Hollywood, Bollywood and now Nollywood

I’ve known about Hollywood my whole life, I’ve known about India’s film industry Bollywood for quite a few years, but it was only recently that I learned about Nigeria’s film industry Nollywood.  I’m feeling a little out of the loop since according to Wikipedia, the Nigerian cinema industy is the second in the world, behind India and ahead of the United States.

 On Friday, Project Africa hosted a Nollywood event and showed the film, “Coronation”.  The film is set as a critique of the ozo title in the Igbo community of South-Eastern Nigeria.  It focuses on Akwaika, a young wealthy man who desires to receive the ozo title in his community.  Originally a poor man, trained by his brother and uncle, Akwaika becomes rich and forgets all those who helped educate him.

It took awhile for me to get into the movie, but I found myself becoming more interested as the movie progressed. While the acting led something to be desired and the links between scenes was disjointed, the movie addressed issues of power, politics and family in a way that promoted discussion.

The scene I posted below shows Akwaika talking to his brother’s widow. The widow cannot afford his funeral and so she goes to Akwaika to ask for money to help her out. Akwaika says he will help her if she sleeps with him. She reacts strongly to that request and runs off, passing a friend on the road.  The friend goes to talk to Akwaika, also asking for help because he has helped Akwaika in the past. But Akwaika is unwilling to help- believing his friend is jealous of his success. 

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South African Stadium wins “World’s Best Sports Building”

The third annual World Architecture Festival was held in Barcelona, Spain from November 3-5 this year and South Africa’s Soccer City, National Stadium won for World’s Best Sports Building. Every structure that entered into this category had to fulfill immense technical requirements that would accommodate regional, national and international sporting events.

The building is described as “…representing a regional approach aimed to integrate the urban context of Johannesburg , its society and the historical mining industry along with African culture as a whole. The outside of the stadium is designed to have the appearance of an African pot; the cladding on the outside is a mosaic of fire and earthen colours with a ring of lights running around the bottom of the structure, simulating fire underneath the pot.”

Since the World Cup was just held in South Africa, this stadium received a lot of attention and is getting more positive publicity with this award.  Also known as “the calabash” because of its resemblance of the gourd, this stadium is the largest in Africa, with a seating capacity of 94,700.

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Highlight of South African Fashion Designer

South African Designer David Tlale was featured during JoBurg Fashion Week for his cutting edge collection. The South African fashion industry is a billion dollar industry that creates jobs and resources for the local population.

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Life at the Bottom

So the UN has published their list of the healthy and happiest places to live and Norway has topped the list again. Personally, Norway is a place that I would see as too cold to actually be “Perfect” but to each their own. Unfortunately, the 5 nations that were ranked the lowest of the 169 on the list were all African nations. Do you think that this is accurate or do you think that some metrics are missing within the UN’s criteria that make it difficult for some nations to ever move up on the index? For instance in an article on Yahoo it was stated “that rich countries have grown faster than poor countries over the last 40 years.” (Yahoo.com, 2010) But does the criteria compare a nation with billions of dollars of resources and investments in poorer nations equally to a nation that is solely dependent on their own limited resources that might be mostly exported to the global economy. I am assuming that would not be the case but that indicator of growth seems like the measurement may not be based upon an equal starting point. To learn more about the Human Development Reports for 2010 CLICK HERE.

For Yahoo’s full story on the list CLICK HERE

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Boycotting Conflict Minerals?

In Adam Hochschild’s excerpt entitled “The Blood Diamond Myth”, the acclaimed historian and author is doubtful that the boycotting of ‘blood minerals’ from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) would improve the situation for the Congolese people. His reasons for his arguments is that most of the minerals exported from the DRC do not come from conflict zones, and if they are from conflict zones then it is very hard to trace them.

I think that Hochschild is largely referring to regions like Katanga, which is conflict free mineral rich region. Despite the fact that this maybe true, I believe that the conflict areas (the eastern regions of DRC) act like a veil for the proliferation of corruption and mismanagement in other non-conflict regions. Due to the fact that all the world’s media, and development focus is in the eastern regions of DRC, it leaves much of the rest in the dark. I think that helping to stop the conflict by re-establishing law and order in the Eastern Regions will be the first step in reigning in corruption in other parts. As long as there is war, it will be the smoke screen for corruption and mismanagement. .

I agree with him that a boycott would not by itself stop the flow of conflict minerals. Worldwide demand is very high for minerals like coltan and cassiterite from the DRC, what should happen instead is to try to have these channels legitimized, and production institutionalized, with proper revenue collection system. He says that it is very difficult to trace the source of conflict minerals which is true is one begins the trace from hubs like Singapore or Dubai, but if the trace begins from to the source (i.e. Goma in DRC, and Rwanda and Uganda) efforts might be more successful.

His argument that the conflict diamond accords (Kimberley Process) came about only because the diamond cartels experienced a dent in their profits may be true, but it is important to acknowledge that boycott pressure and the international campaign against blood diamonds pushed the diamond cartels to be involved in the talks with the UN, and human rights organizations. The result of these talks was a diamond certification scheme to help prevent support to armed groups that were funded by diamonds.  Although it is indeed weak and needs much support to implement it, it is still a step in the right direction and shows the importance of engaging all parties in helping to solve problems. In the DRC, ending the conflict in the East it would require the participation of mining companies, rebel groups, civil society, and outside players (neighboring governments that profit from DRC’s resources).

As a comparison to DRC, Hochschild uses Botswana; a regional neighbor with well managed diamond mines benefiting its population by bringing healthcare, education, and good infrastructure. Hochschild says “Botswana has something essential Congo does not: a government known for being both functional and honest.” This is true, the problems faced in the Congo are definitely due to bad governance issues, however I believe it is only one aspect of the reason why.

Both countries have different histories and this is a very decisive reason for their different outcomes. Since independence Congo has been unstable, but Botswana enjoyed stability. Congo was ruled by a corrupt dictator for three decades, and then was plunged into a devastating civil war, while Botswana enjoyed a stable political environment with low level of corruption. To add to this each country is bordered by different neighbors with the DRC having mostly conflict prone countries: Ugandan; Rwanda; Burundi; Angola; Central African Republic; and Congo Brazzaville. Botswana on the other hand had relatively more stable neighbors: Zimbabwe; South Africa; Namibia; and Zambia). The lack of law and proliferation of corruption added to DRC’s problems as several governments including those of Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi, have often taken advantage of this to get access DRCs mineral wealth which increased the lawlessness.

Hochschild says “The real problem is not conflict minerals, but the fact that Congo’s long-suffering people reap only a tiny share of their country’s vast wealth.”  As stated earlier, I think the a major reason for why Congolese are not reaping the rewards of the mineral wealth is because of the ongoing war, which the country has experienced since the mid 1990s.

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Pray the Devil Back to Hell

On Monday night, I attended a viewing of the documentary, Pray the Devil Back to Hell.  The movie, which won Best Documentary at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival, is an emotional and empowering piece about the Liberian civil war and a group of women who came together to advocate for peace. The peace movement brings Christian and Muslim women together to support a common cause. Led by Leymah Gbowee, the women are successful in pressuring the Liberian government to attend peace talks. When the peace talks are stalled, the women stage a protest until an agreement is made.

These women mobilized and brought positive change to their country. As a result of their actions, peace was achieved and the first female president in Africa, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was elected.

This documentary so epitomizes the famous quote by Margaret Mead that states, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”   

I loved the song “Djoyigbe” that played during the end credits. It is a beautiful song that was written by Blake Leyh and Angelique Kidjo.  Listen here.

I hope that what these women have done for their country is never forgotten.  Other women should look to them for inspiration and realize that change is possible- whether on a small scale or a big one.

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10 Interesting Nigerian Facts

The Atlanta Post did a list of 10 Things You Could Learn from a Nigerian that provided highlights of some the great achievements and accomplishments of Nigerians. This includes owning Gatwick Airport in the UK and the successful career of R&B start Sade (real name Helen Folasade Adu) In a follow-up on our coverage of Nigerian Independence, it is fitting to see other ways in which Nigerians are contributing around the globe.

CLICK HERE to see the full article

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