Nollywood has come a long way. Gone are the days where bad equipment and generally bad movies with good moral lessons were the norm but in recent times, filmmakers make use of good equipment, better actors but zero moral lessons. This needs to change.
Funke Akindele’s movie Jenifa helped in educating young ladies about the dangers involved in prostitution. Funke Akindele is one of Nigeria’s most loved actresses. In fact, her most loved role was in the movie Jenifa. Even though the film was released in 2009, Funke has still been able to use that character to keep her brand name alive hence the introduction of the Adventures of Jenifa TV series.
The original movie tells the story of Suliat, a young ‘village girl’ who moves to the city to enroll in university with great expectations. At university, she is ridiculed for her style (or lack-there-of), her accent and manner of speaking then she meets a group of ‘runs girls’, things begin to change and Suliat is transformed to Jenifa.
Funke Akindele and real life husband, JJC Skillz in an episode of Jenifa’s Diary.
When this movie was released initially in 2008, it didn’t catch on until girls all over Nigeria started speaking like the character and also using her slangs and her mannerisms. It was then parents and guardians took notice and made efforts to see the film. I remember speaking to one of such parents who saw the film at the time of its release, she commented that she was going to make sure her kids especially her daughters and their friends saw this film.
I asked why because at that time, there had been countless numbers of films with the same storyline, she replied again that what made Jenifa different was the fact that even though she did not understand Yoruba, the fact that the film was set in what could be called a modern university setting made it the best tool to use in teaching her daughters about the dangers in chasing ‘aristos’ all around campus. And it worked. The movie Jenifa probably helped in educating young girls and boys getting into university about the dangers of prostitution and other vices than any sermon, message or beating could ever do.
Another example is the Wale Adenuga created Superstory series Itohan. The series which ran in 2013 revolved around a young lady, Itohan, who wanted to travel to Europe through an illegal route with genuine aspirations to be a footballer in Europe but was deceived by a gang of men who intended to sell her and other young ladies to a notorious prostitution ring once they got there. This series also did a lot to warn young ladies about the threat of human trafficking and dangers involved in travelling via illegal routes.
These days, Nollywood producers are more concerned in shooting films that hold no moral value whatsoever. Admittedly, they are shooting with better equipment and the actors are really stepping up but as Africans, it is important that our filmmakers imbibe our culture, our do’s and don’ts into our films and other entertainment portals because just like Jenifa has proven, societal vices can be combated via movies.
Wale Adenuga, the creator of the Super Story series
There is little parents can do when it comes to censoring what their kids watch in this age of smartphones and cheap internet. I understand the fact that lewdness and sex is what sells but who says a movie about a lady or guy who keeps his/her virginity till her wedding night won’t sell? It all depends on how the film is made and marketed. Enough of this excuse that ‘this is what the market wants’. You feed the market, you can change the narrative. I really hope our filmmakers pay attention and do better.