The Nigerian film industry, Nollywood, has provided a veritable platform for the examination of current developmental trends in Nigeria, culture inclusive. Acclaimed as the 2nd largest in the world, after the Indian film industry (Bollywood), Nollywood has gradually risen from nothing to something, due largely to the contributions of enterprising, private businessmen. The situation is such that, apart from football, Nollywood icons have gradually come to be recognised globally as Nigeria's cultural ambassadors.
Culture, as the totality of the way of life of a people, is critical in the daily existence of the people. One aspect of Nigeria's cultural development that has been in the frontburner is the relationship with foreign or other cultures. Though colonialism seemed to usher in this relationship, it was mere incursion of a culture that felt superior over other cultures that were tagged inferior. With the current peace and security challenges in Nigeria occasioned by the debilitating activities of the extremist groups, there is the dire need to turn to culture as the centre-piece of national development just as countries like China, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea, among others, have successfully done.
However, with a viable film industry like Nollywood in place, there is need for practitioners to strategically utilize it as a platform to enhance the cultural diplomacy objectives of Nigeria and engender peace and security. This is hinged on the fact that through films, there is culture contact and understanding between the producing country and other nations. Thus, stakeholders need to be committed to positively promote our cultures through films; and that, in the face of the country's present economic realities, Government needs the political will to transform Nollywood to a high revenue earner as an alternative to crude oil.
The Society of Nigeria Theatre Artists (SONTA) Annual International Conference (SONTA 2015) is interested in exploring the linkages between Nollywood, Cultural Diplomacy and the peace and security challenges militating against the country. This informs the theme, “Repositioning Nollywood for the Promotion of Nigeria's Cultural Diplomacy and National Security.” It captures the issues which theatre, film and culture could conveniently address. It is hoped that SONTA 2015 will go beyond mere talkshop; it should proffer veritable ideas to reposition Nollywood as a veritable tool for fostering Nigeria's cultural diplomacy.