Veteran movie maker and entertainment entrepreneur of the popular Super Story TV series, Wale Adenuga was a guest last Saturday as the Showtime Celebrity. The highly talented producer, who has made many stars, took his time out to answer a number of questions, on the problems of the movie industry especially piracy.
Then he took a cursory look at Nollywood and asserted that the Igbos have taken over Nollywood and explained in vivid terms why he feels that the Yorubas and the Hausas are not part of Nollywood. He further added that the claim that Nollywood began in 1992 was a spurious one.
Nollywood became popular with Living In Bondage, a 1992 movie that sold millions of copies and enjoys tremendous reference in the industry. Adenuga finds this misleading.
“They defined Nollywood as a product of 1992. It suggests that those who have been making films before 1992 are not part of Nollywood. That to me, is a dangerous claim…..When somebody claims he founded Nollywood, Oga Bello, of course I, cannot be part of that. When I produced my first film in 1983, Emeka Ike and his Nollywood people were still in school.
They started their own film-making in 1992 and they are claiming that 1992 was the beginning of film-making in Nigeria” so stated Wale Adenuga in the interview published on this page last week. It was an honest statement, probably made with noble intent but it was a can of worms he had opened. Emeka Ike did not hide his feelings.
He was particularly irked by the statement that Igbos have taken over Nollywood and took his time to chronicle how the movie industry we know today as Nollywood actually emerged.
Emeka Ike’s reaction to Igbos taking over Nollywood
The Nollywood you know today is not the one that cropped up from Hilbert Ogungbe. Nollywood came about with the sales, marketing and multiplication of CDs. The Igbos got more involved by their investments. The Igbos did what they had to do, whether good or not, it has given us the platform.
They provided the medium for conveying our movies to every home. After a while, the Igbo people decided to go into movie-making themselves. We should try to see how we can empower the different regional ethnic areas to make their movies, interpret their culture and at the same time have Nollywood at the centre.
It is wrong to start saying who started Nollywood, who did this and who did that. It’s not a good way to go for a man of his pedigree. When he made his movie, nobody knew him, just like we made our movies when nobody knew us. The platform has been created by both the Yoruba and Igbo marketers in Idumota and he started making it more than even most of us that created the image that he took advantage of.
Good for him, we are happy, he’s a visionary. But as a huge stakeholder in this industry, talking about the Igbos or Yorubas is unnecessary at this stage of our country’s democracy and development where we ought to come together and chart a course. We should come together and frustrate the enemies of the industry, the enemies are those who have stood between the Nigerian youths and their pension money.
They prevent our youths from being paid when they are shown on TV. Actors should be paid each time they are shown on air, that’s how it is on international contract and movie making standard. Artistes should be properly remunerated anytime their movies are shown on air. These are things we should be working towards. I’m personally working towards galvanising Kannywood, Nollywood and the Yoruba movies together.
We cannot be divided, we should have a central working system under which we would have different links: Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Ijaw etc. They should all be streamlined under Nollywood, creating a stronger product. For you to now start dividing, it is backward for a man of that pedigree.
He should keep making good movies which we are proud of and then let’s see how we can chart a policy to make sure that the people acting in his movies get something back as remuneration – as their pension money, so that when they fall sick in future, they can see something to fall back on.
That’s why most of our colleagues are dying because when they encounter difficulties, there’s no rescue except going to beg people. There’s no pension money to help them, some people have coerced it. I can tell you that some people are taking the royalties of all the Nigerian artistes on DSTV.
People are stealing royalties belonging to actors
These are well known people in the industry, every time they show Nigerian movies on TV, they collect the royalties that belong to the Nigerian youths. When you mention Emeka Ike to them, they want to tear their skin, but that will not stop me from trailing them down.
Go and ask African Magic, they pay people money. I don’t want to mention names here. I stopped fighting African Magic when I noticed that there were middle men. They were paying the middle game, they now pushed the fight to me and African magic.
I am saying actors should be paid the way they do on the international scene. There are people who take money from AMAA Awards on behalf of artistes. There are people who take the money coming in from all around the world – Hollywood, Bollywood, France etc. A few of my colleagues sat on these money and all they do is scandalising those of us who talk.
They paint a bad impression about us and make us look like troublemakers. Why won’t we make trouble? Why would there be peace when there’s injustice? People like Wale Adenuga should join hands with us to make sure that his artistes do not suffer in the future. You make a huge star and you eventually don’t have programmes for the star.
In all these pageants, millions are made, but they expose these models to prostitution. What is in all this for these people? These government of change should address all these anomalies going on and that’s what we are working on, to ensure that we remove those people in the middle. Go and ask the Ghanaian actors, when they show them with us on TV, they pay them in Ghana.
Right now, there’s change. Everybody must be treated with equity. Granted, artistes are desperate to become stars, they can do anything to become stars. These are the things I want to correct and I will expect someone like Wale Adenuga to come on board. Let’s sanitise the industry to meet up with Hollywood standard. If our Ghanaian counterparts get something in return for starring in our movie, then Nigerian actors are entitled to something too.
If it’s 1 dollar, make it an alert on their phones. Let’s have biometric ID cards; these biometric ID cards can stand like a master card ATM card where you can go and take anything that has accrued to you from your efforts in the past.
How come Nollywood is predominantly Igbo?
You could be right about that but that’s not to say that’s how Nollywood should be. When he (Wale Adenuga) made his movie, it was just a one-off. Several movies were made even before he made his own, that we didn’t know about. In that same 1993, Amaechi Obi and I made a movie that never saw the light of day just like his own didn’t.
But what we are talking about is history, pedigree. How did they start packaging this whole thing for export? How did investors get involved? How did all these become a budding industry? It is not impossible that Wale Adenuga would have made an unattractive movie. Let’s stop these tribal issues.
What should be the role of Actors Guild of Nigeria, in unifying all the sectoral bodies in the movie industry?
Actors’ Guild of Nigeria means every actor in Nigeria irrespective of tribe and ethnic background. What we are presenting to the government is a central working system. The last president of the Actors’ Guild of Nigeria is from Ijaw (South-South), before then, the last president was Yoruba and Emeka Ike is the next right now.
If Actors’ Guild is a Nigerian product, I’m of the opinion that Kannywood, Yorubawood, Kadunawood, Igbowood should all come under a central working system.
We’ve been operating on individual basis and that’s why the middle man has the opportunity to play the game he’s playing right now.
If we are going to see any stakeholder, we should go with an agenda that covers all. When we get a film village, Kannywood should have their own department; Yoruba movie makers should have their own; the Igbo movie makers should have theirs too and producers should have theirs. Then everyone can work together as a central working system, not one that someone can manipulate.
How come they keep calling billions, billions and yet Actors Guild is situated on a 2-bedroom apartment; who is fooling who? I am a straightforward man and some don’t like it that way; who is fooling who? What were they doing in a 2-bedroom apartment upon all the billions we kept hearing Government gave out in the name of the industry?
These are the things we need to look at. Let’s face the Nigerian youths, the Nigerian problem seriously. Let’s bring the youths to the forefront; how do we market these youths? How do we make one million youths in every state have a place in Nollywood in the next two years? That is my target.
My target is to give one million artistes jobs in every state in the next two years. We would situate a strong central system and then have electives around the whole 36 states. These electives can now mentor every young child that has interest in the trade. The absence of this is what we see; confusion. So many kids want to be actors tomorrow; they keep calling me, I don’t have answers for them. I will fight all of them till we all lose it or gain it for everybody.
Open challenge to Wale Adenuga
So let him not think it is Uhuru here. Before Wale Adenuga opened his studio, I had opened my studio at Adeniran Ogunsanya. Before he started making cinematographers, I had made several cinematographers in my office at Adeniran Ogunsanya. I trained over a 100 ex militants in Ghana which was about the best training in amnesty; I did not embezzle a dime and those boys, they love me as if I’m their father.
They call me daddy because my interest is their life. They know I mean well for them. That is how we should go about as responsible Nigerians not just make a way for our own juniors. If Wale Adenuga Junior will not suffer in life, what happens to other people’s Juniors? So when they talk, they should know that the man they talk to, is a very intelligent man and not a riffraff or an idiot. I am properly educated, an Engineer is not a man you take for granted; I am painstaking in my decision and I am very concise in what I say.
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