Tribalism Taking Over Nollywood, Joseph Benjamin Laments

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Tribalism Taking Over Nollywood, Joseph Benjamin Laments

By Odunmorayo Oke

26 March 2024   |  
2:08 pm

Prominent Nigerian filmmaker, Joseph Benjamin, took to his X account to start a conversation about cultural identity within the Nollywood industry. In his post, Benjamin expressed concern about a growing trend of tribalism – prioritizing specific ethnicities – over a unified Nigerian identity in films. Benjamin, known for his insightful commentary on social and industry-related…

Prominent Nigerian filmmaker, Joseph Benjamin, took to his X account to start a conversation about cultural identity within the Nollywood industry.

In his post, Benjamin expressed concern about a growing trend of tribalism – prioritizing specific ethnicities – over a unified Nigerian identity in films.

Benjamin, known for his insightful commentary on social and industry-related issues, addressed the growing trend of tribal-focused narratives within Nollywood productions.

“My dear Nollywood,” Benjamin begins, “We are slowly pivoting towards a tribal trajectory.”

“As I skim through, all the amazing language based titles, coming out of the industry.

I cannot help, but see a subtle race, to showcase whose culture is best. As much as we desire to tell our stories ourselves.

The competitive lines are becoming less blurry.”

Joseph Benjamin highlighted the prevalence of language-based titles, suggesting an underlying competition to showcase individual cultures. He argues that this approach weakens the overall impact of Nollywood films, drawing a comparison to South Africa’s film industry.

“When South Africans make films, they have one goal,” Benjamin writes, “Which is quite evident in their final work. The big picture is South Africa as a brand.”

He contrasts this with the current state of Nollywood, where films often focus on promoting specific cultures like Igbo, Yoruba, or Hausa. While acknowledging the beauty of Nigeria’s diversity, Benjamin argues for a shift in focus.

“How do we sell Nigeria to the world?” he asks.

Benjamin urged filmmakers to prioritize a sense of “communalism” over “individualism” in their work. He believes that a united front, celebrating the collective Nigerian identity, is necessary for Nollywood to reach its full potential on the global stage.

He wrote, “Reverse is the case with us. We are all about, how do I sell the Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa culture. Well, as much as some might be of the opinion that, if they see these tribes, and the beauty of our diversity. They will be attracted to our culture at large.”

Joseph Benjamin’s message is clear: the focus should shift from “I” to “we.” He challenged filmmakers to reflect on whether their work promotes a sense of communalism or individualism. “Until we start seeing this whole process as a ‘WE’ focused movement and not ‘I’, then and only then can we boldly say we are ready to scale up,” he concludes.

Benjamin is a Nigerian actor, model, singer, voice-over artist, and television presenter. He is widely recognized for co-hosting MTN’s Project Fame, a talent reality show.

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