My relationship with Nollywood started without my consent, but it is one that I truly value now. The more that I have reflected on it, I realise that my relationship with Nollywood as a fan, commentator and critic has always been grounded in what it means for the communities it depicts and impacts.
As a child, parents, and family friends who had travelled to Nigeria would bring Nollywood cassettes home and it was one of the only sources of sanctioned family viewing. So it reminds me of times that I could gather with my parents, siblings and visitors and enjoy something all together. There were two extremes, interacting with the movie, or interacting over the movie and simply spending time as a family.
At University, it transformed from being purely a source of entertainment to an area of curiosity as my studies in sociology and the people I met began to make me question my identity. I identify as British Nigerian as I was born and raised in the UK to Nigerian parents. And the families and dilemmas in the movies with all of their flaws and judgement reminded me of the discussions I’d have with family members about storylines. The movies I had access to on YouTube and later IrokoTv also gave me a dramatised window into a place that some people said was my home and others said was not.
I pursued Nollywood academically because the proliferation of the industry has to be recognised not only in regard to revenue generation but also as a cultural export. The power of storytelling is understood across the globe but I think that it is only in recent years that we have started to take Nollywood as a storytelling phenomenon more seriously. Ultimately there is something incredibly refreshing about the stories, images, accents, body shapes, and fashion that Nollywood provides me and other members of the Diaspora with that cannot be found in any other medium.