By Ozioma J. Okey-Kalu
People usually feel dismayed each time I tell them I don’t watch Nigerian movies. Nollywood fans are always quick to judge and attack me before they hear my reasons. Some people say I don’t appreciate what is ours. Others believe I want to copy the western culture. And then there are those that can’t really say why they judge me. But the truth is, I don’t watch Nigerian movies because my children don’t watch them. I watch movies with my children so I watch what they watch (now ‘watch’ is everywhere).
Someone once told me that Nigerian movies portray our customs and traditions, which we have to hand down to our children and our children’s children. I don’t debate this at all. But are those aspects of our culture and tradition portrayed by these movies what our children need to learn about before they turn 18? I hope someone has a good answer to this.
Someone else told me that Nigerian movies are good because they will teach our children that people are bad. Or should I say, “The world is bad”? This one got me. I protect my young ones without telling them that there are bad people around. They will learn this when the time is right. Besides, I don’t want my children to say “No, thank you” because they believe that the old woman that offered them treats is a witch, or that the gift has been poisoned or bewitched. Worst of all, I don’t want my children to believe that another human being holds and manipulates their destiny. Let them grow up in their innocence, make their mistakes as they work towards their independence and then learn from life experiences, without looking for who to blame.
Another person told me that Nigerian movies teach people about our societies and how they operate – especially on the virtues of hard work, critical thinking, honesty and other ones that Nigerian culture is known for. This is so true and that is why I’m writing this article.
Now, the main reason I don’t watch Nigerian movies is because my children watch movies made for people of their age, which Nollywood is yet to go into. Yes, Nollywood produces only adult movies. This is one of the reasons some parents keep televisions in their bedrooms so they can watch African Magic and another television in the sitting room for the children to watch Cartoon Network and other channels that have kiddies’ programmes. These children’s movies are non-African, or rather non-Nigerian, which could have an adverse effect in the long run.
One major disadvantage of our children watching only the movies made by other countries is that they are learning the cultures and traditions of others. Not that I am against this, but we also need them to learn about us. Today, instead of our children learning about the cunning tortoise and the price he pays for his lies, they are learning about ogres that fall in love with princesses; instead of our children learning about the different ethnic groups in Nigeria and their past and present heroes, they are learning about Metro City and Gotham City and their superheroes; and instead of learning about Ojadiri that was a good wrestler, they are learning about Spiderman that can crawl on the walls (mothers will always remember the apprehension that comes whenever their children start playing ‘Spiderman’). Ok, my children love Spiderman and the members of the Justice League (told you I watch movies with them) so I am not against Hollywood kiddies’ movies. But, I want more.
This call is for graphic artists, script writers, hi-tech experts and any other person interested in this – WE NEED NIGERIAN CARTOON NETWORK. We need our children to be considered by the Nigerian movie industry. We are getting tired of the 18+ movies everywhere. We need Naija cartoons with Naija flavours. Our children also need to learn about their societies through our local kiddies’ movies. I personally want to see Nigerian cartoon movies in the market.
This is quite achievable if only the right people will come together to pull it off. Nigeria has a lot of graduates in Fine and Applied Arts, Theatre Arts, English, Computer Science, Computer Engineering and so many other fields that can work together to make this dream a reality. There are also a lot of non-graduates that are talented in 2D graphics – I see a lot of them in art shops on the streets. These people should be encouraged to make this dream a reality. They can go for further trainings to fully equip themselves before venturing into this new area. There are so many online courses – some of them free – on cartoon animation. I stumbled upon one in Udemy, and another one in Cousera. Those interested should look up these courses and other trainings and go into this virgin and ripe area in Nigerian movie industry. Let’s, for now, stop thinking about the unemployment rate in Nigeria and start finding those untapped areas. Let our talents, trainings and aspirations be put to work.
I believe that when African Magic Junior and Naija Cartoon Network come on air, I will start watching Nigerian movies.