Stories, culture and talent are Nigeria’s greatest assets – Guardian Life – The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News
Through David I. Adeleke
October 24, 2021 | 6:00 am
Explore the business value of Nollywood, Afrobeats and Nigeria’s tech ecosystem to the world. We often think and talk about things Nigeria can export in tangible terms. We are talking about oil; we are talking about rice; we are talking about wheat and other agricultural products. Sometimes we talk about intangible things, but maybe not often enough. We…
Explore the business value of Nollywood, Afrobeats and Nigeria’s tech ecosystem to the world.
We often think and talk about things Nigeria can export in tangible terms. We are talking about oil; we are talking about rice; we are talking about wheat and other agricultural products. Sometimes we talk about intangible things, but maybe not often enough. We are talking about how Nigeria can export some of its services to the world, especially in the financial sector. But there are a lot more options to explore.
History, culture and talent are three of Nigeria’s most valuable assets and have been for many years. From the moment Nigerians realized that they could embed culture into stories and become world-class talents, the door opened to immense opportunities.
What is this world without stories? What is life without our ability to weave narrative threads through everything – big and small, meaningful and insignificant, extraordinary and mundane? The stories we tell ourselves and the stories we tell about ourselves are the vehicles that drive us, the ingredients that make existence tasty, and the hands that shape the way we think and feel about each other. Stories are what make us human.
In his critically acclaimed book, “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind,” Israeli historian and philosopher Yuval Noah Harari writes that our unique ability as human beings to tell stories has enabled us to imagine them. things collectively.
This ability to imagine things and tell stories allows us to cooperate flexibly in large numbers and in a way unique to our species. It’s also what makes us so powerful and what drives the world as we know it, from business and politics, academia, religion and entertainment. In many ways, stories form the basis of culture, and it is through culture that we influence each other.
It is through this lens that we have to understand the impact and potential of the Nigerian entertainment industry, from our films and even the comedy sketches we watch online.
The stories we tell make us who we are
In 1992, the term “Nollywood”, a coat rack of “Nigeria” and “Hollywood”, first appeared in a worldwide publication. It was used in a headline by New York Times reporter Norimitsu Onishi while reporting on the rise of the Nigerian film industry. Whether he was the first to use the term is up for debate. But his industry report in one of the world’s largest publications signaled the coming of age of an industry that had been growing, in its own right, for several decades.
Onishi, at the time, wrote: “Since the late 1990s, Nigerian films have found a place alongside the offerings of Hollywood and Bollywood, the equivalent of Bombay, in towns and villages in English-speaking Africa. . Although made cheaply, with budgets of only around $ 15,000, Nigerian films have become huge hits, with stories, themes and faces familiar to other Africans. It is now, by conservative estimates, a $ 45 million per year industry.
Historically, film production in Nigeria was first overseen in the early part of the 20th century by white colonialists and foreign filmmakers who wanted to create stories that their compatriots could enjoy, regardless of the cast. Quite quickly, after independence in 1960, the film industry began to gain popularity with locals, who also explored its opportunities. In the 1970s, fueled by an economic boom fueled by oil and foreign investment, more Nigerians began investing in the industry, with theaters popping up in Lagos showing a combination of local films and international.
In the 1980s, film culture declined and audiences began to favor more direct-to-home options. Movies shown on television began to gain popularity. It was the time when David Orere and his team brought “Things Fall Apart” to the screen via the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).
In 1992, Chris Obi Rapu brought the classic “Living in Bondage” to life via a home video system (VHS), which marked the birth of Nollywood as we know it now. The migration from cinema to television and then to direct home broadcasting is the reason why Nigeria has been able to export its stories via cinema to the rest of the world. From producing films exclusively for local audiences, Nollywood began shipping its stories to other parts of Africa and the world. Over time, films and staging of the Nigerian experience formed the basis through which foreigners understood and connected with the country and its culture.
Now it is not out of place to travel to other countries and have conversations with people whose assessment of Nigeria relies heavily on what they have seen in the movies, especially in other countries. Africans. Just as Hollywood and Bollywood films have colored the lenses through which many people view America and India, Nollywood has also had an impact on the way people view Nigeria. Yet much of Nigeria’s cultural influence through cinema is limited to Africa.
According to film critic and consultant Oris Aigbokhaevbolo, “For Africa it is certainly true that what we have said about ourselves [in film] contributed to the way people see us. I don’t think that’s true for the rest of the world. I think America, in particular, has always had their own beliefs about the rest of the world and stuck to them. They have their biases, and it’s going to be our job now that there is some attention here to present them.
To take it to the next level, Aigbokhaevbolo says we need to ensure good distribution. Netflix offers an incredible platform for this, but there can be more. Commercially, we have to break distribution. Talent side, you have to crack [industry-wide] skill. “Can we make a series as compelling as Squid Game? Based on the current evidence, I cannot say with confidence that we can. Although recent events such as the success of “Eyimofe (This Is My Desire)” at the Berlin International Film Festival and “Lizard” at the Sundance Film Festival show that we have the capacity, “he says.
That said, the Nigerian film industry has come a long way since Onishi’s estimate of its size of $ 45 million in 2002. Nigeria’s media and entertainment industry is one of the growing creative industries. fastest in the world, according to PwC’s Global Entertainment and Media Outlook. for 2020-2024. The report also states that the industry has the potential to become Nigeria’s largest export, contributing to a projected annual growth rate of 8.6% and a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.3% of 2018 to 2023. The film industry is not the only one with so much potential. Music too.
Music and culture
In June 2018, American rap legend Lauryn Hill listed Nigerian musicians Patoranking and Mr. Eazi alongside the 20th anniversary tour of his iconic album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill”. This moment was a reflection of the upward trajectory of Nigerian music on the world stage. Two years earlier, Wizkid managed to break into the airs of American music with his single, Ojuelegba, and his subsequent performance on Drake’s One Dance. The latter earned Wizkid a Grammy nomination ahead of his eventual 2020 victory for “Best Music Video.”
In a similar vein, Burna Boy was nominated twice in the following years, 2019 and 2020, for the Grammy Award’s World Music Album category, which he won in 2020.
These awards are just indicators of the spectacular boom in an industry that has been making waves for decades. The success of the music industry has dramatically boosted the appreciation of Nigerian artists and culture around the world.
In May 2018, Davido performed in front of a crowd of 10,000 in the South American country of Suriname, much to his surprise.
The IMF predicts that the music industry will generate an estimated turnover of $ 10.8 billion by 2023 and represent 1.4% of Nigeria’s GDP. So there is a lot of potential here, both for local and international consumption. But more than that, there are opportunities to further standardize the industry, invest in more resources, and create platforms that allow more Nigerian artists to flourish.
Technology and talent
In 2020, Paystack, a Nigerian fintech company, was acquired by US fintech company Stripe for more than $ 200 million. This marked one of the most important exits for a startup outside of Africa. But more than that, it provided additional validation for an ecosystem that most people outside of it had mostly ignored for many years. Suddenly everyone saw what was possible.
Since that announcement, billions of dollars in funding have been invested in the tech ecosystem. The number of startup transactions (over $ 1 million) increased from 25 in 2019 to 47 (and it continues) in 2021, according to a report by Maxime Bayen and Max Cuvellier. This recovery reveals how relevant Nigerian tech companies can be on a global scale. The heightened attention is also reflected in the quality of talent that the ecosystem both produces and attracts.
Several young Nigerians in the ecosystem have built their skills and networks to the point of attracting job offers from international companies, some of which offer them migration routes. On the flip side, many of those startups that have raised venture capital are hiring international experts to run their operations and help them grow. All of these create a net positive result for the country.
There is much more that Nigeria can offer the world and benefit at the same time if it actively invests more in these assets. The beauty of the three – stories, culture and talent – is that they are limitless and, unlike oil, will never be in danger of running out.