A recent social media debate has been sparked by Aisha Lawal, a Nollywood actress, who claimed Yorubas’ ownership of Nollywood. In response, many of Igbo descent have disagreed, pointing out their pioneering role in the home video industry and asserting that Nollywood’s identity isn’t tied to a single tribe.
A video featuring respected Yoruba/Nollywood veterans like Iya Awero, Ogogo, Oga Bello, and more, has emerged, shedding light on the industry’s origins.
Lately, social media has been buzzing with discussions about the pioneers and originators of the Nigerian film and theater industry.
The conversation started when Aisha Lawal, a renowned actress, expressed her viewpoint in an interview, claiming that Yorubas are the true owners and initiators of the Nigerian film industry.
In response, numerous Igbo practitioners took to the internet to disagree with this assertion, suggesting it’s driven by personal bias and lacks a comprehensive understanding of the industry.
Gideon Okeke, an Igbo actor, echoed these sentiments. Moreover, certain Igbo individuals on Twitter asserted their stake in Nollywood, highlighting their involvement in early home video production and distribution.
Figures like Chief Adebayo Salami (Oga Bello) and Lanre Hassan (Iya Awero) pointed out that Nollywood’s roots stretch back beyond the late 80s or early 90s. They emphasized that its beginnings trace back to the 1940s with the establishment of the first cinema on Glover’s Street in Yaba.
In a documentary by Dotun Taylor, an American-based cinematographer, these veteran figures reiterated the names of the true pioneers of filmmaking and theater in Nigeria.
Collectively, they identified Pa Adedeji Hubert Ogunde, Ade Love (Kunle Afolayan’s father), Duro Ladipo, Kola Ogunmola, and Bala Sala, among others, as the founders and trailblazers of Nigerian filmmaking and theater.
“Pa Adedeji Hubert Ogunde, Ade Love, Duro Ladipo, Kola Ogunmola, Bala Sala are the founders and practitioners of filmmaking and theater in Nigeria, and they’re all Yoruba.”
Despite some Igbo practitioners’ claims that Nollywood’s inception was tied to the early 90s and the release of the first “Living in Bondage” film, the veterans’ testimonies highlight a more diverse and earlier history of filmmaking and theater in Nigeria.
Indeed, there’s a divergence in perspectives, with certain Igbo practitioners asserting that Nollywood began in the early 90s, while others, supported by historical records, emphasize a broader history reaching back to earlier decades.
You can watch the documentary featuring veteran Nollywood stars discussing the industry below.
Here are some reactions stirred by the documentary:
“I’m grateful for the chance to be part of this, sir!”
“Instablog9ja, come and hear the conclusion of the lie you posted.”
“Thank you, mentor, for sharing this. I tried making content about Chief Adedeji Hubert Ogunde. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take videos when we visited his house/museum in Ososa, despite paying.”
“Well done. History will remember you.”
“I had the privilege of watching a movie titled ‘Igbo Elemosho,’ and I was wowed… It was everything, even the props and effects were fantastic. Nollywood has a rich history.”
“The song you used here was what I used to introduce the witches in my final year practical play in school, ‘MOJA GBE’ by Ahmed Yerima.”
“Without the Igbo’s, there would never be anything like Nollywood today.”
“Gideon, don’t you find it strange that none of your colleagues could even comment on what you wrote? There’s more bigotry in your message than in what she said.”