The Brian Larkin article discussed (once again) Jameson’s argument that third world literature is a national allegory. Larkin discusses the applicability of this argument in terms of film, and decides that traditional African cinema began as political allegory but that the Nigerian films we know as Nollywood have strayed from this tendency.

Larkin argues that African cinema began as a response to colonialism. They were almost explicitly in the vernacular and drew heavily on political turmoil for plotline. Larkin argues, however, that Nigerian films “share neither the political ambition nor the cultural effort of this earlier generation of film production.” Nigerian films have become more of an economic endeavor. Using English expands the field of potential customers. Creating melodramatic plots and shock-and-awe scenes open the market to include more than just the elite upper class of society. Nollywood films do not attempt to make intellectual critiques of the government, nor do they claim to. They embrace the fact that they are meant to entertain the people and show off that which is usually taboo- the occult, superstitions, sex, corruption, betrayal.

If Larkin is right, and Nollywood films are moving further and further away from Jameson’s idea of a national allegory, will the same thing happen with Nigerian literature? Have we already seen this trend with The Secret Lives of the Four Wives?


About audreyvorhees

Freshman at American University, studying International Development in sub-Saharan Africa, love travelling and African languages.

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