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Nollywood and the art of African Storytelling

When you log on to any social media platform, chances are that you will bump into the 'Why are you running?' meme. Even though many people do not know its origin, it has gained a lot of popularity to the extent that there are DJ mixes with the audio, songs, and even merchandise from the meme. The meme is part of a scene from the Nollywood movie Pretty Liars 1, released in early 2010. Although most people might not have watched the film, it is quite impressive to see Nollywood's impact and influence on social media culture and current trends worldwide.

Most of the time, when we speak about old Nollywood movies, the conversation always drifts to how much witchcraft was featured and whether that had an influence on the way people viewed Nigeria and Africa as a whole. The movies' opening scenes were always very aggressive, and the plot ever featured blood money and rituals. It is very refreshing to see that currently, the industry is moving away from such narratives. This is not to say that the old Nollywood movies were not great, but the growth must be acknowledged.

An example of this is Kemi Adetiba’s 2018 movie, King of Boys. The movie follows the story of Eniola Salami -played by the exceptional Sola Sobowale - who is chasing her political ambitions while at the same time fighting for her connections in the underworld, which consequently puts her in a power struggle that leads her to her almost losing everything she holds dear. I think that the movie did a great job in terms of moving away from the usual plots and instead tackles issues such as politics, corruption, power struggles, Feminism, and even motherhood. It is interesting to see how much the storytelling has changed; from the plot, the locations, the use of soundtracks, and even moving away from the traditional large casts. This shift in the industry has also spilt over to other platforms, for example, on social media. This has also paved the way for brands such as Yungnollywood, an entertainment platform on social media based on Nollywood movies to entertain people using current trends such as memes while still maintaining the originality of the films. The conception of such brands and entertainment methods is evidence that Nollywood as an industry has grown and adapted to the current trends.

With Nollywood being the second-largest movie industry globally, it shows that Africans are consuming what they produce, which is great for the continent. It also indicates that storytelling goes beyond borders seeing that the movies are also on Netflix now. I think that Nollywood is an excellent reminder for us as Africans to own our stories and tell them from our own experiences and through our lenses because that is the only way of staying authentic.

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