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SOKPO, James Luper: Repositioning Nollywood for Cultural Reformation in Nigeria: A Gender and Culture Discourse

Repositioning Nollywood for Cultural Reformation in Nigeria: A Gender and Culture Discourse

James Luper SOKPO

Department of Theatre Arts

Benue State University, Makurdi

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GSM: +234-806-125-5438

Abstract

The image of the Nigerian woman is gradually shifting from an erroneous patriarchal perception of being a frail, gentle, feeble, weak, non-intelligent, wailing, helpless and confused persona, to that of an intelligent, organized, thoughtful, resilient, confident, assertive, educated, inquisitive, quintessential image. In spite of this shift in perception, the Nigeria cultural milieu is mostly one still struggling to come to terms with the transformed image of the Nigerian woman. This cultural environment is still shrouded in primordial practices that are not only inimical to socio-economic growth, but also perpetuates poverty and under development in various forms. Nigeria’s cultural environment is therefore in dire need of re-orientation and reformation, and the desired reformation can be better achieved through the Nollywood industry. This paper argues that the Nollywood industry has the capacity and capabilities, as well as the reach to positively influence desired behavioural and attitudinal change through its video productions, to reduce gender biases. Sadly, however, Nollywood producers have not done much in terms of cultural re-orientation to reduce gender biases; what is largely obtainable rather seems to perpetuate the statusquo. The paper concludes that for this to be possible, Nollywood producers will need some level of cultural re-orientation, after which their productions will to some reasonable extent focus on re-orientating their Nigeria audience on the need to reform some of the unhealthy aspects of cultures, to ensure a more enhanced image of the Nigeria woman, giving her the encouragement she needs to participate in the socio-economic development of the country.

Key words: Nollywood, Culture, Gender and Insecurity

Introduction

Film captures and transmits cultural material relevant to its immediate society; sometimes this material transcends the immediate, having relevance even to distant societies. The potential of transmitting culture and cultural codes across sometimes diverse cultures make film a powerful medium for cultural transmission, as well as cultural transformation. The Nigeria film industry has grown from a small initiative by the colonial administration in the early sixties, into a huge industry tagged as the second in the world, only after India’s Bollywood, pushing Hollywood the American film industry to the third place globally. Nollywood as the Nigeria film industry is popularly referred to; has become a huge foreign income earner for the country. Ted Anyebe estimates that Nollywood brings in roughly $250 million a year (481).

            Nollywood churns out video films in quantum every year; videos which spotlight the nature and cultures of the diversity of Nigerian peoples. With this capability, the industry could be said to have become Nigeria’s biggest cultural ambassador, or better still it can be perceived (and rightly too) to be the major exporter of Nigeria’s diverse cultures. Gloria Samuel affirms that: Video film has become an important and persuasive medium of expression in the African continent. It helps in the presentation, preservation and promotion of the African image. In Nigeria, the boom in the video film industry (Nollywood) has resulted in the promotion and marketing of Nigeria culture (184). Those who turn to film as the agent of cultural transmission tend to however neglect the adverse side of film, which is capable of upsetting some segments of society, if not properly packaged. These segments or categories of society are sometimes vulnerable and gullible, and could be easily swayed by some negative codes presented in some of the films that engage their attention. Young people and women specifically fall into this category that could be easily destroyed by wrong packaging of film content material. Film producers need to understand this aspect so that the industry will not end up being a dumping ground for all sorts of stories, but as Ayakoroma puts it, “such stories, whether real or fictional, must aim at correcting cultural malpractice, promoting cultural values for appreciation and emulation” (294).

            The packaging of cultural material and any other material taken from its immediate society is one challenge that faces the Nollywood industry. Nollywood producers are accused of being more conscious of the returns on investment, rather than creating a desired impact in terms of cultural reforms. Uji asserts that, “right from the beginning of Nollywood, the industry has been more concerned about making economic gains in terms of profit, rather than protecting and defending the image and identity of African women” (39). Similarly, Jonathan Haynes argues that: Studies have shown that most of the movies produced by Nollywood industry emphasize negative world views inherent in Nigerian culture. Indulgence in the production of such movies with negatively based themes perhaps, is hinged on excessive desire to make quick profits to the detriment of a sense of social responsibility and relevance, and the true African value system (page?). In line with Haynes argument, Ojukwu and Ezenandu lament that: Unfortunately, Nollywood rather than engaging seriously in the image laundry of some negative Nigerian traditions prefer to blow them out of proportion. Documenting and celebrating traditional beliefs without any critical analysis seems at best unhelpful and at worst, an impediment to the challenges of the present (24).

The problematic is that wrong portrayals seem to have become the bane of Nollywood productions. One of such is the continued portrayal of the Nigerian woman in a stereotyped image; stereotyped in the sense that she remains under the influence and control of patriarchy, no matter her intelligence or achievement. While some of these video films try to expose the injustices perpetrated against women, some try to expose the wrongs committed by women, while some still go all out to expose the wrongs committed by the human kind generally. Either way, some portrayal of the female character becomes worrisome and exposes the Nigeria woman to further insecurity.

The persistent faulty portrayal and stereotypical presentation of the Nigeria Woman, irrespective of the changes and demands of contemporary times has to do with cultural inclination. The producers and directors of these video films whether male or female, are greatly influenced by the socio-cultural milieu of their upbringing. So, whether consciously or unconsciously, they present women or female characters in stereotype shapes. This portrayal tends to impede gender growth for socio-economic development; it also sends wrong signals in terms of orientation, thereby sustaining the status-quo. Shior reiterates that: Gender inequality and exclusion of women from the active life of the society are patriarchal practices that impede socio-political and economic development, which must be repudiated in Nigeria. This is because the estrangement of women in the development process will not enhance the healthy growth of the country (53).

Even when some producers set-out deliberately to expose the malaise, they become guilty of the same crime in the course of the production, as they unconsciously inject portrayals that tend to uphold the status quo. This according to Akinmade is because: The values, traditions and institutions of the society have inbuilt discrimination against women. The female is born into an environment in which there is so much discrimination and marginalization and where equality does not exist (124). This is because society tends to perceive and expect women to be weak, irrational, passive, and a silent voice at home; they are also expected to rear children, farm and obey their husbands. They are perceived to be incapable of performing roles that require intelligence (Kwaghkondo 2). The negative perception, portrayal and imaging of women therefore are some of the cultural aspects that Nollywood seems to be grappling with.

            The Nigeria Gender Policy states that the media (film) opens up the space for reducing marginalization on many fronts, including on the basis of sex, ethnicity, class and so on. What film projects therefore is an important force in promoting or eliminating gender biases and stereotypes. It further states that: Film also projects commercial values and it is the values that sell that film tends to project. The negative values of “sex-sell” have been projected in most economies, worsened by globalization of values. This has allowed wrong representation of women, including female public figures, as sexual beings and objects before any consideration of their capabilities. Sexism has also been reinforced via the way the media (film) projects gender relations (89).

Nollywood video films having been part of the problematic portrayals can equally play a central role in correcting these negative presentations. The space thus exists to re-orientate the Nollywood film industry to respond positively, by balancing gender and cultural issues in its productions. Ojukwu and Ezenandu strongly assert, and correctly too that: In order to continue to enhance productivity and at the same time project the image of Nigeria in a more positive light, there is need to address and correct certain impressions which the industry deliberately or unknowingly portray in an attempt to attract the recognition and wide attention of the international community (24).

The above indicates that the space for reforms in the Nigeria film industry is still vast; however, this paper articulates gender reforms in the sector, particularly in re-orientating Nollywood producers and directors for a more gender sensitive portrayal of women in Nollywood films. This it is believed will go a long way in reducing the prevailing incidence of gender insecurity in Nigeria, as well as enhance the production of video films that will serve as good cultural ambassadors across the shores of the country.

Conceptual Clarification

Before delving into the discourse of gender and cultural portrayals in the Nollywood landscape, it is pertinent to clarify some of the key concepts guiding discourse in this paper. This clarification is important to put into perspective the operational premise, as well as the conceptual context as applied or implied in this paper.

Culture:

Culture in its broad sense is viewed as a way of life, which gives uniqueness to an individual or group of people in a particular society. Malinowski states that, “Culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, customs and all other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of the society” (cited in Ahire 94). Similarly, Piddington stressed that, “Culture is the sum total of the material and intellectual equipment of a people whereby they satisfy their biological and social needs and adapt themselves to their environment” (3).

These two quotations stress the fact that culture has to do with a people’s way of life. The Cultural Policy for Nigeria is in tandem with the above perception of culture, when it states that: Culture is the totality of the way of life evolved by a people in their attempts to meet the challenge of living in their environment, which gives order and meaning to their social, political, economic, aesthetic and religious norms and modes of organization.... Distinguishing a people from their neighbours (3). One could therefore stress that culture is a people’s belief system, comprising their language, customs, mode of worship, their dress code, art and music, which shapes them as a unique group of individuals.

            Some aspects of existing cultures, particularly traditional cultures are viewed by some to be harmful practices. This is because such practices are a threat, or threaten the life and well being of some vulnerable groups within a given society. These practices are particularly viewed in the global arena as dangerous and unacceptable in contemporary globalizing world. The aspect of particular interest to this paper is the treatment of women by some cultures as having no rights whatsoever in terms of ownership of property and participation in decision-making; in fact, women are perceived as property in some traditional cultures. These sort of practices imbedded in certain cultures (existing in Nigeria) tend to create and heighten gender insecurity.

Gender:

Gender refers to the set of different roles and characteristics, which are considered appropriate to males and females, and which vary according to culture, ethnicity, identity, race, class and age. This differs from sex (sexual identity) which is biologically determined – gender is socially constructed; because it is socially constructed (by society), it can change and be changed. Gender also describes the different roles and relationships of men and women, as well as the power structures inherent in the relationships. For the purpose of clarity, gender is viewed in this paper as socially constructed disparities between men and women, fostered by tradition and culture, and perpetuated by patriarchy; placing the women in a disadvantaged position.

Insecurity:

Insecurity is usually perceived as that state when an individual or group of individuals, community, etc. is in fear or anxiety due to some threat or lack of protection. It could also be a state of lack of freedom, uncertainty when people are not safe. This state could erode confidence in the individual, group or community and could create instability, make it difficult for people to adjust properly due to lack of assurance. The threat could be external or internal; it could come from physical aggression towards an individual, group or community; as well as from denial of rights of people by a privilege group within or outside the immediate environment. Insecurity limits people’s potentials and capabilities, slowing or impeding growth and development.

Gender Insecurity:

The above conceptualization of gender and insecurity articulates that gender insecurity limits the freedom of some individuals due to biological differences, thereby eroding their self worth and confidence; this creates vulnerability and limits potential, as well as capability. In most cases it is women that suffer gender insecurity. According to the Oxfam Handbook of Development Relief: Throughout the world, women have less power than men. They face enormous barriers to holding public office and to participating in decision-making at all levels; they do not have full access to and control over resources upon which they depend – such as land, water, or education and health services; in most of the world, women are even denied the right to control the processes of their own bodies, such as the conception of children (175).

The above quote gives a clear picture of gender insecurity. The denial of access to essential factors of economic production limits women’s potential and capabilities in contributing to the development and growth of their society. This kind of posturing is a cultural element within a given society and could influence the film industry in such a nation, as is the case with Nollywood. Gender insecurity therefore has severe implication on national security and growth, where a nation’s film industry portrays these sorts of images; it also has global implications in terms of diplomatic relations, how the nation is perceived globally in this regard.

Gender and Culture in Nollywood Portrayals

The 21st century ushered in a lot of changes in tradition, culture, and religion globally, gender disparities have continued to broaden between males and females in the Nigerian society. These disparities have succeeded in keeping women in subordinate positions to men. The male dominated cultures in Nigeria still place women and their aspirations in traditional positions that marginalize, trivialize and subject them to the stereotypical roles that the patriarchal society assigns to them. According to Kwaghkondo; This subordinate position limit women’s aspirations in the society and determines the perspective from which she is captured in some of the thematic thrusts of Nigerian video films which include prostitution, adultery, jealousy (envy), crime, witchcraft and home breaker (6).

Okome takes it further when he asserts that: These set of images contain caricatures of the suffering mother, the ‘weak and feeble mind’ caught in an incomprehensible whirlpool, the prostitute ensnared in the precariousness of city life and the housewife who undergoes suffering for the sake of her children, while the man supposedly the head of the home, goes on a philandering run in the world (8).

The Nollywood landscape as noted by the two scholars above is replete with these sorts of portrayals. However, there are some Nollywood directors and producers who attempt to break away from the usual norm to portray women in positive image. These kinds of video films are fewer as compared to the other kinds that impact negatively on women’s cultural identity. Wilfred Uji is of the opinion that: This limitation in Nollywood film writers and producers is understandable in that most of the Nollywood producers and directors hardly go into partnership with professionals in the academic world, such as universities and film institutes (40).

Uji’s position is true of the early phase of Nollywood; in recent times the bridge between the non professionals and professionals seems to have been mended. There are more collaborations and partnerships between Nollywood and film institutes, as well as universities in recent times. The next section will explore some video films that fit into the stereotypical mode; portrayals that indicate the influence of culture and the cultural environment on directors and producers of video films. After which two films Black November and Half of a Yellow Sun will be discussed to stress the need for cultural re-orientation of Nollywood practitioners, as a strategy for enhancing Nollywood’s potential for cultural diplomacy and for advocating gender security.

Stereotypical Portrayals

A survey of the Nollywood landscape reveals an array of video films portraying women in stereotype roles and characters. Stereotyping women in certain roles and shapes is an aspect of traditional culture, championed by patriarchal traditions. Stereotypical portrayals by Nollywood, as mentioned earlier, tend to image the Nigeria woman in negative light, as such increasing her vulnerability and insecurity. Video films like Heart of a Woman 1 & 2, Rattlesnake, Tears of Madness, Holy Harlots, Black Berry, The Models, Glamour Girls, Domitilla, She Devil, Iron Lady, Aristos, Queen Amina, On My Wedding Day, and so many others too numerous to mention, fall into this category. These portrayals seem to perpetuate patriarchal gender perceptions, as well as perpetually make the Nigeria woman insecure. The insecurity manifests in form of domestic violence and other forms of violence against women, dispossession of women’s inheritance rights, denial of economic, social and political freedom; limiting the space of female creativity thereby wasting human resource and skill. Today, Nigeria is proud of the success story of females like Chimamanda Adichie, celebrated internationally. If these were not given the free space to explore their creativity they would not have been celebrated today.

            The video film Rattlesnake showcases the issue of marginalizing women in Nigeria, particularly widows who are subjected to various forms of inhuman treatment at the demise of their spouse. The widow in this film is maltreated and subjected to inhuman rituals and also dispossessed of her late husband’s property, leaving her and her children destitute, at the mercy of her late husband’s younger brother. Holy Harlots 1 & 2 and Black Berry showcases women as sex machines, who peddle sex in return for money irrespective of their background and affiliation. The two films portray young females either selling sex in return for money or for the expensive Black Berry phone, never minding the dangers associated with having multiple sex partners. The girls in these films are exposed to all forms of insecurity; they are especially vulnerable to contracting the deadly HIV/AIDS. Similarly, The Models apart from portraying women as sex objects, also showcases them as unintelligible, and particularly tends to blame women for moral decadence in the society. This portrayal is not helpful, as it seems to exonerate men of wrong doing, and at the same time pushing the blame of moral decadence to women.

            In a similar vein, the video film On My Wedding Day 1 & 2 showcases women as helpless, wailing beings, dependent on men for survival; that women are morons who are at the beck and call of men, and become desperate if they cannot get the attention of men: another classical case of insecurity of women in Nigeria heightened by Nollywood portrayal. In another vein, the video film Kidnappers 1 & 2 portray women as ruthless and devious schemers capable of destroying trust vested in them, as well as masterminding horrible crimes like kidnapping, human trafficking, sale of human parts for wealth rituals, etc. This film depicts women as heartless and cold, as if saying “women are wicked;” there is little attempt by the director of the film to balance this depiction, to avoid casting women in very bad light and thereby endangering the Nigeria woman.

In each of the video films mentioned above, one sees a threat of insecurity the female characters are exposed to, and what this paper asserts is that these different forms of insecurity experienced by the female characters portrayed, limits the capabilities of women and exposes them to all forms of vulnerability; with this kind of scenario, the Nigeria woman is incapable of utilizing her full potential for the social, political and economic growth of the nation. As such these video films do not pass as good cultural ambassadors of Nigeria, because the producers and directors have failed to shift from the traditional patriarchal perception of women, and therefore have not balanced their gender portrayals. The directors and producers of these video films would therefore need cultural re-orientation to produce films that would change this perception in the Nigeria environment, as well as serve as veritable cultural ambassadors of the country in foreign lands.

Positive Gender Portrayals in Nollywood

This segment analyzes two video films that in the view of this paper are good examples of films that have portrayed women differently from the traditional stereotypical patriarchal mode discussed above. These two video films Black November and Half of a Yellow Sun are films that step out of the crowd to fight the ills in our society via the lens of courageous and virtuous women, who are epitome of motherhood, as they stake their lives for the survival of community. The female characters are not adorned in the usual traditional patriarchal imaging of being unintelligible and weak, but are portrayed as intelligent, fearless and assertive with charisma that moves the community into action against those perpetrating heinous crimes against them.

Black November

This movie produced and directed by Jeta Amata depicts the ills perpetrated by some foreign oil companies in collaboration with some government officials, against the people of the Niger Delta in Nigeria. The movie showcases some fearless women who have elected themselves to fight the evil bedevilling their community. Ebiere’s mother confronts the authority over a broken pipeline and gets burnt in a pipeline explosion caused by the same authority that challenges her action of taking petrol from a broken pipeline. Hossana leads a women protest to Abuja, is stopped by the authority, engages in a fearless scuffle with one of the police officers and is shot to death. Ebiere fearless, confronts the authority in peaceful protests, she and the other women are brutally battered, raped and traumatized. She refuses to be compromised, turns down offer after offer to compromise her position; in the end she is sentenced to death by hanging, for a crime she has not committed.

            These women have chosen to confront an unjust and corrupt system that steals from their land and impoverishes its people. Though harassed, brutally beaten and intimidated, Ebiere refuses to cave in; she encourages the youth and women to confront the evil and expose it to the world through peaceful protests. Even though the young men would rather take up arms to fight and engage in violent activities, she pleads with them to tow the part of peace. However, when a group of greedy elders betray their people by collecting bribes from the oil company, the young people set them ablaze. When it looks like a group of young people, including herself, will be made to pay for the crime with their lives, Ebiere honourably accepts responsibility for the crime and gets a death sentence. She pays for a crime she has not committed with her life, in order to save the lives of other young people in her community.

            The producer and director of this film has moved away from the usual negative stereotypical presentation of women; women in this film are portrayed as fearless mothers of the community who are willing to confront any monster threatening the survival of their people, and lay down their lives for their people, no matter the cost. The insecurity faced by women is also exposed in the film, as the system collaborates with rich and powerful multi-nationals to intimidate, harass, and eliminate the voice of truth represented by the female characters. This positive portrayal of women as the voice of truth and change, is indicative of change in the cultural orientation of the producer – director, and makes this film good for the international market, and is a good cultural ambassador (though the use of terrorism in the film as a means to set Ebiere free however, worrisome and unacceptable).

Half of a Yellow Sun

Based on a novel by Chimamanda Adichie, directed by Biyi Bandele and produced by Andrea Calderwood. The movie, Half of a Yellow Sun presents two sisters Olanna and Kainene, both educated in the United Kingdom; are intelligent, have freedom of choice and speech, are assertive and know what they want. Their parents are affluent and well connected to top government officials, yet they do not have such overbearing influence that African parents (particularly Nigerian) usually exert on their children. Though they would have one of their daughters date the minister of finance in return for a big contract, the two ladies assert their unwillingness to date the minister and their parents respect their decision. Even the finance minister who is a guest of the family acknowledges that the girls are a blessing to their father Chief Ozobia.

Kainene is presented as a courageous, hardworking and determined young woman; she chooses to take over the daunting task of running her father’s industries and investments in Port Harcourt. When the civil war breaks out, rather than run from the war, she chooses to stay back against her mother’s wish. She stays on carrying out commercial activities in such a difficult situation, reminding one of Brecht’s Mother Courage. With the support of her white boyfriend, she runs a refugee camp in the middle of the civil war, giving succour to the needy and the wounded. Her stoicism leads to her eventual disappearance, in the course of travelling the dangerous roads to buy the supplies needed to keep her refugee camp running.

Olanna on the other hand is employed by the University of Nsukka to lecture in the Department of Sociology. She gets into a relationship with Odenigbo a male colleague; though assertive, she is also portrayed as having a loving and caring heart. She accepts Odenigbo’s daughter and in spite of mama’s rejection she still respects her, indicating that she is a virtuous woman. She rejects her mother’s offer to leave for London to escape the war, to stay on with Odenigbo and the children she has come to love dearly. Mama is also presented to be stoic and fearless even in the face of adversity; she stands her ground to watch over her family house even though the war rages nearby and every other person evacuates to safety. News is received later that she is killed as she stubbornly stays on to protect the family property.

The film throws in another aspect of Nigerian parenting where Mama disagrees with Odenigbo’s choice of Olanna for a wife. She not only opposes the marriage with name calling Olanna, but also brings in a young village girl with the intention of making her his wife. This aspect shows how Nigerian women on their part encourage gender insecurity. However, the scheme fails and Mama accepts Olanna as daughter-in-law to drive home the message that women need to jettison some cultural aspects that perpetuate gender insecurity, particularly the mistreatment of women by women. In this regard, Olanna’s aunt is used as character to showcase woman to woman support. When Olanna is emotionally wounded because of Odenigbo’s infidelity, her aunt encourages her to move on with her life. She tells Olanna not to “behave as if her life belongs to a man”, and further tells how she overcame her husband’s infidelity by threatening to cut off his manhood.

The producer and director show much respect for women in their portrayals and imaging; even though it is a war situation, they are careful not to depict scenes of women violations (such as rapes by soldiers). The avoidance of such scenes is indicative of their respect for the dignity and value of the woman; making the film a good cultural ambassador, as well as promoting gender security. Women are portrayed as being secured and not threatened by their male counterparts as is usually the norm; Kainene and Olanna are engaged in challenging endeavours usually perceived by patriarchy to be the exclusive preserve for men. Their mother has the choice of flying in and out of the country at will, while Mama has full control of her household (extending her influence to her son’s home). The usual portrayal of women as sex objects, weaklings and subordinates to men is particularly missing in these movies; rather, one sees vibrant and assertive women, who are focused and determined to achieve at all odds, not even giving up in the face of adversity.

            The two video films discussed above showcase that women are capable of independence and enterprise; that they can take on challenging responsibilities side by side their male counterparts, to contribute in no small measure to the development and growth of the Nigeria nation. Perhaps one would dare to say that the positive portrayal of women in these two films is because of the orientation of the producers and directors. The directors of these two films worked with foreigners, who probably come from cultural backgrounds where the movie industries have been transformed, and have shifted from patriarchal negative perceptions of women to positive imaging of women. This exposure one concludes has significant influence on the production of these the two movies analysed in this section of the paper.

Another possible factor is that the producers of these two films are using this medium to tell their own versions of the story regarding the issues raised in the movies. The thrust is not necessarily to make quick returns on investment, but rather to tell their own side of the story as Chimamanda Adichie would warn of – “the danger of the single story.” In telling the other side of the story, these producers and directors have carefully and sensitively balanced the gender equation, showing how both men and women equally suffer from systemic sickness.

What this portends is that Nollywood needs to produce more video films like the two discussed above. More of these video films will in the near future transform the Nollywood industry, into a global giant that would perhaps take the first slot from Bollywood. This could be possible if current efforts at reforming the industry will include cultural re-orientation of Nollywood practitioners.

Nollywood and Cultural Re-orientation

The National Film and Videos Censors Board (NFVCB) must sit-up to its responsibility of ensuring that content of films conform to approved standards and regulations for film production in Nigeria. This could also ensure a balance in gender portrayals and imaging, with the aim of making film a versatile medium for societal transformation, as well as making film production in Nigeria fall in line with global best practices.

            The Nigeria Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) has a major role to play in the orientation of cultural perceptions of Nollywood practitioners. Nollywood practitioners could possibly become one of the sources of students for the institute’s Training School. Where this is possible, the institute could design appropriate curriculum for the cultural orientation of Nollywood practitioners, especially producers and directors. NICO has the primary responsibility of harnessing the cultural resources to meet the challenges of social integration, peace, unity and national development, as well as serve as a vital force for promoting Nigeria’s cultural diplomacy and energizing the various cultural establishments in the new direction advocated by Nigeria Cultural Policy and the World Decade for Cultural Development (1988-1997) declared by the United Nations.

            The Nigeria government, if it has not done so, should assist NICO through policy and legislation that ensures compulsory attendance at the institute, with requisite certification before any Nollywood practitioner could produce, direct or even act in Nollywood films. This could go a long way in enhancing the quality and standard of cultural material portrayed by Nollywood films.

Conclusion

It has been established that film is a powerful agent of change and can be used to bring about socio-cultural in society. It could equally inflict severe socio-cultural damage to society if its content material is not well packaged. What this portends is that government agencies and institutions responsible for guiding the industry need to be alive to their regulatory responsibilities. One area of concern articulated in this paper is gender insecurity, which has been the bane of Nollywood productions. The paper asserts that the cultural environment has had overbearing influence on a majority of Nollywood practitioners, thereby manifesting in portrayals that endanger the Nigerian woman; narrowing her space to contribute to the socio-political and economic growth of the nation.

The paper concludes that to reposition Nollywood for cultural diplomacy there is need to re-orientate script writers, directors and producers on the need for gender sensitivity and balanced film productions, in order to eliminate cultural stereotypes and acknowledge the fact that changes in contemporary society has given women some sense of freedom and independence. It is therefore the task of Nollywood producers and directors to feed these changes into their productions, so that the cultural environment will be influenced to shift grounds and accept the changing times. In this regard the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB), National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Film Institutes and Universities have a major role to play, to ensure this happens so as to guarantee the Nigerian woman her rights to exist and contribute to the development of society; as well as make Nollywood a veritable cultural ambassador.

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Videography

Black November. Dir. Jeta Amata. Starring: Mbong Amata, Mickey Rourke, Anne Heche, Vivica Fox, Hakeem Kae Kazim, Wyclef Jean. English. Larry Movies, Duration: 99mins, 2015.

Half of A Yellow Sun. Dir. Biyi Bandele, Produced by Andrea Calderwood. Starring: Thandie Newton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anika Noni Rose, Onyeka Onwenu. English. Warner Bros. Duration: 99mins, 2014.

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