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Tribalists Have Hijacked Nollywood - Lari Williams

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blackpearl

Well-Known Member
#1
Lari Williams, veteran actor and script writer, needs no introduction, especially to theatre buffs. But like his generation and stage production, he is an endangered specie. Though he says he has no regrets, ‘Uncle Larry’, as he is fondly called, cuts a figure that tells a sad tale. In this interview with Ernest Omoarelojie, he reflects on his past, the present and contemplates the future.

Q: Stage production is your forte but it is vitually non-existent in the country. What is the problem?
A: The government has not helped the theatre to develop. That, perhaps, is the greatest problem stage production is contending with in Nigeria. For instance, we have only one auditorium that can take some 5000 people. But it is not functioning properly and nothing appears to be on ground to turn things around. If we can make it work so that we can charge an average of about N200 per person, things could turn around and people would be inclined to go to the theatre and watch plays. For now, it is not so, hence we have allowed the Muson Centre to hijack stage performance. As you know, their charges are expensive, going for as much as N2000 or more, but it is the only viable option for those who love the arts.

Q: But how many Nigerians can afford that much for a play?
A: The other factor is that the National Theatre closed down its main auditorium for about 10 years. I wrote about it almost every other month but nothing happened. Thank God for Dr. Yerima as one of my articles, The National Theatre Is Sick And The Doctor Will Fix It, said. We hope that he is going to fix it as he appears to be doing. But we don’t know how soon it will take to do that. Even so, when it is ready, what happens? That is another question that needs an urgent answer. Will it be possible for the National Troupe to be performing there with good patronage? Besides the National Troupe, how many other performers or artistes will have the opportunity to go there and perform? A long time ago, my company was among the groups that performed at the Open Theatre Group. So we had the opportunity to go out there with our troupe to perform and collect the gate takings. Though what came out of it was miserable, such a performance has not happened for a long time. Right now, there is hardly a functional theatre company. That might sound strange, but we are talking about a small theatre group that can produce plays from time to time to act, as a stepping stone for people who train as actors. For instance, in England where I trained as an artiste, you can’t come out of school and say I am an actor. When you come out of school, you must go through such a company where you will be groomed and made to perform regularly, during which time you are given a weekly ticket, which shows that you are performing. This continues until you have 40 weeks of performance. In it will be record of the groups you have worked with, the performances in which you have appeared, and other relevant information. Only after fulfilling these requirements can you come to town and claim to be an actor. When you have satisfied the requirements, then you will get what they call Equity, a membership card that recognises you as an actor. I was a member of Equity because after I left school, I spent two years, going through a lot of productions and performing from one group to another.

Q: At what point did stage production begin to go down in Nigeria?
A: The downslide began shortly after FESTAC. I was not in the country and so I wouldn’t know what happened exactly. When I came in, I remember that something was still happening, particularly in Ibadan because I heard of people like Arsworthy, a British teacher in the University of Ibadan. I also learnt that Wole Soyinka, Dapo Adelugba and lots of others were working there. I went there to see things for myself and I found out that the theatre in Ibadan was actually booming. I saw productions and they were really good. It was clear that they were good, else, it would not have been possible for them to perform at FESTAC. Of course, there were performances after FESTAC that were equally outstanding. We had quality companies managed by people like Fred Agbeyegbe, Adio and myself. There was also another one run by Bassey Effiong, as well as one or two others. But at some point, no one encouraged us and things started dwindling. Nobody could say exactly what was happening as things really turned bad for everyone, culminating in what we have today. At the moment, if you produce a play at the National Theatre, you will get a hall that seats only 670 people. How much will you make with 670 people after paying for the hall, your actors, lighting man and others. All these are important, so much so that at the end of the day, you are in debt because you are never able to break even, let alone talk about profit. So, nobody in his right senses would want to go and produce plays at the National Theatre because its suicidal to do so.

Q: It is believed that home video is connected to the misfortune suffered by stage play?
A: Anyone can say so. And I believe so too. But thank God for home video. If there was no home video, entertainment would have been dead in Nigeria. If home video was not there and people or theatre lovers didn’t have an avenue to satisfy their need for entertainment, what would we have been talking about now? Despite the fact that the home video thing may not exactly be what it should, their presence has ensured that there is a form of entertainment for those who love the art. Be that as it may, the other side of the home video thing is that it has gradually degenerated into a tribal thing. And I say this without any fear of contradiction, it has become mainly an Igbo affair. Look at every home video you see. Look closely at the cast and tell me what you see. You will be lucky if you find even three names belonging to other tribes.

Q: At some point, you played a prominent part in the home video business. But gradually, you went out of circulation. What happened?
A: I have not gone out of it as you put it. You didn’t get that right because I have always been on TV. The only thing is that I have been on the soap opera side. But I have had problems with home video producers. I was schemed out because they were not casting me. They were always casting Igbo people. I was in it at the beginning in Black Powder and a couple of other prominent ones really. In fact, if you look at the very first productions, I was there as lead actor. I featured in Living Dead, Living In Bondage, etc, but after that, I went into soap opera, featuring in Village Headmaster, For Better For Worse, Mirror In The Sun, Adio Family etc. Right now, I am on Living For Tomorrow and Heaven’s Gate. In the last 20 years I don’t think I’ve been out of TV.

Q: People may not readily accept that you were schemed out because producers want an all-Igbo cast. After all, there are some of your contemporaries who are not Igbo but are still in it. Could it be that your ideals and philosophy run counter to those of the producers?
A: That is not quite so. It’s just that they have not been calling or giving me roles to play. They used to give me Babalawo role and I played it convincingly. Again and again, I came up with the same role but I said no. That cannot be the only thing I am good at doing. I knew that they were just using it as an excuse. But after about four such roles, it was clear that they wanted to stereotype me. I said no. At some point they thought I was only good with Shakespeare roles. But I am a trained actor and I wanted to prove to them that I can play any role. Beyond that, I did a lot of jobs for which I was not paid. In The Sojourn, I was not paid my full money. Unfortunately, the guy died without paying me my money. There was another one called Decreed By God. The producer did not pay me at all. It was a case of come today, come tomorrow. I was not paid for my role in the Rat Race – not a dime. I can count so many others films I appeared in but never got paid. I got tired of all of them.

Q: Like the theatre in Nigeria, your generation of actors appears to be an endangered specie. Why is it so?
A: Yes o. We are endangered and it is so because we are not making money. For me, I took theatre as my number one thing. But what is happening to theatre is equally happening to me, as you can see. My theatre interests took me from here to virtually every town and city in Nigeria. I carried my small theatre group all over the country – Enugu, Aba, Calabar, among other areas. I also featured even in Fela’s Africa Shrine. I opened the Open Theatre thing with a play called Awero and ended it with one titled Ajegunle. I have not stopped performing except that for obvious reasons, I have not been very visible as people expect. That, I suppose, is the case with my contemporaries. And of course, we do not have the money which the new generation of actors appears to have in abundance.

Q: People still look at the performances of your generation with nostalgia. Is there any way you can bring back those moments to re-awaken people’s interest in the theatre?
A: Yes we can, if the condition is right. People of the generation you refer to will not just come back for the sake of acting. They have so many things to contend with right now even though they have the wherewithal to bring back the glory of the theatre. You cannot call them now to act or to revamp theatre without paying them good money. That is why it is going to be difficult to call them come back with the zeal that may be required to revamp the Nigerian theatre. Taiwo Ajai-Lycett is a good friend of mine and she is one woman who can go on the stage anyday if the process and remuneration are right. You need to pay her her worth. Ibidun Allison (Amebo) is another person – a dependable actress.

In fact, I am talking with her right now about how I could possibly include her in my new soap opera. I have equally got in touch with Lai Ashadele. He is my good friend and a damn good actor anyday. I am in touch with Alex Osifo, my ex-student, and they are ready to perform with me. I am working on a project in that respect. As you know, I have an acting school and I have just written a book, which will be launched soon. I am planning to invite all my contemporaries to come and enjoy with me, or rather, celebrate with me, not only to launch this book, but also my new album.

Q: Are you a singer?
A: I am a musician.

Q: That’s interesting. Will you tell us about it?
A: I went to a mission school and I was a choir boy. While there as a choir boy, I had a couple of choir masters who taught me how to play the piano. Fortunately, I went to CMS Grammar School. Art Alade was my classmate and we did quite a lot of music together way back in the school, where we had to, compulsorily, learn music. That was the background. I didn’t go to any special school for music to learn music like geography or other subjects.

Q: And now you have an album from that experience. Tell us about it.
A: This album has taken about 25 years to see the light. I started it when I was a student in America. I am releasing it now because I want to use it as part of the celebration of my 35th year in theatre. Thirty-five years ago, I did my first personal production, a play called Kolanut Junction.
The play featured people like Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, Olu Jacobs, Femi Fadugba, Taiwo Jegede, Jennifer Enwonwu, the first Joy Girl and a host of good actors and actresses. They all lived in England at the time. That was exactly 35 years ago. It would be a dream come true if it was possible for all of them to be around one more time. I’d love to have all of them around.

Q: Has the theatre been good to you?
A: Em! Well, here in Nigeria, we measure everything by the amount of money one makes. On that score I cannot say yes. The reason is that I cannot say I have made money at all, even though I am a pioneer member in the industry. Thank God for home video. I am saying this for the second time. If not for home video, I don’t think anyone would be able to buy a car from acting here in Nigeria. Is there any such possibility? I don’t think so. Home video brought money into acting, even though it has now been narrowed down into an Igbo affair. I was the first elected President of the Actors Guild of Nigeria, AGN. But if you go to their office now, you will find Ifeanyi **** named as the body’s first president. Ifeanyi **** was the group’s co-ordinator before we had an election. During the election, they unanimously put me forward and voted for me as the first elected president. But that is not what the situation reflects in AGN’s office today. That goes a long way to tell you the situation of things. They put his picture there as the first elected president. I don’t even know what position I occupy under the arrangement. But the truth is that Ifeanyi was the group’s coordinator, not an elected president. I am a Nigerian and I don’t believe in this kind of tribal sentiments. But as it is, one cannot help but talk about it because of the way it is so blatantly displayed.

Q: If you were richer, would things have been different generally?
A: Oh yes. If I were richer, and I probably make my money from some other ventures, I would have been able to do a lot of things. I would have been able to do something about the decadence that has visited theatre. Everything appears helpless now, but it would not have been so if the money was availabe for one to provide the needed changes. It is not as if one would be able to do everything but it would help a lot.

Q: Do you have any regret?
A: No. I don’t think I have any regret in the real sense of the word. It is tempting to say, yes, there are regrets. But I don’t have any as such. The only regret I may say I have is that I have not had the opportunity to exploit my knowledge enough. You know, I could only attend Standford on scholarship. For that, and all that I have put into the profession, it is tempting to say yes, I have regrets.

But I love theatre so much that words like regret don’t make sense to me. I like theatre like nothing else. There is just no room for regrets. You know, people came from Italy and everywhere else to train in Stanford. It was very expensive. I was the only black man in the school in the early 70s. For all the knowledge and training I acquired, I would have loved to have a lot more opportunities to showcase what I have. No such opportunity came my way because of the misfortune that visited acting and indeed, the National Theatre.

Q: What is the highest point of your career?
A: My highest point? I would not say I’ve had or reached my highest point yet. I am still working towards that. One of which would be the day I am able to gather my colleagues, people of my generation, call them back again, so that we can work together once more.

www.thenewsng.com
 

chi

Well-Known Member
#2
a nice session with lary, his a Veteran actor and in the same class with Olu jacobs. i can remember him faintly in mirrow in the sun
 

ogonna

Active Member
#3
yes, its very sad that Olu Jacobs and Justus Esiri have somehow managed to be in constant demand from the Igbo tribalists while dear old Uncle Lari is hated by them.
 

temmy

Well-Known Member
#4
lari williams is one of the finest actors in nigerian history.he is one of those who knows what film making is all about.its too bad that people like hi have been forgotten.he really deserves to e honoured.the last movie i ever saw him on was THE GARDENER and his appearance was quite pitiful.
 

Tease'N'Tan

TOO HOT AS ALWAYS :)
#6
Although I Am Too Lazy To Read The Entire Interview, I Got To Read The First Line And My Respond Is That, Dont Wait For The Government To Have Something Done. I Am Sure There Are Rich People Who Are Rich Enough To Invest In Building A New Theatre Around The Country But I Am Sure Part Of The Problem Is The Fact That We Have Rich People Who Dont Have A Strong Business Mind. They Will Rather Go Deposit The Money In Swiss Bank I Guess. But My Point It, Even Actors Can Even Join Together And Build Their Own Theatre, Nothing Will Improve Or Progress If The Government Have To Do Everything, We Shouldn't Expect Too Much From Those Bastards Anyways.
 
#8
yes, its very sad that Olu Jacobs and Justus Esiri have somehow managed to be in constant demand from the Igbo tribalists while dear old Uncle Lari is hated by them.
Common now, what's 2% in 100%? Can you at least count 100 non igbo tribes among the so called "Nollywood" actors? Let the truth be said, the Igbos are making Nollywood a tribal affair and it is soon going to burst! If we speak, it will be that the rest of Nigeria do not like the Igbo tribe so there. Perhaps it's time they change the name to Biafrawood so we (the other tribes) know we are not in the game.

Who else should be the most celebrated actress if not an Igbo girl. Pshew!

Take the scales off girl.
 

KikisMuffin

I no get ya time!!
#11
Common now, what's 2% in 100%? Can you at least count 100 non igbo tribes among the so called "Nollywood" actors? Let the truth be said, the Igbos are making Nollywood a tribal affair and it is soon going to burst! If we speak, it will be that the rest of Nigeria do not like the Igbo tribe so there. Perhaps it's time they change the name to Biafrawood so we (the other tribes) know we are not in the game.

Who else should be the most celebrated actress if not an Igbo girl. Pshew!

Take the scales off girl.
Tribalism is part of our national fabric, its intricately woven in the psyche of every nigerian: Hausaman, Igboman and yorubaman. I guess the igbos will now be the fall guys cause Nollywood exists.....hmmm.

Tribalism plays out everyday in basic nigerian life, in Nollywood, in banks, and standard procedure in the civil service. Its not only igbos that practise it, so what else is new....


This line of discourse tires me, really tires me!.......NEXT!!!
 
#13
Tribalism is part of our national fabric, its intricately woven in the psyche of every nigerian: Hausaman, Igboman and yorubaman. I guess the igbos will now be the fall guys cause Nollywood exists.....hmmm.

Tribalism plays out everyday in basic nigerian life, in Nollywood, in banks, and standard procedure in the civil service. Its not only igbos that practise it, so what else is new....


This line of discourse tires me, really tires me!.......NEXT!!!

You know, it's usually hard for me to disagree with you because you do make a lot of sense (at the risk of sounding patronising). However, it is glaringly obvious in Nollywood, due to it's huge international popularity. Believe it or not, Igbos did not start Nollywood, but made it popular at the detriment of professionals such as one who gave the above interview.

Well, as for there been tribalist in every tribe, I would agree but the Southerners are far more receptive as you can see, Lagos is the hub of every tribe in the country so there goes to show how tolerant and welcoming we are of course (I know i'm making a sweeping statement and totally of mark but what the heck)
 

ogonna

Active Member
#14
Peaches,

There is a solution to what you're talking about and it is already being implemented by creative filmmakers like Emem Isong/Reemy Jess, Ego Boyo, Amaka Igwe and Mildred Okwo. Their films typically incorporate a diverse cast and plot. Its called 'consumer power'. Don't spend your money on crap from Gabosky or Frontmasters - buy only Reemy Jess/Emem Isong movies with RMD, Genevieve, Kate Henshaw-Nuttal, Bimbo Akintola etc in it.

What is required to break the mould in Nollywood today are creative people who are prepared to put their money where their mouth is. Pople who are tired of moaning and whining about Igbo marketers and who will get out there into the market and compete. Every body keeps complaining about Igbo marketers yet I can't understand how a bunch of semi-literate electronics dealers are able to run rings round some of Nigeria's smartest people.

Take Lari Williams. What do the Igbo marketers know about the movie business that he does not know 20 times better? If I were him, rather than sitting around giving media interviews about how Igbo marketers have hijacked Nollywood and ejected him from the throne of honour, I'd get my azz out there and look for financiers, producers, scriptwriters, directors, actors, AV crew etc and make my own damned movies. That's what I'd do instead of sitting around moaning.

Do you really think the Igbo marketers care a hoot that Lari Williams is complaining about them? Not a jot! But they will feel serious pain when his movies are outselling theirs and their sales are seriously diminishing. Now, that is real serious pain for an Igbo businessman, I can tell you! You have to hit them where it hurts hardest - their wallets - to get them to realize that the world has moved on and so must Nollywood.

BTW, ever noticed that movies made by the Amata and Ejiro brothers rarely use Igbo actors? See - it cuts both ways. Now I wonder, how it is that younger men like the Amatas and the Ejiros have succeeded while good ol' Uncle Lari is busy moaning about Igbo traders rejecting him.
 
#15
Peaches,

There is a solution to what you're talking about and it is already being implemented by creative filmmakers like Emem Isong/Reemy Jess, Ego Boyo, Amaka Igwe and Mildred Okwo. Their films typically incorporate a diverse cast and plot. Its called 'consumer power'. Don't spend your money on crap from Gabosky or Frontmasters - buy only Reemy Jess/Emem Isong movies with RMD, Genevieve, Kate Henshaw-Nuttal, Bimbo Akintola etc in it.

What is required to break the mould in Nollywood today are creative people who are prepared to put their money where their mouth is. Pople who are tired of moaning and whining about Igbo marketers and who will get out there into the market and compete. Every body keeps complaining about Igbo marketers yet I can't understand how a bunch of semi-literate electronics dealers are able to run rings round some of Nigeria's smartest people.

Take Lari Williams. What do the Igbo marketers know about the movie business that he does not know 20 times better? If I were him, rather than sitting around giving media interviews about how Igbo marketers have hijacked Nollywood and ejected him from the throne of honour, I'd get my azz out there and look for financiers, producers, scriptwriters, directors, actors, AV crew etc and make my own damned movies. That's what I'd do instead of sitting around moaning.

Do you really think the Igbo marketers care a hoot that Lari Williams is complaining about them? Not a jot! But they will feel serious pain when his movies are outselling theirs and their sales are seriously diminishing. Now, that is real serious pain for an Igbo businessman, I can tell you! You have to hit them where it hurts hardest - their wallets - to get them to realize that the world has moved on and so must Nollywood.

BTW, ever noticed that movies made by the Amata and Ejiro brothers rarely use Igbo actors? See - it cuts both ways. Now I wonder, how it is that younger men like the Amatas and the Ejiros have succeeded while good ol' Uncle Lari is busy moaning about Igbo traders rejecting him.
Well written. However, in response to the statement highlighted above, the Amatas and Ejiros are a force to be reckoned with in the Industry. Infact, I can categorically say that these two families have carved their names in stone from in the Nigerian film and television industry. These two can be regarded as one of the pioneers of the English genre movies before the likes of Andy Chukwu or whatnots came in. So, with that said, I trust you understand that the Igbo marketers, however they try can not shove these two. As a matter of fact, those are the only two names in the English movie genre, I trust to cast actors outside of their tribes.

As much as I find the mediocre films being churned out from Idumota or what is the headquaters called in Imo State entertaining, it pains me that other nationals (i.e Jamaicans, other Africans and so on and the general nollywood lovers) who see these movies only see the display of the Igbo culture which is why I thought, if this is going to be the case, then it is only fair they drop the Nollywood name and go by Biafrawood because they are obviously not show casing other Nigerian cultures. The village scene is always and Igbo one, with Igbo elders and so on. As long as they continue to use the name Nollywood, they should incorporate other tribes of the nation Nigeria.

As per Lari Williams going solo. It is just "imposicant"! Did you hear of how the marketers dealt with the previously "banned" stars when they attempted doing independent works? No way! He's too old to be running round for favours now. I think the best idea is what he already have on ground - Film school. Afterall he can impart some knowledge on the newer generations since the marketers have chosen to make him redundant.

THIS HOLD ON THE NIGERIAN MOVIE INDUSTRY HAVE TO BE BROKEN!!!
 
C

cassandra

Guest
#16
Peaches,

There is a solution to what you're talking about and it is already being implemented by creative filmmakers like Emem Isong/Reemy Jess, Ego Boyo, Amaka Igwe and Mildred Okwo. Their films typically incorporate a diverse cast and plot. Its called 'consumer power'. Don't spend your money on crap from Gabosky or Frontmasters - buy only Reemy Jess/Emem Isong movies with RMD, Genevieve, Kate Henshaw-Nuttal, Bimbo Akintola etc in it.

What is required to break the mould in Nollywood today are creative people who are prepared to put their money where their mouth is. Pople who are tired of moaning and whining about Igbo marketers and who will get out there into the market and compete. Every body keeps complaining about Igbo marketers yet I can't understand how a bunch of semi-literate electronics dealers are able to run rings round some of Nigeria's smartest people.

Take Lari Williams. What do the Igbo marketers know about the movie business that he does not know 20 times better? If I were him, rather than sitting around giving media interviews about how Igbo marketers have hijacked Nollywood and ejected him from the throne of honour, I'd get my azz out there and look for financiers, producers, scriptwriters, directors, actors, AV crew etc and make my own damned movies. That's what I'd do instead of sitting around moaning.

Do you really think the Igbo marketers care a hoot that Lari Williams is complaining about them? Not a jot! But they will feel serious pain when his movies are outselling theirs and their sales are seriously diminishing. Now, that is real serious pain for an Igbo businessman, I can tell you! You have to hit them where it hurts hardest - their wallets - to get them to realize that the world has moved on and so must Nollywood.

BTW, ever noticed that movies made by the Amata and Ejiro brothers rarely use Igbo actors? See - it cuts both ways. Now I wonder, how it is that younger men like the Amatas and the Ejiros have succeeded while good ol' Uncle Lari is busy moaning about Igbo traders rejecting him.

nna,biko gwaba fa n'ike. Tell them how it is. All this whining about igbo marketers is really tiring
 

KikisMuffin

I no get ya time!!
#17
You know, it's usually hard for me to disagree with you because you do make a lot of sense (at the risk of sounding patronising). However, it is glaringly obvious in Nollywood, due to it's huge international popularity. Believe it or not, Igbos did not start Nollywood, but made it popular at the detriment of professionals such as one who gave the above interview.

Well, as for there been tribalist in every tribe, I would agree but the Southerners are far more receptive as you can see, Lagos is the hub of every tribe in the country so there goes to show how tolerant and welcoming we are of course (I know i'm making a sweeping statement and totally of mark but what the heck)
Very sweeping statements indeed Peaches, and very debatable, (esp. about southern receptiveness), but those are your views so I appreciate what you're saying.

I still maintain that tribalism is deeply entrenched, and I doubt those in nollywood are the only ones practising it!Hence my comments earlier.

This thread will surely go south at some point if we dont apply caution, because the picture aint that simple!smokin:
 

ogonna

Active Member
#18
You know, it's usually hard for me to disagree with you because you do make a lot of sense (at the risk of sounding patronising). However, it is glaringly obvious in Nollywood, due to it's huge international popularity. Believe it or not, Igbos did not start Nollywood, but made it popular at the detriment of professionals such as one who gave the above interview.

Well, as for there been tribalist in every tribe, I would agree but the Southerners are far more receptive as you can see, Lagos is the hub of every tribe in the country so there goes to show how tolerant and welcoming we are of course (I know i'm making a sweeping statement and totally of mark but what the heck)
As far as I know, one Kenneth Nnebue decided to experiment with home video in Igbo having observed the success of the Yoruba home videos which drew from the Ogunde and Ladipo movie era. Nnebue's smash hit 'Living in Bondage' inspired other Igbo people to venture into the movie business and eventually to experiment with movies in English. So as far as I know, its been a case of some Igbo individuals getting into the movie business on their own for commercial reasons and not because Ohanaeze Ndigbo directed them to do so as revenge on Awo and the Yoruba for 1951! Likewise, I don't recall any grand assembly of Ndi'Igbo at which it was decided to popularize Nollywood 'at the detriment of professionals'.

Similarly, I don't recall anyone seriously claiming that the Igbo started Nollywood. If I recall my history and social studies classes in elementary and high school, we were taught that the movie industry in Nigeria was started by the likes of Hubert Ogunde and Duro Ladipo. I don't recall while growing up ever hearing any Igbo person complaining that the movie industry was 'dominated' by Yoruba people simply because back then the movies were in Yoruba with predominantly or all Yoruba cast. As far as I can recall, other than some Igbo people who lived in Lagos/southwest and could understand the language, most other Igbo people simply watched what was available on NTA or when VCRs came, Hollywood, Chinese or Indian movies. I don't ever recall it being an issue among Igbo people that I knew that Ogunde was awarded a national honour and acclaimed the father of Nigerian cinema for producing films which few Nigerians outside of his ethnic group had ever watched or even heard of! The man was a pioneer in African filmmaking and deserved the award on that score at least.

Growing up, I recall seeing Yoruba language home videos in the homes of my Yoruba friends and when I moved to Lagos, I saw posters for Yoruba films to be shown at the National Theatre. But I never felt that it was an issue for me that some Yoruba showbiz impresarios made movies in their language and with mostly Yoruba cast. I did not feel marginalized because the newspapers and magazines celebrated Yoruba actors and filmamkers. I usually skipped over such articles because I did not have a clue what the reporter was talking about. I did not understand Yoruba labguage so I did not take much notice of the movies or watch them unless I went to a Yoruba pal's house and there was a sub-titled version being shown. It was just not an issue at all. There was no big deal to it.

So the notion of Yoruba vs Igbo competition on 'ownership' of Nollywood is a big joke. The movie business is open to all. No one is forced to buy or watch movies which are displeasing to him or her. Likewise, any one who feels sidelined by one group of producers has the option of going to another group of producers or making his or her own movies.

Here's a funny story by way of aside. In 1990, my pals and I read a Lagos-based newspaper which proclaimed Shina Peters as best musician in Nigeria etc, etc. We could not help wondering how he received such accolades when we had never heard about him or heard his music. We knew of Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey, Barrister etc because we'd seen the LPs playing in our Yoruba friend's houses or at music shops. But we'd never heard of Shina Peters and here he was being proclaimed best musician in Nigeria. In later life, I came to realize that the editors of Lagos newspapers tend to assume that Nigeria begins at Apapa and ends at the tollgate on Lagos-Ibadan expressway.
 

ogonna

Active Member
#19
Well written. However, in response to the statement highlighted above, the Amatas and Ejiros are a force to be reckoned with in the Industry. Infact, I can categorically say that these two families have carved their names in stone from in the Nigerian film and television industry. These two can be regarded as one of the pioneers of the English genre movies before the likes of Andy Chukwu or whatnots came in. So, with that said, I trust you understand that the Igbo marketers, however they try can not shove these two. As a matter of fact, those are the only two names in the English movie genre, I trust to cast actors outside of their tribes.

As much as I find the mediocre films being churned out from Idumota or what is the headquaters called in Imo State entertaining, it pains me that other nationals (i.e Jamaicans, other Africans and so on and the general nollywood lovers) who see these movies only see the display of the Igbo culture which is why I thought, if this is going to be the case, then it is only fair they drop the Nollywood name and go by Biafrawood because they are obviously not show casing other Nigerian cultures. The village scene is always and Igbo one, with Igbo elders and so on. As long as they continue to use the name Nollywood, they should incorporate other tribes of the nation Nigeria.

As per Lari Williams going solo. It is just "imposicant"! Did you hear of how the marketers dealt with the previously "banned" stars when they attempted doing independent works? No way! He's too old to be running round for favours now. I think the best idea is what he already have on ground - Film school. Afterall he can impart some knowledge on the newer generations since the marketers have chosen to make him redundant.

THIS HOLD ON THE NIGERIAN MOVIE INDUSTRY HAVE TO BE BROKEN!!!
I don't know that a grand conspiracy by Igbo marketers to drive the Amatas and the Ejiros out of the movie business exists. If you do, please tell us more about it.

Rather than rename the movie industry, how about people from the ethnic groups whose cultures are not being adequately represented making their own movies reflecting their cultures? This is already happening with the Delta and Bayelsa state governments financing films by indigenes of those states. Likewise, Jumai Joseph tries to promote Ebira culture in her films. I'd like to see more of such positive action rather than constant complaints that Igbo filmmakers do not not present a full spectrum of Nigerian cultures in their movies - which they should strive to anyway in my own personal opinion.

BTW, should we strip Hubert Ogunde of his national honour and the title of 'Father of Nigerian cinema' because he made films reflecting Yoruba history and culture in Yoruba language?

I refuse to believe that it is impossible to produce and market English language movies in Nigeria outside of the networks controlled by the Idumota marketers. Is Tunde Kelani not producing and marketing English language movies? Is Dove Media not producing and marketing its own English movies? A lazy workman will always blame his tools.
 
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