Nollywood, the Nigerian version of Hollywood of the US and the Bollywood of India, is the largest movie industry in Africa. In 2009 Nollywood produced 872 films while the United States Hollywood produced 485 major films.
Though they are usually cheap and of poor quality, these movie videos are one of the most powerful promoters of belief and practice of occultism, witchcraft belief and practice, Spiritism and ancestral veneration. Movie directors and producers deliberately and intentionally portray and re-enact these beliefs in a such a manner that they reconnect with African worldview on witchcraft. All over the continent of Africa and even beyond the shores of Africa these videos are exported and sold.The Church too has not been left behind in finding these movies useful in their church activities. Household members, and especially women and children, spend thousands of hours every week watching them.
The Church too has not been left behind in finding these movies useful in their church activities. My friend from DR Congo told me how Churches use these movies to attract people for evangelistic purposes. People come to watch these movies at no charge and then the gospel is preached to them! Over 90 percent of these videos focus on child witch stories, ritual killings, witchcraft accusations, and confessions etc. Though I do not question the need to use every available means to preach the gospel, I just want to examine closely why the Nollywood has contributed immensely in communicating and entrenching witchcraft beliefs and confessions.
Nollywood as a Promoter of Witchcraft Belief
1. Movies reinforce beliefs and values.
First and foremost, movies are very attractive because pictures are very persuasive and compelling to the human mind. Pictures, we are told are worth more than a thousand words. This is particularly true in Africa where the movie industry has exploited this medium by communicating, influencing, and entrenching cultural and religious values, beliefs and practices. Though the actors may just be acting out the storyline and characters, they are as a matter of fact portraying beliefs and perceptions of reality. The stories are a depiction of real stories. These pictures and words reinforce already existing beliefs such as witchcraft. The line between fact and fiction often becomes blurred when watching such movies with many viewers believing that these scenes capture real-life actions of supposed witches.
2. Movies address the fundamental questions of life.
Second, through the various themes, the movie industry has been able to strike a chord with man’s most fundamental questions. Whence comes evil? One major emphasis of these movies is that they always seek to provide explanation for the evils that befall humanity. It is in the nature of all human beings to seek explanation for the problems, evils, suffering, pain or even death. It is in the nature of all human beings to seek explanation for the problems, evils, suffering, pain or even death.Social and physical evils such as poverty, unemployment, sickness, barrenness, infertility etc do not just happen, there is always a cause.
Nollywood producers have taken upon themselves to write and produce films which seek to provide explanation for these ills. Men and women who are seeking answers would watch these and find their answers to their own problems. Witchcraft is often used as an explanation for all the problems that one may be experiencing. These movies locate the cause of our problems such as sickness, poverty, bad luck, inability to bear children, etc., to people not other causes. It enables the viewers to find out who is the guilty person. If a young man is unable to obtain a job for some time, the usual culprit is a person such as father, uncle, mother, or even an older sibling.
3. Nollywood reinforces the traditional African worldview.
Third, the Nollywood movie industry, fundamentally is shaped and propelled by African worldview which provides an explanation for the existence of the supernatural and its relation to existence. The directors and producers of these movies are very aware of the African worldview and exploit it. Even though traditional beliefs almost went underground due to people accepting new religions such as Christianity and Islam, Nollywood has been able to reawaken these religious symbols and beliefs and African viewers are held captives.