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Free Content Nollywood’s aporias part 1: Gatemen

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Nigerian video films are distinct for the way in which they have apparently revolutionized – and then standardized – the portrayal of everyday social worlds. Many scripts routinely place ordinary men and women at the centre of the unfolding of everyday-world stories. However, the character of the gateman – as that of the okada rider and the market woman, among others – in ‘generic’ Nigerian movies is surprisingly underdeveloped. Gatemen in Nigerian video films are constantly not shown. Their recurring function is to open and close gates, allowed here and there to say a few words in response to the oga or madam’s questions. They seldom speak when not spoken to. This article draws attention to the aporetic structured absences in Nollywood films and Nollywood film criticism, specifically the parts played and not played by gate-men. It argues that the non-portrayal of the everyday worlds of gatemen – beyond opening and closing gates – suggests that Nollywood movies and Nollywood theorists are yet to fully evolve a ‘thinking’ and re-thinking of everyday social worlds in terms that specifically call into question hierarchy and what-is. The article uses the figure of the gateman to present semi-theoretical reflections by a non-Nigerian African, reflecting on the reading of gaps in the generic Nollywood film. Its purpose is less an exploration of Nigerian socio-politics as a polemical theoretical reflection on exigencies of method.

Keywords: Nollyphile; Nollyphilia; Nollywood; Yam-sack approach; aporia; gate-man; gate-men

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Johannesburg

Publication date: April 1, 2014

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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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