Just think about it for a minute or two. Nollywood is one of the biggest film industries globally, and not just by sheer quantity of output alone. Our films have consistently been able to reach diverse audiences around the world, from dusty shacks in Togo to sleek apartments in Canada.

Still, Nollywood has the peculiar drawback of being its own obstacle because as much as this sturdy mill keeps on churning out movies, there is a clear scarcity of actual substance. And we’re not talking about the cheap, clichéd mushroom productions of the so-called “Asaba Nollywood” at all. That aspect is better not talked about, like Bruno. It is actually the new-generation of Nollywood that has failed to deliver upon the huge hopes placed upon it by Nigerians gasping for more than just a breath of fresh air. This is not to say that no good at all has come out of “New Nollywood”, because releases such as Citation, Omo Ghetto, King of Boys 1 and Juju Stories are a few out of a handful excellent films from this side of the world. Films like those ones did well enough to stand out from the mould, showcasing revitalising stories through technical brilliance and creative ambition.

Sadly, disappointments abound. Critical duds like Chief Daddy 2: Going For Broke & Amina only exist to remind us that more often than not, the same mess just gets served up on new platters. This is unfortunate, especially when Nollywood is steadily losing audiences to ruthless foreign studios. The average Nigerian girl would rather binge-watch K-drama seasons than save up to see the new Kemi Adetiba release in cinemas. 

This has become quite worrisome, but fortunately, the solution might just be literally on the top shelf. Books, books, books. Of course, Hollywood has proven that true adaptations of notable paperbacks (The Shawshank Redemption, Gone Girl, Crazy Rich Asians) can dazzle in theaters and on streaming services like Netflix. And if Kunle Afolayanʼs Swallow wasn’t enough of an indication, the fact remains that the simple solution to Nollywoodʼs complex dilemma might lie in collaborations with a neglected entertainment source. Outstanding books like Cheluchi Onyemelukweʼs prize-winning The Son of the House and Femi Kayodeʼs thrilling Lightseekers would make for excellent cinema if properly adapted without losing the storytelling magic that still reaffirms Nigeria’s literary tradition. 

People no longer just watch movies and television shows to entertain themselves alone. Nowadays, good cinema possesses the powerful ability to disseminate beliefs, cultural values, and even political ideologies. There is a golden opportunity here for Nollywood to synergize with the literary industry for a mutually beneficial relationship, and the benefits transcend Oscar wins and box-office dollars alone. The possibilities are as always—endless, but the challenges alone are enough to transform a much-loved source of national pride. Nollywood is on the edge of glory now, and who knows? It may just plummet, or soar to magnificent heights.

This article was written bSima Essien; connect with him on Instagram via here 

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  • Ogechukwu Samuel says:

    Truer words have never been said. The wealth of worlds lying there and being neglected by filmmakers is embarrassing. It’s hightime filmmakers sort themselves are. And what is their salvation? Books! Thank you for this, Sima.

  • Ella says:

    Thank you for this, Sima.

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