53 Years of Entertainment in Nigeria
The Nigeria entertainment industry has no doubt come a long way. Even though the formation of the sector predates the country’s independence in 1960, we can’t but examine the evolution of the industry and how it has affected the lives of Nigerians as a source of employment and entertainment.
The Nigerian version of movie productions started over fifty years ago with the likes of Latola Films in 1962, Ola Balogun, Eddie Ugbomah, late Hurbert Ogunde, Adeyemi Afolayan, Ladi Ladebo, Moses Adejumo, Adebayo Salami, Afolabi Adesanya and others. The industry has over the years spread like wide fire throughout the coast of Africa, Europe and Asia. Several Nigerian Actors and actresses such as Genevieve Nnaji, Omotola Jalade Ekehinde, Jim Iyke, Peter Edochie, Chinedu Ikedieze, Osita Iheme and others have gained international recognition, fame and fortune beyond their wildest imagination by starring in several Nigerian films.
Music too has open doors for job both at home and abroad in very many ways. Nigerian acts have performed in different concerts both at home and abroad and won numerous international awards including World Music Awards, BET, MOBO, MTV Europe Music Awards and others. The Nigerian acts of today are making African proud with songs well written and produced by home grown Nigerian producers.
Artistes such as D’Banj, P-Square, 2Face, MI, Sammie Okposo, Ice Prince and Wizkid perform good songs with local languages that appeal to international audience.
It is now a fact that Nigeria entertainment sector worth billions of dollars. The evolution of the entertainment industry has made more Nigerians born abroad to come back home and compete well with others who are making Nigeria proud in the international entertainment market.
In the movie industry, Nigerian film industry is the biggest in Africa. Nigerian films are well received all over Africa, Europe and lately all over the Caribbean Islands. With the level of competition in the industry, Nigeria will continue to excel and compete in the world stage.
As a source of employment, the industry has come to the rescue of lots of young talented Nigerians who later became bread winners of their respective families. It also helped discouraged lots of youths from violence and robbery. Another thing that has really changed is the fact that entertainment business has become very fashionable. Unlike in the past when parents frowned at their children going into music, majority of parents now encourage their children to go into music having discovered the enormous potentials and advantages in the industry. The industry has witnessed lots of reality shows that have made few guys rich and famous. Reality Shows such as Project Fame, Nigerian Idol, Star Quest, X-Factor, Naija Sing, Next Movie Star and others has helped discover gifted artistes who lack the opportunity to showcase their musical talents.
The foreign pop culture found its way into the music scene in the ‘80s and the new trend became pop music. However, with a rise of technology, another generation of musicians emerged. There was a sort of rebirth in the mid-2000s when Nigerians at home and in the diaspora started listening to our homegrown talent and supporting the local contents passionately.
More than before, the Nigerian audience has constantly witnessed the emergence of budding music performers re-enacting the noble act of crooning harmonious tunes and spectacular rhythms. We have witnessed a high level of technology deployment in Nigerian entertainment industry which have further helped with the production and promotions of our music. The new media specially has made it easier for artistes to promote their music and movie makers have taken advantage of it, too.
But the big question; could it safely be said that the industry has attained its full potentials? Can the music production of today remain evergreen in our minds like those of the ’60s, ‘70s and ’80s? What then is the future of the Nigerian music industry after 53 years of our Independence?
Several popular highlife and juju acts from the likes of King Sunny Ade, Victor Olaiya, Sir I. K. Dairo, Bobby Benson , Fela Kuti, Victor Uwaifo, Bright Chimezie, Dele Ojo, Haruna Ishola, Chris Ajilo, Osita Osadebe, Ebenezer Obey, Shina Peters, Rex Jim Lawson, Majaek Fashek, Prince Nico Mbarga, Sunny Okosun, Onyeka Onwenu and many others made a lasting impression on the music scene. Most of their songs are evergreen and younger generation of musicians have gone ahead to remix several of the songs. The big difference between the musicians of then and now is that the old musicians demonstrated profound mastery of various musical instruments.
In spite of the phenomenal growth experienced in the music industry today, questions have been raised over the lack of substance and creativity in the lyrical content of musical productions. We can categorically say that after 53 years of Nigeria’s Independence, the quality of music in Nigeria is still short of exceptional quality compared to what it used to be in the 60s-80s. In as much as we cannot deny that the music industry is replete with talents; it is obvious that it is also plagued with pretenders.
Aside what the industry has been able to achieve through individual efforts, the industry is suffering from sponsorship of major events, distribution, piracy and Film funding. This is a wake-up call for the government, practitioners and stakeholders in the industry to urgently reposition the industry and make it economically viable. The government has a vital role to play to make the industry attractive by creating an enabling environment for investors.
The corporate bodies are needed to foster the growth of the industry by investing in it because the immense potentials of the industry have remained untapped. The industry requires big time investments such as establishing a properly structured pan Nigeria entertainment products distribution network to ward of pirates, CD replication and encoding plants which are highly capital intensive but guarantee high returns on investments. If we take a cue from India and develop our entertainment industry, it will be a good alternative to our oil and gas because there is a lot of money to make.
The government has continuously failed to strongly identify with entertainment industry and find a lasting structure that will strengthen the industry. The seemingly lack of direction year in and year out for the music and film industry is still the major cause of its set back. The industry in Nigeria is self funded which makes it differ to South Africa and the rest countries because their government is giving them enough support. In Nigeria, we don’t have a distribution network.
Let the government get serious about its interventionist options in a developing economy steeped in an underdeveloped society. Government should go beyond embracing the industry as a source of amusement and interlude-fillers. It’s a huge pot waiting to be garnished and broiled to full nourishment so that millions of Nigerian youth can find means and lifelines to express themselves, and be gainfully employed. Government should creatively engage culture and tourism, using art and entertainment as driving forces of enlightenment and engagement.