Why entertainment industry in Igbo land is backward

Imanuel Jannah
By Imanuel Jannah May 27, 2017 19:27

No doubts, the entertainment industry in the South-East part of the country is backward but Igbo land is a region dominated by a tribe known for its hustle spirit. The Igbos are a people who are known to create something out of nothing.

Why entertainment industry in Igbo land is backward

The fearless and adventurous nature of the Igbo people gave birth to the saying “if you go to any part of the world and you don’t see an Igbo man there, take your things and leave as fast as you can.”

As individuals, the Igbo people have excelled in almost every facet of life; filmmaking, music, trading, manufacturing, politics and even in areas of science and technology with great pioneers like Goddy Ezekwe, Philip Emeagwali and the rest of them. The restless and inventive nature of the Igbo man is what gave birth to Nollywood, and it’s distribution networks, Alaba international market, Iweka Road, Pound Road and even Idumota.

A region that produced the most successful song out of Africa “sweet mother” by Prince Nico Mbarga a southern Cameroonian who found fame with the Awka Anambra based label Rogers Allstars.

With all the numerous successful individual entertainers, business moguls, politicians, and the amount of movies that they put out every day, one will think the entertainment industry in the South-East is vibrant and buoyant. But it is very heartbreaking that in the South of Nigeria, the South Eastern to be precise has the most backward entertainment industry.

I have tried to ask some of the practitioners I know why it is so, and the reasons vary. Lack of government support, lack of investors, and the unavailability of media houses and lack of support from them etc.

Since 1999, only the former governor of Enugu state, Chimaroke Nnamani despite not having a special adviser on Entertainment like the others, did enough to change the face of the industry. His now defunct Cosmo FM Enugu, was and is still the only media company in the East to have supported and made Stars from that region.

Artists like Slowdogg, Mr Raw, Resonance, Illbliss, J-Martins and a host of others actually got their break with Cosmo FM’s support, and even OAPs like Chuks ‘Spaceman’ Roberts, and Zoe benefitted. Since its closure the South-East has really not made any star, both regional and National.

The Phynos of this world, the Zoros have all left the East Coast to find fame in Lagos. Even the actors have not in anyway benefitted or gotten any support from the government. For instance, Enugu used to be the Hotspot for Nollywood. About 90 percent of movies were shot in Enugu, before they shifted base to Asaba the Delta State capital.

The government failed to capitalise on that to build a film facility or Nollywood village, which will not only provide jobs and engage the youths, but will also be a source of revenue for the state.

The average Igbo man in all his entrepreneurial spirit, lacks certain innovations and does not believe so much in entertainment or see it as a serious business. My uncles do not take me seriously because I chose to work in the entertainment industry. One of them often refer to it as living life on the fast lane, and always cite Fela
Anikulapo and Osadebe who had multiple wives as instances.

How then can one begin to convince a person like that to invest in the entertainment industry?

The South-East especially Imo, Anambra and Enugu are filled with hotels, we often joke that after three houses you get one hotel. Yet none of this hotels has the facility to host a standard award or event like the Headies or even an indoor event Centre in the South-East that can sit 5000 people.

Even the outdoor event spots are usually school fields. Of the five states in the region only Owerri has a functional cinema, and it is almost impossible to do movie premiers or even host a film festival in the East.
In the entire region, there is no single private TV station, senator Mike Ajaegbo opened his Minaj broadcasting station in Obosi Anambra state in the early 2000s, but for some reasons after a couple of years the station closed down. What does this hold or mean for the industry?

It actually means that even if you record your music or make your movie in the East, you will still need to go West to promote it – If it must be on TV.

The corporate Nigeria does very little for entertainment as well, without the South-East corporations like Diageo and Nigeria Breweries would go bankrupt, yet when it comes to sponsoring Talents, supporting events, or hiring talents for their events, they would run to Lagos to look for talents.

Lack of personnel also has a big role to play in the total lack of growth. Most PR professionals, talent managers all run to Lagos and Abuja to practice instead of remaining to grow the industry here, if we had professionals piloting the affairs of these talents actors like Rachael “Nkoli” Okonkwo, Zubby Michael will be brand ambassador and spokes person for products, and even some government campaigns.

I can go on and on highlighting the numerous problems the entertainment industry face, but any serious government that wants to reduce unemployment should try to empower the industry, by way of grants, loans, copyright protections, partnerships and sometimes incentives.

For every successful entertainer, there are about five people who are directly employed by him. We also need seminars, conferences and workshops to train, educate and groom practitioners in the entertainment industry in the East.

Written by Kaycee Oguejiofor

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Imanuel Jannah
By Imanuel Jannah May 27, 2017 19:27