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Still taken from 'Walking With Shadows film trailer'

Nollywood & the Second Coming of Queer Cinema.

Opinion: Nollywood & the Imminent Second Coming of Queer Cinema

An exploration of queer representation and misrepresentation in Nollywood, jaded stereotypes and what the future of queer cinema in Nollywood could look like.

In a scene from Daniel Orhiari's 2018 psychological thriller Sylvia, Richard (Chris Attoh) and Obaro (Udoka Oyeka) are friends casually catching up while drinking at a bar. When Richard tells him that he's in love with a woman he's just met and intends to marry her, Obaro is relieved and chuckles. ''I was beginning to wonder, you know, if you were gay or something,'' he says. While Richard looks incredulous and rejects the notion, the scene devolves into both a commentary and cautionary tale about married gay men in Lagos sleeping with their houseboys, reinforcing the idea that homosexuality is synonymous with paedophilia.

The homophobia in the scene becomes truly apparent when the bartender, having heard their conversation, slips his phone number towards Obaro after Richard leaves. Although Obaro had told his friend he has nothing against gay people, he shows disdain towards the bartender and flees the bar. Queer representation may be non-existent in Nollywood, but pockets of homophobia like this have showed up in the works of overzealous filmmakers, as shown in Ramsey Nouah's Living in Bondage: Breaking Free (2019) where the male protagonist was assumed to be gay after he indicated interest in a woman.

Nollywood is a microcosm of the larger virulently homophobic Nigerian society, but queer cinema had somewhat thrived around the early 2000's before flatlining into oblivion. This era followed the home video boom that began in the '90s, and was marked by slightly changing attitudes–or curiosity–about sex and sexuality. Soft pornography was consumed in the form of magazines (Hints) and other variants, glossy booklets with hardcore images were openly sold in shops, depicting women engaging in sexual acts with men or with themselves, and video porn was widely available in public spaces.


"...queer cinema had somewhat thrived around the early 2000's before flatlining into oblivion."

Emotional Crack (2003), which portrayed two women in a relationship, was an outcome of such a sex-turgid atmosphere. Directed by Lancelot Imasuen, Emotional Crack was Nollywood's first attempt at having queerness central to a film's plot, offering a decently nuanced look at the affair between Dakore Egbuson-Akande's Camilla and Stephenie Okereke-Linus' Crystal. The internet memeing a still from the film and referring to a lesbian sex position couldn't have been funnier. Emotional Crack is not without its flaws though, parroting the ''sinful'' nature of homosexuality, but it was a commercial hit nonetheless.

Because of its success, filmmakers made queerness a recurring motif in their films, leading to a proliferation that appealed to audiences who found such concepts salacious or were merely bi-curious. Kabat Esosa Egbon's Beautiful Faces was released in 2004, a film about aggressive female campus cults. If Emotional Crack allowed a bit of complexity for its lesbian characters, Beautiful Faces stripped that away, portraying lesbians as dangerous predators.

It birthed queer characters as caricatures, one-dimensional props for amusement. Because these filmmakers weren't queer themselves, only making such films exploitatively, queer portrayals were grossly inaccurate and skewed towards longstanding biases. It was a push-and-pull device, fascinating audiences and repelling them at the same time. In Moses Ebere's Men in Love (2010), John Dumelo's character, Charles, refuses the advances of his business partner and friend Alex, played by the late Muna Obiekwe. He's then drugged and raped by Alex. The film wittingly establishes these events as a ''conversion'' process, because not long after Charles is furious with Alex for taking advantage of him, he softens and agrees to be Alex's lover.

"It birthed queer characters as caricatures, one-dimensional props for amusement."

Men in Love ticks all the odious, stereotypical boxes about gay men, debasing gay sexuality to harmful activities like rape and adult grooming, and allowing homophobia to run further deep. It is perhaps why these queer-themed films weren't banned. To the Censors Board, such films, while showing same-sex affection and sexual acts, had the power to enlighten the public about the dangers of homosexuality.

Desmond Elliot's In The Cupboard, released in 2011, had Ini Edo playing a closeted lesbian reduced to shock value. Queerness as the new frontier of Nollywood commercialism ran its course as the industry slowly pivoted towards cinema in the late 2000s. Independent filmmaking became the only way LGBT experiences could be told and represented, especially following the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act that was signed into law during former President Goodluck Jonathan's administration. Non-profit platforms like The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs) have pushed a media campaign for the rights of LGBT persons, through short films (Hell or High Water) and feature-length projects (We Don't Live Here Anymore).

In 2019, Funmi Iyanda's Walking With Shadows premiered at the BFI London Film Festival, an adaptation of Jude Dibia's 2005 groundbreaking novel about a gay man navigating a homophobic Nigeria. Not only are these films reconstructing the damage around the depiction of queerness in Nollywood, and not playing into harmful stereotypes, they have also laid the foundation of what could possibly be the second coming of queer cinema.

More recent, in fact, is Pamela Adie's evocative short film Ife released last year, a young-adult love story about two women's budding relationship. The film went on to premiere on a native streaming platform after a festival run.

Queer films in Nollywood today may be scarcely available, but blatant misrepresentations are now a thing of the past.

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Photo by Hector Vivas - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Kizz Daniel Performs At The FIFA World Cup

Nigeria's Kizz Daniel recently thrilled fans when he performed at the FIFA World Cup.


Renowned Afrobeats singer, Oluwatobiloba Daniel Anidugbe, also known as Kizz Daniel recentlymade his debut performance at the World Cup to raving fans. The singer performed songs from a selection of some of his well known smash hit records at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, which is still ongoing.

Some of the songs that he performed included: 'Buga', 'Cough', 'Lie', 'Pour Me Water', 'One Ticket', 'Eh God', 'Good Time' and many others.

The singer performing at the World Cup was somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy because earlier in June, he had shared on social media that he wanted to perform at the World Cup this year.

His tweet read: "God I want to perform 'Buga' for World Cup with a mass choir. Help me say amen."

During his performance, he was greeted by over 50,000 fans, who excitedly chimed in as he delivered some of his heavy-hitting songs. The 28-year-old also featured a live-band show during his performance.

Kizz Daniel is one of the many African artists that are leaving their mark on the global music scene. When he released ‘Buga,’ he received massive recognition from the record and it quickly became an anthem in Nigeria. To many, the song was one of the most prominent African songs of the year.

Kizz Daniel's recent performance at the World Cup marks the rise in global popularity that many of his peers are also receiving.

According to Sports Brief, Kizz Daniel's performance was a part of the FIFA Sound, which had at least five international artists in it's lineup who performed on the main stage during the famed sports event. Sports Brief also shared that all of the performances were an extension of FIFA’s entertainment strategy, which is an initiative that is created to establish solid relationships between the world of soccer and music.

Following his performance, a thrilled Kizz Daniel took to social media to show some of the excited reactions that fans had during his performance.

VADO OF AFRICA 🌍 on Instagram: "AS A NAIJA 🇳🇬 BOY I SAY THANK YOU AFRICA 🌍 THANK YOU WORLD 🌎 #fifaworldcup2022 #qatar2022 ‼️"

Music

Listen to Nigeria's RnB Princess' New 'Becoming' EP

The six tracks on RnB Princess' Becoming EP are an undeniable wash of emotions, with soulful melodies that tell the story of love, pride, vulnerability and complacency.

The project is a representation of the Nigerian artist’s ability to capture nostalgia for the contemporary listener through Afro-infused RnB. RnB Princess assembled a talented team of collaborators for Becoming. She features Brum3h and MisterKay on two of the tracks—"Let Me In," a vulnerable expression of desire and "Perfect Girl," a tense look at the frustrations of being a perfect partner.

"I’m inspired by various things: personal experiences, thoughts in my head, prayers/manifestations, dreams, the experiences of others, even shows and books," she tells OkayAfrica. "Being a highly sensitive person allows me to connect deeply to emotions (even if they’re not necessarily mine)."

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All You Need to Know About the African Teams at the World Cup

We break down how Senegal, Ghana, Cameroon, Morocco, and Tunisia's national teams are looking ahead of the Qatar World Cup 2022.

African football has come a long way.

Egypt was the first African team to ever participate in a FIFA World Cup. They did it in Italy in 1934, where they only played a game, which they lost 4-2 to Hungary. Back then, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) didn’t exist, so the Pharaohs played two qualifier games against British Palestine.

CAF was eventually formed in 1956, but the World Cup would only see another African team in Mexico 1970, when Morocco qualified. Years later, Pelé, the legendary Brazilian player, predicted that an African team would win a World Cup before the year 2000, he was mocked mercilessly. For many, it was not an unlikely outcome, it was an absurd proposition.

And yet, African footballers have become more and more often part of the footballing elite, playing in the best leagues, and becoming some of the most famous players. While, still, only European and South American teams have won World Cups.

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News
Photo by SEYLLOU/AFP via Getty Images

Senegal Becomes First African Team to Win a Game at the World Cup

The Senegalese team beat the host team by a 3-1 score during the Group A match.


Senegal became the first African country to be a winner at the 2022 FIFA World Cup after scoring over the Qatar host team on Friday, November 25.

While this is a big win for Senegal, the defeat means that Qatar is close to being eliminated from the tournament after Ecuador defeated them last Sunday during the opening game.The Senegalese team beat the host team by a 1-3 score during the Group A match at the 2022 World Cup, and this win made them the first African side to win a game in the tournament. The goals came from Boulaye Dia, Famara Diedhiou, and Bamba Dieng, who all played a part in securing the big win.

The Qatari team seemed self-assured as they quickly secured a goal. Qatar should have had a penalty when Ismaila Sarr bundled over Akram Afif, but the referee Antonio Mateu decided not to grant it.

In a conversation with Aljazeera, Pathe Toure shared the team's strategy for winning the game.

"It was a good performance. We were focused, and the team decided to play well. We didn't let Qatar move the ball or have time on the ball," Toure said. "We have to play the same way or better against Ecuador. It will be like a tournament final. Now it is time to enjoy the win and the performance."

Senegal's win is historic because Africa has not had a lot of success in World Cup games, in the past. The last time an African team had a stake in the quarter-finals was when Ghana reached the last eight in 2010.

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