Nollywood and the continentalization of Nigerian English




My purpose in this presentation is to return to the Pan-Africanism debates of the sixties and seventies to revisit what seems to have been one of the most significant strands in those discussions; the need for a common African language to facilitate the actualisation of a notion of Africa and a pan-African identity probably conceptually similar to Europe and European identity. A session was dedicated to the subject at the Black and African Festival of Arts and Cultures (FESTAC) in Lagos in February 1977. A core argument then was that Africa’s under-development may be linked to the extensive cultural and linguistic diversity of its component nation-states and the resultant ethnic conflicts, a direct consequence of European colonisation. Ideas were mooted at the time about and around the promotion of Swahili as a common language for a United States of Africa considering the fact that it was already an established multinational language throughout Eastern and parts of Southern Africa. In the closing decade of the 20th Century and beginning of the 21st, where economics and politics seemed to have failed, the media has become a conduit for south-south culture flow thus feathering pan-Africanism’s nest; Music Television (MTV) and the Nigerian Video Film industry 'Nollywood' provide convincing illustrations of this. In this paper I shall attempt to tease out the micro and macro connections between Pan-Africanism, media, language and identity. To do this I shall explore the language aspect of the sociocultural dimensions of the pan-African ideology and demonstrate how Nollywood as both media and cultural phenomenon may be pushing the Pan-Africanism agenda forward through the continentalization of Nigerian English. Continentalization will be theorized in relation to existing frameworks of globalization. I shall draw upon data elicited as part of a Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies (Open University) sponsored on-going research project on Nollywood and the African Diaspora in the United Kingdom.

Session: Paper session
Identity 4
Friday, April 4, 2008, 15:45-17:15
room: 12