Promotion and Image Portrayal in the Nigerian Movies.

Cultural Promotion and Image Portrayal in the Nigerian Movies
Cultural Promotion and Image Portrayal in the Nigerian Movies

Cultural Promotion and Image Portrayal in the Nigerian Movies

1.2     Statement of the Problem

Cultural imperialism and the erosion of African culture, values, norms, however, have become a thing of worry to most Nigerians due to the exponential rise and advancements in technology. Technology has gradually turned the world into a global village breaking and shrinking all geographical barriers introducing and exposing third world countries to several foreign contents and cultures at their detriments. This exposure to some extent is beneficial and to a large extent appears to cost these third world countries their most valued asset and means of identification which are their culture and norms. This, however, has aroused concerns from many individuals from all walks of life as to what becomes of Nigerian culture, norms, and values in the nearest future. This concern is due to the importance and value placed on foreign culture at the expense of the African cultural heritage.

Thus, it is considering this concern that this paper attempts to understand the place of film as one of the mass media channels of communication in promoting, showcasing, and preserving the Nigerian culture. The emphasis on film in this study is because films are perceived as powerful medium of mass media through which several messages and information about a people or clan are disseminated to a large audience in order to achieve a set goal, and also due to the fact that from time immemorial, the media have played a gigantic role in rescuing, incorporating, preserving, and mediating elements which serve the interests of these popular classes. These interests include not only the people’s aspirations, but also those factors which define their beliefs, expressions, and historical cultural development in general. This study aimed to examine cultural promotion and image portrayal in the Nigerian Movies.

 

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The home movie is one of the most prominent aspects of living room/viewing room culture in Nigeria today. They have become a ‘must have’ in most Nigerian homes. As a result of this acceptance, popularity and exposure, the home movie directly or indirectly impacts on the general public. Therefore, this research sets out to do the following:

  1. Access how local hegemony operates and affects movie making in Nigeria.

 

  1. Project the ways Nigerians have been portrayed in the movies and the likely effect of such portrayals to the general public.
  2. Recommend ways through which the Nigerian home movies could be dominated and controlled by movies with good thematic concepts for the promotion of the image of the Nigerian.

1.4 Scope of the Study

There are many organs responsible for communicating and promoting culture. The mass media, e.g. magazines, television, computer, Internet, transmit cultures. There are also some non – material vehicles to this effect, e.g. music. But for the purpose of this research, attention will be focused only on home movie as one of the media that communicate and transmit culture around the world. The researcher selected some relevant Nigerian home movie plates and CDs that respectively embody positive and negative portrayal of the Nigerian society. The selected movies that represent the positive traits are “The Peace Maker’’ and “The Price”, while those that represent the negative traits are “Dons in Abuja” and “Hot Girls”. The characteristics of hegemony – control\power and dominance – are used as tools of analysis to project these traits.

 

1.5 Justification of the Study

The effect of these audio-visual artifacts (Home Movies) on our culture seems to be somehow overlooked. Nigeria home movies showcase Nigerian indigenous culture as well as alien culture. These foreign cultures embedded in these movies have eaten deep into Nigerians, thereby relegating their heritage to the background. Values totally alien to the society have permeated and even engulfed their psyche, through foreign communication forms and items they have been exposed to.

It is justifiable, therefore, for Nigerians to guard the salient aspects of Nigeria’s culture against the forces of westernization. This work is a call for Nigerians to look inward, see themselves, be themselves, re-assert their history, their being, and their uniqueness through the production of movies that promote good cultural values of the Nigerian society instead of leaving these essential matters under the control of the money bags who are only concerned with money making. The study will also project Nigeria as a peaceful and peace – loving nation as against the crimes and violence repeatedly shown. This will form the basis of the long desired sustainable development because no meaningful and sustainable development comes without a proper regard for the people’s indigenous culture.

 

1.6 Research Methodology

The research attempts a study of the activities in the Nigerian home movie in the light of promoting Nigerian culture as well as the negative and positive representation of the Nigerian society in the home movies. The study therefore evaluates four select movies, two for negative representation and two for positive representation. Different approaches were adopted for the collection of data for this study. Data was also collected from the library and through documentary observation. Live and published interviews constitute sources of data as well as the researcher’s participation in discussions in areas related to the research. The data acquired through all these means are trimmed down essentially to those that are of relevance to the subject matter. Below is a further description of how all of these methods of research were employed.

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Peter Hezekiah Lawson (Sir Pee). The CEO of onlineproject.com.ng. A reputable researcher, Web Developer, ICT Instructor and a publisher of many research works in Education.