BY VICTOR AKANDE
UNTIL the 90s, no one could have thought that Nigerian music could be preferred by the locals as against the dominant American songs which of course remain legendary to date.
Today, American music is second choice to an average Nigerian youth who is still possessed by Hollywood movies.
The battle for the life of African entertainment in general could be likened to bleaching the skin. People who do usually have a false sense of beauty upgrade. Reason being that even when a light complexion is perceived to have made up for whatever limitation, like an early sun, it doesn’t last the day apologies to the late Michael Jackson.
The Hip-hop and rap genres are evidences of the fact that originality could emerge from imitation judging by how the late Dagrin, Olamide, Phyno and Sarkodie of Ghana have funkified local lyrics to the admiration of many.
But Nigerian movies are not breathing as healthily as its songs because the former’s jugular is still within the grip of Hollywood.
The problem is not just about the so-called low-budget Nollywood film, because even films from South Africa with funding by developmental and cultural agencies are replicas of the Hollywood crime thrillers, with some of the celebrated titles likeHow to Steal 2 Million, Hard To Get, and iNumber Number among others.
The wind of African renaissance must blow across the film sector, because of the visual and subtle import of the medium.
Should I say the consciousness is already brewing?
At the just concluded Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), the festival director, Pedro Pimenta, during his opening speech at the Nigerian Day jolted the gathering when he said the solution to the problems of African cinema can only be found in Africa, and not anywhere abroad. I particularly like Pimenta’s quote of an African author, which says ‘It is important for the future of cinema that Africa exists’. “We must exist. We shouldn’t always try to be like Hollywood because they have got no stories. They are now going back to comics. Whereas Africa is living on a huge well of untold stories,” he said.
How do we free the jugular of African youngsters from this neocolonialism that continues to threaten the art, culture and business of motion picture entertainment in Africa?
The youths appear the most adventurous and vulnerable here. And until the filmmakers employ whatever stunt that the musicians pulled to bring the industry to where it is today, the future remains bleak.
Another institution that craves the unity of Africa and desires Black Creatives all over the world to believe in their craft, is the Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA).
AMAA’s founder, Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, while announcing a partnership with Facebook, to profile African and Black artistes, and launch them into bigger opportunities for creative businesses around the world, also unveiled the AfricaOne initiative, a project she said was conceived to bridge the socio-economic gap that exists among African countries, using the medium of arts and entertainment.
If filmmakers improve their art, and Africans learn to cherish and patronise their works, the population of the continent is enough to grow the art business without looking outwards.
Today, a documentary film debut by London-based Nigerian filmmaker, Labi Odebunmi, premieres on urban lifestyle channel, Soundcity.
Odebunmi shares the passion of a British-Nigeria music star and first Afrobeat artiste to sign a recording deal with Island Records, a notable international record label, with credits for the works of artistes such as Bob Marley, and Amy Winehouse.
The essence, he said, is to give the average Nigerians who may not have the opportunity to fly to London to have the feel of the society, and appreciate the cultural realities being imbibed by most Nigerians in the Diaspora.
“We have got to that stage in the UK where white folks including those at West End now dance to Nigerian music at their clubs, and even play our Afrobeat songs on their radio stations. The other day, Wizkid’s Ojuelegba was played on the influential Capital FM and everybody could feel the vibe. This is because of the Nigerian culture which gives originality to the genre of music they play,” he says.
As we seek to rewrite the African narrative, I look forward to that day when there will be more posters of Nollywood films that Hollywood’s in our cinemas.
Culled, with permission, from TheNation.