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Retro: Meet the pioneers of the earliest movies in Nigeria





The Nigerian film industry began with the Yoruba travelling theatre and it evolved into making movies like Fincho in 1957 to Kadara in 1980 and the blockbuster movie Living in Bondage in 1992.

Nollywood was coined from the popular movie industries, Bollywood and Hollywood, that came before the Nigerian movie industry.

Many of the Nigerian millennials grew up watching the great Nigerian classics like, Living in Bondage, Diamond Ring, Silent Night, Blood Money and so on. Do you ever think about the pioneers of the industry? The people that made it possible for movies like that to be produced.

The Yoruba travelling theaters were the pioneers of the earliest movies in Nigeria. These pioneers were known as the first Nigerian film makers, men like Adeyemi Afolayan, Hubert Ogunde, Ola Balogun, Eddie Ugbomah and so on.

Evolution of Nollywood movies

Hubert Ogunde show Photo source: The Nation

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They took their works beyond the stage and produced movies like Kadara in 1980, Bull Frog in The Sun in 1974 and Jaiyesimi in 1980. These pioneers produced movies from the seventies into the early nineties despite the lack of funds and lack of better equipment.

Evolution of Nollywood movies

Hubert Ogunde Photo source: Pinterest

Evolution of Nollywood movies

Adeyemi Afolayan Photo source: Vanguard

Movies were produced then using the Celluloid format, before they had some help from the Nigerian government which later birthed the likes of Kenneth Nnebue who kicked off a new era of film making and production in Nigeria.

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Kenneth Nnebue's era which began in the nineties, gave birth to the classics and also paved way for great actors who are still known as household names till date. Actors like, Olu Jacobs, Joke Silva, Liz Benson, Kanayo o Kanayo, Pete Edochie and Enebeli Elebeuwa.

Evolution of Nollywood movies

Kenneth Nnebue Photo source: NOFI

These actors made names for themselves with movies like Living in Bondage, Glamour Girls, Diamond Ring and Nneka The Pretty Serpent. Living in Bondage was also the first Nigerian movie to be made for commercial purposes.

Also the likes of Nkem Owoh and Moses Olaiya, popularly known as Baba Sala, brought the modern Nigerian comedy into existence with comic movies that cut across borders of the African continent.

Evolution of Nollywood movies

Moses Olaiya Photo source: Onlinenigeria.com

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Osoufia in London, a comedy movie which was shot by Nkem Owoh, was the first Nigerian movie to be recognised internationally. It was released in 2003.

In the late twentieth century and the early 21st century, things changed drastically for Nollywood as the industry became recognised across the world with the rise of actors like Genevieve Nnaji, Richard Mofe Damijo, Stella Damascus, Kate Henshaw, Rita Dominic, Desmond Elliot, Chidi Mokeme and Saint Obi.

The year 2004, birthed the cinema era, with the launch of modern cinemas across Lagos state. These cinemas have played important roles in the movie industry by screening both low and high budget movies.

Movies like Ije, The Figurine, Half of a Yellow Sun, were the first Nigerian movies to be screened. As at 2008, the Nigerian movie Industry’s net worth was between an estimate of 250 and 300 Million dollars.

Nollywood as evolved from the travelling theatre to an industry with reputable film festivals such as Lights Camera Africa, Eko International Film Festival, Africa International film among others, with Nigerian films showing at international festivals such as Cannes Film Festiva; and Toronto International Film Festival.

All thanks to the pioneers of the great industry.

What Mercy Aigbe, Fathia Balogun had to say about late Moji Olaiya - on NAIJ.com TV.

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Source: Naija.ng

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

Chuka is an experienced certified web developer with an extensive background in computer science and 18+ years in web design &development. His previous experience ranges from redesigning existing website to solving complex technical problems with object-oriented programming. Very experienced with Microsoft SQL Server, PHP and advanced JavaScript. He loves to travel and watch movies.

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