Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Independence of Nigeria, one of the most important African countries, and one with the most troubled histories. As today’s bombings, claimed by the MEND, and which have left eight people dead, shows. For the most up to date info on both the celebrations and the terrorist attack follow #NigeriaAt50 on Twitte. And through Jeremy’s take on the events at Naijablog*. As well as the Delta insurgency, the country faces a tense electoral campaign, and the already known problems of managing the oil revenue, and the tensions between some religious groups. This is, there is much to be concerned about. However this 50 years anniversary can be a moment to focus on the more positive aspects of the country’s progress.
We can do that looking at Nollywood – the term by which the Nigerian film industry is known. Said film industry produces around 2,400 movies a year, which makes Nigerian film industry the second largest in the world (after India, but ahead of the US), only a small part of which is premiered in cinemas – the rest goes direct to the home market.
This Guardian article (via via Africa Is A Country) has more information about the industry, and it was published to report on Nollywood Now,a festival, which takes place next week in London.
We often hear about the need to change development aid models, and the need to sponsor new ways of spurring economic growth. Well, then, Nollywood seems like a clear example of what – often away from development experts and gurus – some economic sectors are achieving in certain African countries. Nollywood’s importance furthermore, goes beyond its economic numbers. To see this, have a look at thisWomen Make Movies documentary titled “Nollywood Lady”.
The main character on it is Peace Anyiam-Fibresima, one of Nigeria’s most important producers, CEO of the African Academy of Motion Pictures and sar of her own TV show. As I’ve mentioned, what’s important about Nollywood is not only its $250 million-a-year size, or the employment opportunities it generates, but how, thanks to this entertainment and film industry, Nigerians are building new discourses on how they see their country – something which in turn changes how it is seen from the outside. And something which is most needed to go on walking the independence path on which Nigeria set off 50 years ago, but still has a way to go.
*This entry was almost complete when I heard about the bombings. I decided to post it and keep the celebratory tone to it, to mark there are things to celebrate in Nigeria, and to prevent the attack from eclipsing all other news. My condolences and solidarity to the families of the victims of today’s attack.