Book Review Trends In Nollywood: A Study Of Selected Genres By Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma

Distinguished ladies and gentleman, we have been beset with speculations and counter-speculations, conjectures and counter conjectures, innuendoes, and jokes. on what Nollywood has done and has not done.  But these constitute the opinions of people speaking from the outside. Today, we are witnessing the operation from the inside. Today, we are being initiated into a new dawn in Nollywood. Today, we are lucky to be treated to the matter and manner of this performative giant called Nollywood. And the initiation appropriately comes from an insider.

In all my years as an academic, I have reviewed countless books, spanning over a diversity of places in different continents but I am singularly honoured to review this multi-faceted publication which exudes nothing but excellence. I therefore see myself merely as a stand-by generator, showering a temporary light that would only flicker, but the full illumination will surely result from a personal perusal of this illuminating book. However, I see myself as an appropriate choice for this review. I do not only teach Theatre and Film Studies, I am an embodiment of Nollywood in different situations, and have taken part in a good number of plays.

Before the final conception of this book, it may interest you to know that the dream, the concept, the hypothesis for this book had lived in the mind of Dr. Ayakoroma for many years. During this period, he read, reviewed, tested his ideas and hypothesis, and finally came up with this monumental creation. When I received a copy of this book, I saw the relationship between it and the divine creature, Adam. The book I had in hand had been in the process of creation from infancy, and by the time it became a reality, it was wallowing in adulthood. And Adam, we shall all realize, was the only person created in the nature of full adulthood. And he got married to Eve the next day after his creation.

A renowned Greek philosopher, Socrates, once echoed, once gave us a succinct definition of excellence in a voice laden with conviction and resonance.  According to the philosopher, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”  This is a very modest way of introducing this book which the author has packaged with significant excellence.  

In a Foreword to the book, Professor of Film Studies, Femi Shaka, details the raison de’etre of the book in three compelling pages, and concludes in a mind-boggling recommendation.  Listen to him:

This… book is an important contribution towards the establishment of a culture of film scholarship in Nigeria. Issues related to genre theories and critical practice are examined in details in the work. This should provide scholars and students an additional critical approach to the study of the Nigerian cinema.

The entire book, itself, is an encyclopaedic compendium which chronicles the historical antecedents, developmental innuendoes, theoretical genres, critical readings of selected films and social vicissitudes of Nollywood.  he coverage is comprehensive, while the historical focus rages from its formative years of the film industry in Nigeria, through the period of challenges and compelling developments to the contemporary period. The book is supported by a galaxy of photographs, which show the people who have made significant and outstanding to Nollywood.

To attempt to summarize this book in this manner inevitably trivializes it. It is a much more rounded book than this suggests. It is unique, comprehensive, factual, and written with an empowering combination of passion and balance, and undoubtedly an effective information treasure-throve.

The organization of the book makes it easily comprehensive and user friendly. Organized in five parts with adequate number of carefully indicated chapters, Part One focuses on the background of Nollywood as the contemporary Nigerian film industry. It begins with the glorious of the Cinema industry in Nigeria and journeys through its collapse, the birth of TV drama in Nigeria, the soap opera as the precursor of video films, context of production, issues of censorship, marketing and piracy.

Part Two concentrates on Studies in Genres in Nollywood. This is the part that lends authority and excellence to the entire book. It examines the genres in Nollywood and analyses the generic developmental trends. It also deals with an avalanche of issues including the evolution of iconography, national and international markets, and film awards.

Part Three is an innovative addition to the volume. It is a collection of eleven powerful subjects generally dealing with the important issue of the Epic and Historical films as Reconstruction of the Nigerian past. This is given impetus by the author’s critical reading and comparative analysis of two significant Nollywood films Igodo and Egg of Life.

Part Four focuses on the Failure of the Policing System and the Emergence of Vigilante Genre films in Nollywood. This part is loaded with information concerning the rise of criminal activities and the rise of vigilantism in Nigeria. It concludes with a critical reading of the Issakaba Series.

The fifth and final part is a comprehensive analysis of the Portrayal of Politics and the Political process in Nollywood. It deals with the matter and manner of politics and politicking in Nigeria, and examines how these issues are reflected in Nollywood films, and ends with a critical reading and comparative analysis of two Nollywood films: The Senator and Masterstroke.

At the end of this gigantic and profound demonstration of intellect, the author serves us a dish containing the summary and conclusion of the issues discussed in this innovative book, as well as an excellent bibliography and appropriate index.

By now, all of us must be eager to possess a copy of this extra-ordinary package. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I can say without fear of contradiction that this is a good book. It is unique, comprehensive, and factual, and demystifies the erroneous conceptions about Nollywood. It does not delve into unnecessary repetitions and polemics, or engage in extraneous generalizations. It is written with astonishing energy of mind and delicacy of perception. An authoritative combination of detail, lucidity, and scope, it is an important resource for anyone interested in the exigencies of contemporary life in its various ramifications. Grab it. Don’t let it slip through your fingers.

Professor Emeka Nwabueze
Professor of Theatre and Film Studies,
Director, Institute of African Studies
University of Nigeria, Nsukka

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