NOLLYWOOD, MEDIOCRITY AND PSEUDO CREATIVITY

I surely have two bones to pick with Nollywood vis-à-vis their bungling cult of mediocrity and their pseudo creativity…

I surely have two bones to pick with Nollywood vis-à-vis their bungling cult of mediocrity and their pseudo creativity…

On Mediocrity:

World over, from Hollywood to Bollywood to any other wood except Nolly… Important movies these days are either biographies, autobiographies of a worthy life or historical occurrences and excellent novels being adapted into powerful movies. Also, well thought out philosophical musings are brought to bear on their various nation’s sociopolitical issues. Hence, most of what we’ve seen from America, India, etc, challenge our thoughts, our IQs and all.

But down here, Nollywood, in their stark laziness and uncreative projections, prefer to keep dancing round insipid and same storylines since after Igodo. Worst is their rigidness. If you won’t join their silly scriptwriters association, nothing will come out of your messianic ambition.. Join them, they infect you with their contagious mediocrity.

So, we are inundated with stupid films that insult our senses of literary and aesthetic appreciation. We are suffused with historically and socioculturally distorted movies that question our images, thinking faculties and senses of belonging. These movies, with their poor grammatical deployments both in English and local languages, damage our psyche, albeit gradually, and upholds the slow, indirect reconstruction of our complexes towards the inferior bend.

On Creativity and Pseudo Creativity:

Good and interesting movies have surely graced our TV screens from the handful of creative scriptwriters, directors and producers who are struggling against the overwhelming number of mediocres in the field. Some of their movies have reflected our fears, joys, travails and dilemmas – as a nation, as a culturally peculiar society. But I am worried, also, by the level of outright plagiarism that some of these producers indulge in.

When, sometime last year, I saw The Wedding Party, I had cause to celebrate a seemingly paradigm shift from mediocrity to creativity.

Same goes to when I saw Wives on Strike early this year.

However, my celebratory drum ebbed when I saw the Hollywood movie; Jumping The Broom, produced a year or two before The Wedding Party. I became more disillusioned when I recently saw Chi Raq; another Hollywood movie that came before Wives On Strike. Then it struck me, that the Nollywood makers of The Wedding Party and Wives On Strike relied heavily on the plot and thematic thrust of Jumping The Broom and Chi Raq.

Now don’t get me wrong. It is not bad to do so. In fact, I encourage our people to look Westwards and adapt some of their interesting movies into ones that will reflect our peculiar sociopolitical, economic, cultural and religious experiences. But what I am against is when it is done without discipline; that uncivilized culture of not crediting the source. There’s everything wrong with that and that’s my wahala with the producers of The Wedding Party and Wives On Strike.

In the Literary circle, Ola Rotimi successfully adapted Oedipus Rex into the Yoruba cultural matrix to produce for Africa, the classical The Gods Are Not To Blame that resonates with our sensibilities. Femi Osofisan’s Women of Owu and Who is Afraid of Tai Solarin are African adaptations of The Trojan Women and The Government Inspector, respectively, and these authors made it known from the outset. Even Wole Soyinka did it with his 1973 publication of The Bacchae of Euripides. Novelists like Tayib Salih and Igoni Barrett also did so, successfully. So why shouldn’t our movie makers do the honourable by quoting their sources? Is it as a result of that skewed but entrenched notion that Nigerians are lazy researchers who can never discover such theft? Is it as a result of that hogwash view that our movie lovers do not care about the source and content of the movies they watch? What exactly could have prompted these producers to think that we are daft, lazy and uncritical consumers?

My Verdict:

This writer is of the opinion that the producers of The Wedding Party and Wives On Strike depended on the concepts established in Jumping The Broom and Chi Raq to make their own movies. This writer does not think it is wrong to adapt or emulate. However, this writer condemns, in strong terms, the habit of hoarding glories and stark refusal to credit creative sources. It is an honourable thing to do and I enjoin our movie makers, the real movie makers to imbibe that healthy habit.

Our movie makers should also look into our literary basket and savour in the adaptation of the excellent stories so far produced by these cerebral writers who are making Nigeria proud in the global literary scene. I refuse to believe that there are no investors. There are investors but there are no investable storylines.

Hence, I implore our movie makers to look inwards and come up with good story lines. They should work closely with our novelists and playwrights, something healthy must come out of that relationship.

Above all, they should allow newer hands in the game; fresh players bring in fresh innovations.

Offside:

Meanwhile, every Nigerian should endeavour to see Chi Raq and see how the church and the community coalesced to stand against an ugly trend that threatened their common existence.

They stood up first and called God for support. They didn’t hide in their rooms to invoke God like we do down here.

I’m out.

Author’s Bio:

IFESINACHI, Johnpaul Nwadike is a poet, writer, comedian and rapper. He obtained a B.A in Literature from Imo State University, Owerri and an M.A in Literature from University of Ibadan. When he’s not listening to 2face, Asa or Brymo, he’s reading an African author. He relaxes by looking for trouble.

WHERE IS YOUR AFRO?: the image of the Nigerian poet- J.N. IFESINACHI

The Nigerian poet is easy to spot in a congress of world poets. If he’s not spotting an afro or a bushy and unkempt hair, he is on dreadlocks with Osama-like beards and Herbert Macaulay-like moustache. His dressing is a thing of wonder. If his bongo trouser is not weather-beaten, the polo will be torn somewhere.

It happened that my fiancé comes all the way from the East, to pay me a visit in Ibadan where I’m rounding off my postgraduate studies in African literature in Nigeria premier university.  In my busy-body bid to show her off and around, we run into a friend of mine who is a poet. We exchange pleasantries, and as it is often the case, we make small mouths about literature; the good writers we have just read; the bad ones we shouldn’t have read, etc. I and my fiancé move on.  Before long we run into another poet-friend of mine. He didn’t even wait for me to finish introducing my fine girlfriend before he produced his phone and starts reading to me the “classic” lines he had just written. ‘Sorry bro, we are in haste,’ I tell him and makes off with my “pissed” lady.

‘You don’t have to be pissed off, he was only showing me his new poem,’ I try to calm her down.

‘Is that how you guys do all the time?’

‘You know the muse could be jealous like a woman, if we don’t show her off.’

‘Meaning?’

‘Nothing.’

‘Ehe, Shuga, did you actually say you’re a poet?’

The question from a girl I’ve dated for many years, who has even read my poems before we began to date, shocked me.

‘What do you mean by that rhetorical question?’

‘See na, you don’t look like any of these poet-friends of yours and the many that I’ve seen.’

‘How do you mean?’

‘You don’t wear poetry.’

‘Talk to me and stop dribbling like an Igbo-induced philosopher’

Ok, where’s your afro? Your hair is not bushy and unkempt like most poets I’ve seen before and the ones I saw today. You’re not even carrying a big book on your chest. You don’t also read your work to the nearest ear, or, is your own muse not jealous?

‘Are you for real? Is that your notion of poets?’

‘No. That’s my notion of Nigerian poets, like your friends.’

Aah, finally!  I exclaimed in my heart. My girlfriend, like myself, has also noticed that most Nigerian poets carry the tag around like a military rank.

The Nigerian poet is easy to spot in a congress of world poets. If he’s not spotting an afro or a bushy and unkempt hair, he is on dreadlocks with Osama-like beards and Herbert Macaulay-like moustache. His dressing is a thing of wonder. If his bongo trouser is not weather-beaten, the polo will be torn somewhere. When that is not the case, then he is tucking in with a funny rope-like belt. His stomach must have fallen into his back because Nigerian poets don’t eat, (they fast for muses?).

He must appear like a refugee in order to paint that Okigbo-like picture, to claim to be his disciple, (by the way, who told him that Okigbo did not eat? And why must poets who appear this way always adopt Okigbo as a model?)

Sometimes, he may put on an over-worn African print top- Ankara for instance.  He dons an African bangle, wear scholar-like eyeglass and then carry one dog-eared collection of poems of his or an anthology where his “masterpiece” appeared. Listen to him talk for five minutes, he will surely be caught condemning those whose writings are not in tandem with his thematic visions.  He is always better than any other poet on earth; he is in the pantheon of the forebears.

Every now and then, he is seen carrying his collection around in a bag, coercing those he can to buy them off. He self-published them (traditional publishers are now only interested in prose fiction).

‘Ok, don’t worry,’ I told my fiancé, ‘I’ll try to start looking like one soon.’

‘Don’t try it o,’ she said.

Post first published on Naijxclusive

AUTHOR’S BIO:

ifesinachi johnpaul nwadike
IFESINACHI, J.P.

IFESINACHI, Johnpaul Nwadike is a poet, writer, comedian and rapper. He obtained a B.A in Literature from Imo State University, Owerri and an M.A in Literature from University of Ibadan. When he’s not listening to 2face, Asa or Brymo, he’s reading an African author. He relaxes by looking for trouble.

DEAR IYANYA, PLEASE HAVE YOU FADED? – J.N.Ifesinachi

We didn’t feel the usual Iyanya in that single. We heard the voice of a drowning man, a broken voice, nagging, complaining.

Nigeria is the only country where you can blow, unblow and turn to an upcoming artiste

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