From rituals to films: a case study of the visual rhetoric of Igbo culture in Nolywood films
Uwah, Innocent Ebere (2009) From rituals to films: a case study of the visual rhetoric of Igbo culture in Nolywood films. PhD thesis, Dublin City University.
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Many reasons have been advanced as to why the video film industry in Nigeria has been so successful financially and in building loyal audiences among Africans around the world. The present thesis argues that Nollywood films help to provide a time and a place for resolving deep-felt tensions in an increasingly modern world while affirming an authentic African [Igbo] identity. The way contemporary video films are produced brings these films close to the dominant emotional and identity questions posed by the Igbos, Nigerians and Africans alike. Particularly in Nigeria, the Nollywood film industry has brought familiar symbolic rituals of cultures on to the screen for audiences’ pleasure. Exploring the recurrent themes of these films raises consciousness about Nollywood as a new and special site where cultures are generated and regenerated. Here, major questions of values and meanings of life are explored, which raise awareness of the Igbo’s journey as a people. This thesis uses textual analysis as well as indigenous audience focus-group analysis to explore cultural representations in Nollywood. A wide range of participants were interviewed in the eight focus-group sessions that were conducted. Two in-depth interview sessions were also carried out on some Nollywood actors. Broadly, this research objectives were:
• to identify a conceptual framework for understanding the culture of Africa and Nigeria, in particular, using the concept of ‘communalism’.
• to determine the range of reception and consumption modalities of Nollywood products in Nigeria by means of focus-group interviews.
• to explore the impact of Nollywood as an industry in the wake of globalization and in the context of current global trends.
In pursuing these goals, this study looked at selected key films including, Things Fall Apart (1986), Coronation (2004), Bless Me (2005), Igodo: The Land of the Living Dead (1999), Living in Bondage (1992), My Best Friend (2003), Oil Village (2001), Widow (2007), Last Ofala (2002), Fool at 40 (2006), Festival of Fire (1999) and a lot more as listed in this study’s filmography. At the end this research found that the experience of Nollywood films is something of a centripetal process of communication for the Igbo and Nigerian viewers who believe that these texts help build their societies, culturally from below.
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