When you hear the word ‘Nollywood’ what comes to mind? This a question that evokes a range of responses, from ‘noise’, to long scenes’, ‘village films’ to ‘drama’. The one thing it doesn’t evoke is indifference.
As the African diaspora in the UK alone is so diverse, Nollywood’s significance drastically varies. Some choose not to engage with Nollywood at all and so for them it may mean nothing. For those that do, different groups within the diasporas whether by generation, country or even region of origin have differing views.
For many Nigerians and Ghanaians who migrated to the UK or US in the late 80s and 90s, at a time where we did not have the same levels of connectivity, the earlier films – despite their flaws – provided feelings of nostalgia and acted as a means of cultural transmission for their children. The ‘To God be the Glory’ storylines were ‘safe viewing’, tools used to teach children ‘proper morals’ and warn against deviant social behaviours particularly regarding sex and money.
Depending on who you speak to among the second generation (the children of those who migrated), the older films were either a source of trauma, entertainment, pride, simply ridiculous or all of the above. As these films have continued to proliferate, improved in quality and become more easily accessible, they have become more of a source of entertainment and example of what is possible on the continent as a whole.
It is clear that as a cultural export, Nollywood is useful example to the diaspora and the world of what is important in the Nigerian cultural imagination, because regardless of what critics might say, it is content that is not only readily available, but also happily consumed.