Nollywood is turning 20, so what? Don’t get me wrong, I am all for Nollywood adding another year but with the lineup of parties, dinners, workshops and trainings, I am skeptical. You see, we Nigerians love to party and celebrate. If somebody buys a new car or builds a new house, the expectation is that it has to be ‘washed’. We love to celebrate and throw parties. It is so bad that some people would rather borrow money to buy the latest ‘aso ebi’ to feel among while their children’s fees remain unpaid. If there is money to throw away, then all well and good, throw a big party but remember that there is life after the party (all ye prospective brides out there, pay heed). However, economics has taught us that there are far more wants (demand) than resources (supply), hence, we need to prioritize.
Nollywoood turning 20 is great. In fact, it is wonderful and we have a lot to show for it. Indeed, we have come a long way despite all the financial and socio-political impediments. We truly have a lot to be thankful for but let us not forget that the journey ahead is still filled with a multitude of challenges – this for me is where our focus should be. Just like the Nigerian centenary celebration, a lot of money will be spent celebrating a number – monies that could have been channeled to something more lasting and impactful. Nollywood at 20 celebrations is no different. For once, why can’t we do something different? What is wrong with a series of low key celebrations in major Nollywood cities? This way, the real people of Nollywood (not just the celebrities) would have a slice of the Nollywood @ 20 cake. The rest of the money can then be used to build capacity and lasting infrastructure. I would love to see more studios spring up. Why is it that after how many years, Tinapa, is still the one people are talking about? What about a museum which chronicles the history of Nollywood with real artifacts, videos, props and the likes? It is a shame that we do not even have literary journals dedicated solely to Nollywood. How do we expect the academics to treat us if we have scarce reference materials?
Moving forward, the question I will be asking is: where do I want to see Nollywood in the next 20 years? What can I put in place in the next 1 week, 1 year and 10 years to make this a reality? We need a blueprint of common goals for the industry so people can come on board and get to work. What we have now is a bunch if people including the government peddling different agendas. Everyone is pursuing their own dream but what use is one broomstick sweeping a corner by itself when together as a broom, the whole room will be cleaned in no time. At 20, Nollywood needs to converge and speak with one voice if it is to be taken seriously. It does not mean starting from scratch and rewriting the rules (and throwing yet another lavish party). That would be too costly. It starts with taking a long look back and seeing where we got it right and building on our successes. It also means righting our wrongs by not making the same mistake twice.
Beyond the jamboree, red carpet fashion and government speeches, I ask again: Nollywood is turning 20, so what? I will be keenly watching all the developments as they unfold in the coming weeks and this time, I really hope to be surprised – in a pleasant way, of course.
The Nollywood Review is a weekly column by Isabella Akinseye published in Saturday Newswatch newspaper.