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NollywoodThe Creation of Nigerian Film Genres$
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Jonathan Haynes

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226387819

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226388007.001.0001

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The Cultural Epic: Representing the Past

The Cultural Epic: Representing the Past

Chapter:
(p.141) Chapter 6 The Cultural Epic: Representing the Past
Source:
Nollywood
Author(s):

Jonathan Haynes

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226388007.003.0006

The cultural epic genre is set in the “traditional,” precolonial past. The genre was cofounded by The Battle of Musanga, which conceives of Igbo history in the manner of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, and Igodo, which is legendary and archetypal. The genre is ambivalent in its interpretation of the past, presenting it alternately as a source of cultural richness and righteous order, or as a nightmare of tyranny and dark spiritual forces requiring intervention by Christian missionaries. Epics normally center on an igwe (an Igbo king), though historically Igbo societies were seldom monarchies. The king is also an ambivalent figure, either a virtuous priest/king ensuring harmony or a tyrant. The genre was launched at the end of military rule and was originally preoccupied with political and spiritual issues, but romance became increasingly important. The genre of “royal films” with contemporary settings springs from epics about romances in royal families.

Keywords:   Cultural epic, African history, historical representation, Igbo kingship, ideology, Achebe, royal, Nollywood actors, precolonial Africa, tradition

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