Nigeria at 60: Celebrities speak on Independence Day and Nollywood
It is Nigeria’s 60th Independence Anniversary and as usual, the day offers citizens the opportunity to reflect on the journey to nationhood. Celebrity caught up with a few Nollywood practitioners and they share their thoughts on independence, Nollywood, and Nigeria of their dream.
The independence of our country, which is synonymous with achieving international sovereignty, is an individual and collective message for each and every one of us. It means, first of all, that each of us has power over our destinies; that nothing is written, that nothing is finished.
The sacrifices of our founding fathers, of the men and women who heroically fought against oppression, remind me that freedom is not given, but is a daily battle, optimism, and resilience to be renewed through action, fortitude, and audacity. The independence of our country, Nigeria, is also the fundamental message that if we can better unite, better overcome our differences, embrace integrity and work; we can build and bequeath to our children a better Nation.
Nigeria’s creative and cultural industry has proved itself to the world over the past 30 years. Cinema has become an economic lung, just like oil. As a young woman, a citizen, and an active force, this industry has given me everything and I am proud to bring my talent on board.
My greatest aspiration is that Nigerian cinema in the next sixty years will carry deeper stories, education, consciousness, and a transformative vision for the Nation and that it becomes, more than an industry or an economic sector, a pillar of our renaissance, our beauty, and our greatness.
INDEPENDENCE for me is the innate sense of sovereign freedom and identity. It represents for me, the liberty of every citizen to live and work without geographical barriers. Independence bestows the honour and dignity of being called a citizen.
At this stage of our national development, I would love to see a Nollywood and indeed the entertainment industry in general that commands the deserved attention of government and policymakers as a major contributor to the national GDP. I wish for an industry where the practitioners are truly prosperous. My wish for Nigeria is to see a leader or leadership that would for the first time in our chequered history muster the patriotic nerve to see and do things differently. A leader or leadership that would dare to love the country first before ethnic and religious considerations
INDEPENDENCE to me signifies the opportunity to rewrite our history and make our country into what we want it to be. In my industry, I would love to see better remuneration for industry practitioners and I would also like a time to come when actors are paid royalties.
In Nigeria, I would just like for it to be an EASIER place to live in; uninterrupted power, good healthcare, and emergency services, security, and good infrastructure. Currently, none of these things exist in Nigeria, which makes it a very difficult place to live in.
INDEPENDENCE to me means freedom for us as people to shape our destiny as ONE nation despite the imperfections of the alliances that forged it. It is an opportunity to harness our huge potential as a nation for the commonwealth of Nigerians and humanity at large.
As a filmmaker, unfortunately, I see these imperfections still very debilitating to our notion of independence and Nollywood is a perfect reflection of that. Like Nigeria, the industry is at a stage where we must come together or fall prey to neo-capitalist forces that are not necessarily here to improve us but to grab their share of the untapped resource within our cultural ethos and as well reshape; a new scramble for the country’s soul and indeed Africa’s.
Without a fundamental policy intervention and change in the laissez-faire attitude of the government to issues of culture and Nollywood in particular, no amount of sporadic acts of benevolence, grants or intervention can assuage the current malaise.
I DON’T know if it’s so much as what independence means to me, or the feelings and thoughts it evokes, which can become quite depressing if allowed to linger. But when it comes October 1st of every year, because conversations about the country are practically on the lips of everyone, and every screen one turns on, I’m forced to literally pause and give Nigeria and its many challenges a good thought. And I never, ever come out of it joyful. I am grateful though that nothing has succeeded in pushing us into war, and that there’s an admirable level of peace in the country.
So, perhaps what independence means to me is a period of soul searching and stock taking as a citizen of a nation that deserves better than its getting from its leaders and citizens that are long overdue in reaping what they deserve from a country that is blessed with enviable resources.
For an industry that started solely on the sweat and meager resources of its practitioners, I must say first and foremost, that Nollywood has not done badly at all. However, there are still miles and miles to go, and challenges to overcome, so the industry is better positioned. My wish, therefore, is for the dawning of a time when Nollywood is known not just as one of the world’s highest producers of movies in terms of quantity, but quality and for a time when we would have more than enough screens to exhibit our films and recoup our investments with good profit to go with it.
For Nigeria at 60, Nigeria isn’t too young a country to come into its own and assume its rightful, albeit self-acclaimed, place in the continent as the giant of Africa. So, I wish from the deepest part of my being that we would go past those things that have ailed us as a nation for so long and work towards leaving the position of a third-world country, on to becoming a country to reckon with in every sense of the word; with leaders who are genuinely interested in serving for the betterment of the country and its citizens, and citizens who mirror the true meaning of patriotism and are totally invested in the well-being of the country.
Achibi Sam Dede:
NIGERIA’S film industry, popularly known as Nollywood, became a global brand via a process of consistently challenging itself by sheer creative improvisation and doggedness to tell the African experience, using the medium of film. More than anything else, the choice of themes and ideas about the lives of mainly lower and middle-class Nigerians, woven around a simple (sometimes, simplistic) plots, was essentially why Nollywood resonated all over Nigeria and the Nigerian Diaspora.
In recent times, Nollywood has lost a little bit of its populist outlook with increasing cinema patronage, as it’s new themes and ideas have, to some extent, deflected towards an elitist disposition. My perception of Nollywood has always been for it by means of mobilizing ordinary Nigerians to be aware of their civic rights and the zeal and conviction to fight for and protect those rights, while also striving to attain their highest levels of fulfillment. Perhaps we are not thinking profoundly yet. Perhaps…