Nollywood and Literary/Performance Studies in Nigerian Universities: A Case for School-to-Street Connection
Gbemisola Adeoti (PhD) Department of English Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, Nigeria E mail: email@example.com
A Paper for the 5th Globelics Conference, Saratov, Russia 19th – 23rd September, 2007.
Nollywood and Literary/Performance Studies in Nigerian Universities: A Case for School-to-Street Connection Gbemisola Adeoti (PhD) Abstract
The home video film tradition (now dubbed “Nollywood” by its practitioners) is one of the momentous developments in the realm of popular culture in Nigeria during the last decade of the 20th century. Easily Africa‟s fastest-growing film industry, it has won unto itself many enthusiasts of stage performance, radio and television drama series and celluloid feature films. While live theatrical performances and television drama series are dwindling as a result of stringent economic reforms, the artistes are making waves in video, a medium that has benefited tremendously from the expansion in the economy and technological break-through in the field of electronics. Most of the home movies are produced in indigenous languages like Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa and Edo or in English, drawing on traditional oral performance forms and Western codes of representation. Those in local languages often have English sub-titles in order to reach wider audience beyond the ethno-linguistic boundaries. However, there is a deep concern among critics, practitioners and patrons that Nollywood requires significant improvement in technical standard and artistic qualities. Questions are often raised about originality of stories alongside poor conception and facile resolution of conflicts. Also worrisome are issues of performance aesthetics, décor, colour, sound tracks, costume, make –up, subject-object interactions and props. The management aspect of shooting, editing, production and distribution also reveal a need for greater professionalism and practical competence. The paper observes that the rising popularity of Nollywood is taking place against the backdrop of a marginal connection between the industry and the products of literary and performing arts disciplines in Nigerian universities. A significant proportion of manpower in the industry lack formal training in literary and performing arts, just as many graduates of these disciplines are not accommodated in the practice even when they desire engagement. It argues that there is an urgent need for innovation in the content and tenor of education of the graduate of the Nigerian literary/performance studies, not only to deepen relevance in higher education but also to enhance the quality of practice of home video entertainment. 2
Nollywood and Literary/Performance Studies in Nigerian Universities: Case for School-to-Street Connection
Since the 1980s, home video has won unto itself many admirers of stage performances and drama series on radio, television and celluloid feature films. Largely, home video is a product of the increasing tendency across the world to appropriate products of modern scientific inventions and technological revolutions to interpret, propagate and disseminate indigenous cultures. While live theatrical performance and television soap opera are dwindling as a result of stringent economic reforms dictated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, the artistes are finding accommodation in the video industry. It has provided jobs for
scriptwriters, distributors, marketers, advertisers, poster-makers, hoteliers, transporters and proprietors of video clubs. Investment in the industry is worth about 650 billions of Naira as it has benefited tremendously from the expansion in the economy and technological break-through in the field of electronics. In a recent estimate by the National Film and Video Censor‟s Board (NFVCB), an average of 30 films are released in a week at about 20,000 copies each. Much of the efforts in its production and distribution, like elsewhere, is driven by commercial interest, hence, it is still a fiercely contested space where what is dominant is not ethno-cultural loyalty, but economic factor. The rise of Nollywood witnesses the decline of local interest in occidental and oriental films. Attesting the success of the industry, Bashir Ali writes: “Nigerian home video films are successfully dislodging foreign films in our cinema halls, markets, distribution and video clubs. Trends which 10 years ago could not have been contemplated” (2004, 37). For a nation plagued by political instability, economic hardship, low human development index, robbery and corruption, Nigerian home video screened on MNET and ITV to international audience provide a grain of succour amidst unpleasant branding and rating. Such is the wide reach and popular acclaim of Nigerian films in Africa that artistes from countries like Ghana, Kenya and South Africa are collaborating with their Nigerian counterparts to produce films and also organising training workshops across borders to update ideas and exchange knowledge. 1 The films circulate not only in Nigeria but also in neighbouring West African countries like Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone and Togo. Some of the
movie marketing organisations like Corporate Pictures and Zentury Pictures have sales outlets in the United Kingdom and United States of America. MNET, a digital satellite television station is currently in partnership with Africa Magic, a channel devoted largely to the transmission of African movies. Nigerian movies currently dominate daily transmission on the channel. While the socio-economic success and bright prospects of the home video tradition are hardly in contention, the aesthetic quality and technical standard are issues that continue to generate interests among its critics, scholars, practitioners and patrons. There is a widespread concern that the industry suffers significantly from technical and managerial inadequacies. Questions are often raised about the originality of stories alongside poor conception and facile resolution of conflicts. Also worrisome are performance aesthetics, décor, colour, sound, sound tracks, costume, make-up and props among others. English sub-titles are often marred by slim competence in syntax and semantics. The management aspect of the shooting, editing,
production and distribution also requires enhanced professionalism and practical competence. The existence of a robust connection between the universities as research and training institutions and the home video as a cultural production is quite essential, if the latter will develop and overcome its identified limitations. Universities are strategically placed not only to enhance the quality of service and living in the society, but also to ensure their preservation. The emergence of video techno-culture in contemporary Nigeria, its growing importance deserves constant interrogation. What are the factors inhibiting robust practice, high quality aesthetics and economic success in the industry? To what extent is the graduate of literary and performing arts in contemporary Nigerian universities well equipped for the challenges in the industry as a potential practitioner? How can we achieve a greater connection between the theories of the classroom and the practical realities of the streets with reference to Nollywood? These are some of the key questions that the paper addresses in order to stimulate ideas toward further growth of home video entertainment and strengthen the socio-economic and cultural relevance of the universities. In terms of research method, since the topic demands an adequate knowledge of theory and practice of film as well as the huge diversity of titles already produced, the paper studied relevant titles for illustrations. Personal interviews were conducted with faculty members in the areas of literary studies and performing arts in three universities: Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, University of Ibadan, Ibadan and Ahmadu Bellow University, Zaria.2 The curricula of
literary arts and performing arts in the three selected universities were also studied.
experience became useful in understanding the potentials and constraints of the industry. It also provided a basis for an incisive discourse of higher education and a mode of popular culture in contemporary Nigeria.
Nollywood and the Problematics of Being The term “Nollywood” advisedly, must be applied with caution. Though it presupposes a kind of homology, the vast possibilities and strands of identities within it shows heterogeneity, a difference and sometimes irreconcilable contradiction. It attempts to uniformise the notable ethno-lingual and socio-cultural divergences expressed through films in English language and other indigenous languages like Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, Edo, Tiv, Urhobo and so on. The result is a conscious nationalism in indigenous language films with the producers striving to retain national identities, exploring cultural materials and contemporary existential realities of their respective ethnic background. It can be safely asserted that films in indigenous languages still constitute the most vibrant aspect of the industry to date in spite of the wider reach and privileged position of films in English. Nollywood as a label is not accepted by the whole, but a part of the industry especially those who produce films in English language mostly around the cities of Lagos, Onitsha, Enugu and Aba. Those who subscribe to it use the term to refer to home video film tradition that is the dominant mode of contemporary indoor entertainment. Nollywood is therefore the Nigerian version of India‟s “Bollywood” and America‟s “Hollywood”. The absence of agreement in designation actually raises some crucial issues. While home video can be construed as a response to the increasing wave of globalisation blowing across all modes of cultural propagation, some observers have criticised the term as a blind and unimaginative aping of Western and Oriental cultures, a critique that is often extended to the content and context of home video film production (see Sango 2004). This is another arena where the cultures of countries of the West and Asia who are principal players in the game of globalisation, which is ostensibly powered by capital and technology, are impacting on those of the developing nations like Nigeria. One pointer to the limitation of the uniformising tendency of “Nollywood” is the emergence of the phenomenon of “Kannywood” which refers to the home video movie tradition
in contemporary Northern Nigeria. It developed around the cities of Kano and Kaduna, exploring in the main, the Hausa culture and religion. “Kannywood” has a distinct trajectory of its growth and has carved its own identity, even though it manifests some of the opportunities and limitations, as well as the defining elements of video culture in the country. Nonetheless, there is “Kennywood” that describes films produced around the metropolitan city of Kaduna, striking a difference from “Kannywood”, built around the city of Kano. 3 It is also remarkable that films produced in Sokoto in the Northwestern part of the country carve their own identity by leaning more toward Japanese and Chinese kung fu tradition for influence, unlike “Kannywood” that draws more from Indian romance and music. From the foregoing, it is clear that “Nollywood” is limited in range and cannot accurately account for the robustness, dynamism and richness of popular culture that go on within the industry. The above notwithstanding, if we excuse its imitativeness; the term is handy to refer to home video culture in Nigeria and about Nigeria. It captures its potentials as well as the epistemic contradictions that producers need to overcome in order to sustain its development for optimal benefit to the society. It also shows the tremendous foreign influence in the industry in terms of technical input and content. Besides, caught in the rave of globalisation, Nollywood implicates the aspirations of its practitioners to match the achievements of American and Indian films, even though it unwittingly points at the wide gulf between this aspiration and the final realization of many films under the Nollywood label. Thus, Nollywood is not a monolithic entity, but an idea that is unfolding and it is open to a welter of contradictions. Several factors, ranging from the historical to the purely economical, have been identified as being responsible for the increasing popularity of the home video and the enfeeblement of other forms of artistic expressions. One of such factors is the major revolution in technology that facilitated mass production of Video cassette player, Video cassette, Video recording machine, DVD and VCD, with increased access to these facilities by people outside the upper and middle strata in the social ladder. Another factor is the conscious appropriation of the medium in the exploration of daily existential realities of the people as well as the articulation of cultural nationalism, an abiding goal in British, Indian, American, Japanese and Chinese films that influenced developments in the industry (see Adeyemi, 2006: 376-390). The harsh economic climate which spawned mass unemployment, poverty, cutback in government investment in public utilities like radio and television and promotion of private initiative is also considered.
Popular television drama series on local and network transmissions like Village Headmaster, Koko Close, Cockcrow at Dawn, Why Worry?, Samanja, Checkmate, Basi And Company and so on were forced to be suspended from the air because of lack of sponsorship. Multi-national companies like PZ, Lever Brothers and African Petroleum that were sponsoring them also became affected by economic adjustment and the need to cut cost in order to survive the vicissitudes of a rapidly declining economy. With the arrival of home video, some of the prominent actors and actressesalready nurtured in the television soap opera (like Adejumo Lewis, Wole Amele, Liz sBenson, Olumide Bakare, Jab Adu and Sam Loko Efe), the veterans of popular stage theatre especially in the South Western part of the country (Lere Paimo, Kareem Adepoju, Adebayo Salami and Jide Kosoko) found a new means of plying their arts in the new medium. It also proved a useful medium for the re-presentation of popular literature especially in indigenous languages. Published works like Kola Akinlade‟s Owo Eje, Oladejo Okediji‟s Rere Run,Adebayo Faleti‟s Basorun gaa and Akinwumi Isola‟s Ko See Gbe were re-created in the film medium, just as a host of other popular Hausa novels like Abba Bature‟s Auren Jari, Abubakar Ishaq‟s Da Kyar Na Sha, Adamu Mohammed‟s Kwabon Masoyi, Bashir Sanda Gusau‟s Auren Zamani and Bilkisu Funtua‟s Ki Yarda Da Ni, among others were adapted for the screen (see Adamu, 2004: 93-94). In essence, the video medium in Nigeria has become a conflation of artistic outlets from traditional oral performance of different cultural groups to literary texts and mass media drama. In spite of the acknowledged high points above, Nollywood is confronted by a myriad of systemic problems, militating against its growth. The most consistent and much-talked about is that of quality, in terms of technical output and thematic realisation. It has been widely remarked that many of the titles, motivated largely by commercial gains, are hastily produced and packaged in a manner that astonishingly compromise standard. Many producers are not
necessarily people with endowment or training in the arts. Rather, they are business men who seek to make a substantial return from little investment. This cannot be separated from the larger socio-economic climate of the country. As Dapo Adelugba submits, “like other aspects of national productivity, the home video suffers from the fact that there are serious problems in the socio-economic planes of the country” (2007). Control and regulations were liberal at the beginning and this opened the industry to all comers. It became difficult to regulate quality and quantity of what were being produced, just as
remuneration and investment were left to the whims of circumstances. Admittedly, there is a conscious attempt to create an enabling environment for regulation in recent times, with the reinvigoration of the Nigerian Film and Video Censor‟s Board (the official regulatory agency) and a host of associations and guilds of professionals like Guild of Nigerian Dancers, Guild of Nigerian Actors, National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts practitioners, Association of Nigerian Theatre Practitioners, Independent Film and Video Producers and Marketers Association of Nigeria, and so on. Each of these associations exercises a measure of control over members and takes measures, including stoppage of production, to address the nagging problem of standard. Poor scripting is one of the problems perceivable in many films whether produced in English or indigenous languages. Some titles like The Stubborn Grasshopper, Alani Kansilor I& II, Jombo I & II, Ohun t’odun and Upside down I & II among others, betray poor conception of the issues involved in the content. Conflicts are hastily developed and resolved while characters and characterization bear tenuous relationship with subjects. When it concerns historical subject, they are hampered by poor research, or refusal to subject the script to peer critique. Some directors bring actors and actresses into location without a script in the coherent sense of it, or with a vague idea of the story, relying on the artistes‟ creativity and competence. This is not unconnected with the attempt to stave off piracy, but more importantly, a carry-over of the improvisational stock in trade of the Yoruba traditional traveling theatre. assessment, Foluke Ogunleye, a film scholar and critic remarks: In a general
Sometimes I see scripts that begin beautifully, but the way they are executed, and the way they end especially, is rather discouraging. They end in such shoddy and shocking way which gives the impression that not much thought went into the execution of the script in the first place.4 (2007) For commercial reasons, a story that should be produced in a single part, running for 110 minutes is dragged into two or three parts. As a result, the plot is patched up with boring irrelevancies, prolonged musical interlude, obviously repetitive flashbacks and far-fetched daydreaming. This is an obvious consequence of the absence of a formal professional
preparation in the art of script writing as it is the case in other aspects of film production.
Lacking a good script, some resort to adaptation or outright transposition of films from other cultures unto local screen. Piracy then becomes another menace that compromise standard in the industry. As Sango laments the preponderance of such unhealthy transposition in Hausa language films, “we succeeded in chasing away Indian films from the market, but only to replace them with films produced by black Indians! Most of our films were as a result of theft of Indian films” (2004, 63). Until recently, when the practitioners are being organised into various guilds of Directors, Dancers, Actors and Actresses, the problem of control and regulation of conduct was acute. Thus, in a poorly regulated field where all comers are welcome, anything goes. Such a field is naturally wide open to assault on standard, quality and ethics. It is with nostalgic reflections on the height already attained by Nigerian films in the days of celluloid films that Adelugba deplores the inadequacies of the video industry as it currently operates.
Due to a combination of financial problems, opportunism by people who are ready to grab what they can from the home made movie, those old standards observable in such pioneering efforts like Ola Balogun‟s Bisi Daughter of the River and Soyinka‟s Kongi’s Harvests tended to either wither away, or perhaps, not even remembered in many cases… the current standard is a far cry from the days of Bisi Daughter of the River, it is a far cry from Hubert Ogunde‟s pioneering films. It is a far cry from the days of television series by Oyin Adejobi Kootu Asipa); Duro Ladipo (Bode Wasinmi) and so on5. (2007) School and Screen Divide
It is observable that there exists a tenuous link between happenings in the home video industry and knowledge production centres especially the universities in Nigeria. While the Universities have not fully played the deserved interventionary role in enhancing standard in the field through manpower development, the video industry too has not adequately explored the potentials of the universities in the generation of much-needed knowledge and critical consciousness that could lead to enhanced performance in all aspects of video endeavour. The feeble connection between the universities and the video industry is registered in several ways. First, the area has not excited much attention among researchers of various disciplines in the
humanities and communication technology. From an elitist standpoint, some scholars still regard it as a low form of entertainment that does not merit a serious theoretical and critical interest. It is caught in a web of subtle war between high culture and low or popular culture, the category that home video movies is deemed to belong. Second, judging from the situation of the universities focused in the study, many departments of literary and performing arts across the country are as yet not fully equipped to offer a balanced instruction in the practical needs of video entertainment. Theorising does not pose much problem as making available to students equipment and situations that could adequately prepare them for the practical challenges of video production upon graduation. Third, many of the practitioners are self-instructed people who come up through experience and ply their arts without the benefit of institutional training. This is much
pronounced in movies produced in indigenous languages. Thus, the successes recorded so far have not been attended by commensurate contributions from universities‟ departments of literary studies and performing arts, two disciplines that are crucial to the growth of film culture. Fourth, many graduates of literary and performing arts don‟t seek or hardly find employment in the industry. When they do, it is difficult to secure a sustainable berth, hence, they turn to more economically promising and high financially yielding sectors like oil and banking industries, public relations, advertising and so on. Besides, the video industry is seen by some people as a closed society where admission is restricted. In this case, admission is alleged to be a favour being dispensed by money moguls, marketers, producers and directors to relatives or cronies. The problem is not yet adequately addressed in spite of proliferation of associations and guilds, serving various interests. As Ayo Mogaji, one of the star actresses observes, “…mediocre are getting into the industry because if you take a good look at it, it is just a few boys and a lot of girls that don‟t even know anything that are producers now” (2007, 26).
A Case for Connection
University training in performing and literary arts, apart from exposing the candidate to different artistic components of ilming also gives the candidate knowledge about cultural provenance which can be explored as setting, images, symbols and other narrative materials. The university as part of its social commitments is expected to generate innovative ideas and
provide, through capacity building, the platform for the development of the society. It should take a lead in public discourse of social phenomena due to its inherent capacities to systematically study, abstract and interpret realities in the society around it. Just as the university is born and nurtured by a society‟s drive towards advancement of its culture and civilization, the university in turn, owes the society an abiding obligation of generating ideas toward its development through the cultivation of human resources that cans translate such ideas, through actions, into concrete reality. For example, a course in playwriting or script writing should teach how to create simple or complex plot, generate and resolve conflicts, create credible characters that will propel the plot and animate conflicts in a way that will capture the interests of the audience, all rendered in clear and resourceful codes of audio-visual, verbal and nonverbal language. It is important to stress that where there is a synergistic relationship between the ivory tower and the street reality, the society ultimately benefits in terms of development. According to the Newmann school of thought, universities are established to propagate knowledge (Newmann, 1960). The university was at the centre of the renaissance spirit in Europe in the 15 th and the 16th centuries. In the same vein, the industrial revolution of 19 th century Europe was founded on a matrix of scientific, philosophical and technological discoveries of men in the universities. Niyi Osundare illuminates with lyrical mellifluousness, the humanistic essence of the university across the globe when he writes that it has always functioned as “the bedrock of progress” “…the fertile ground for learning and knowledge without which nation‟s quest for advancement can only be futile joke” (2007), 11). In his words: The University as we know it today grew…from the darkness of the Medieval period, survived the Middle Ages while helping Humanity to do the same, facilitated the birth of the Renaissance, lit up the torch of the Enlightenment, aided the dissentient spirit of the Reformation, oiled the wheels of the Industrial Revolution, saw the world through the numerous intellectual, scientific, and technological revolutions of our own age. (2007: 9-10). Akinjide Osuntokun also underscores the functionalist theory of the universities in a modern society when he remarks that “Universities over time have been involved in solving societal problems through basic and applied research” (2004:24). The above observations imply that given the necessary social climate, the universities can impact positively on a social
phenomenon like Nollywood. They can be looked up to for the provision of necessary new knowledge that would equip man to confront the capricious realities of a modern age. The above social responsibility informs the much-talked-about desideratum of a symbiosis between the “town and the gown”. As a home of knowledge, the university is capable of intervening with ideas that can cure Nollywood of its shortcomings identified above and also widen its success areas. The crucial question is how can literary and performing arts studies in the universities be made more responsive to challenges facing home video practice towards improved aesthetics and technical quality? While one is not ignoring the presence of courses in the curricula of literary and performing arts and some research initiatives where titles are reviewed and criticised, it is our contention that much more still needs to be done to bridge the gaps between the industry and the classroom. Going by the curricula of universities currently awarding Bachelor‟s degree in literary and performing arts, the preparation needs to be further strengthened with more relevant courses and programmes that would earn an average graduate of these disciplines a foothold in the industry upon graduation. The curricula for courses in Nigerian universities are based on what was called “minimum standard” designed by the Nigerian Universities Commission in 1990. Each discipline in each university was expected to adopt and/or modify within the framework of the Commission‟s stipulations, a situation that does not easily open itself up for innovative additions, even with the best of intentions. For instance, in literary studies of the English Department of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, apart from an elective in the second year (DRA 210: Introduction to Mass Media), the literature student is exposed to courses with direct relevance to, or bearing on video films only in the graduating year. These are – LIT 418: Film and Literature and LIT 414: Creative Writing. The thrust of both courses are theoretical than practical and they are even optional courses. Their orientation and administration at present hardly countenance the mounting challenges of media technology as registered in computer and video mechanism. The situation is much the same as what obtains in the Bachelor of Arts programme in Literary Studies in the English and Literary Studies Department of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Creative writing skills and popular culture are studied only in the last two years of enrollment through LITT 306: Creative Writing, LITT 409: Advance Creative Writing and LITT 412: Literature and Popular Culture. The current curriculum contents of literary
studies in the English Department at the University of Ibadan, the first to be established in Nigeria as a college of the colonial University of London in 1948, do not offer an exciting difference. Here, ENG 216: Introduction to Creative Writing, ENG 218: Popular Literature, ENG 350: Creative Writing and ENG 445: Advanced Creative Writing are optional courses (electives). While the creative writing courses focus on the major literary genres, ENG 218 explores the nature of popular literature and examines the relationship between literature, the mass media and other art forms on the one hand and the relationship between literature and the consuming public on the other. In the case of performing Arts6 in the three universities under focus, there are in the current curricula, basic courses on mass media (Radio and Television) and film studies at all levels of the Bachelor‟s programme. There are, in addition, courses on special areas like acting, directing, playwriting, production management, costume and make-up. The major challenges lie in the non-availability, or where available, sheer inadequacy of tools, spaces and conditions for practical classes. There is a general constraint of opportunities to concretise some of the
aesthetics, theoretical and technical issues raised in the teaching of films. None of the three universities as yet has a well-equipped film studio for post-production editing, even where recording camera can be accessed, not to talk of keeping pace with rapid developments in media technology in the 21 st century. Emmy Idegu sums up the constraints with especial reference to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and this much can be said of other universities:
There is hardly any public University in the country that is averagely equipped to teach film studies. We blow theories in the classroom and take the students out to the Television College or the Nigerian Film Institute in Jos. There, equipment that we teach them about and they imagine in class actually exist. This is one way of taking a practical shortcut to overcome our own shortcoming7. (2007) Aside from the foregoing, since the language of instruction in the universities is English language, the graduates of the above disciplines are more likely to find it easier to square into the genres of video films in English language. Except those who have mastered the indigenous languages outside the classroom, participating in the production of indigenous language films
requires special versatility in the specific indigenous language which the universities‟ curricula would not provide. This is one area that should be addressed. There is a profound necessity for changes of approach, if the universities would achieve a holistic connect with societal needs. What this calls for is a re-view of curricula of literary and performing arts, done with flexibility and innovation. New courses relevant to the imperative of home video aesthetics and technology ought to be introduced. Students should be able to access these courses early enough and they should be sustained in the course of their training. The changing modes of cultural narratives offered by technology definitely compel a reformulation of knowledge substance. The film is just a narrative medium like the stage or textual drama, the novel or the poem. It ought not only to be incorporated in the narrative culture, but also appropriated in knowledge dissemination. This is one step towards achieving a desired
functional connection between the school and the street, between knowledge centres and the larger society. The strident cry by the audience for improved quality of stories, technical production and distribution mechanism also necessitate a review of strategies by concerned practitioners. A market already saturated with titles, would compel the audience to be selective in their choices. In that case, quality comes to play a significant role in the choices. This, for instance, motivated a three-month suspension of production activities by the Association of Nigerian Theatre Practitioners (ANTP) in 2006. The step was taken with a view to reducing the frequency of production which had triggered off a lamentable crisis of quality and standard. The demand for quality is not only an ethical concern but also a practical necessity thrown up by the pivotal role of the market in a kind of amorphous neo-colonial economic system that Nigeria has been running since independence, a largely dependent system that vacillates between brazen-eyed capitalism and foggy egalitarianism where the state is present and at the same time, absent. The increasing challenges of social relevance also make the same demands on higher institutions. Universities need to embark on periodic review of instructional framework to impact on the flux of socio-cultural realities as dictated by local and global phenomena. A conservative preservation for about two decades, of the so-called “NUC Minimum Standards” in the fields of literary and performing arts is out of touch with a desire for knowledge advancement. Unfortunately, universities in Nigeria, seventy nine of them at present, owned by Federal Government (29), State Governments (26) as well as private individuals and religious
organisations (24), are acutely encumbered to achieve the above goals by a myriad of factors. They have to contend with inadequate staff and poor funding especially public owned ones, as they annually attract far less than 26% of national annual budget as recommended by United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). They operate in a
disabling socio-economic climate with high premium placed on profit-making rather than knowledge advancement. In this context, the enrollment policy privileges the sciences over humanities, although in the current state of Nigerian academia, both are severely bruised legs of a weary crawler. With restricted access, the universities are in need of a re-orientation, just like the video industry. Some of the ways to bring this about is to work out a system of constant mutual collaboration between video practitioners in the field and scholars of literary and performing arts in the institutions. Organisation of exhibition, film festivals, workshops, conferences, seminars, training and re-training programmes are examples of such collaborations. This would sharpen their already acquired skills and also strengthen their intellectual capacity. Both sides can cooperate to produce model films, and borrow a leaf from the collaborative efforts of the old School of Drama at the University of Ibadan in the 1960s which yielded a synergy between the university based theatre artistes and the traditional Yoruba traveling theatre. The alliance produced Kola Ogunmola‟s The Palmwine Drinkard, an adaptation of Amos Tutuola‟s classic novel earlier published in 1952. Such model films would exemplify the kind of standard that experts are expecting to see in a typical Nigerian movie, not only in terms of technical output, but also in terms of scriptwriting, thematic conception, characterisation and overall execution. Scholars and video makers can embark on joint research on cultural and historical subjects that may constitute the subject and plot in home movies. Besides, to achieve greater performance requires the injection of more funds. Business moguls need to see the industry as a worthy area of investment where legitimate profit can be made without compromising aesthetic quality and accessibility. Judging from identified limitations in the current curriculum of literary and performing arts studies in the three Universities primarily focused in the study, they would make do with more courses, theoretical and practical in orientation, on different aspects of film production. Such courses should be introduced in the early years of enrollment and sustained till graduation to be effective. Besides, the Departments should be financially assisted by governmental and
non-governmental organisations so as to acquire adequate lighting, recording and editing equipment. These would not only facilitate sound training of students, but also ensure the production of classical films.
Conclusion The term “Nollywood” is adopted in the paper with attention paid to its limitations and conveniences, referring to home video entertainment tradition in contemporary Nigeria. By implicating a homology, Nollywood understates the ethno-cultural and language divergences existing within the industry. To take Nollywood as a universal or homogeneous representation of all that take place in Nigerian video entertainment is to invert or abbreviate an unwrapping reality. The designation also panders to the hegemonic influences of globalisation in its coinage as it privileges films in English language against films in indigenous languages in its manifestation. There is no doubt that in spite of its widely acknowledged imperfections, home video opens up a new discursive space for interrogating tradition, culture and modernity. It is today a commercial success within the context of revolution in electronics technology in Europe and Asia as it has audience across social strata, from rural dwellers to middle class bureaucrats in the cities. The industry prides itself as the second largest in the world after Bollywood of India and it remains one of the areas in which Africa registers its authentic and original contributions to the cultural pool of the putative globalised world. The essay notes that there is a deepening concern that proliferation of titles is being achieved largely at the expense of aesthetic and technical value. It acknowledges various problematics and contradictions assailing its developments such as poor remunerations, ascendancy of profit motif, ineffective control and erratic regulations. There is yet to be cultivated a robust nexus between the school and the street in the industry just as it is manifest in various aspects of life in the country. The notion that the video is an aspect of popular, and by implication or extension, low culture, affects the disposition of some scholars to it as a serious subject worthy of sustained research and academic interests. This, to a
considerable extent, is played out in the palpable weak connection between the industry and institutions of learning.
To sum up, a more socially accountable and responsive system of higher education is imperative in the country. This specifically should be the ruling ethos in the fields of literary and performing arts and it should be the driving force for urgent review of curricula in the disciplines. Equally important is a film and video culture that is attuned to the socio-economic, political and moral challenges before Africa and Africans in the context of a beleaguered modernity. A dynamic interaction between scholars and video makers, between theory and practice would benefit the centres of learning and the industry. The larger society would
ultimately benefit in terms of quality service provision. Somehow assured in the end, is a deeper social relevance of both institutions.
NOTES 1. In July 2007, ten Kenyan artistes were in Nigeria to learn more about home video production, and they interacted with their Nigerian colleagues through a series of seminar and workshop. The group, drawn from an Mnet-Kenya Film Commission project, made a joint short movie with their hosts, titled Lost in Lagos. The film seeks to debunk the common presumption that nobody is to be trusted in Nigeria. One of their most important discoveries was that Nigerian home movie makers have developed a steady marketing and distribution network for their productions (see Nigeria Today Online, Wednesday September 5, 2007, Nigeria2day@aol.com).
The choice of the three universities is informed by the fact that they belong to the first generation of Nigerian universities and they have contributed significantly, due to their long years of existence, toward the growth of literary and performing arts education. Household names in theatre and literature like Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Niyi Osundare, Ola Rotimi, Isidore Okpewho, Peter Badejo, Femi Osofisan, Michael Etherton, Ahmed Yerima and so on, have worked with or are products of these universities. They have also contributed manpower, through their programmes, to other universities in the country. So, in spite of the general constraints, they offer crucial opportunities to measure the variables in the development of literary and performing arts education. I deeply appreciate the co-operation of the following
people who granted me audience in the course of my research for the paper: Prof. Dapo Adelugba, Dr. Emmy Idegu and Mrs. Rashida Liman (Department of Theatre and Performing Arts), Mallam Abu Liman (Department of English and Literary Studies), Ahmadu Bello University; Dr. Tunde Awosanmi (Department of Theatre Arts), University of Ibadan; Dr. Foluke Ogunleye and Dr. Kola Oyewo (Department of Dramatic Arts), Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.
For a detailed account of how Hausa video films thrive on adaptation and translation of Hausa novels, see Abdalla Uba Adamu „“Istanci”, “Imamanci” and “Bollywoodanci”: Media and Adaptation in Hausa Popular Culture‟ in Abdalla Uba Adamu et al (eds.) Hausa Home Videos: Technology, Economy and Society, Kano: Center for Hausa Cultural Studies, 2004, pp. 83-99. Interview, Ile-Ife, 10th July, 2007. Prof. Dapo Adelugba discloses this in an interview, Zaria, 25 th June, 2007.
It is called Theatre Arts at the University of Ibadan, Dramatic Arts at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife and Theatre and Performing Arts at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Interview, Zaria, 26th June, 2007.
Works Cited Adamu, Abdalla Uba. „“Istanci”, “Imamanci” and “Bollywoodanci”: Media and Adaptation in Hausa Popular Culture‟ in Abdalla Uba Adamu et al (eds.) Hausa Home Videos: Technology, Economy and Society, Kano: Center for Hausa Cultural Studies, 2004, pp. 83-99. Adelugba, Dapo. Interview, Zaria, Zaria, 26 th June, 2007. Adeyemi, S. T. “Cultural Nationalism: The Nollywoodization of Nigerian Cinema” in Sola Akinrinade et al (eds.) The Humanities, Nationalism and Democracy, Ile-Ife: Faculty of Arts, Obafemi Awolowo University, 2006, pp. 376-390. Ali, Bashir. “Historical Review of Films and Hausa Drama, and their Impact on the Origin, Development and Growth of Hausa Home Video in Kano” in Abdalla Uba Adamu et al (eds.) Hausa Home Videos: Technology, Economy and Society, Kano: Center for Hausa Cultural Studies, 2004, pp. 25-45. Idegu, Emmy. Interview, Zaria, 25 th June, 2007. Mogaji, Ayo Binta. “I‟m more than a Nollywood Actress”. Lagos: The Nation on Sunday, 1st July, 2007, p. 6. Newmann, J. H. The Idea of a University, San Francisco: Rinehart Press, 1960. Ogunleye, Foluke. Interview, Ile-Ife, 9th July, 2007. Osundare, Niyi, The Universe in the University: A Scholar-Poet’s Look from the Inside Out. Ibadan: Hope Publications Limited, 2007. Osuntokun, Akinjide. “The Nigerian Universities System within Global University Development: It‟s Relevance to National Development and the Nigerian Project” in Sola Akinrinade et al (eds.) Locating the Local in the Global: Voices on a Globalised Nigeria, Ile-Ife: Faculty of Arts, Obafemi Awolowo University, 2004, pp. 20-33. Sango, Muhammad Balarabe. “The Role of Non-Governmental Organisations in the Development of Hausa Film Industry in Kano” in Abdalla Uba Adamu et al (eds.) Hausa Home Videos: Technology, Economy and Society, Kano: Center for Hausa Cultural Studies, 2004, pp. 60-65.