I am proposing a disciplined, year-long study of Nollywood’s social impact and its potential to drive Nigerian economic growth. This blog will record my personal investigation into various themes outlined in my proposal. The resulting analysis will prepare me for a ten-month research initiative in Lagos from October 2010 to August 2011 .
As an introduction to the video film industry of Nigeria, below is the opening credits of Living in Bondage (1992), the first Nollywood blockbuster. Responding to the resulting vacuum in the leisure industry after the decline of the traditional celluloid film industry, an enterprising electronics dealer living in Lagos funded a feature-length film shot with a VHS camera. Since then, Nollywood has gone on to produce 2,000 feature-length titles per year and currently generates $200–300 million in annual revenue. The industry is responsible for one million jobs in Nigeria, making it the largest employer in the country after agriculture.
This phenomenon can partly be explained by the accessibility of the video format to Nigerian audiences, as an estimated 67 percent of homes in urban Nigeria own a VCR and 99 percent of cinema houses are “video theaters” held in informal settings instead of traditional theaters. As a result of its multi-lingual production in English, Yoruba, Hausa, and Igbo, Nollywood reaches audiences all over the world.