2ndlook

Christian Madarasas: Making A Comeback?

Posted in America, India, Media, politics, Propaganda, Religion, Satire by Anuraag Sanghi on March 16, 2013

Just like the Taliban, modern Christian West can be paranoid about people who eat differently, dress differently. Remember the dot-busters. Or the anti-yoga wave.

If Islamic madarsas taught Koran and gave rise to Taliban, will we see Christian madarsas and Christian Taliban when Western schools re-start teaching Bible?

Republican Democracies

By the time Napoleon started secular education in France, Christian Taliban reared in Christian madarsas, had already wiped out entire populations in North America and Australia, ravaged the South American and African continents – and killed tens of millions in India and Asia.

Talibanic Roots

The word Taliban comes from talib – that is one who has received taalim – education. Usually at a madarsa. Designed to give competence in Arabic, build knowledge in Quran and Muslim theology, madarsas have long been the backbone of Islāmic education.

Why is post-Napoleonic, secular, State-controlled education system so afraid of religion? Why is the Bible not taught in schools? The Western experience with the Church, Christianity – the persecution and oppression that came along with it, has deeply scarred the people in the West. Knowing the method of religion, Western liberals resist the idea of religion in public life and State support for religion.

But is there a chance of Christian madarsas making a comeback?

Thirty Days and Thirty Nights

The last one month alone has given a strong indication that Christian madarsas may not be a far-fetched idea.

To start with we have a respected business publication the Wall Street Journal giving prominence, through their Op-Ed page, to the idea that Bible must be taught in American schools.

of the many things we say and do every day that have their origins in the most read, most influential book of all time. The Bible has affected the world for centuries in innumerable ways, including art, literature, philosophy, government, philanthropy, education, social justice and humanitarianism. One would think that a text of such significance would be taught regularly in schools. Not so. That is because of the “stumbling block” (the Bible again) that is posed by the powers that be in America.

It’s time to change that, for the sake of the nation’s children. It’s time to encourage, perhaps even mandate, the teaching of the Bible in public schools as a primary document of Western civilization.

We know firsthand of its educational value, having grown up in Europe—Mark in England, Roma in Ireland—where Bible teaching was viewed as foundational to a well-rounded education. Now that we are naturalized U.S. citizens, we want to encourage public schools in America to give young people the same opportunity.

This is one of the reasons we created “The Bible,” a 10-part miniseries premiering March 3 on the History Channel that dramatizes key stories from Scriptures. It will encourage audiences around the world to open or reopen Bibles to understand and enjoy these stories.

Teaching the Bible is of course a touchy subject. One can’t broach it without someone barking “separation of church and state” and “forcing religion down my throat.”

Yet the Supreme Court has said it’s perfectly OK for schools to do so, ruling in 1963 (Abington School District v. Schempp) that “the Bible is worthy of study for its literary and historic qualities. Nothing we have said here indicates that such study of the Bible or of religion, when presented objectively as a part of a secular (public school) program of education, may not be effected consistently with the First Amendment.”

The Supreme Court understood that we’re not talking about religion here, and certainly not about politics. We’re talking about knowledge. The foundations of knowledge of the ancient world—which informs the understanding of the modern world—are biblical in origin. Teddy Roosevelt, the 26th president known more as a cigar-chomping Rough Rider than a hymn-signing Bible-thumper, once said: “A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.”

Interestingly enough, the common desktop reference guide “The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy” best sums up the Bible’s value as a tool of cultural literacy. Its first page declares: “No one in the English speaking world can be considered literate without a basic knowledge of the Bible.”

via Roma Downey and Mark Burnett: Why Public Schools Should Teach the Bible – WSJ.com.

More Important Than The Bible

There are more important parts of Western civilization that probably need studying – which are now hidden. To start with, how about the pagan past – before Christian misrule, oppression and persecution killed all alternatives – except the One Book. Tired of Church oppression and persecution, Western liberals are wary of a Bible comeback.

700 years ago, Cristian authorities governing Europe resisted the idea of using the decimal system – invented in India, adopted by the Arabs and spread across the world by Genghis Khan’s Mongol Empire. To see how important this was for Europe, try multiplying using Roman numbers DCLXXVIII (678) with DCCLXXXIX (789).

Could Europe’s 500 year leap of technology have happened without Indian decimal system?

Yoga teacher Jackie Bergenon at Paul Ecke Central Elementary School in Encinitas, California, USA - conducting a yoga class. Credit: Eduardo Contreras / U-T San Diego; source & courtesy - latimes.com

Yoga teacher Jackie Bergenon at Paul Ecke Central Elementary School in Encinitas, California, USA – conducting a yoga class. Credit: Eduardo Contreras / U-T San Diego; source & courtesy – latimes.com

Yoga & Islam

A few years ago, in November 2008, Islāmic clerics in Malaysia declared that yoga was un-Islāmic. A few weeks later, Indonesian clerics added their voice to Malay’s Islāmic voices against yoga – and to be shunned by Muslims. Indians (especially the Right Wing types) nodded their heads, with an expression that said, “I told you so!”

Western media has been quick to pounce on this anti-yoga attitude as Islāmic fundamentalism. Curiously, Islāmic attitudes against yoga were probably inspired by Christian tirade against yoga since the 80s. When Playboy releases a nude yoga tutorial, you can be sure that yoga has truly arrived in the US. Estimated at more than US$3 billion (Rs.15000 crores), a few years ago, with 15-20 million (1.5 crore) users, yoga is no passing fad in the US.

If Not Ban, License It

Conservative, Christian America is doing everything possible to stop yoga.

Starting with licenses and regulation, going to stories planted in New York Times on the ‘harm’ that yoga can cause, to a conspiracy theory that yoga is a plot by Hindu ‘missionaries’ to convert Christian Americans. Canada is not far behind in this anti-yoga activism by the Church.

A few parents are resisting yoga in American schools. Their suit filed in California courts seeks to stop yoga from schools.

Reason: Yoga is religious indoctrination, ‘inherently and pervasively religious, having its roots firmly planted in Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist and western metaphysical religious beliefs and practices.

Christian yoga teachers, like Tara Guber, have tried to handle theological objections from Christians by stripping all ‘Hindu’ elements from yoga.

Assertions like these from Christians that seek to strip yoga from its Hindu roots drive Hindu yoga experts up the wall. Subhas R. Tiwari, a professor at the Hindu University of America who holds a master’s degree in yoga philosophy, states: “Such efforts [to Christianize yoga] point to a concerted, long-term plan to deny yoga its origin. This effort . . . is far from innocent. It is reminiscent of the pattern evident throughout the long history and dynamics of colonizing powers” (“Yoga Renamed is Still Hindu,” Hinduism Today, January-February-March 2006). Tiwari believes efforts to Christianize yoga are unjust “encroachment” and thinly veiled Christian proselytism of Hindus.

via The Trouble with Yoga | Catholic Answers.

Rajiv Malhotra of the Infinity Foundation, joins this issue with conservative Christians – confirming that yoga does have a philosophy which goes deeper than simple body positions and physical exercises – which undercut the savior-approach of Christianity.

Prejudice and paranoia. Like in the case of the Russian ‘Barbie Doll!

'Barbie' Valeria on the beach  |  Image source & courtesy - thesun.co.uk

‘Barbie’ Valeria on the beach | Image source & courtesy – thesun.co.uk

From Russia, With Love

Known for her Barbie-doll like looks, apart from her native Ukraine, media attention from the British media has been widespread. Her videos have been a YouTube sensation, with more than ten million hits. And a million followers on Facebook.

Reportedly, a meditation practitioner, Valeria Lukyanova sports a bindi, teaches at a spirituality school. Known to her students as Amatue – from the Atlantean language, meaning “Goddess of the Sun.”

After becoming a vegetarian, she is practicing how to use prana in yogic way, to sustain her life. For long a heavy alcohol user, she now lives on fruit juices and chutney-like vegetable purées.

For some time, her very existence was in question. Her appearance seemed photo-perfect – apart from one breast-augmentation surgery, she is supposedly ‘real’, without plastic surgery.

There is nothing in her background that is known, which can lead the media to be critical of her. Without a criminal record, with no known underworld links, there is no reason for media to be critical of her. Not even drugs. Not hungry for media attention, British newspaper The Independent reported “after much persuasion, Ms Lukyanova agreed to meet The Independent for lunch”.

Valeria Lukyanova with mother Irina  |  Image source & courtesy - thesun.co.uk

Valeria Lukyanova with mother Irina | Image source & courtesy – thesun.co.uk

So why is this British journo so dismissive about Valeria ‘Barbie’ Lukyanova? Is it because she does not eat beef, steak – but instead ‘a glass of freshly squeezed celery and carrot juice, mixed together with a trio of gloopy Indian chutneys into a devilish cocktail.’ Explaining herself, to this prejudiced journo, while ‘taking small sips of the slimy drink.’

Is Shaun Walker worried about ‘Lukyanova’s spirituality, which she propagates online and teaches in a series of lectures and seminars, is based on vegetarianism and meditation.’ while ‘not linked to any religion, though she admits it draws much from Buddhism.’ Is Shaun Walker negative because, ‘Lukyanova remains the best known of the dolls and her “spiritual teachings” and as  ‘found a receptive audience among many young women’. The entire post is dripping with paranoia and innuendo – against a harmless, pretty 23-year old girl from Ukraine.

Why. Just Why? WHY?


Koenraad Elst: Singing Bhajans to British Gods to an Indian Audience or The Game Is Over

Posted in British Raj, Desert Bloc, History, India, Islamic Demonization, Propaganda, Religion by Anuraag Sanghi on August 5, 2012

 

British were not the worst says Koenraad Elst. They killed some people. That is all. Just some fifty times more than Islamic raiders and invaders.

Koenraad Elst’s writing has been distasteful – and his ‘scholarship’ suspect.

A 2ndlook reader, Dr.OP Sudrania, drew my attention to a new post by Elst. Unlike 2ndlook, Elst does not respond to comments or criticism – probably, because he has none.

For reasons of time, I would not normally spend much time with verbiage of the Elst variety – excepting this was too easy.

Elst writes

Lord Louis Mountbatten, only accepted Partition because the Muslim League threatened and started violence.

via Koenraad Elst: The British were not guilty of Partition; somebody else was.

Is it beyond your Catholic-Christian intelligence to see how British could put Gandhiji behind bars for threatening non-violent protest! The British had no qualms (and artificial regret later) when O’Dyer opened fire on unarmed people in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar?

But could not do anything when Jinnah threatened and started violence? Your Christian-Catholic logic escapes my ‘Hindu-Indian’ thinking.

Completely.

Viceroys Lord Victor Linlithgow and Lord Archibald Wavell told Jinnah to his face that they would not countenance the division of their nice and neat Indian empire, not even in the event of decolonization. Their successor, Lord Louis Mountbatten, only accepted Partition because the Muslim League threatened and started violence.

via Koenraad Elst: The British were not guilty of Partition; somebody else was.

I presume it is below Elst’s Catholic-Christian intelligence to provide proof and citation of this. Day, date, time, place, witnesses, subjects discussed, duration of the meeting(s), other participants? Catholic Christian Elst gives no details.

Was Catholic Christian Elst the proverbial fly-on-the-British-wall, who witnessed these events first hand, in his previous birth?

brainwash the Indian Muslims into becoming India-loving Hindus

via Koenraad Elst: The British were not guilty of Partition; somebody else was.

I presume again that is is below Elst’s Catholic-Christian intelligence to provide data or source which shows that Indian-Muslims do not love India – as much as Hindus?

And what are ‘Hindus’ supposed to do? Send Indian Muslims to concentration camps?

Like America did with Americans of Japanese descent during WWII? Or Britain did to Boers during the Boer War? Or the Spanish did with Cubans in the War of Freedom by Cuban Slaves?

Or are we to follow the example of your king, Leopold of Belgium who managed to annihilate more than 1 crore people of Congo, who he deemed to be his ‘personal’ property?

British had nothing to do with Partition, and that this was a purely Muslim operation necessitated by the present democratic age’s belief in numbers.

via Koenraad Elst: The British were not guilty of Partition; somebody else was.

Is it below Elst’s Catholic-Christian intelligence to accept evidence from Jinnah’s statement when Jinnah said how “suddenly there was a change in the attitude towards me. I was treated on the same basis as Mr Gandhi. I was wonderstruck why all of a sudden I was promoted and given a place side by side with Mr Gandhi.”

I will argue that the British had nothing to do with Partition

via Koenraad Elst: The British were not guilty of Partition; somebody else was.

Mr.Elst, you will make your Catholic-Christian arguments without citations, evidence, links, quotes, sources, because the Hindu is polite to stop you?

It is only the fledgling Cold War that made the British and also the Americans see a silver lining in the Partition, viz. that one of the parties would join the Western camp and provide it an outpost to monitor the Soviet threat

via Koenraad Elst: The British were not guilty of Partition; somebody else was.

Is it beyond your Catholic-Christian intelligence to do some background study about the The Great Game that was played out between the Tsarist & Soviet Russia and the British from 1840-1940?

How Russia was seen as the biggest threat to the Indian Empire by the British Raj?

To be sure, the British were guilty of many things, and the fixation of Hindu nationalists on them is understandable. Principally, they caused several very serious famines, they dismantled the technology and economic structure of India, and they imposed a foreign ideology that harmed the natives’ self-respect. This did not make British rule “the biggest crime in history”, as L.K. Advani claims on his blog (15 July 2012), but it was pretty bad.

via Koenraad Elst: The British were not guilty of Partition; somebody else was.

After killing more than 25 million Indians – which is about 50 times more than what the Islamic invaders and rulers killed and enslaved, your Catholic-Christian intelligence believes that the British were not the worst killers in the history of humanity – way beyond Hitler.

I would agree with you on one thing here.

The Hindu is too polite – and should actually go after your Catholic-Christian *#@* with all that he has in all his god-given Hindu departments … and a crowbar, to prove his courage!

Hindus who blame the British for Partition, show that they are afraid of the truth, and afraid of Islam. It is far easier to accuse the British, who have safely departed, than to lay the blame at the door of Islam. Blaming Islam opens a can of worms, it is difficult to deal with this religion. It is a challenge to one’s courage, but it is mainly a challenge to one’s intelligence. If you are deficient in these departments, then go ahead and blame the British.

via Koenraad Elst: The British were not guilty of Partition; somebody else was.

Is there a deficiency in your Catholic-Christian departments that you should deal with facts, documents, sources, evidence, quotations – and not in hate, name calling?

Can a Catholic-Christian intelligence rise above it’s vile, genocidal ways of the last 2000 years?

It is here that I have more reason to worry. Though Hindus have shown great intelligence in the literature of the past and ICT initiatives of the present, they have mostly failed to apply their intelligence to the Islam problem, though this is staring them in the face every day. But I am confident that now you will do something about it.

via Koenraad Elst: The British were not guilty of Partition; somebody else was.

Your Catholic-Christian mind has a good reason to be worried. Indians are seeing through the Christian-Progressive-Liberal Game – and you may be out of business.

Faster than you imagine.


 

Tagged with: , ,

Caste System: Its’ Life & Birth

Posted in British Raj, History, India, politics, Religion by Anuraag Sanghi on April 20, 2012

How real is the caste system?

100 years of a hoax

Strangely, one British hoax that has not been called out, even sixty-five years after independence, is the creation of the caste-system narrative. While many Indians know of Max Muller’s motivations in creation of the Aryan Invasion Theory, very few are aware of how one man created the equally enduring myth of the caste system.

Herbert Hope Risley.

The ethnographer behind the caste system in the 1901 census. In-charge of the 1901 census, as per his biographer

Risley believed that the varna, however ancient, could be applied to all the modern castes found in India, and “meant to identify and place several hundred million Indians within it. seven racial types. The three fundamental races are – Dravidian, Mongoloid and Indo-Aryan. Four secondary races- Cytho-Dravidian, Aryo-Dravidian, Mongolo-Dravidian and Pre-Dravidian. (extract from Wikipedia).

Risley was also behind the Bengal Partition along communal lines in 1905. On the Bengal Partition, as the Home secretary to the Government of India,  in 1904, H. H. Risley, made an official noting:

Bengal united is a power. Bengal divided will pull in several different ways. That is what the Congress leaders feel: their apprehensions are perfectly correct and they form one of the great merits of the scheme… One of our main objects is to split up and thereby weaken a solid body of opponents to our rule. (via The Long View: The Partition Before Partition – NYTimes.com).

Caste system is a hoax, invented by the British, to expand and keep up power in India.

Have faith and belief

For the next few paragraphs, let us assume that colonial history is correct.

As per Western notions about Indian history, Indian society along with its caste system was set up by Brahmins between 400BC-800AD. Goes Western history, from circa 800 AD, Islāmic invaders started conquering India – and for the last 1200 years India has been ruled by Muslims or Christians. Both these Islāmic and Christian rulers have no use for the caste system.

Assuming ‘Hindu’ elites established this system in 1200 years, why have Muslim, Christian and Secular rulers not been able to remove it in the last 1200 years.

Looters and rentier

It cannot be removed, because it does not exist.

What exists today is a system where the Indian economy was handed over to different communities by Islāmic and Christian rulers – under the Iqtedaari system, Jagirdaari system, Zamindaari system.

This created a ‘rentier’ class of land owners, who ill-treated the former land owners, whose wealth was seized and re-distributed.

Numbers shall set you free

10% of Brahmins kept 90% of Indians as slaves?

Keep in mind Kabir Das’ doha

साईं इतना दीजिये, जामे कुटुंब समाए, मैं भी भूखा ना रहूँ, साधू ना भूखा जाये|

sai itna dijiye jaame kutumb samaye, main bhi bhukha naa raho, sadhu na bhukha jaye

(God give me just enough to take care of my family; and feed myself and any saadhu who comes to my house).

In a society, which reflected this belief, that had few super-rich Brahmins, the caste-system narrative implied that Brahmins looted everybody, kept slaves and suppressed everybody.

What kind of fools were the rest of the people?

When the same British tried suppressing people, between Buxar (1765) to Indian Independence (1947), more than 200 revolts, wars, battles, bombings, terrorist plots were executed. The British needed a highly paid army of more than 10 lakh soldiers to suppress the Indian population.

Now these are numbers.

Where is any source about Brahmin wealth, Brahmin armies, required to suppress people?

Indians not allowed

British who had No Indians Allowed signboards in many places promoted themselves as liberators. Probably, people also need to see Europe to understand what is the real caste system really is.

In Protestant Britain, there are hardly any Catholics. Protestant Germany has a few more than Britain Catholics. Now Britain and Germany were both Catholic countries 500 years ago. In Protestant USA, there has been only one Catholic President in more than 200 years. There is hardly any Protestant population in France of Italy.

To repeat a point – If Brahmins have been in power for 1200 years, and established the caste-system, why have Muslim, British and now Secular rulers not been able to remove it in the lat 1200 years.

Words … words … words

Words and logic apart, there is visual evidence that the caste system as ideated and portrayed by the British did not exist. Below is a selection of 5 images of India, dated between 1799-1899, before Risley came out with his caste-system ideas.

What these paintings show in great detail, is how in Indian bazaars and streets, there was a vibrant trade in rotis (unleavened bread), makhan (butter), mithai (sweet-meats). How could this be possible in a society where untouchability was rampant and embedded?

I’ve forgotten this before

My father remembers that his summer vacations were spent in serving cooled water from earthen pots with mur-mura-chana handfuls, in Hyderabad, at the side of the Hyderabad-Mumbai highway. There were widespread culture of piyaoos where water was served – at many centres with mur-mura (popped rice) and roast chana (lentil).

All, from all castes and religions were welcome, many times even persuaded, to slake their thirst and take the edge of their appetite with chana-mur-mura.

Bon appétit!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


China’s reality – Solitary Sex

Posted in America, Business, China, Current Affairs, Desert Bloc, Feminist Issues, India, Religion by Anuraag Sanghi on February 22, 2012


State engineered sex-deprivation is reality in most of the world – except India and Africa. Official media in China is worried about the consequences of sex-deprivation.

The State and the Church are competing to find newer ways to intervene in the family lives of its citizens. | Cartoonist Jim Morin; in Miami Herald; on February 20, 2012  | Click for larger image.

The State and the Church are competing to find newer ways to intervene in the family lives of its citizens. | Cartoonist Jim Morin; in Miami Herald; on February 20, 2012 | Click for larger image.

What’s measured, is managed

The Chinese State publishes a unique data-set for “public order disturbances” [National statistics by the Ministry of Public Security (MPS)], that cover anything from riots and protests to participation in cults or organised crime, hacking, insulting the national flag, gambling and …

Even sexual orgies.

Now orgies is interesting

Why would the Chinese State measure and manage sexual activity among consenting adults – individual or group? Outlining the issue was a recent post in China’s Economic Observer. It says of China.

Sex is the most neglected of all social issues

Paradoxically, despite the rising anxiety and sense of emptiness among urban men and women, sex is a topic rarely discussed by academics, the public or even the media. “In comparison with poverty, war, disease, racism and starvation, sex is regarded as a trivial subject,” the feminist Gayle Rubin, has pointed out.

It’s demonstrated in the collective, desperate searching for a one night stand. Chinese women still feel severely oppressed by the traditional view that women should not enjoy sex, and should renounce this activity if they become a widow. Li Yinhe quotes a statistic that 26 percent of Chinese women have never experienced an orgasm, a figure which stands around 10 percent in other parts of the world.

So does this mean that we are poised for an extreme and opposite reaction to the virulent sexual oppression of the Cultural Revolution? Li Yinhe says no. Change has happened slowly. The proof is that the average number of sexual partners in China is 1.3 compared to 16 in other parts of the world.

In a recent case, a man who went to an orgy in Nanjing was sentenced to three and a half years of jail time. Hypocrisy is everywhere. Pornography is rife on the Internet, but if you are caught watching it, you face harsh punishment. When corrupt officials are arrested for embezzlement and fraud, it usual turns out they’ve had numerous mistresses. The official is not punished for his sexual exploits, but the lonely worker satisfying his fantasies with online porn is a criminal.

Accoring to Li Yinhe, in the mid 1980s, during a strike-hard campaign, people were shot for opening a sex shop or running a porn site.

In the West, feminists are usually opposed to pornography, which they say turns women into objects. In China, no such subtlety is necessary: pornography is condemned on moral grounds, that’s all.

For Li Yinhe, pornographic films and sex toys are the fruit of people’s imagination and are there to stimulate desire. She sees no harm in them as they are objects not actions. For her the Chinese constitution guarantees the freedom of expression and publication, and that includes the contents of a sex shop.

In a good society, not only are you satisfied with your food, but you are also satisfied with your sex life. This is the sign of an advanced society. It is also classical Confucianism. The Communist Party of China has resolved the problem of providing food; now is the time to let that other human desire be fulfilled. (via Solitary Sex – Economic Observer News- China business, politics, law, and social issues).

Mapping it out

With near universal marriage, combined with a low-degree of State intervention, India (and Indians) don’t understand sex deprivation. Though with the government pushing up the age of consent and marriage, to impossibly high levels, sex-deprivation is reality only for urban Indians in the 16-24 years. However, since sex-deprivation is limited to a short window of time in the lives of Indians, most forget about it – and sex-deprivation has not become a significant social issue.

Africa too, with its unique system of non-marital, consensual sex with multiple partners, does not have a sex-deprivation problem.

In the Desert Bloc

In the West sex-deprivation is evidenced with high output of pornography, and widespread prostitution.

Since data is thin about the 200 million population of the Islāmic Middle East (from Iran to Turkey, from Oman to Saudi Arabia; excl. Egypt) spread over 15 nations, the problem is not visible.

However, like this extract shows, in China it is reality. A reality that the State has engineered – and fostered. For China’s ruling elites, there is no de facto regulation of sexual activity. For all others, there are high levels of restrictions and regulations.

Unlike, भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra

भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra is the Indic political system that guarantees four freedoms – धर्म (dharma – justice), अर्थ (arth – wealth and means), काम (kaam – human desires) मोक्ष (moksha – liberty) and ensures three rights – ज़र (jar - gold), जन (jan - human ties) and जमीन (jameen – property) for all.

Related articles – By 2ndlook


Nollywood – New Kid on The Global Filmi Block

Posted in America, Business, Film Reviews, Media, Religion by Anuraag Sanghi on January 18, 2012
Ulzee, a Nollywood pioneer maker of big Nollywood hit “Osuofia in London,”  |  Image source & courtesy - techcrunch.com

Ulzee, a Nollywood pioneer maker of big Nollywood hit “Osuofia in London,” | Image source & courtesy - techcrunch.com

A Story From Nigeria

In 2003, an unknown Nigerian Azuka Odunukwe, landed in London, with a ‘venture’ in his mind.

His investment in the ‘venture’ was less than US$10,000. In this venture, with him, was his lawyer wife. Over the next few months, this ‘venture’ succeeded – and with his ‘partners’, he netted more than US$500,000.

This was not the usual Nigerian banking scam,  that is now so famous across the world. Popularly known as

Ulzee, a Nollywood pioneer who decided to make movies after getting a science degree. His wife, trained as a lawyer, joined him along the seemingly crazy journey. His biggest hit was “Osuofia in London,” one of the first Nollywood films to get international attention. He shot it on location in London and it cost about $6,500 to make– a jaw-dropping investment for a Nollywood picture back in 2003. But it grossed more than $650,000. (via You Think Hollywood Is Rough? Welcome to the Chaos, Excitement and Danger of Nollywood | TechCrunch).

Together, director Kingsley Ogoro, and ‘marketeer’ Azuka Odunukwe ‘Ulzee’, made the world sit up and take note of Nollywood.

Miracle’ in Nigeria

Nigerian film-makers (collectively, Nollywood) have done what Germans, French, British, Japanese, even the Chinese, have not been able to do.

Challenge – and leave Hollywood behind.

Without support from the Nigerian Government. Even with State-support, the Chinese have difficulty in sustaining a film industry. Chinese film production, across 4 production centres (Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei, or mainland China), cannot match Nigerian production. The entire Islamic world produces negligible footage. Based on revenues, a 2007-report, notes that,

Still from the Nollywood movie - Osuofia in London|  Image source & courtesy - ImageShack  |  Click for source image.

Still from the Nollywood movie - Osuofia in London| Image source & courtesy - ImageShack | Click for source image.

The Nigerian film industry is the third largest in the world, after Hollywood and Bollywood. Outside its native continent, Nollywood remains relatively unknown. Yet millions of African fans can’t get enough of its movies.

Unlike their international counterparts, the films coming out of Nollywood aren’t intended for the big screen. Nigerian filmmakers use a mix of quick-and-dirty digital technology, shooting their movies entirely on digital video, editing them on home computers and delivering them to the market on VHS, DVD and video compact discs, or VCDs.

Since its inception in the 1990s, the burgeoning Nigerian movie scene has bloomed into a $286 million business annually, despite the fact that films have minimal budgets (ranging from $10,000 to $25,000) and sell for just a few dollars apiece. What this industry does have is volume, with some 300 directors churning out an average of 2400 films annually. (via Nigerian Film Industry Mixes Digital Tech, Homegrown Scripts).

For media,

It is hard to avoid Nigerian films in Africa. Public buses show them, as do many restaurants and hotels. Nollywood churns out about 50 full-length features a week, making it the world’s second most prolific film industry after India’s Bollywood. The Nigerian business capital, Lagos, is said by locals to have produced more films than there are stars in the sky. The streets are flooded with camera crews shooting on location. Only the government employs more people.

Nigerian films are as popular abroad as they are at home. Ivorian rebels in the bush stop fighting when a shipment of DVDs arrives from Lagos. Zambian mothers say their children talk with accents learnt from Nigerian television. When the president of Sierra Leone asked Genevieve Nnaji, a Lagosian screen goddess, to join him on the campaign trail he attracted record crowds at rallies. Millions of Africans watch Nigerian films every day, many more than see American fare. (via Nollywood: Lights, camera, Africa | The Economist).

All this, in less than 20 years.

Nigerian film posters seen at Idumota market in Lagos, Nigeria.  |  Image source & courtesy - cbc.ca  |  Click for larger image.

Nigerian film posters seen at Idumota market in Lagos, Nigeria. | Image source & courtesy - cbc.ca | Click for larger image.

The secret ‘chutni’

Some in Western media, quick to deny credit, think that Nollywood’s success is probably linked to that ‘most of the movies are in English, allowing for the widest possible crossover appeal.’ But English language, may not be the biggest reason for Nollywood’s success. As the UN report confirms,

The survey also revealed that about 56 per cent of Nollywood films are made in local languages, while English remains a prominent language, accounting for 44 per cent, which may contribute to Nigeria’s success in exporting its films. (via Nigeria surpasses Hollywood as world’s second largest film producer – UN).

However, actors in Igbo and English Nollywood films do seem to be paid more than the Yoruba language films.

For most, especially in the Yoruba movie sector, the wages are lower. Their names are considerably bigger than their bank statements.

There are Yoruba movie actors with more than 50 lead roles who remain anything but wealthy. Yemi Solade, a big name in the sector, once told this magazine that many of his colleagues may die in poverty. “The industry is not organised and there are few professionals. Everybody wants to produce, direct, and at the same time, act. As a result of this, they do what I call man-know-man, a system whereby when I work for you, you won’t pay me and vice versa. It is absolute rubbish and the industry and individuals will never grow with that. Also, I detest the idea that everybody must produce films. It is only in the Yoruba sector that you will see a generator man claiming to be a producer because he managed to get some coins from a marketer in Idumota,” he said.

According to Solade, an actor, who co-starred with Yinka Quadri in the award-winning film 150 Million, got only N15,000 for his role in the two-part flick. (via Nollywood: Sex Glamour And Fake Life | The News Nigeria).

Probably, since English films have larger markets outside Nigeria, the returns are better. Even then, there are large number of films made in Yoruba.

Why?

Nollywood viewers seem to see African stories, told differently.

Shooting past Hollywood without the world noticing, Nollywood has made it to second place with films about family, love and honor, about AIDS, prostitution and oil, and about ghosts and cannibals.

In other words, films about Africa.

Nollywood movies with limited budgets use locations instead. |  Image source & courtesy - esquire.com  |  Read more: http://www.esquire.com/the-side/NOLLYWOOD/nollywood-part-3#ixzz1jqJhGB3y

Nollywood movies with limited budgets use locations instead. | Image source & courtesy - esquire.com | Read more: http://www.esquire.com/the-side/NOLLYWOOD/nollywood-part-3#ixzz1jqJhGB3y

The ‘Bigness’ of Nollywood

Nollywood is the apparent African iceberg, much of which is hidden out of sight. Post-colonial Africa, emerging from the shadows of its population and cultural destruction, films are the new narrative form.

But Africa’s most populous country Nigeria 18 years ago burst into production with affordable movies now shot with digital cameras that shun the more expensive classical 35mm format.

Nollywood has in recent years galloped ahead of Hollywood to be ranked second in the world in production terms after India’s Bollywood.

Nollywood “has taken over completely” from Hollywood, said Nigeria’s film producer and director Teco Benson, saying it is the latest “superpower” in the movie industry.

“It’s Africa’s new rebranding tool”.

One reason for Nollywood’s popularity lies with South Africa-based pay television MultiChoice. It has four 24-hour channels dedicated to African content, predominantly Nigeria productions. Two of the channels run movies in two of Nigeria’s main languages, Yoruba and Hausa.

But in poor neighbourhoods, shacks with old TV screens placed on dusty alleys or verandas pass for video viewing centres. Bootleg copies sell for a couple of dollars across the continent.

In central Africa, Nollywood movies are the only ones sold by market vendors as “African movies”, with the Nigerian productions dubbed into French in such countries as Cameroon and Gabon.

In Kenya, Nigerian films are also a hit – many of them broadcast on terrestrial networks – but face competition from Bollywood due to a historic large Indian population in the eastern African country.

Nollywood films are also immensely popular in Sierra Leone, to the extent of choking the growth of the country’s own movie industry, said Thomas Jones, a radio play scriptwriter.

“Nollywood has hampered the growth of the local film market because my contemporaries have just resigned themselves to watching these films from Nigeria,” he said.

More affluent South Africa on the other hand has seen a growth in its movie sector since the end of apartheid, and Neill Blomkamp’s science fiction “District 9″ was this year nominated for an Oscar.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nollywood is “very popular on television” after being dubbed into the local Lingala dialect,

even in the tiniest of African countries such as Gambia, “Nollywood is ahead of Hollywood”, said Nigerian businessman Barnabas Eset, who since 2000 has been renting out both Nollywood and Hollywood movies. (via Nigeria’s Nollywood eclipsing Hollywood in Africa – Films – Arts & Entertainment – The Independent).

Nollywood – the birth and growth

If the market was so big, and the need was so great, why were other film makers unable to exploit this opportunity. Behind Nollywood were seemingly random events and coincidences, that triggered this seminal rise.

The Nigerian film industry emerged in the late 1970s, as the nation’s economy collapsed. Public funding of movies and original television programming vanished, and crime made cinemas too dangerous to visit. European and American shows soon dominated national television. But, disturbed by the absence of black faces on Nigerian television, the country’s fledgling filmmakers began spinning vibrant tribal plays onto the screen. By the early 1990s, filming on celluloid had become too expensive and production shifted to video.

Unlike African art films, which appear on the global film circuit and are commonly financed by European investors, Nollywood films are backed by African merchants. For instance, a merchant-investor could pay a director $10,000, covering the production costs and procuring the film’s distribution rights. About two weeks later, the merchant-investor gets the film’s master tape, then sends it to one of many mass-dubbing centers in Nigeria. The movie is copied onto a Video Compact Disc, known as a VCD and widely used across the developing world. VCDs cost $1.50 to make and are usually sold to consumers at outdoor markets in Nigeria for $3, or less.

Borrowing the style and structure of American soap operas and Bollywood films, Nigerian movies had gained popularity across sub-Saharan Africa by the mid-1990s, even in French-speaking countries. Soon, Nigerian expatriates were stuffing their suitcases with videotapes and VCDs on trips back to Britain and, eventually, the United States. Some of the films were passed on to relatives. Others, however, wound up in the hands of distributors, who have copied an unknown number of DVDs and sold them to stores or over the Internet. (via Nigeria On-Screen – washingtonpost.com).

The Case of The Missing State

While Australia, Europe, Japan, China subsidize domestic film-making, Nollywood success is without the support of Nigerian State.

Government film subsidies are almost nonexistent in Nigeria, and if there are any subsidies, most people assume that the money never leaves the pockets of those at the top echelons of industry unions.

Using basic filming technology,

The (Nigerian film) industry is in dire need of investment, however; presently, it self-finances through cable deals and street sales of DVDs. Churches often finance films to spread their message and many production companies are happy to take their money, particularly as competition is getting stiffer from countries like Ghana. (via Welcome to Nollywood: Nigeria’s Film Industry Is More Prolific than Hollywood — and Faces Even More Piracy – TIME).

If piracy, funding are Hollywood’s problems, these are bigger problems for Nollywood. State supported academia and critics ignore or pan Nollywood – even as

The brash populism of such Nollywood fare sits in sharp contrast with movies from Francophone Africa. The latter, frequently backed by French funding, often secure critical success, and get an outing at Fespaco, the continent’s premier film festival held every two years in Ouagadougou.

Nollywood films rarely secure Fespaco praise. But nor is this an industry reliant on subsidies: although plagued by piracy, it remains popular, independent and accessible. In a continent with few cinemas, an ever-changing selection of video CDs are sold for a few dollars a pop on street corners. (via Nollywood comes of age – FT.com).

Story-telling is worth big money and Nollywood made the world sit-up and note that

Africa is a gigantic market, with 150 million people living in Nigeria alone. Nigerian films are exported to other African countries, like Ghana, Sierra Leone and South Africa, but also to the United States and England, and to Germany, where they are sold in African shops — in other words, to places where they can capitalize on the nostalgia of a large African Diaspora.

Lagos from the Okada backseat - the Nigerian motorcycle taxi.  |  Image source & courtesy - esquire.com  |  Click for larger image.

Lagos from the Okada backseat - the Nigerian motorcycle taxi. | Image source & courtesy - esquire.com | Click for larger image.

Let numbers do the talking

More than entertainment, Nollywood has given Africa reasons for satisfaction.

For post-colonial Nigeria particularly ‘next to the oil industry, Nollywood is the second-largest employer in Nigeria.’

It has its own stars and its own red carpets, even its own version of the Oscars: the African Movie Academy Awards. Hundreds of thousands of the home videos it produces are displayed on dealers’ shelves, in the form of VCDs and DVDs, and the films are also broadcast on television channels like Africa Magic. Hollywood films play almost no role at all in this country. (via Nigeria’s Silver Screen: Nollywood’s Film Industry Second only to Bollywood in Scale – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International.

By 2009, the UN noted that the Nigerian film industry (Nollywood) was the second largest in the world – based on number of films released.

The three cinema heavyweights were followed by eight countries that produced more than 100 films: Japan (417), China (330), France (203), Germany (174), Spain (150), Italy (116), South Korea (110) and the United Kingdom (104). (via Nigeria surpasses Hollywood as world’s second largest film producer – UN).

Ahead of Hollywood, behind only after Bollywood, as the Indian film industry has become known.

In 2006 Nigeria made 872 films (in video format, with about half of them in English), about 200 less than Bollywood and roughly 400 more than Hollywood.

Nigerian films took off in the early 1990s, helped by the availability of cheap video technology. Already massive in Africa, Nollywood is now gaining a reputation elsewhere. (via Nollywood comes of age – FT.com)

Rather surprising, when the larger Chinese market is having difficulties. Hong Kong, which led Chinese film-making from front is in trouble.

In the mid-90s, the Hong Kong film industry ate itself alive. In 1993, it had produced a record 238 films and its doyen director, John Woo, was about to dive, twin guns aflame, through Hollywood’s doors. Six years later, production had crashed to just 40 films a year and not even the local triad gangs could prevent their own films from being pirated: there were bootlegs VCDs on sale everywhere of Casino, a gangster pic about and financed by the notorious Macau hoodlum, “Broken Tooth” Koi. (via Back in action: the fall and rise of Hong Kong film | Film | guardian.co.uk).

German publication, Der Spiegel wrote of

Nollywood is the massive, pulsating film industry in Nigeria, which the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has declared the world’s second-largest film industry, after India’s Bollywood, based on the number of films produced.

Mysterious puzzle

How did Nollywood leave Hollywood behind?

Without the benefit of funding or technology, that Hollywood has? Nollywood has achieved, what ‘advanced’ economies like the British, German, French, have failed at.

Sustain a viable, domestic film industry.

Even the oil-rich Islamic world, equally, has little to show. For instance, the film industry in Iran, Turkey, Egypt has sputtered for decades – without success. Pakistani film industry has been slowly asphyxiated as the ruling elites deny their Indic roots.

As have the Japanese and the Chinese.

The surprising growth of the Nigerian industry, without State support, direction or promotion, seems to be rooted in a deeper cultural streams than the apparent coincidences. Africans want to hear different stories, told differently and Nollywood directors

make films with plotlines that reflect the rapidly changing political and cultural climate, often weaving in aspects of current events. Whether revolving around corruption, prostitution, folkloric legends, HIV/AIDS, cautionary tales, romantic comedies or even epic period pieces about slavery and civil wars, the films present an unfiltered view of African culture, intended for an African audience.

As Peace Anyiam-Fiberesima, founder of the Africa Movie Academy Awards, puts it in This Is Nollywood, “It’s not about quality at the moment.… Africa still has people living on $1 a day, and these are the people that really watch these films.” (via Nigerian Film Industry Mixes Digital Tech, Homegrown Scripts).

Drawing deeply from the well-springs of their civilization, film industries seem to die out, when cut from their inspiration.

And what are Nollywood’s inspiration?

A typical story line went something like this: poor boy meets rich girl; they fall in love; rich girl’s parents strongly disapprove of union; boy and girl fight all obstacles and true love prevails in the end. Other typical story lines included voodoo tales, historical epics, religious conflicts and economic hardship.

The average flick sold over 50,000 copies. Some even sold as many as several hundred thousand, while a few hit a million. And at $1.50 per disc, they were affordable for most Nigerians and generated astounding returns for the producers. (via Hollywood, Meet Nollywood – Forbes).

Adding to this melee is the Christian Church, saving Nigerian souls from getting corrupted

Fire-and-brimstone evangelical preachers set up keyboards and microphones in the middle of the street to save souls, only adding to the chaos.

Bollywood & Nollywood

Thoughly vastly different in form, and substance, there are some who think that Bollywood and Nollywood may have similarities. Some Nollywood viewers from West Indies, now living in America are

struck by the similar good-versus-evil themes often found in the Indian Bollywood film genre she became fond of growing up.

Borrowing the style and structure of American soap operas and Bollywood films, Nigerian movies had gained popularity across sub-Saharan Africa by the mid-1990s, even in French-speaking countries.

Many African intellectuals dismiss the movies for playing up witchcraft, which they argue perpetuates negative Western stereotypes of Africans, said Onookome Okome, an English professor at the University of Alberta and author of the forthcoming book, “Anxiety of the Local: From Traveling Theatre to Popular Video Films in Nigeria.”

Some film experts remain skeptical that the Nigerian movies will penetrate the broader U.S. market. Jonathan Haynes, a Long Island University professor and author of the book, “Nigerian Video Films,” noted the films’ heavy emphasis on the supernatural and said, “Culturally, they’re from someplace else.” (via Nigeria On-Screen – washingtonpost.com).

“That can seem weird to Americans, especially if it’s not being cast as part of some traditional African past,” Haynes said. “It’s an acquired taste.”(via Nigeria On-Screen – washingtonpost.com).

Even Hollywood is an acquired taste, sir. Distaste comes from too much of this acquired taste. Ask me.

Looking for Nollywood roots, outside from ancient African culture, one is stuck by Nigeria’s post-colonial literary success.

Nigeria has perhaps the most distinguished literary tradition in Africa; Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Ben Okri and Ken Saro-Wiwa are the best-known writers, but it is clear that Nigeria’s home video industry has no pretensions to high art. (via Welcome to Nollywood | Film | guardian.co.uk).

Looking for threads of narratives and the dominant themes, Hollywood, Bollywood and Nollywood occupy different spaces altogether.

If Hollywood’s forte is jaw-dropping spectacle and Bollywood’s is heart-warming musical slush, then Nollywood’s special draw is a genre that might be described as the voodoo horror flick: films that revolve around witchcraft and demonic possession. (via Welcome to Nollywood | Film | guardian.co.uk).

After years of consuming foreign fare, Nigerian film-makers have finely chiselled their theme – away from other global narratives of Hollywood and Bollywood.

Ultimately, it’s the way the films are crafted, rather than their juicy content that gives them universal appeal, says Fry. “The storytelling is so good. Nigerian filmmakers really know how to entertain their audiences. They’ve studied the populist genres from other countries – Bollywood musicals, low-budget horror and Brazilian soap operas, for example – and reworked these to appeal to anyone with a love of drama.”

The process is tried and tested, and the main reason Nollywood is currently in such rude health, but how long can it stay that way? It’s hard to see how an industry that prides itself on producing so much in so little time won’t start to lose its momentum in the coming years. (via Hooray for Nollywood! | Film | guardian.co.uk).

How does Nollywood do so much, in so little time – and so little money.

Necessity – The mother of invention

Film production in Nigeria, is a different story.

The market traders control Nollywood to this day. They make films for home consumption rather than for the cinema—a place few can afford, or reach easily. DVD discs sell for a dollar. Print runs can reach a million. Studios, both in the physical and the corporate sense of the term, are unknown. There are no lots, no sound stages and no trailers for the stars. There are no studios and no film lots. Market traders double as financiers

“Films are made on the run, sometimes literally,” says Emem Isong, one of Nigeria’s few female producers, during a shoot. “Some of the guys are hiding from the police.”

All scenes are shot on location and with a shoestring budget of no more than $100,000. Most of the financiers are based in a vast, chaotic market called Idumota. It is a maze within a labyrinth. Crowds push through narrow, covered alleys. The sound of honking motorbikes is drowned out by blaring television sets showing film trailers. The flickering screens light up dim stalls lined with thousands of DVDs on narrow wooden shelves. (via Nollywood: Lights, camera, Africa | The Economist).

The Alaba market for Nollywood DVDs. |  Image source & courtesy - techcrunch.com  |  Click for larger source image.

The Alaba market for Nollywood DVDs. | Image source & courtesy - techcrunch.com | Click for larger source image.

The rise and rise of Nollywood

As Nollywood nailed its formula of TV screens, direct retail to the audiences, Africa-themed stories, acceptance and growth has been phenomenal.

Nigeria is home to one of the world’s youngest film industries, but it’s booming. In just 13 years it has gone from nothing to estimated earnings of US$200m (£114m) a year – making it the world’s third biggest film industry after that of America and India. The films are made on the cheap, but they are big box office.

Except that there is no box office, of course. In Nollywood, as it has inevitably been dubbed, movies are shot on video and copied straight on to tapes or DVDs and then sold on from thousands of street stalls and hole-in-the-wall shops, not just in Nigeria but across the continent, as well to the African diaspora via markets in the west.

“They sell a lot of our films in Peckham and in Dalston market [in London],” says Paul Obazele, the veteran producer.

Empty claim? How global is Nollywood.

an entrepreneur named Jason Njoku (whose) parents are Nigerian, but he grew up in the United Kingdom. Entranced with Nollywood a few years ago and bored with London, he moved here, stunning his family and friends. He started Iroko Partners to catalog this vast Nollywood inventory and give it a new global distribution life on the Web. It sounds like a recipe for a city boy to get fleeced, but so far that hasn’t been the case.

Njoku spent weeks trolling the Alaba markets introducing himself to producers and trying to explain to them how a YouTube channel could be an answer for revenues, not simply another channel for the pirates to steal their intellectual property. Once he sold a few of the bigger ones like Ulzee, word spread and more producers piled in. Just four months in to his business, Njoku has bought the online rights to 500 movies from 100 different one-man production houses. Last month his YouTube channel had 1.1 million uniques, 8 million streams, and is on pace to do more than $1 million in revenues this year from YouTube ads. (via You Think Hollywood Is Rough? Welcome to the Chaos, Excitement and Danger of Nollywood | TechCrunch).

What are Nollywood themes? How different are these stories?

So, what did I glean from titles such as Sharon Stone in Abuja, Beyonce: The President’s Daughter, Good Mother and Blood Billionaires 1 and 2? (Most titles have at least one sequel). A lot.

Good girls can lose their way in Lagos, village values trump city truths, corruption is rife, witchcraft is everywhere, and stepmothers are bad news. And every man in Lagos, as one character told his wife, has a mistress. These films were peopled by poor village women, business men in Mercedes and hardy entrepreneurs.

These were tales of love, money and betrayal. Buried within these at times fantastic stories were, I thought as the passengers around me laughed and groaned in recognition, African realities. (via Nollywood comes of age – FT.com).

What do viewers make of these films?

The movies can be read as fantasies; they allow the powerless to feel vicariously powerful. The stories tell of poor men getting rich, of errant husbands who find their penises shrinking, of love rivals who go blind or crazy and end up running naked and shrieking into the streets.

Not all Nollywood movies are about the occult, of course. Nigeria is a country of startling inequality; in Lagos, skinny fishermen in pirogues skim past the skyscrapers of Victoria Island, the palm-studded local equivalent of Manhattan, and slums sprawl under flyovers. But as is true of Bollywood, Nollywood likes to eschew the grit of everyday life for a more upbeat vision.

As well as occult movies, and gangster movies, another popular genre involves straightforwardly aspirational tales. American Dream is typical. it’s the story of a driven advertising executive who falls in love with an American woman and then jeopardises his high-flying career with increasingly desperate attempts to get a visa for America.

Nigeria’s home video industry has no pretensions to high art. What it’s all about is money. Nollywood movies were originally financed by importers of blank video tapes as a way of promoting sales of their product – and commerce remains king.

The heart of the story

Getting to know Nollywood, the usual and

first point of call in Surulere is the home of one of the most prolific and successful Nollywood directors, Lancelot ‘the Governor’ Imasuen, whose unbroken record of blockbusters includes such titles as Last Burial, August Meeting, Games Men Play, Games Women Play, Games Men Play 2, and Games Women Play 2.

‘I recently had the pleasure of shooting a film in Hollywood,’ Imasuen tells me. ‘And I told them, “I want you to know that 75 per cent of your budget and timing is wasted! Sixty days to shoot a film!”‘ He looks shocked, bemused. ‘How many working hours are actually in those 60 days? It’s all razzmatazz. You see endless trucks and trailers parked on their locations. How much of this equipment is actually used in the process of making films? You see, in Nollywood, what we’ve done is to do away with all that excess; what we’ve done is to simplify the process of making films.’

With its potholed roads teeming with industrious street vendors, feral urchins, and extraordinarily brave commuters – perched calmly on the back seats of the motorbike taxis nicknamed, with morbid irony, ‘Okada’ after a now defunct airline – Surulere is the birthplace and headquarters of Nollywood, the Nigerian film industry. A far cry from Beverly Hills, Surulere is home to the Nollywood elite – the top producers, directors, marketers, distributors and some of the stars of an industry that has been blazingly successful where successive administrations, guided by the expert and combined wisdom of the IMF and the World Bank, have failed: not only is it a viable industry, it is the second biggest employer in Nigeria.

Although this is hotly contested, Nollywood saw its inauspicious beginnings in Living in Bondage: a tawdry, ineptly shot, earnestly didactic ‘home video’ that unleashed itself on the world in 1992. Many commentators believe Nollywood was born after the television industry stopped making popular dramas, which were infinitely better than the first several hundred Nollywood films.

Living in Bondage, filmed in Igbo, one of Nigeria’s languages, with English subtitles, had just the right mix of all the ingredients of a great soap opera

My first point of call in Surulere is the home of one of the most prolific and successful Nollywood directors, Lancelot ‘the Governor’ Imasuen, whose unbroken record of blockbusters includes such titles as Last Burial, August Meeting, Games Men Play, Games Women Play, Games Men Play 2, and Games Women Play 2.

‘I recently had the pleasure of shooting a film in Hollywood,’ Imasuen tells me. ‘And I told them, “I want you to know that 75 per cent of your budget and timing is wasted! Sixty days to shoot a film!”‘ He looks shocked, bemused. ‘How many working hours are actually in those 60 days? It’s all razzmatazz. You see endless trucks and trailers parked on their locations. How much of this equipment is actually used in the process of making films? You see, in Nollywood, what we’ve done is to do away with all that excess; what we’ve done is to simplify the process of making films.’

Imasuen, a theatre arts graduate, is shooting from the hip. Behind the braggadocio, though, lurk the aspirations of a filmmaker and a lover of film whose aspirations are embodied in what he had just pooh-poohed. ‘I had an experience in America recently,’ he says. ‘I went to Paramount Studios and was taken on a tour. I almost fainted at the sheer scale of it, the size of the place, the sound stages, the backlots. And I thought, Is this what they’re comparing us to? But we’ll get there, I promise you. We’ll get there.’

In a career spanning 12 years, the 36-year-old director has helmed more than 150 films – an average of one a month. (And there I was thinking Woody Allen was prolific.)

With its potholed roads teeming with industrious street vendors, feral urchins, and extraordinarily brave commuters – perched calmly on the back seats of the motorbike taxis nicknamed, with morbid irony, ‘Okada’ after a now defunct airline – Surulere is the birthplace and headquarters of Nollywood, the Nigerian film industry. A far cry from Beverly Hills, Surulere is home to the Nollywood elite – the top producers, directors, marketers, distributors and some of the stars of an industry that has been blazingly successful where successive administrations, guided by the expert and combined wisdom of the IMF and the World Bank, have failed: not only is it a viable industry, it is the second biggest employer in Nigeria. (via Welcome to Nollywood | Film | guardian.co.uk).

About 30 new titles arrive weekly at Lagos’s giant open-air markets, where canvas banners with gaudy portraits of movie stars flap above the mediaeval hubbub. A new movie costs the equivalent of £1.80 to buy, and only about 27p to rent from a video club.

For the most part, Nigerians are proud of their movie industry and other African nations are envious. “I think there’s a lot of things that converge to make this possible in Nigeria,” says Femi Odugbemi, president of the Independent Television Producers’ Association. “By tradition, we’re a storytelling people. We have more than 230 languages, different cultures, all unique in themselves.”

Nigeria is an African giant – it is the continent’s most populous nation, with 133 million people. But it’s also a country that appears to be constantly on the verge of a breakdown. (via Welcome to Nollywood | Film | The Guardian).

Nollywood has travelled far in its 15 years of existence. Its revenues are estimated to be over $250m a year and its films – all digitally shot – have a captive audience of 600 million Africans and millions more in the diaspora, particularly in the Caribbean and even here in the UK. There are few places in south-east London, the heart of the Nigerian community in Britain, where there isn’t a Nollywood DVD stall. The cable channel BEN shows several of these films every night.

After Hollywood and Bollywood, Nollywood is the world’s third-biggest film-producing industry. It has achieved this impressive feat without subsidy or investment and – fortunately perhaps – without attracting the faintest glimmer of interest from the Nigerian government or any NGO. It has a long way to go to achieve its dream of catching up with Mumbai or Los Angeles, but it is perfectly capable of doing so. The will is there. And at the rate it’s going, soon, so will be the means. (via Welcome to Nollywood | Film | guardian.co.uk).

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,046 other followers

%d bloggers like this: