What Role Should Nollywood Play In Portraying Our History?

Whether we like it or not, filmmakers have become our most powerful historians. When you look at the reception of movies like Hidden Figures and Loving, it's fair to say that the average person is getting their history lesson, not from standard history books, but from the big screen.

While most movies admittedly muddle the facts for entertainment value, the end result is usually still the same: we walk away from our screens with new information about our past, no matter how distorted it may be (and that is a step in the right direction).

Hidden Figures (Photo: 20th Century Fox)

Hidden Figures (Photo: 20th Century Fox)

Our history in pictures

So, while biopics have become a mainstay in Hollywood's yearly movie roster, it's pretty much the opposite in our film industry – and Nigerian filmmaker, Olu Yomi Ososanya (Honeythinks that needs to change.

In his mini-documentary, Naija In 25 Frames: Our History In Pictures, Yomi narrates:

"There have been many significant moments and periods in Nigerian history lost to the younger generation because they weren't taught in the classrooms and few books on them are available online or in print."

According to Yomi, movies like Hotel Rwanda and Beasts Of No Nation have a leg up over documentaries and newsreels because they humanize history via singular personal experiences – and we are inclined to agree.

About the lack of Nigerian history in Nollywood, Yomi continues:

"Nigeria has had it's fair share of tragedy in the last 70 years but very little of it has been capture in motion picture.

Very few stories have been put on film and as a result many in the younger generation are unaware of the mistakes made in the past. "

This rings like a call to action for Nigerian filmmakers the world over – our stories need to be told, and like Yomi concluded in his documentary, "we need to tell it before it's too late."

Nigerian civil war (Photo: Ask Naij)

Nigerian civil war (Photo: Ask Naij)

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