Practising ‘Democracy’ in Nigerian Films
Posted: 23 Jan 2020
Date Written: October 2009
This article discusses the response of ‘Nollywood’ to the transformation of Nigeria's social structure through the economic and political regimes of global neo-liberalism and Nigeria's military rule, and the aesthetic possibilities enabled by video and digital technologies. Approaching Nollywood as a new cinematic form which results from the collapse of the middle classes due to radical economic reforms, the article looks at two films, Akobi Gomina (‘The Governor's Heir’, 2002) and Agogo Eewo (‘The Sacred Gong’, 2002) to demonstrate the implications of this phenomenon in the changing socio-political structure crystallized with the advent of the Fourth Republic in 1999. In these works of explicit and oblique political commentary, which present us with intimations of the genre of ‘democracy films’, the idea of a public receptive to mutually recognized cultural or personal symbols is used to develop new aesthetic modes in films. But these film-making practices also circumscribe the possibilities of an ideologically progressive cinematic practice. Thus, a form originating partly from an economic context appears caught in an aesthetic impasse, but the article suggests that the tendency in Nollywood toward generic proliferation might represent one path out of the impasse.
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