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Linda Orajekwe: Nollywood Week in Paris is Like Celebrating Your Birthday at a Your Friend’s House

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dreamstime_l_31074480So, recently there have been a lot of happenings in Nollywood as celebrities are flying around for the recent Nollywood week. When I heard about the week, I was impressed that people in the industry have again come together to celebrate each other; but when I started seeing celebs like Linda Ejiofor and co taking selfies at the airport, I wondered if they had cancelled the Week. Nope, they were going out of the country to celebrate themselves on behalf of Nigeria.

The idea of the traveling out didn’t sit well with me, but I decided to keep mute hoping a blog would bring up the issue. But after days seem to be entering weeks, my mouth-hands could no longer stay put, so here I am asking, “why in God’s name would Nigerian celebrities go all the way to Paris to celebrate themselves, especially when it has to do with Nollywood?”

In 1986, African writers were invited for a seminar in Sweden. It remains a fact that Chinua Achebe turned down the invitation, not because he wanted to be rude, but because he believed the best place to discuss African literature is in Africa and not a country where the realities are far different from that of Africa. Achebe’s position was simply that discussion of African literature should be done in a place where our literatures are taken seriously.
Not to make a rash statement, I consulted Google to know the contribution of Paris to Nollywood. I found nothing – not a single contribution.

This event elicited nothing but questions: Was is worth it? Why did they even hold the event and called it Nollywood week if the majority of people there will not be Nigerian?
Someone mentioned that the event was done for Nollywood – athough I don’t know how true that is. They should have called it something else other than Nollywood week… Maybe Paris Week featuring Nollywood actors would’ve been a perfect title for it.

We all want Nigeria to grow, but one way or the other, we don’t see ourselves as components of this change. We believe the change will just come, that one day people will start appreciating our country – a country we are refusing to appreciate. Isn’t this kind of festival supposed to bring tourist to the country and no matter how little, boost our economy that is presently always on the decline?

Whatever we want to do, we take it out of the country. Now this is not to say we shouldn’t go out, or explore what other countries have to offer, but let us try to do this sensibly, because these little things are in a huge way helping the economy of the countries we fly to.

Going to Paris for the very first Nollywood week is a shame to our country. What exactly was used there that couldn’t have been used in Nigeria? What class would Paris give the event that Nigeria won’t give it? We complain of the decline of our economy while we consciously improve other people’s economy! What sense have our celebrities shown with this act? It will go down history that the first Nollywood week was done in Paris. What does that say about us? What does that say about our respect for the country we call ours? Or even how we see the country?

When a Ghanaian actress said the present Nigerian actors are independent actors, she was seriously bashed by the likes of Stella Damasus. While I think the bashing was necessary, I think Nigerian actors shouldn’t try to prove people like her right. Would you do your birthday party in your friend’s house? Well, I know some people would, but when they do, check them and the relationship they have with their family members; it might not be as rosy. Same way “Nollywood” has successfully shown the world the relationship the industry has with its country.

You don’t say you’re part of Nollywood and celebrate Nollywood in Paris. Would Hollywood come to Nigeria to debut an event? Absolutely not! So why do we love to bring ourselves lower than others? Why do we seek international approval when we’ve not even approved ourselves?

Again, I’m not saying we shouldn’t go out, but it shouldn’t be at the detriment of the name of the country. It is apparent that the issue or importance of venue wasn’t considered, and if it was, then majority obviously carried the vote. I understand we want to be globally recognised and accepted, but being accepted starts from you accepting yourself, and we haven’t shown that with this act.

Hollywood is great today, not because they were misrepresenting where they’re from, but because they stayed with their craft, understood it takes time to ‘blow’, and when they eventually gained that reputation they now have, they’re now being seen as the height. How about we work our way to that height?

I’m not saying we won’t make mistakes along the way because we would. But while we’re at it, let’s promote what is ours. Lets stop the attitude of feeling having an event out of the country makes it better than when we do it here in our country, especially when it has to do with Nigeria.

I understand some readers will want to say it doesn’t matter and there is no need for segregation, afterall we’re all humans. But hey, that doesn’t change the fact that whatever is being celebrated is of Nigeria, by Nigerians ans should be in Nigeria. Nigeria isn’t celebrating “Human’s Day”, and even if we were, Nigeria will still be the preferred location. Who says we always have to travel and cover other people’s event? Why cant they come to cover ours? I have never seen a Nigerian event that E! Entertainment came to cover, but we’re always there, trying to be on the global scene, which is a good thing, but will also be nice if we respect ourselves enough to be respected. Once again, let’s learn to draw the line and not bring ourselves down.

So maybe I’m speaking out of what I know, but I would love to hear from the beautiful minds of my readers on this issue. Is Paris a good place to have celebrated the first Nollywood Week?

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

My name is Linda Orajekwe, a graduate of English Language and literary studies, Lagos State University. I love reading, writing and talking. I am a proud African naturalista who believes that Africans can only be great when we learn to embrace our rich resources from books, food to culture.

34 Comments

  1. nunulicious

    June 14, 2016 at 4:49 am

    Nollywood week in Paris?! I’m just hearing about it for the fist time.
    lol. we are still mentally colonised. Till those shackles are broken, we are on a loooong thing!

  2. Anonymous

    June 14, 2016 at 5:53 am

    I concur. #stupid

  3. Temi

    June 14, 2016 at 6:29 am

    I totally agree with you Linda on this issue…..very wrong location in my opinion!!!

  4. Samuel Shifoto

    June 14, 2016 at 7:06 am

    I sincerely agree with you, how can you celebrate your self in another persons house? oh no, please Nollywood don’t do that again.( A word,they say is enough for the wise)

  5. NACHI DIVA

    June 14, 2016 at 7:12 am

    Thank you!

  6. Wale

    June 14, 2016 at 7:56 am

    …Honestly, I do not see any wrong in it! If this would promote the sector and enhance international awareness….it is very welcoming. Am sure, there would be a reason for the location. Pardon my line of reasoning.

  7. Miss Fine

    June 14, 2016 at 8:25 am

    Totally agree with her. We should be proud of our country.

  8. Adenike O. Adebayo

    June 14, 2016 at 8:26 am

    Dear Linda,

    I know all about Freedom of Speech so I won’t attack you for daring to have an opinion. However, I think if you’re going to write an article of this much importance, the least you could have done is researched. Here’s why.

    Nollywood Week Paris is in it’s 4th year! (So it’s not the first Nollywood Week like you stated) It’s been going on now for the past 4 years and it’s just starting to gain momentum and recognition. What a great initiative it is! We are all about drawing international attention to Nollywood so pardon us if we dare to do something as outrageous as celebrating Nollywood in Paris!

    Do you know how many Nigerian filmmakers are based in Paris? Do you know you how many Nigerians/Africans are based in Paris? Do you know how many Europeans love Nollywood? Did you know that Kunle Afolayan’s networking in previous Nollywood Week Paris landed him the Air France endorsement and thereafter the production of the movie “The CEO”? Wasn’t that greatly celebrated and applauded for the exposure that it brought to the industry? Do you know how many non-Nigerian audience viewed Nigerian films during that week?

    Why do we have to go all the way to Paris to celebrate Nollywood you ask? Why does Hollywood go all the way to the Cannes Film Festival? Or to Britain for movie awards? Or is it because Nollywood Week Paris isn’t called Nollywood Film Festival Paris?

    It is a Film Festival where Nollywood movies are screened and networking activities take place all for the growth of the industry! So Adesuwa and Linda took selfies. But that was all you saw because those are the ones you know! Check the hashtag and see how many non-Nigerians, filmmakers and industry professionals participated at the festival.

    Why can’t they come to us? Miss, we have AFRIFF! African International Film Festival that’s been holding successfully for the past few years in Calabar and most recently Lagos! So they have every opportunity to come to us! It is a Nigerian that will swear never to watch a Nigerian movie, not to talk of going to the cinema to see one.! Yet you want us to stay here and be local champions? No exposure to what lies beyond the shores of Africa?

    I fear for every ignorant person who would read your article and form an opinion. Nollywood Week Paris is a great initiative that as opened many doors for the industry. We’ve conquered Africa, it’s time we conquered the world!

    PS: I have zero affiliation with Nollywood Week Paris and I’ve never participated. But I’ve been following over the years and look forward to next years! My response is based strictly on my love for the industry and knowledge of the great value Nollywood Week Paris adds to the industry.

    I hope I’ve been able to open your eyes to more than what you thought.

    Regards,

    Adenike

    • Egusi Soup

      June 14, 2016 at 10:00 am

      Ah-han
      Nah why why you write essay.

    • honey omo lekki

      June 14, 2016 at 4:38 pm

      No matter the epistle you wrote, it still doesnt justify going to Paris for the program. They didnt see any nice place to use in Africa.
      It is meant to be attended by most people in the industry. what of those that cant get visa or cant afford it? Does that mean they are not nollywood, or they don’t deserve to be there?
      They dont have any justification jor

    • love

      June 14, 2016 at 6:39 pm

      Very well said

    • BA

      June 15, 2016 at 5:16 pm

      Thank you Adenike for this enlightening piece. Thank you for helping people see the light.
      Dear Writer, research is first and foremost in the exercise of writing. It is apparent you did little of that in thinking up this piece. However, as with anything, there is good in what you have done. You have helped open discussion to finding out the truth about this curious Nollywood week festival that holds in Paris.

      To add to Nike’s very well researched piece, Nollywood Week Paris is a creation of French citizens of African descent, Serge Noukoué and Nadira Shakur, two young and ambitious African film and media enthusiasts as a way to celebrate Africa’s foremost modern film industry. This initiative is an avenue to celebrate, promote and foster international growth for the Nigerian film industry – encouraging collaboration between film and media practitioners in Nigeria and other countries in Africa and the world at large. In deed, ambitious film makers like Afolayan have reaped greatly from this initiative and we can see that from his latest movie, The CEO which is a testament of the great possibilities of fruitful collaboration among African creatives such that we can boast of movie in the many languages spoken across the continent from English to French and Arabic.

  9. Onyeka Nwelue

    June 14, 2016 at 8:30 am

    Sorry, but this writer is such an olodo. Nollywood Week Paris did not start today. Google is your friend. Olodo Linda, this is not the first na. And the director of this film festival is a French citizen from Benin Republic and the event is sponsored by the French embassy, AirFrance and French company, Total. It is for the French audience. The films are subtitled in French. They are helping grow your industry. This is why Hollywood is huge in Cannes. The French market can never be ignored. You are an olodo and you have written an olodo article and BellaNaija has published an olodo piece and this is shameful because BellaNaija is even a partner of NollywoodWeek Paris and they know this is not the first. Chai!

    • Cmbo

      June 14, 2016 at 9:35 am

      your analysis makes a lot of sense, but the ‘olodo’ part is very unnecessary.

    • Ona

      June 14, 2016 at 4:15 pm

      U made sense but ur incessant use of “olodo” towards her made ur response so childish. When will Nigerians learn to put their points across as mature adults without resorting to insults biko?! Did she insult u or Nollywood? She had an opinion and had every right to express it, just like u did (albeit childishly). Take a cue from Adenike Adebayo above who also disagreed with the writer- but in a very mature and intelligent way-.

  10. Onyeka Nwelue

    June 14, 2016 at 8:34 am

    And you say Ghanaian and not Ghanian.

  11. Jay

    June 14, 2016 at 8:45 am

    Well said Linda, the situation we find ourselves in Nigeria is quite unfortunate. We value other people’s perception of us over ours. I believe change should come from within… If we want a better society, a better Nigeria, we must learn to appreciate ourselves first, even if it means faking it till we make it. It is well.

  12. Kay

    June 14, 2016 at 8:53 am

    I don’t see anything wrong with celebrating some where else. Maybe they wanted to try something new. Besides don’t they have fans all over the world? If I have a good friend who wants me to celebrate my birthday at their house what’s the freaking big deal? :s I’ve seen it done before. If you don’t like the idea sure, but there is nothing wrong with it.

  13. Nelo

    June 14, 2016 at 9:05 am

    i concur

  14. Ej

    June 14, 2016 at 9:22 am

    Gbam was Wat came out of my mouth, if they wanted world class event, use an event planner, wasted money, stupidity in the highest order I am just wondering when we are gonna wake up and receive sense, when? The change we are look for doesn’t start until we start n cooperate am tired n am out

  15. Nadira

    June 14, 2016 at 9:30 am

    Hello Linda, thank you for your passionate discourse on the subject. I am one of the organizers of NollywoodWeek Paris and would like to clarify a few of the points you raised.
    1. NollywoodWeek Paris was created by French residents/citizens for the European fans who love Nigerian movies but find them hard to access due to language barriers and lack of distribution.
    2. NollywoodWeek Paris just completed its 4th edition (not the first one as stated in your piece)
    3. NollywoodWeek Paris promotes Nigerian cinema and culture to a wider audience which has resulted in increased tourism to Nigeria from France, increased tourism to France from Nigeria and more positive publicity about Nigeria in France which previously only focused on the negatives.
    4. NollywoodWeek Paris translates all the films shown into French which helps the Nigerian filmmakers push their films further throughout the world by tapping into the Francophone market. Many have also received distribution deals amoung other opportunities thanks to the festival.
    5. When you did your google research, you should have googled for the connection between “Cinema” and “France”. Nigeria is the second largest producer of cinema. France is the birthplace of cinema. The French love cinema! So it was a natural endeavor for us to create a festival celebrating Nigerian filmmakers in our hometown. Just like there is a Brazilian, German, Russian, American, Polish, etc film festival here. We did not want Nigeria to be overlooked.

    As our festival gains momentum, we hope to one day have enough backing to bring NollywoodWeek to Nigeria.

    • awhotu

      June 14, 2016 at 10:57 am

      @Nadira you just educated me because I equally wondered why go to Paris just like linda and boost other peoples market. When the slogan on our lips is buy Nigeria to grow the Naira in every sector .I discussed it in my head. So I have gained “The bible say my people perish because of lack of knowledge.”Knowledge is power.

    • Strit Kredibility

      June 14, 2016 at 11:06 am

      Thank you for your clarification.

    • Ona

      June 14, 2016 at 4:20 pm

      Uncle/Madam “olodo” aka Onyeka….come and see how articulate and mature the organizer responded….and ended up educating us on the matter, U that is probably an errand boy/girl for the event come carry am for head like a tout hawking gala for mainroad. U need to be schooled on decorum and tact.

    • Linda Orajekwe

      June 14, 2016 at 11:05 pm

      Thank you Nadira for this response, which I must say is really enlightening. We say what we know so that insiders like you who know more can throw more light on the issue rather than keep it inside with disagreements going round our head with no clarification close by. Atleast with this article i have better understanding about the event than i did before now.

      That said, i still believe that in our quest for being global champions, events that concern Nigerians should be mostly done in Nigeria, and if we have more of our film makers outside the country, then it should be an opportunity for them to come home and celebrate with other Nigerian based film makers and “Nollywoodians” (permit my new word, that’s for lack of a better one). But since this event is being organized by the French people, I think it is a good initiative, and as you’ve rightly said, we certainly hope for the day the event will take place in Nigeria.

      Thanks again for your response, I really do appreciate it and all corrections noted. For all who read it, thanks for reading and your candid opinions. I really do appreciate every suggestions.

      Linda Orajekwe.

  16. olajumoke

    June 14, 2016 at 9:49 am

    madam onyeka, could you not write with such poise like Adenike did? Must you call her an Olodo linda? At least she aired her opinion, the least you could say was you don’t agree, don’t bash her unnecessarily…Do you have an opinion? Say it! and do it with finesse…

  17. UNCLE GWE GWE GWE

    June 14, 2016 at 10:19 am

    My lips are sealed.

  18. Nene

    June 14, 2016 at 11:58 am

    Don’t mind them

  19. MurderSheWrote

    June 14, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    From all that has been said I’m sure Linda now wishes she had done a little bit of research. Well, I must confess I thought the same too when I saw the piece online some days back. I was flabbergasted but I just let it go as per how should I care. Anyways thanks Nadira for clarifying the matter at hand. Just like you said at the end of your essay, hopefully the program gains momentum and then moves back home. Kudos to the organizers.

  20. Cass

    June 14, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    Well said, Nadira!

  21. Seun

    June 14, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    Knowledge is power. Information is essential to great writing. Knowledge and information go hand in hand.
    Your Bias was evident from the very first paragraph which resulted in a skewed point of view.
    Linda, next time, be adequately informed and equip yourself.
    Ps. Nollywood is not for nigerians alone.

  22. love

    June 14, 2016 at 6:40 pm

    Very well said

  23. Simi

    June 15, 2016 at 4:56 am

    Asides from showcasing Nigeria to French and Francophone persons, the festival also afforded Nigerians living in Paris, the opportunity to view movies from home and to reassert their Nigerianness.

    Indeed, it was an opportunity to showcase their country to friends they may have made in France who only knew of horror stories from Africa or Nigeria.

    I think we are often to quick to take out our frustration with the Nigerian systems and society on things like this. Easy to judge what should be labeled as a waste or not especially in these times. But sometimes, it is necessary to examine and appreciate all angles to an issues.

    Adenine and Nadira couldn’t have explained it any better. The recently concluded Cannes Film Festival came to mind immediately I started reading the article too.

  24. Tunmi

    June 15, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    Thank you for the article. We would have never learned about Nollywood Week Paris and it’s origins. I’ll speak for myself. I would have never learned this much about it. No she’s not an olódo. Absolutely not. Both BN and whomever sent the report should have done their due diligence in providing details. This could have been a great opportunity to inform the BN audience but no, we leave out details. And no I’m not going to do that research on Google. That’s time, clicks, and presence away from BN (BN this lack of details seems to be a problem, and it’s not the first time, and it will drive away visitors if another site can provide what you cannot or refuse to)

    Thank you Linda, Nadira, Onyeka, and Adenike. Shall we do better next time BN

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