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Wednesday, April 20, 2016


After my post about Nigerian Television; my mind then turned to Nollywood. When I was a child, Yoruba films reigned supreme in the Nigerian film industry; in particular, Baba Sala's works until piracy ruined everything.  In the early nineties, things changed. After an influx of Igbo films, some subtitles and some not e.g The Unforgivable Sin (Zach Orji's debut film), Nneka, The Pretty Serpent (starring Ndidi Obi),Living In Bondage (starring Kenneth Okwonkwo, at his best); the Nigerian audience were treated to English speaking ones; Full Moon, Glamour Girls, True Confession, Blood on my hands, Compromise, Dust To Dust, When The Sun Sets (Kate Henshaw's debut), Domitilla, Another Campus Tale, Sakobi, The Snake Girl, Festival of Fire, Goodbye Tomorrow, Mortal Inheritance, Daybreak,  Igodo.. the list is endless. Over the years, we've been  treated to good and very memorable ones; thanks to ace directors like Chico and Zeb Ejiro, Tade Ogidan, the late Amaka Igwe(may her soul rest in peace) and Teco Benson. But these days, we seen to get more flops than good ones.
The sad truth is, it seems there's more emphasis in making money out of the films than actually making good films. Yoruba films are still doing very well, even though there are still flops here and there. But the English speaking ones... there's still a lot of work to be done on it. Most Nollywood films nowadays have improbable to predictable story plots, compared to the early ones most people took for granted when they first came out and have either forgotten or half-forgotten.  I wonder how many people know the story plot of Tunde Kelani's Ti Oluwa Ni Le,  Tade Ogidan's Hostages and Diamond Ring or Amaka Igwe's Violated, To Live Again or Rattle Snake! Sorry to say, but while I'm sure there are still some good movies out there, the earlier films Nollywood offered are a lot better than the ones we have currently. Aside from the predictable and improbable story plots in our drama films, we have a lot of slapstick films that are simply made just to make us laugh. Or the story about a notorious character who gets his comeuppance in the end- funny but still predictable and a lot of over acting by the actors and actresses.
Seriously, more Nigerian scriptwriters, producers and directors should think outside the box! None of the familiar formula- they should explore more deeply on what would make a good movie; a real movie that would entertain the viewers and will still make great sales. Not all movies have a  happy ending so they should quit trying to make that so all the time and less slapstick!
Another thing I feel Nollywood needs... more book adaptations! In the 80s, the classic novel Things Fall Apart came to our screens through a fantastic television adaptation; starring Pete Edochie as Okwonkwo, Justus Esiri as his best friend Oberika. Also featuring was the late Oba Funsho Adeolu as one of the elders and the late Sam Loco Efe in a small role as Okoli, a Christian convert who died after he was accused of killing and eating the sacred python. 
A few years later, we other T.V adaptations;Abubakar Imam's book- Magana Jari Ce and Cyprian's Ekwensi's Jagua Nana's Daughter. The latter was not what I would call an excellent adaptation but it was a good effort all the same. 
We really need more book adaptations.The last one we got treated to was Chimamanda Adichie's Half Of A Yellow Sun. Not exactly Nollywood but it was a story set in 1960s Nigeria, had a sprinkling of Nollywood actors and actresses and was directed by a Nigerian- Biyi Bamdele (based in U.K presently BUT born  and raised here and this was his directoral debut). 
Hollywood has many book adaptations under its belt, the same with the British Industry and other countries. The books range from classics like Oliver Twist, Pride & Prejudice, Les Miserables to contemporary books like The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood to the Harry Potter franchise.
Nigerian's literature history doesn't stretch back to the 18th century but surely films from our classic books and plays can be made! I came name some that should be adapted.

No Longer At Ease: Professor Chinua Achebe's second book set in post colonial/pre-independence Nigeria; the main character is Obi, grandson of the fiery Okwonkwo in Things Fall Apart. If  Achebe's debut novel can be adapted for the screen, why shouldn't this one be for the cinemas? 

Ògbójú Ọdẹ nínú Igbó Irúnmalẹ̀; Nigeria's first full length novel in Yoruba and probably the earliest novel in Nigeria. It was published in 1938, written by D.O Fagunwa and translated into English by Professor Wole Soyinka- The Forest of A Thousand Daemons but the actual translation is "A Brave Hunter In The Forest of Daemons." A tale about a hunter who encounters several supernatural elements in a forest. A rather hard to read book if you're not into literature. Well so is Herman Meville's Moby Dick but check how many adaptations it has!

Efuru: This is something I mentioned in an old blog post; Efuru- the story of a wealthy but maritally/child challenged woman in post colonial Nigeria- should be made into a movie! For heaven's sake- this book was written by Flora Nwapa; Nigeria's first female novelist, she should be celebrated more!

The Passport of Mallam Ilia: Cyprian Ekwensi's  tragic story is another good idea for adaptation. During a train ride, a young man meets an old man (Ilia)  who then narrates a harrowing tale of revenge and the novel ends with a surprising twist after the old man's tale is done. 

The Slave Girl: Buchi Emecheta's novel about a girl sold to slavery by her irresponsible brother after the death of their parents and her time as a slave girl to the day she finally goes back home. 

Kurunmi: Ola Rotimi's historical tragic play set in the Old Oyo Empire in the 18th century. Kurunmi- Generalissimo of the Yoruba Empire clashes with the Ibadan chiefs after the dying Alafin decides to acknowledge the Crown Prince Adelu as his successor; which is against tradition as the crown prince is supposed to take his own life after the Aalafin's death.

Purple Hibiscus: The trials of a wealthy family and the goings on in  pre-democratic Nigeria seen through the eyes of a 15 year old girl. Chimamanda Adichie's debut novel.

There's hope yet for Nollywood!

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