Propagating Gender Struggles Through Nollywood: Towards a Transformative Approach
Nita Byack George IRUOBE
Geonita Initiative for Women and Child Development (IWACHD)
Actors Guild of Nigeria, Abuja
The struggle for gender equality as a global phenomenon, dating back to the 1960s, has gained prominence in Nigeria in the last decade, as more women, civil societies and interest groups, continue to clamour for increased women participation in nation building. The popular saying, “A woman’s place is in the kitchen,” has received a global and revolutionary redirection/re-phrasal to: “what a man can do, a woman can do even better.” Nollywood, Nigeria’s film industry, just like the gender struggle, has also experienced a boom in the last decade, with high government recognition and multi-billion naira support, so much so that it has been adjudged the second largest film industry in the world after Bollywood. Even though there has been concern as to whether Nollywood films actually project the Nigerian story in a positive light, there is a greater concern as to whether our films, as a media of education and communication, projects the Nigerian woman/girl. More often than not, Nollywood films rely on cultural stereotypes in characterizing women as victims of a patriarchal society, where a woman’s value is placed in her sexuality. Women are portrayed more as either subservient, vulnerable and naïve or scheming, vain and seductive ornaments to be viewed and admired by men. Research demonstrates that very little is done to challenge pre-existing understanding of Nigerian women as victims of patriarchy, actually reaffirm the age old understanding of women as either a good or bad girl, rather than educating society of the transformative progress of the feminine gender. This paper attempts a critical analysis of two Nollywood films: Andy Best’s Hummer Babes and Wale Adesanya’s A New Dawn. It posits that, in spite of the challenges and inferior position women have been subjected to, the feminine gender can be resourceful, using her intellect to assume leadership position, and move the country to its pride of place in the comity of nations.