Nollywood is in trouble. We open this session with this alarmist line, designed not to spread panic but to provoke reflection by those who care about my industry and the joy, recognition, fame and wealth it has brought to all of us who have been so fortunate to be players in this team.
I like football and one of the national teams that have always put a smile on my face and the faces of Nigerians is the female national team. Yes they never did rise to the pinnacles of greatness in the different world cups they have taken part in, but for years they bestrode the African continent like other national teams were brought to make up the numbers in football competitions. They achieved results like a 7-1 hammering of mighty Cameroon, a 5-1 mauling of Ghana, a 6-2 destruction of South Africa so it was best imagined what happened to teams like hapless Ethiopia and the likes of Benin Republic. Nigerians were so sure of a win every time the girls took to the pitch that the first question one asked if he came in from outside when the girls were playing was “how many goals have they scored?” It never crossed our minds that they could lose one day; then it happened. Ghana beat us 2-1, a fluke we said, Cameroon beat us, a mistake we all intoned, South Africa beat us, an accident we thought but that was before Lilliputians like Equatorial Guinea put their fingers in our eyes and took our birth right, the African cup from us and we finally ran out of excuses.
So you ask yourself what is Reginald rambling about again today?. What does football have to do with Nollywood? Everything! Both are forms of entertainment, both have brought immense honour and recognition to our country and in both we are called the GIANTS OF AFRICA.
Nollywood, the Nigerian movie industry of course was birthed, nurtured and matured in Nigeria. Like fine wine we sent it out to the rest of Africa and used it as a tool for neo-colonialism. Africa started dressing like us, acquired and spoke our style of Pidgin English, dressed like us, imbibed our cultures and traditions. Even our cities in the hinterlands became massively popular. So when Peace Fiberisima nee Anyiam Osigwe introduced the African Movie Academy Awards(AMAA) we all smirked and tongue in cheek, we laughed at the rest of Africa. We felt that she should have just simply called it the Nigerian Movie Academy Awards. I mean which other country would win any awards in an Nollywood inspired award program apart from the home of Nollywood, Nigeria. What we did not understand is that when children grow, they leave home. And if the truth be told, Nollywood has left home.
At the 2013 AMAA awards, Nigeria won 7 awards out of the 21 given out. Good news you might say but consider the fact that out of those seven awards only one of them was in what you will consider the most serious areas of movie making. Rita Dominic picked up the Best Actress in a Leading Role award for her work in the movie SHATTERED. It is of note here that SHATTERED is a Kenyan movie. The six most important areas of film making went to people from outside Nollywood.
1. Achievement in Cinematography went to South Africa with OTELO BURNING.
2. Achievement in Screenplay, -my area of strength- went to Ghana with TIES THAT BIND.
3. Best Actor in a Leading Role went to Ghana’s Majid Michael for his work in SOMEWHERE IN AFRICA, a Ghanian production.
4. Best Director went again to South Africa with Charlie Vundla’s HOW TO STEAL 2 MILLION
5. Best Film of course was also won by Charlie Vundla with HOW TO STEAL 2 MILLION
Nigeria the film making giant of Africa like our Super Falcons, were left with the crumbs. So we all gather together in our offices and declare that AMAA has sold out Nollywood on the altar of afrocentricism. Those rhetorics are only but balm for our wounded pride, temporary anaesthetics for a permanent migraine that will not go away. This year a Ghanain/Nigerian Yvonne Okoro, working from Ghana has been nominated in five different categories and who is to say she will not win all. So a few weeks back we all jumped into the plane and headed out to Malawi on the auspices of the same AMAA we condemn, we dined with the President and she praised the work we are doing in Nollywood, temporary praise for a brand that is in trouble. Nollywood wake up before we become the minnow of African movie making. It will be sad if we gather again in Bayelsa State this year and give out our prices to the rest of Africa and all that we will go home with will be THE BEST CHILD ACTOR.