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Reviewed by:
  • Nollywood: the video phenomenon in Nigeria
  • Françoise Ugochukwu
Pierre Barrot (ed.), Nollywood: the video phenomenon in Nigeria. Oxford: James Currey (pb £14.95 – 978 1 84701 504 4; hb £45.00 – 978 1 84701 505 1). 2008, 147 pp.

In an earlier life, this was the first book to be written in French on the Nigerian video industry – a landmark, born of the authors’ desire to share this ‘phenomenon’ with the Francophone world (P. Barrot (ed.), Nollywood: le phénomène vidéo au Nigeria. Paris: L’Harmattan 2005). The English translation, now published four years later, is remarkable in several respects. Presented in a larger format, it includes a lot more photographs, albeit still in black and white except for the excellent photo making the front cover: a film shoot in Enugu State in 2006, which gives a clear idea of the conditions in which Nigerian films are usually produced.

The editor is a seasoned journalist and regional audiovisual French attaché in Nigeria who spent more than ten years in West Africa. This English edition still broadly treats the same subjects as its French version. The authors are the same except for Harding, whose contribution has been dropped. The title has been kept and most of the chapters follow the same pattern, except for Part 1, whose new title – ‘the Nigerian experience’ – replaces the old emphasis on the ‘Nigerian exception’, reflecting new developments in the field. The second part, titled ‘Nollywood and its conquest of Africa’, complements the first, with four chapters from various authors, most of them Africans, focusing on the reception of Nigerian video films elsewhere on the continent. These two parts are brought together by one of the distinctive features of the book: a presentation of a selection of video films produced between 2000 and 2007, concluding each chapter and giving a glimpse of the many films quoted in the book.

This English version also brings in a number of welcome changes and additions. First, its content has been restructured, especially in Part 1, undeniably the most informative in its global and historical approach, and now made up of ten chapters, including three chapters moved from Part 2 and one from the former ‘Annexe’. Individual bibliographies have been regrouped at the end, with some now included in footnotes, with an added six-page index. The book has also been thoroughly updated to include the years 2006–8. Chapter 4 – which includes statistics on the number of films submitted to censorship since 1994, the use of Nigerian languages and the growing importance of the English language, the positive impact of the industry on local employment, and the widening Nigerian market – has been partly rewritten, and relevant websites are now included at the end of the book. The list of [End Page 629] films quoted has been enlarged and now includes the year of production. Film profiles offered as illustrations to the various chapters have gone up from ten to fourteen, including one film from 2006 and two others from 2007 – among those the acclaimed Sitanda. The recent films quoted point to new tendencies in the Nigerian film industry: Claws of the Lion (2005) was honoured at the Festival of the International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa in that year. It is especially welcome that this version is being published simultaneously in the UK, the US and Nigeria, with the support of the French Embassy in Abuja. One can only rejoice to see a book on Nigeria finding its way back to its place of birth for the benefit of a wide readership.

Françoise Ugochukwu
The Open University


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pp. 629-630
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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