Nigerian filmmakers and their construction of a political past (1967-1998)

Agina Anulika 2015. Nigerian filmmakers and their construction of a political past (1967-1998). PhD thesis University of Westminster Faculty of Media, Arts and Design

TitleNigerian filmmakers and their construction of a political past (1967-1998)
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsAgina Anulika

Once criticised as ‘seemingly’ oblivious of the political and historical concerns of the
state (Osofisan, 2007; Adesokan, 2009b; Alamu, 2010; Okome, 2010; Mistry &
Ellapen, 2013), some southern Nigerian filmmakers have begun reversing such critical
narratives through negotiated images of the country’s political history. In spite of that,
academic attention to such videos remains on the margins of textual or isolated audience
analyses. This research questions the motivations, narrative techniques, underlying
ideologies and reception of video films that construct Nigeria’s political past between
1967 and 1998, two significant moments in the country’s postcolonial history. This is
achieved through contextual and post-structuralist readings of the films as popular art as
well as semi-structured interviews of filmmakers and film journalists. The study found
that historicizing an ethnically-diverse postcolonial state such as Nigeria through the
agency of film is fraught with potential dangers, most of which cannot be mitigated by
the filmmakers. Each stage of the production/consumption process is compounded by
societal factors including filmmaker’s background, finance, audience and censorship.
Also evident from the findings is that popular Nigerian videos sustain and subvert the
dominant narratives on popular arts to gain economic advantage. Whereas some
filmmakers endorse politicians’ practices, others subvert authoritarian regimes through
metaphoric filmic codes (negotiated images) intelligible to audiences and deployed by
the producers in order to circumvent censorship. Interrogating film journalists in
addition to filmmakers served as an antidote to film producers’ self-reporting. By
examining the reception of films through the lens of journalists, this study makes no
generalisable claims on audiences, but delivers an original methodological approach to
understanding films made in the past, about the past. Thus, the study proposes opening
up the methodological approaches to Nollywood to accommodate film texts, producers
and audiences rather than lone textual analyses that silence creators and consumers.


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