Jackie Appiah, Van Vicker, Nadia Buari,Majid Mikel; these names come easily to mind as they have featured in many Nigerian home videos for years, holding their own alongside the likes of Nigeria’s Desmond Elliot, Genevieve Nnaji, Ini Edo and Jim Iyke, among others.
They are Ghanaian actors, who have maintained a steady presence in the Nigerian film industry, winning the admiration of millions of Nollywood fans both at home and abroad. To opposing poles of opinion, their presence has either been welcomed or has been kicked against.
From the “patriotic” Nigerians protesting the presence of actors of another nationality infiltrating their beloved Nollywood, to the free thinkers, who welcomed change in whatever form, to those who remain largely unfazed, the appearance of Ghanaians has done one thing; it has created a need to compare both countries’ movie industries to gauge which one is the would-be host and which one is the parasite.
Once a seemingly cordial and mutually beneficial relationship, the collaboration between the Ghanaian and Nigerian movie industries may have turned sour with news of levies and restrictions swirling over the industry and throwing those concerned into a frenzy.
Worthy of its own Nollywood/Ghollywood production, the brewing blow out between the industries has taken on proportions of classical family feuds with each side threatening attacks double that of their counterparts.
One may decide to look at the hows and whys the making and breaking of the Nollywood/Ghollywood alliance came into being. Varying accounts exist of how the association between the Nigerian and Ghanaian movie industries began, while some say that Ghanaians have been involved in Nigerian movie productions since inception of Nollywood, others believe that their presence is a recent development.
However, some agreed on the fact that the Nigerian movie industry served as a launching pad for its Ghanaian counterpart. This was achieved through the appearance of Ghanaian faces in Nollywood productions with the popularity of the industry serving as a vehicle which launched them into stardom.
Internationally-acclaimed and highly-sought after all over the world, the reach and popularity of Nollywood need not be contested: a booming enterprise, Nollywood attracts stakeholders from all over wishing to be part of the excitement.
Therefore, Ghana’s decision to buy into the Nigerian movie industry was a smart move and one, which, successfully launched the careers of their foremost actors and actresses.
Largely unsatisfied with appearances in Nigerian productions, the Ghanaians borrowed a leaf from their host industry and set up their own Ghollywood. To create a buzz around it, the Ghanaians started off featuring popular Nigerian actors and actresses in their productions.
Seemingly a working relationship, traces that the collaboration has started going sour started surfacing when the authorities of the Ghanaian movie industry issued a directive stating that no Nigerian actors would be allowed to work on any of their movies unless they pay a fee of one thousand dollars.
In response, their Nigerian counterparts quickly placed their fee for Ghanaians acting in Nigerian productions to two thousand dollars.
Highly dramatic and a bit unnecessary, it would be easy to egoistically blame the other party; however, both parties have had an equal negative role in how badly the relationship has fared.
Citing the overbearing presence of Nigerians in their productions, the Ghanaian movie authorities believe that the Nollywood stars are hampering the growth of their talents.
So, in order to curtail this; they introduced the measure, which has understandably thrown the Nigerian players into a frenzy.
The Nigerian side on the other hand has embraced the Ghanaian movie industries as a new and interesting change from Nollywood, therefore going to act there became the latest fad with numerous actors and actresses crossing the borders to show off their skills to the Ghanaian audience.
Now to dissect; given that the Nigerian movie industry is a self-made, half-baked albeit successful, and that the name Nollywood is known all over the world and avidly watched by Africans of all races, and also that Ghanaians form about the largest population of consumers of Nollywood productions, it would only be natural that our actors, producers and other stakeholders to think that whatever turf they felt like invading was theirs for the taking.
Now for the Ghanaians, they may have shown a huge dept of ingratitude to the assistance the Nigerian movie industry gave them, though one understands that their movie industry is a business and needs to be run as such, but it would only show courtesy for them to be as accommodating as they could be.
Though, reactions from Nigerians to the issues either lie between outrage or acceptance, one thing is for sure that the Ghanaian movie industry is gearing up to becoming a competition for Nollywood, the die-hard Nollywood fans can shout as much as they want, but the truth is that a few years and a few hundred movies down the line, Ghollywood could be on the same level as Nollywood, if not better.
Ghanaians also should realise that behaviour like that can result in extreme odds; they may be competitive and gearing for a take-over, but you do not bite the finger that fed you. Apart from Ghana, Nigeria is going in to collaborations with other African nations like Liberia, so it may not be a deliberate effort at world domination but just a widening of horizons and a display of cultural acceptance. Conclusively, Nollywood authorities should make their decisions with a measure of moderation and look before they leap.