Why Local Productions Do Not Appeal To The Locals

Written by
Nairobi Nairobi James Wahome

Let me put it out there that I am not in any way giving excuses or justifying the overwhelming love that ‘we’ have for foreign productions. I say we because as much as I am always in support of local talent I am always excited to see how the next season of How to Get away with Murder ends, or what the next video to a Beyonce single is released. Why am I not as excited to hear about a local film in the works or a new Avril single?

Let’s take a look at Nollywood (roll your eyes all you want but you know it is true) Even before the booming of their music industry even the funny local films they produced got continental airplay. Another main example is Bollywood, a similar success. Why? What could be there secret?

First of all the Nigerian entertainment industry is unique, just like Bollywood in a way. What makes them unique you may ask, their culture. Indian culture is full of color and dance and as much as those dances that they used to do in the middle of every film got the best of us we understood it and somehow began to anticipate the dance/music scenes. Same case to the Nigerians, they embraced their distinct accent, they embraced their obvious superstitions and traditional beliefs. Hence all the juju movies filled with witchcraft and the always dominating power of God.

East African movie culture often (agree with me or not) mirrors western culture from our speech to dressing and movie content. Why was Nairobi Half Life a major hit internationally? Because it was real, the roads the struggles, the filthy police holding cell, it was so real.

Nigerian music has taken the world by storm that is a fact, hence the reason why they receive massive airplay on our local stations. Why? Let’s see, Wizkid will release a single with Justine Skye and Vybz Kartel but still go back home and have a song with the distinct sound of the Nigerian drums featuring Femi Kuti. Tiwa Savage is signed to one of the biggest labels under Jay-Z, Roc Nation and still murders hits singing in Yoruba. They are true to themselves and their culture, they have not been consumed by the Western style of music. Another awesome example would be the Bongo music in Tanzania which is admired regionally. With a few exceptions listening to some of the local music is like only listening to an imitation of what has already been produced abroad. Need I say more?

If I am going to sit down and watch local content or listen to local music it has to have one main thing, ORIGINALITY. You know how sometimes you watch international movies (I won’t mention the movies) and come across a scene which is supposedly set in Kenya yet the character’s Kiswahili seems choreographed and the terrain looks nothing like the town mentioned. How do you feel? I always feel just a tad bit insulted. That is the same way I think some locals feel when they are watching a film and they cannot even relate to the dialogue or the lifestyles shown. We want originality and realness…that aside always remember to support local talent.


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