“N is for Naija. N is for Nollywood. N is the 14th alphabet. 14 is also how many great talents you’re looking at. N is for Netflix. But most importantly… hello, Nigeria!”
At 7:24pm on February 25, 2020, a baby was born. When the news of its birth met the ears, it was received with great joy. It melted the hardest of hearts.
Netflix Naija tweeted for the first time. The rest, as they say, is history.
Delay did not end in denial: Netflix arrived in Nigeria. Though the news was laden with joy, it was not a surprise, given the rate at which Netflix was expanding across the world. An official arrival in Nigeria was only a matter of time.
Since the first Nollywood movie, October 1, debuted on the American media service in 2015, many Nigerian movies have been streamed on Netflix. In 2018, Netflix continued wooing Nollywood: it acquired Lionheart as its first original movie from Nigeria.
But what does the union between Netflix and Nollywood mean for Nigeria?
The relevance of the Nigerian film industry cannot be ignored both in the country and in the diaspora. Popularly called Nollywood, the Nigerian film industry is the second largest employer of labour in Nigeria, after agriculture. The presence of Nigerian movies on an international stage, such as Netflix, encourages the dynamic portrayal of Nigeria on a global platform. For a country that has seen its image tarnished by various corruption allegations over the years, this is an incredible avenue to showcase to the world the good heritage and virtues diffused across Nigeria.
In 2009, Nigerian author, Chimamanda Adichie gave a TED Talk, “The Danger of a Single Story”. In the twenty-minute video, she described the powerful impact of stories and the danger of knowing only one story about a people. “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story”, she said.
This is not far from the truth about Nigeria. It has been years of propagation of “a single story” about her—one of corruption and dishonesty. Netflix meeting Nollywood therefore provides an immense opportunity for telling many stories about Nigeria on an international stage.
Stories bind us. When we own our stories, we create a new country. There is something powerful about portraying the stories, not one story, of a people. For example, The Wedding Party housed on Netflix explores concepts that are specific to the Nigerian society and makes them available to the global audience. The movie shows the uniqueness of Nigerian weddings. It gives wedding ceremonies a different splash, the Nigerian style.
Netflix marrying Nollywood prepares the stage for the birth of Nigerian stories: stories that will be told on the international stage; stories that will be nurtured and given the chance to voice the incredible beauty of Nigeria.
This article was written by Aderinto Nicholas; connect with him on Instagram via here