Friday, July 9, 2010

If the FIFA World Cup was to be won based on bad reputations, Nigeria would have won the cup without any need to even play. That is just how bad the reputation of Nigerians are, unfortunately. So much so, that no matter were one goes in the world, people have taken to blaming Nigerians for everything bad that happens there. This, despite the reality that the majority of Nigerians should not be represented by a minority that clearly behave badly. For instance, someone I know once blamed Nigerians for all crime in the entire country of Ghana, forgetting that, at the time, the country sat between two insecure nations - Liberia and the Ivory Coast. Take South Africa, for instance, where xenophobic riots in 2008 resulted in the deaths of many foreigners including Nigerians. There, a popular film producer asserted that his abysmal portrayal of Nigerians in his film was because, in his biased opinion, "the most honest refraction of a crime group would be Nigerians". The producer, Blomkamp, ignored the fact that South Africa is one of the most dangerous places in the world and chose to blame that failing on Nigerians.

In a fresh attempt to once again use Nigerians as the scapegoat for everything negative, a writer in Uganda opined that Nigerian films, which entertain millions in Nigeria, across the African continent and the Caribbean, are the cause of that nation's increasing rate of crimes against children. Specifically, the writer, Nathan Were, explained:

"According to statistics... over 3,760 cases involving children have been reported and investigated. Most of these cases range from child neglect, abuse, torture, abduction, sacrifice, murder, kidnapp and abortion. Although some measures have been instituted to reduce these crimes, one area that has not been exploited is the contribution of Nigerian movies towards crime." [sic]

Were went on to state,
"the [Nollywood] scenes depicted are mostly those that involve violence, witchcraft, murder, child sacrifice, robbery, theft and breaking families. The images these movies portray are detrimental to our society and could possibly be one of the little known causes of increased crime in Uganda. Desperate people pick tips from these movies on how to execute crimes."
Now, one cannot argue with Were about the fact that Nollywood films sometimes depict scenes that are disturbing. However, Were makes an assumption that these troubling aspects of society that are depicted in the films were not already a part of Ugandan society, with or without the existence of such films. He also conveniently ignores the fact that Nigerians were not the ones that taught Ugandans how to use children as soldiers or rape and abuse women the way Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) members have done mercilessly for many years. And all this before Nollywood became a staple in his country.

Plus, it must be stated that at no point did anyone force Ugandans, Were included, to watch Nollywood films. And one need not even begin a discussion about the unpalatable violence presented in American movies which are also widely watched in Uganda. For all the criticisms of Nigerian movies, it can at least be said that the movies try to include redeeming qualities even in the midst of presenting issues that are objectionable. Nollywood also constitutes the second largest film producing industry in the world and helps to hire many unemployed in Nigeria and also in Uganda. After all, many of those people selling bootleg copies of Nigerian films on Uganda's streets are earning a living off the blood, sweat and tears of the very Nigerians Were can so easily attack.

It is strange that Were could ignore the glaring realities of his own society and even go as far as blaming Nigeria for creating Ugandan criminals by saying,
"I have also read about cases where families and the public have blamed the Police for failure to protect children, yet parents are contributing to the bulk of criminals by breeding them in their homes [while they watch Nigerian movies]." 
As a supporter and fan of Nollywood film, I must state that it is categorically ridiculous and downright insulting to suggest that Nigerian films are only good for creating criminals.

One can only wonder if this anti-Nigerian sentiment has anything to do with his previously expressed concerns about Uganda's deteriorating quality of entertainment. In a piece titled, 'Is our music industry at the brink of collapse?', Were criticized Ugandan musicians, radio stations, tv channels and other outlets for failing to have "standards". He finished the piece by encouraging his Ugandan readers to "...advocate music that will shape behaviour and character of generations beyond our own."

This preoccupation with criticizing anything new is clearly a hobby of Were's and in the case of his most recent article, he has chosen to attack Nigerian entertainment as well. To do so is unnecessary. Simply advocating better treatment of children and a rejection of violence against others would have been enough. Were could also have encouraged the creation of a much more wholesome film industry in his own country. There was absolutely no need to bash Nigerian entertainment and thus, covertly strike out at Nigerians is unacceptable. It feeds into xenophobic paranoia which is rife in Uganda. And to do this even as Were's fellow Ugandans suffered and suffer the wrath of South African xenophobia is unconscionable.

If Were was truly interested in seeing an end to the problems in his society that he complains about, looking at Uganda's issues and facing up to their truths without using 'otherization' would have served him and his country well. To instead make Uganda's failings about Nigeria and Nigerians is a fetch, even if Nigeria's reputation is not the best.

From The Archives:
- Nigeria's 'Portrayal' & The Need To Be Proactive
- TIME Magazine's Nollywood Pictorial
- Nigeria's Generational Divide & Reuben Abati
- Speaking Frankly 
- Economics of Nollywood: Price (written by guest writer, Oz)

14 Curiosities. Add Yours.:

NakedSha said...

NakedSha, you are a rational being. Calm down and respond to this in a way that even Christ will be happy with you.


This Ugandan writer has noted a very valid point that Nigerian movies (and movies in general) have a great influence on society. Sadly, that is the ONLY point that has been made.

Nollywood (as 'un-creative' as this name is and some of the plots are), is a thriving industry. If one likes, send bullets into nearby mirrors but that is not changing soon. We appreciate that there is a lot of work to be done and I have recently had lots of discussions about this. However, one thing that will forever attract me to these 'sub-standard' movies is the fact that 'Nollywood' is focusing on REAL ISSUES. Haba, thievery, crime, prostitution, happiness, wealth, 'juju', pregnancy, games, murder, success, etc are existent and Nollywood replays a lot of these stories as they usually are.

ALL...pardon me because I am yet to see an exception...Nigerian movies end with a lesson. So, if these movies are having an impact at all, they are teaching lessons.

I repeat, ALL Nigerian movies (that I have seen) teach a lesson or two.

So, Ugandan writer, you may be interested in looking for another target for Uganda's numerous crimes.

But then, a bad cook will always blame the pot.

Anonymous said...

Chei! imagine fellow africans hitting naija below the belt. deranged africans will always follow the white man to condemn their kith and kin.
shame on those ugandans and ghananians etc who shower invectives on naija for no apparent reason

Dojaa said...

Oh whatever! I also remember that Idi Amin was from Nollywood and it was Nollywood that introduced the 'Kill The Gays bill' to their Legislature, Nollywood introduced the ridiculously high levels of AIDS and whatever other problems they have and have ever had!

Omosi Thisgirl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Omosi Thisgirl said...

The writer is delusional, that's pretty much the most polite thing I can say about it. I'm really not surprised though, when I was in college a lot of Africans said so much crap about Naija and Nigerians. As far as I'm concerned most of it was as a result of bad bele, I mean have you seen Ugandan films?


doll (retired blogger) said...


Anonymous said...

I'm going to be careful with my comment cos my views are in the minority. Nigerians do not need anyone else to document their ills and tag them with the labels of their myriad ills; they do a perfect job themselves. We bury our heads in the sand in the name of being real so much so when a holocaust befalls us, we'll be wondering what happened.

1. Nigeria has an underbelly, a crude class of despicable elements that bring us shame – true

2. A large swathe of Nigerians are law abiding and just want to get on with their lives; rising early in the morning going to work in farms, markets etc.

3. The world is fixated on only our ills and uses it to label the rest of us including me.

4. The world is careful not to ascribe the actions of a subset of a group on the larger group on issues of race etc. They call such acts stereotyping and consider it a no no.

5. When it comes to Nigerians it is the norm for the world and NIGERIANS to use the labels used to describe our underbelly class on the rest of us regular folk.

I believe the tide is getting to a point where we have to remind people that the Nigeria bashing bothers on xenophobia etc. We must continue to hold our leaders feet to the fire to bring about change as well as rebuke those who bring shame to us but what I will not do is view myself ONLY from the perspective of those who only see our shame. That is not all there is to me neither are other people PRISTINE clean.

I choose to see people like me, my family, my neighbours and friends who go about with their lives as part of the REAL Nigeria. not saying the other Nigeria which the rest of the world sees is not real to me, I see it but I refuse to be like those who believe that is all there is to me.



sorry to sound harsh but its simillar to the IDIOTS who think video games r responsible for increased gun violence in america, lets face it when LRA came into power nollywood was not established yet, so to say that "nigerians" convinced LRA officials to take those actions is in the words of HONORABLE PATRICK OBIAHAGBON (Igudu-mi-gudu wordsmith) a "GROSS NEBUCHADNEZZAR-IC PERVERSION"

furthermor,e LRA had overwhelming support from sudan from whom they got a lot of weapons and strategic training in terms of mind control through twisted acts of violence

even if you go through biblical times, every "sinful" act that exists today has been mentioned in the bible, to show that mankind in general has a long history with his love for such acts as taken by the LRA, so to pin point increase in crimes in a nation such as Uganda, that has been hit with harsh economic misfortune in recent time, to nigeria is once again in the words of HONORABLE PATRICK OBIAHAGBON (Igudu-mi-gudu wordsmith), "lugubrious and sardonic" at the same time

yours truly,
An aspiring wordsmith successor to HONORABLE PATRICK OBIAHAGBON (Igudu-mi-gudu wordsmith),

Anonymous said...

Mscheeeeewwwww *very loooooonngggg hisss* Come again?

- Beeci O. from Facebook

Anonymous said...

The guys name is Were! 'nuf said!!

Anonymous said...

i guess were does not know were he is.
nuff said.

Anonymous said...

Nothing but a clear case of playing the Blame Game...but hey anyone can say whatever they want these days. It's just an opinion-albeit a sad one.

- blogoratti

Anonymous said...

The concept put forth is false, I believe, but one that is being used in America too. People are constantly attempting to blame violent movies or video games for the violent actions of others.

- Cynical Musings

Anonymous said...

A well articulated post that raises critical issues on violence. Thanks for sharing it.

- Barkha

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