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Thierry Henry as Igwe: Soccer fandom, christening and cultural passage in Nollywood

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This article explores within the Nigerian context the performance of fandom and the christening of Thierry Henry of Arsenal FC fame as Igwe particularly in the South West of Nigeria. It is based on a series of interviews conducted in two South West states (Osun and Oyo), on the 'coronation' of Henry as Igwe, a monarchical title among the Igbo of the South East. Findings show that: (1) the new medium of satellite technology has increased soccer patronage/viewership in Nigeria; (2) the medium has also accelerated the mobilization of fandom; (3) the 'coronation' of Thierry Henry as Igwe among Nigerian fans across cultural boundaries, is on account of the comparison of his superior performance with that of the Igwe as projected in the videos; (4) although the sobriquet originated from the South East among the Igbo, its wide reception in the South West is for the most part a logical consequence of the popularity of the Nollywood home videos in the South West Region; (5) soccer fandom has a greater number of men than women in Nigeria. The article concludes that the christening of Thierry Henry as Igwe is due to the capacity of Nollywood to engender cultural passage/diffusion across geographical spaces. The article suggests the need to engender soccer fandom among women in Nigeria.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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  • The Journal of African Cinemas will explore the interactions of visual and verbal narratives in African film. It recognizes the shifting paradigms that have defined and continue to define African cinemas. Identity and perception are interrogated in relation to their positions within diverse African film languages. The editors are seeking papers that expound on the identity or identities of Africa and its peoples represented in film.
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