Showmax’s ‘Ghana Jollof’ is proof that Nigeria, Ghana are brothers in arms
Showmax’s first-ever original Nollywood comedy show premiered on the platform in October 2021, and it’s shone light on a few topical issues. One that stood out is that Nigeria and Ghana have been brothers in arms for years. They are incredibly similar in many ways than just jollof.
Since the first Nigerian exile from Ghana in 1969 through the Ghanaian exiles from Nigeria in 1983 and 1985, both countries have had a love-hate relationship. However, since the last ‘Ghana-Must-Go’ situation of 1985, the two countries have managed to remain at peace with each other. They have developed what presents like a sibling rivalry with the citizens (especially the younger generation) taking playful jabs at each other on social media. Jabs or not, at the heart of things, both countries have supported each other in infrastructure, trade and even entertainment.
Even though they regularly spar for superiority, they have several similarities. Both nations are in Western Africa and were colonised by the British. They are two of five English-speaking countries in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Both countries love jollof rice, highlife/afrobeat, and homegrown content. Ghanaians and Nigerians are also fiercely defensive of their nations and will fight to protect them. They appreciate that African unity is vital, hence the constant support the countries have shown each other in times of need.
At the core of things, Ghanaians and Nigerians don’t have any real issues aside from ego and superiority. Now and again, that ego rears its ugly and sometimes hilarious head. Right now, it’s the somewhat ridiculous battle Shatta Wale and Burna Boy are having about how Nigerian music keeps getting more popular than Ghanaian sounds. Shatta Wale has tried to make it a national fight, but most artistes in both nations are erring on the side of unity. This is just more proof that, at the core, the citizens of both countries love each other.
But if that doesn’t make it obvious enough, perhaps the film sector will. Although the movie industry in Nigeria is known as ‘Nollywood’ and Ghana’s is called ‘Ghollywood’ by a few, there have been countless crossovers between both sectors. In the 90s, when Nigeria first began to experience the home video boom, the movies were dominated by mostly Nigerian actors. However, by the mid-2000s, Ghanaian and Nigerian actors started to work on films together, giving home videos a new feel. Movies like Four Can Play, Beyonce and Rihanna, and Heart of Men quickly began to fill home video stores. To date, movies like Single and Married, Heart of Gold, and The Perfect Picture have continued to enjoy collaboration between both industries. And actors like Van Vicker, Majid Michael, John Dumelo, Jackie Appiah, Nadia Buhari, and Yvonne Nelson will have legendary status in Nollywood for a long time.
In more recent times, shows like Showmax’s original comedy series, Ghana Jollof , the collaboration of which both industries and nations enjoy is far from over. With actresses like Joselyn Dumas and Mawuli Gavor on the cast of Ghana Jollof, produced by Nigerian comedian, Basketmouth, it’s clear that the collaborative nature of both industries continues to grow. Other Ghanaian celebrities like Yvonne Okoro, Juliet Ibrahim, Frank Artus, Chris Attoh, Kofi Adjorlo, and Eddie Watson continue to build strong fanbases in Nigeria. Their Nigerian counterparts are every bit as popular in Ghana too.
Interestingly, it’s more than the crossing over of a few actors with Ghana Jollof. The Ghana Jollof team shot the series in Lagos and Accra, both nations’ most popular cities. It also features actors from both countries. Bright ‘Basketmouth’ Okpocha, Stanley ‘Funnybone’ Chibunna, Onyebuchi Ojieh, Uzor Arukwe, Akah Nnani, and Sunshine Rosman represent Nigeria. Ghana is represented by James Gardiner, Jacinta Ocansey, Mawuli Gavor, Joselyn Dumas, and Portia Freelove. The show also shows interesting resemblances between the different cultures in both cities. Above all, it shows that the citizens of both nations are good, kind, welcoming, and hardworking people, as most Africans are.
Egos aside, Ghanaians and Nigerians always have each other’s back when it comes down to it. The friendship between Ghana Jollof’s men just goes to show how deep it runs. And as many have been known to say, ‘film is only a mirror of society’. All it proves is that as Ghana Jollof’s Kweku and Jasper/Romanus are brothers in arms in life, love, and even drama, so are Nigerians and Ghanaians – simply brothers in arms, friends, and the best of neighbours.