Auteuring Nollywood

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Description

Beginning from an auteur standpoint, this book interrogates extant cinematic re-presentation of African and Nigerian postcolonial realities in Nollywood. It makes a case, using Kunle Afolayan�s The Figurine, for a critical space-clearing gesture around the notion of a neo-Nollywood, which transcends the formulaic cinematic re-presentation of African and Nigeriam realities to embrace a visionary and philosophic rearticualtion of the role of filmmaking, and of Nollywood, in the Nigerian imagination. The Idea of neo-Nollywood, and a visionary director, therefore stands at the core of a cinematic production process that challenges, disturbs and stimulates perceptions of current and future African identities.

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Published 29 December 2014
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EAN13 9789789400690
Language English
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AUTEURING NOLLYWOOD
Adeshina Afolayan
Critical Perspectives on the FigurineAUTEURING NOLLYWOOD
Critical Perspectives on
THE FIGURINE
AUTEURING NOLLYWOOD
Critical Perspectives on
THE FIGURINE

edited by
Adeshina Afolayan
UNIVERSITY PRESS PLC
IBADAN
2014University Press PLC
IBADAN ABA ABEOKUTA ABUJA AJEGUNLE AKURE BENIN
CALABAR IKEJA IKORODU ILORIN JOS KADUNA KANO
MAIDUGURI MAKURDI MINNA ONITSHA OSOGBO OWERRI
PORT HARCOURT WARRI YABA ZARIA
© Adeshina Afolayan 2014
First Published 2014
All rights reserved
ISBN 978 978 069 828 7 (Limp)
ISBN 978 978 069 829 4 (Cased)
Published by University Press PLC
Three Crowns Building, Jericho, P.M.B. 5095, Ibadan, Nigeria
E-mail: unipress@universitypressplc.com
Website: www.univ.comFor Funmilayo Afolayan:
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without that soft touch
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FOREWORD
Irapada (Redemption) and Araromire (The
Figurine), Kunle Afolayan has already established himself as a
success has been all the more spectacular for being so immediate,
character to his sudden prominence as a director. At the present
moment, as Nollywood struggles through its latest crisis, his success
bigger budgets and includes as part of its basic strategies theatrical
specimen of an exotic phenomenon of African popular culture.
is what Tunde Kelani has always done. There is an obvious
Afolayan got his start as an actor playing the young prince in
Kelani’s Saworoide and Agogo Eewo. (Of course, Afolayan was born
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uncommon level of artistry and a slow, deliberate, careful approach
deliberately stayed out of it.
Both also distinguish themselves by the wide ambit of Nigerian
as Kelani has always drawn on actors from several traditions not
only for their individual talents but also to suggest a blending, a
broad cultural alliance; in The Figurine Afolayan casts stars with
and gives the painter and performing artist Muraina Oyelami, who
and Adebayo Faleti. Oyelami’s paintings and posters are a crucial
museum of archaeology and modern art is a recurrent point of
reference. Afolayan expresses his own generation’s urban culture
in the edgy fashion designs, interior decoration, architecture, and
The Figurine
habitually showcases what money can buy but often without
Mosebolatan
(directed by Ade Love and shot by Tunde Kelani) and Orun Mooru y Ola Balogun) which featured a performance by King
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cultural ambition, of course, but so is an ambitious imagination.
Nigeria’s cultural energies; one could contemplate this with more
joy if Nollywood engaged more fully with the wider Nigerian
artistic heritage instead of merely superseding it.
mindedness and moralism that are so characteristic of Yoruba
culture. Irapada
structure rather than something preached about: the strongest,
are the friendships across ethnic lines; code-switching is constant,
though there are also a couple of scenes that play around strong
linguistic barriers, as if to draw attention to the problem that is
and green after the rains, with little or no hint of the communal
(Perhaps the Hausa businessman’s treachery and violence towards
to illustrate basic human lessons: be humble in the face of fate;
trust your friends; listen to your mother; don’t let masculine pride
it is central to the protagonist Dewunmi’s father’s story as well as
his own.
magnetism are settled, married, enmeshed early and deliberately
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of twists and turns, his attention centred on the betrayals and
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a term we must learn to use without prejudice if we are to
Irapada is
to beg for forgiveness, lost parents and children, twists of fate. Its
narrative form, punctuated by visions, ranging across generations,
and persons, is clearly rooted in African soil. The Figurine, though
and an array of extreme emotional states: catatonic grief, cowering
subjection, raw fear, love and jealousy exacerbated to madness and
murderousness.
of the Nollywood imagination. Afolayan’s attention is all on the
bewildered suffering caused by this unseen dimension, rather than
resist giving it determinate form. Irapada’s ecumenicalism aids in
Yoruba culture with asperity, but it is not clear whether this is
because he is a Christian or because he is a modern, educated man,
under the babalawo’s direction, his Hausa friend Shehu offers
Muslim prayers in Dewunmi’s wife’s hospital room, into which her
As The Figurine
believe?” but refuses to answer it, instead constructing alternative
interpretations that spiral ironically around one another. But what is
the difference between the two interpretations? If you believe this
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is a story of human agency, then it is just the logic of melodrama
that curls around everything, subsuming the supernatural: love and
betrayal of intimates are the strongest forces in the world. If you
believe this is a story of the supernatural power of the goddess
Araromire, then what sort of deity is she? Not a guardian of
of melodrama, the presiding deity of Nollywood: you have really
displaying a full range of strong emotions and each individual’s
a mechanism for accommodating the belief systems of both a
domestic Nigerian audience, which is thoroughly accustomed to
of exotic spiritual forces while distancing itself from actual belief?
are losing the grassroots authenticity that distinguished Nigerian
depended so heavily on foreign funding and foreign distribution
circuits and has, therefore, arguably, been tailored to foreign tastes.
We shall see how this turns out; surely it will not all turn out in the
level, but developing out of itself, nourished by its roots.
* * * * *
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been increasing exponentially and there is now a good deal of it.
criticism was originally invented by French critics to approach
Hollywood directors, and it should not be applied to Nigerian
circumstances without careful consideration. Do the African
same conception of individual creativity as the European literary
model behind auteur criticism? To what extent should Nollywood
be understood as an African popular art? What is the role of the
range of roles? Biodun Jeyifo’s argument that Nigeria now has a
individuals pursue independent visions and strategies, suggests the
complexities of the situation. To begin to understand the range
of actualities and possibilities with the necessary sophistication,
we need many studies of individual directors, producers, and,
are unambiguously artists who deserve sustained and respectful
attention.
This collection of essays also illustrates the interdisciplinary
character of the literature that is growing up around Nigerian
come to grips with the videos, but it is now doing so vigorously,
and the video phenomenon is so huge and impinges on the
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that no one particular discipline or department (e.g. Theatre Arts
or English) can or should hope to exercise sovereign control over
its study.
academic community, the University of Ibadan, responding to
Nigeria’s most powerful art form. I have always been proud of my
own passage through UI as a Fulbright Scholar; in the preface to
my Nigerian Video Films, I wrote that it was very much an Ibadan
here in its opening pages.
Jonathan Haynes
Professor of English
Long Island University
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PREFACE & ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
that led to the evolution of this volume. And the three are
seem incompatible even to the discerning. However, both share a
fundamental characteristic which is the premise for our arguments
different levels, with the idea of vision. Yet, our intellectual
relationship to both, especially in Africa, appears at best whimsical.
Both have been prevented from performing their function within
the context of popular culture and the extrication of Africa from
its predicament.
been mired for a long time in the dynamics of underdevelopment
that in turn gave the industry its economic raison d’être. And
this has done a lot to undermine its internal mechanism in
terms of production, distribution and exhibition. In spite of
unimaginative aesthetics than for its deep contribution either to
the enlightening of the human condition or its interrogation of
the African predicament. In the second place, what we call the
enterprise in Africa under its desiccative grasp. Let’s illustrate this
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with a Nigerian example. Early in 2009, Honourable Friday Itulah,
representing Esan North-East/South-West Federal Constituency
of Edo State of Nigeria in the House of Representatives, proposed
and sponsored a legislative bill for an Act that would lead to the
establishment of a National Institute of Philosophy (Cf. Sogolo,
legislators rejected it because they felt philosophy has no tangible
in the Nigeria movie industry. Both issues point at the non-existing
rapport between government and academia in Nigeria, and the
worry.
derives from my over-the-years observations and disillusionment
with Nollywood. The cinematic evolvement of what we now call
genre to the video mode. The celluloid tradition in Nigeria owes a
Ogunde, Adeyemi Afolayan (Ade Love), Moses Olaiya (Baba Sala),
etc. Yet, this transition, founded in the throes of Nigeria’s
malaccepting an idea whose time had come.
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On a biographical note, I remember vividly that my own dad had
expressed several times his avowed disaffection and rejection of
Ori Olori, produced with the assistance of a massive loan,
by two factors. Piracy was becoming a war and the cheaper video
7 KHSUROLIHUDWLRQRIYLH FHOOXORLGPR RUD WKHYLGHR�OPOHGLQH[
America’s Hollywood and India’s Bollywood.
The second incidence that instigated my interest is the low
to the drive for national development in Nigeria or any national
context in Africa. Just as we hinted above, philosophy supposedly
stands at the lowest rung of the ladder of development-relevant
disciplines. Even as a humanistic discipline, philosophy is considered
rest of the humanities, when compared with the physical, social
and management sciences. The National Policy on Education is
based on a 60:40 ratio in favour of the sciences, and advertises
the latter as the fulcrum for jump-starting development in Nigeria.
Thus, for the Nigerian government, the practical is much more
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both the joy of philosophy as well as its tangible contributions to
national development.
The third issue that led to this volume, and deriving from the
above, is my contact with the Popular Culture and Philosophy Series
by the Open Court Publishing Company. This series debuted in
2000 and currently has more than 90 volumes. These titles include
The Matrix and Philosophy (2002), The Lord of the Rings and Philosophy
Harry Potter and Philosophy (2004), The Chronicle of Narnia
and Philosophy (2005), James Bond and Philosophy (2006), The Beatles y (2006), Dr Who and Philosophy (2010), Inception and
Philosophy (2011) and so on. The series editors have this to say
about it:
Since its inception in 2000, Open Court’s Popular Culture
to general readers. The volumes present essays by academic
within television shows, movies, music and other icons of
popular culture.
elaboration of the relationship between philosophy and popular
culture:
A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, and a
healthy helping of popular culture clears the cobwebs from
Kant. Philosophy has had a bad public relations problem for
a few centuries now. This series aims to change that, showing
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you a philosopher, someone who believes the unexamined
life is not worth living and the unexamined cartoon is not
worth watching.
and utility of pleasure and entertainment, but much more
of differences between the West and Africa, that they got to this
implication of the utility and relevance of philosophy before we
did (if indeed we have).
These incidences generated the desire to outline a systematic
of our collective existence as Africans, and to the possibility of
generating cinematic visions that would enable us transcend the
of what it means to be an African in an evolving modernity in
Africa. It is the contention of this volume that Nollywood, and
projecting a vision of what it means to be truly African and truly
modern.
accumulated many unpayable debts. I am grateful to all those who
xvii