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This project attempts to critically examine the influence of “Igbo Rituals as Filmic Themes in Nollywood Movies”. In order to achieve this objective, the study used different primary materials like selected films and secondary materials or sources which includes; library and archival materials, such as books, monographs, articles on films, and newspaper reviews. In its findings, the representation to these Igbo rituals was discussed as a representation of Nigerian culture, which continues to communicate to the general public a more comprehensive representation of the indigenous people’s views as it is beneficial to all film makers. The negative outcomes of these rituals to the Igbo society as well as Nigeria as a Nation were highlighted. Hence, the researcher recommended that possible measures as well as reducing rituals as filmic themes in Nollywood movies, and adhering to the prescriptions of the cultural policy of Nigeria be taken into severe consideration.



Title page    -        -        -        -        -        -        -        -        -        i

Certification         -        -        -        -        -        -        -        -        -        ii

Dedication  -        -        -        -        -        -        -        -        -        iii

Acknowledgements        -        -        -        -        -        -        -        iv

Abstract      -        -        -        -        -        -        -        -        -        vii

Table of Contents -        -        -        -        -        -        -        -        viii


1.1            Background to the Study                  -        -        -        -        -        1

1.2            Statement of the Problem-       -        -        -        -        -        4

1.3            Justification of the Study                  -        -        -        -        -        5

1.4            Significance of the Study                  -        -        -        -        -        6

1.5            Limitation of the Study  -        -        -        -        -        -        7

1.6            Scope of the Study                  -        -        -        -        -        -        7

1.7            Research Methodology  -        -        -        -        -        -        8

1.8            Organization of the Work        -        -        -        -        -        8


2.1     The Concept of Culture in Popular Arts: A Theatrical Analysis      10

2.2     The Ritual Igbo Portrayal                 -        -        -        -        -        12

2.3     History and Development of Nollywood    -        -        -        16

2.4     An Overview of Nollywood    -        -        -        -        -        21


3.1     The Igbo World View    -        -        -        -        -        -        23

3.2     The Igbo Traditional Society   -        -        -        -        -        24

3.3     Culture and Belief System of the Igbo People      -        -        25


4.1     Nollywood Acting: A Ritualistic Point of View   -        -        27

4.2     Synopsis of the Selected Films         -        -        -        -        -        28

4.3     Analysis of Ritual theme in selected films  -        -        -        35

4.4     A Juxtaposition of the Movies          -        -        -        -        -        47



5.1     Summary of Findings    -        -        -        -        -        -        52

5.2     Conclusions                   -        -        -        -        -        -        -        53

5.3     Recommendations                   -        -        -        -        -        -        54

Works Cited                  -        -        -        -        -        -        -        58



1.1     Background to the Study

According to recent statistics furnished by Wikipedia and the Nigerian Films Board Annual Reports, the Nigerian film industry popularly known and referred to as Nollywood is the third highest contributor to the total world film’s output. It only comes behind after America’s Hollywood and India’s Bollywood https://en.m.wikpedia.org/wiki/cinema-of-Nigeria). Such a high placement of Nollywood shows the impact and contributions it has played in not only the Nigerian entertainment sphere, but in the whole of Africa, and as projected to be on a steady rise.

There is also a widely held belief that the Nigerian acting and film productions has ethnic rituals as theme. Especially the Igbos who geographically occupy   parts of the South Eastern Nigeria and are reputed to be highly industrious and business savvy (Aig-Imoukhuede, 47). This assertion forms the inspirational spine for this research effort.

The history of home videos as recording and presentation of actualities started with the Lumpier brothers in 1895, when they successfully recorded “Break Time’ in their factory. According to Dosunmu “when brothers Louis and August Lumpier  unveiled their recording in the basement of the Grand Café in Paris on December 28, 1895, they no doubt felt satisfied that they had found a new way for recording and presentation of actualities” https://iproject.com.ng/mass-communication/trends-of-negative-themes-in-nigerian-home-movies/index.html. Today, film making has experienced quantum leaps over the years to become one of the most popular forms of entertainment.

In Nigeria, the development of films started with the colonial experience. The first film show took place at the Glover Hall in Lagos on August 12, 1903, and lasted for ten nights. Messr Balboa of Spain showed the film under the management of a Nigerian, Herbert Macauley (Balogun, 48). In 1947, the Nigerian Government established her own Federal Film Unit. The Film Unit produced mainly news reals and documentaries and were mostly shown on cinema.


However, with the advent of video compact disc (VCD), the old culture of going to the cinema or a public view for film dropped significantly. Thus, the era of home videos was born. With little or no censorship, the industry was soon flooded with films and filmmakers, most of whom paid very little attention to quality or cultural accuracy in their productions.

It is pertinent to note here that even though, film production in Nigeria started among the Yoruba-West, it soon dramatically witnessed a baton change as actors and film makers of the Igbo extraction took over the scene.

Since then, there is the informal belief that Nigeria’s Nollywood has been leaning towards the Igbo cultural abstraction. Video films are a reflection of the human society. They encompass the language, rituals and beliefs of a given society. Through the treatment of these variables, a statement is made about the people’s culture.

The question then is; what could have propelled such ethnic tilt? Mere Ada in the Ikenga Journal answers that it could be as a result of cultural thematic suitability.

Nonetheless, the above summation is not exhaustive enough to confirm Nollywood’s Igbo ethnic ritualistic concerns. Thus, the need for this research effort is to aid unravel these ritualistic contents that has contributed to this “ritual identity construction” in Nollywood acting and film production.

1.2     Statement of the Problem

In Nigeria, which is a highly multi-cultural society, the motion picture industry colloquially called Nollywood; the youngest and fastest growing film tradition in the world has gained foothold. There are thriving film traditions scattered throughout the country, such as the North’s Kannywood, the Yoruba’s Odua films, the Efik-Ibibio films.There is an unwritten assumption that the country’s central film tradition-the Nollywood is pluralized by Igbo ethnic rituals.  These rituals have not only given the general public a wrong assumption on how money should be made but has also exposed the Igbo ethnic group in a negative light, not just to Nigerians alone but to the international community as well. How true such assumption or proposition is forms part of the bedrock of puzzle upon which this research effort hopes to solve.

1.3     Justification of the Study

This research effort is justified because of its contribution towards highlighting, appreciating and analyzing the contributions of Igbo people to the advancement of the nation’s film industry.  

Also, justifiable in the sense that this study would add to the exiting scholarly chronological overview of the fledging Nigerian Film industry and analyze  Nollywood acting trajectories vis-à-vis the cultural alignments of certain ethnic groups. And also probe into the age-long concern about the continuous portrayal of rituals by the film industry’s Igbo ethnic group and it uses statistical data to analyze and arrive at informed conclusions on the bone of contention.


1.4     Significance of the Study

Film as a medium for entertainment and social communication is a very popular art form. Part of its intimacy lies in the fact that it has a play back option and can be created to instigate perceptions about a particular discourse, issue or people.

This is significant because it will be beneficial to all film makers. Ranging from actors, to movie producers, critics, script writers, scholars, researchers and students. Thereby acting as a tool for information dissemination.

It would  in so doing, contribute to the theoretical and scholarly outputs bothering on the nation’s film industry for academic purposes, as well as opening up new vistas of research on the subject.

1.5     Limitation of the Study

This study is restricted to the history and development of the Nigerian motion picture industry in the areas of acting and ethno-cultural affinities. With the use of three select Nollywood movies as case studies, it is limited to but not exclusive to the Igbo ethnic culture of South Eastern Nigeria, thus limiting the pool of cultural exemplifications. As typical in most students’ research efforts, financial and time constraints also play roles in limiting the reach of research material samplings.

1.6     Scope of the Study

This study focuses on Nollywood; the Nigerian film tradition in its acting, production and the issue of cultural dominance of one ethnic group over the industry. This research will employ the use of the following movies: Living in Bondage (1992), Another Sting of poverty (2016) and Narrow Way to Riches (2017). It also captures the development of the industry with the view to ascertaining statistical data for the resolution of the research question.


1.7     Research Methodology

This research will employ the following methodologies and techniques in backing the validity of its claims. Library and archival materials (books, monographs, articles on films, newspaper reviews), selected films and online sources. The films so selected will be analysed in line with the ethnic thrust they represent.

1.8     Organization of the Work

For the purpose of chronology and sequential clarity, the study is captured in five inter-related chapters, and complete with relevant appendices. Chapter one is concerned with getting the reader acquainted with the structure and motive of this work. It focuses its beam on the general issues to be analyzed in the study. Chapter two attempts a review of related literature in Nollywood, acting and film production. Chapter three is preoccupied examining the Igbo ethnic group and its portrayal in Nollywood.

Chapter four is saddled with exposing the data and statistical claims to the issue of Igbo ethnic ritual in Nollywood. Chapter five summarizes the study, enumerates findings and concludes the work.


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