Relive Your 90s With These Epic Nigerian Films
Prepare for a trip down memory lane. The good old days had a variety of shows that formed a strong part of the “Golden age of television” in Nigeria before the Nollywood home-video boom occurred. If you grew up in Nigeria in the 90s and never watched an episode of any of these shows, then you probably never watched television. Here are some of the television shows that captured the hearts of Nigerians in the 1990s.
Basi and Company
“To become a millionaire, think like a millionaire!” This comedy series, written and produced by Ken Saro-Wiwa, told of an exceptional young man named Basi who had dreams of becoming a millionaire. Basi, with his impeccable English and well-defined mannerisms, intended to become one by tricking wealthy individuals. The show, which drew inspiration from Africa folklore, ran from the late 80s to the 90s on NTA. It satirised the widespread corruption in oil-rich Nigeria and its get-rich-quick mentality. The sitcom had an estimated 30 million viewers at its peak and was later published as a comedy fiction book series.
This show was arguably one of the best television series during this time. Checkmate offered a delicious brew of storylines revolving around disharmonious families, cultism and polygamy. Created by Amaka Isaac-Ene and starring Ego Nnamani (later Ego Boyo), Francis Agu and Richard Mofe-Damijo, the show ran from the late 80s through to 1994. Each character was unique, and the gripping storyline was relatable to many viewers. Checkmate also birthed the evergreen show, Fuji House of Commotion, which focused solely on Chief Fuji’s dysfunctional family.
Remember Chief Zebrudaya Okoroigwe Nwogbo alias 4:30, the sophisticated and enlightened World War II veteran? He was the protagonist of one of Nigeria’s longest-running sitcoms, The New Masquerade. The show started out as a radio programme called Masquerade transmitted on the East Central Broadcasting Corporation. It was created by the late James Iroha as a comic to relieve the tension and stress caused by the Nigerian Civil War. The 30-minute comedy show boasted a thrilling cast, including the late Claud Eke, Tony Akposheri and Lizzy Eveome.
Tales By Moonlight
Folklore has always been an important part of the Nigerian culture, and this show was created to narrate traditional Nigerian stories. It kicked off on TV in 1984 and ran into the 90s. The 30-minute children’s programme aired every Sunday on Nigerian Television Authority (NTA). Each engaging episode featured a woman fondly called “Aunty” narrating different folklore tales to a group of children seated beneath a tree. At the end of each episode, the kids asked and answered questions and shared different lessons they’d learned from the stories being told.
Things Fall Apart
Originally written as a novel by the legendary Chinua Achebe and arguably the greatest fiction story to come out of Nigeria, this television series was released in 1987 and aired into the 1980s. Things Fall Apart tells two overlapping, intertwining stories, both of which centre around Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Igbo village in Nigeria. The series gave the iconic Pete Edochie his big break as an actor after honing his skills earlier as a broadcaster. It also featured Nollywood veterans Nkem Owoh and Sam Loco.