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PROJECT TOPIC AND MATERIAL ON COMMUNICATING CHANGE AND SOCIETAL VALUES IN SELECT NIGERIAN HOME MOVIES

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  • Name: COMMUNICATING CHANGE AND SOCIETAL VALUES IN SELECT NIGERIAN HOME MOVIES
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ABSTRACT

It is a widely accepted notion that Nollywood movies contain negative content such as drug addiction, armed robbery, sexual immorality, women and child abuse amongst others, which in effect elicit negative reaction from its viewers. These negative reactions often result in negative societal consequences. This research work explores the positive values projected in Nollywood moviesas it relates to different facets of the society and how it by extension promotes societal change. To achieve this, literary materials and select movies were critically analysed against the cultural norm theory of De fleur and Gerbner‘s cultivation theory. On the basis of the theories proposition, the prolonged exposure of viewers to these positive contents will begin to impact positively on such viewers and an adoption of the values will translate into positive societal change. The research attempts to establish that irrespective of the negative content of Nigerian movies, some positive values and norms which when adopted will project positively in different facets of the society also exists in some movies. To reflect this, three (3) movies; The Meeting, Mr. And Mrs, and Half of a Yellow Sun reflecting political, social and historical aspects will be analysed. Qualitative research will be used in other to gain a deep understanding of the values and norms inherent in the select movies. In the course of this research, certain issues were made evident, prominent amongst which is that Nollywood producers are giving more attention to details to ensure they tell the Nigerian story professionally. The researcher recommends among others that Nigerian home movies be maximally explored as a development communication medium.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title Page – – – – – – – – – – – i
Declaration- – – – – – – – – – – ii
Certification – – – – – – – – – – – iii
Dedication – – – – – – – – – – – iv
Acknowledgements- – – – – – – – – – v
Abstract- – – – – – – – – – – – vi
Table of Contents – – – – – – – – – vii
CHAPTER ONE: GENERAL INTRODUCTION 1
1.1. Background to the Study – – – – – – – – – 5
1.2. Statement of the Research Problem- – – – – – – – 9
1.3. Aim and Objectives of the Study- – – – – – – 10
1.4. Research Questions – – – – – – – – – 10
1.5. Scope of the Study – – – – – – – – – 10
1.6. Justification of the Study- – – – – – – – – 11
1.7. Research Methodology – – – – – – – – – 11
CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW AND THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
2.1. Communication- – – – – – – – – – 18
2.1.1.Change – — – – – – – – – – – 21
2.1.2. Nollywood – — – – – – – – – – 24
2.2.0.Theoretical Framework – – – – – – – – – 34
2.2.1.Social Learning Theory – – – – – – – – – 34
viii
2.2.2.Cultural norms Theory – – – – – – – – – 37
2.2.3.Cultivation Theory – – – – – – – – – 40
CHAPTER THREE: ANALYSIS OF MR AND MRS- – – – 44
3.1. Mr. and Mrs(Synopsis) – — – – – – – – 44
3.1.1. Representation of Women – — – – – – – 45
3.1.2. Divergence and Convergence of the Female Character- – – – 57
CHAPTER FOUR: ANALYSES OF HALF OF A YELLOW SUN AND THE
MEETING4.1. Half of a Yellow Sun(Synopsis) – – – – –
– 77
4.1.1. Revisiting History – – – – – – – 78
4.1.2. Politics of Identity – – – – – – – – – – 90
4.1.3. Elements of Culture – – – – – – – – – – 91
4.1.4.Love as an Instrument of Change- – – – – – – 92
4.2. The Meeting (Synopsis) – – – – – – – 96
4.2.1.Reflecting Society: Change versus Values – – – – – 98
4.2.2.The Issues of Morality – – – – – – – – 108
CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECCOMENDATIONS
5.1.Summary – – – – – – – – – – – – – 111
5.2.Research Findings – – – – – – – – – 116
5.3.Recommendations – – – – – – – – – 117
5.4.Conclusion. – – – – – – – – – – – 118
References – — – – – – – – – – – – 119

CHAPTER ONE

GENERAL INTRODUCTION
The word change has so many meanings depending on the context in which it is used.
However, one major point that keeps reoccurring is the move from one state to another.
Change in a society refers to an alteration in the social order of the society, it may include
changes in nature, social institutions, social behaviours, or social relations. Thus change can
refer to any significant alteration over a period of time in behaviour patterns, cultural values
and norms. The world today is changing so fast economically, socially, politically and even
physically. The argument however is whether the change is for the better or for the worse.
This change is made rapid by the increasing new ways of communication especially the media
which has increased accessibility to knowledge. This has changed the ways individuals,
groups, and societies think, feel, behave, and interact.
In spite of the seeming objectives of the new communication mediums, a great deal of fear
and outrageous optimism permeates opinions about its attendant negative consequences. This
is so because the inundation of too much information is a potential threat to the ability to
process which information is actually needed. Film has over the years become a pervasive and
ever present entity in our lives, as well as a strong influence for constructing meaning in our
everyday live. Social Comparison Theory posits that ―people will [at some point in their lives]
compare themselves and significant others to people and images whom they perceive to
represent realistic goals to attain‖ (Botta, 1999: 26).
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With the passage of time, we have unconsciously looked up to the media to help us define,
explain, and shape the world around us; we make automatic comparisons of ourselves, those
close to us, and situations in our lives after seeing images in the media. The result of these
comparison is that we are motivated to strive for, and achieve, new found goals and
expectations as perceived by us in the films. Films now preside over many daily decisions on
the sense of our world and exposes human beings to completely new perspective. It has over
time reduced the world to a global village sharing cultures, beliefs, values and history. With
our lives influenced by the culture around us, it is impossible for it not to either be positive or
negative. However, this is dependent on what we listen to or watch, whichever way, what we
do has direct impact on our lives because everything has a direct link to some part of us be it
music, media, celebrities, fashion, and even literature.
Films when positively constructed have a way of introducing us to creative outlets that can
help us better ourselves in different ways, be it in our personal or work lives. It can change
our perspective and push us to do more than what we limit ourselves to. It can also help us
engage with other people around the world, and be more open and understanding towards
other cultures. On the other hand, films can influence us to do things that are not moral, like
getting into substance abuse, adopting violent or immoral habits and developing wrong
perception of issues. This goes to show that film can be used for or against us, depending on
how we use it individually. With these points we see just how powerful a tool the movie is in
our present day and age, and also its impact on our perception.
Changes yielding profound social consequences over time affect behaviour patterns and
cultural values and norms. Change occurrences summarily occur in major factors of politics,
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economy and culture. Changes can also occur in less – tangible factors such as personal
dignity, personal safety, freedom from fear of physical harm, and the extent of participation in
civil society. Change in the society can be caused by so many factors; technology,
socialinstitutions, population, modernization and the environment. However, this research
work will concentrate on the changes that occur via the media with particular emphasis on
video films. Our society has undergone radical shifts in everything from family structure to
demographics. We have witnessed a massive shift in societal and lifestyle changes; youths
and adults alike. Technology now dominates modern urban living resulting in increasingly
structured activities. Changes have occurred in social roles, culture, ideologies and beliefs.
Values and beliefs once formed by family and institutions are increasingly being influenced
by what we see in films. The conclusion that ‗art is society and society is art‘ (which has
somewhat become a cliché) applies with double emphasis to film- ‗a powerful visual medium
with extraordinary ability to influence the thinking and behaviour of its audience‘ (Ukadike,
2009:31). This owes much to the visual bias of film. It should be stated that the film medium
has become so central to human existence that no nation can afford to ignore the power of the
screen any longer. The film maker knows only too well that he can use his works to impact on
and attempt to influence the world around him. The question then is how true this assertion is
when weighed against the realities of the peculiar nature of Nollywood.
Over the years there has been propagation on the indigenous films in Nigeria. Nigeria home
videos capture our actual lifestyle and reflect it through various themes. These movies have
the ability to reflect goings on in the society and this determines the influence they have.
Some movies are based on myths, legends, folktales and other traditional forms which bring
about the synergy that is required for better message reception (Akpabio, 2004:8).
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Nollywood occupies and performs a crucial social role and position in assisting viewers to
interpret their experiences and society. According to Tom Odhiambo (2004:33), Nollywood
―borrows its subject matter from the public on issues of contemporary importance to that
public in particular contexts‖ and it strives to be of ―immediate relevance to the people‘s
worries, questions, experiences and lives‖. Such issues are rebroadcast to that same audience
for the purpose of educating, informing, instructing and entertaining. Thus watching videos
together in the homes, streets or in video parlours create ―uncontrolled sites of consumption‖
That ―render spectatorship in Nollywood as a fluid field of reading culture‖, and one which
also ―privileges the presence of an absence as we know it in the production of culture that had
been tightly controlled by the ruling and intellectual elite in Nigeria until the emergence of
Nollywood in Nigeria.‖(Okome: 2007:6)
Since its emergence at the turn of the twenty-first century, the Nigerian movie industry
―Nollywood‖ has had a profound influence on African culture. The Nigerian accents, style of
dress, and behavioural idiosyncrasies, all of which are distinctly Nigeria, through the
combination of songs, oral literature, festivals, rituals, the traditional religion, performing arts,
music, dance, and indeed the entire range of artefacts constituting traditional oral performance
of Nigerian culture are now being transmitted as images around the globe.
Nollywood is one that has blossomed over a relatively short period of time and while it
impacts on individuals home and abroad, it also has been impacted upon violently by alien
cultures of the world, dressing, values, beliefs, lifestyle etc. Thus the industry has since the
1990‘s emerged as a fast growing cultural force all over the continent spreading and
influencing both our culture and acquired western lifestyle. The effect of these movies on the
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Nigerian society is the manifestation of the issues that abound in the community. Considering
the impact of movies on social values and human behaviour, the quest for qualitative movie
production is inevitable. There appears to be a consensus among Nigerian researchers and
observers that many traditional values are changing rapidly and replaced by film projected
values. When films become an avenue to address, comment and attack authorities and societal
ills cum vices, it becomes a thing of interest and takes a critical position in order to further
discover the strength it possesses in contemporary times.
Indeed our society has changed and is still undergoing changes. Therefore, it is pertinent that
we make the change for the better by communicating messages that will help correct or
stimulate the perception of the people and gear them towards making or taking decisions that
promote long – term sustainability, economic prosperity, a healthy community and social
well- being. Nollywood movies speak to every facet of our life, in this study, through an
analysis of select movies; the researcher would explore the societal values expounded with
emphasis on culture, history, political and moral values.
1.1.Background to the Study
Over time, viewers have been influenced by images projected in films and in recent times, the
family ideals, beliefs and culture are being influenced by what is seen outside the home and
the movies which sometimes contradict what is known to be true? The character, personality,
and identity of a person are shaped through many different means, and with the unlimited
access to anything and everything through films, identities are being skewed. These negative
impacts of films however, do not dissuade the fact that some movies project positive themes,
depict reality and advocate the triumph of good over evil which in the long run have the
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capacity to result in positive outlook of the viewer. Film images today, both positively and
negatively influence the viewers‘ identity and this impact has been said to be more on the
youth in our society. Payne (2008:31) puts it thus, ‗Film and television have, long been feared
for being capable of transmitting socially objectionable messages…. With easier access and
quicker results, audiences of film content are exposed to a tremendous amount of information
fed to them. This influences and shapes their identities. The good thing, however is, not all of
it is negative and if well projected and managed these content can be used positively to help
mould the future of our society.
Exposure to information around us has an impact on the formulation of our ideals, opinions,
and outlook on life. Viewers today, especially children, take on personality traits of artistes
whom they idolize and consider role models. This goes to show that if they are overly exposed
to such movie content, some part of their newly formed identity will be based on this medium.
Films have become a significant force in modern culture especially in developing countries
such as Nigeria. Viewers are bombarded with messages which reflect the culture and beliefs
of the producing society and these are spread nationally and internationally.
The movie projects a complex of mutually interdependent perspectives and values that
influence a society and its institutions in various ways. In Nigeria, For example, certain
currents of popular culture may originate from, (or diverge into) a subculture representing
perspectives with which the mainstream popular culture has limited familiarity or does not
accept. The culture of Nigeria is shaped by its multiple ethnic groups; the variety of customs,
languages, and traditions among all of Nigeria’s ethnic groups gives the country a great deal of
cultural diversity. This cultural diversity has driven the nation’s innovative popular culture
which is basically classified as good morals, obedience, humility, respect for elders etc.In
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recent times however, there has been a general outcry as regards the ‗imported‘ popular
culture which is gradually enveloping all facets of the Nigerian society, with maximum
influence on the Nigerian movie industry- which is believed to propagate to the world the
Nigerian culture and values. The incursion of this alien ways over our ‗traditional way of live‘
has become a source of concern as it is seen as a diversion from the morally upright well
behaved, sensitive and responsible Nigerian.
The common belief in Nigeria is that home movies negatively project the culture of Nigeria.
That is why Frank Aig-Imoukahuede in Opubor (1995:47) confirms that
Many Nigerians have complained of the poisonous content of films shown on the screens in Nigeria a great number of people have criticized the nation‘s television for featuring materials which contradict or erode the quality of life and undermines the people‘s values and norms. What is needed are films for self projection, for presenting the fact of life in Nigeria.
Indeed in recent times films being produced feature contemporary real life stories, history and
events; however, this is not to say that in the recent past produced movies do not reflect life as
we can hardly say that these movies were created in a vacuum though they sometimes may be
exaggerated. Nigerian movies now reflect diverse issues as it affects us from culture to
history, politics to values.
Nigerian video films reflect the way of life of Nigerians, as much as it tells stories of our past
and present. Consequently making Nigerian movies socially rooted. The movies produced by
persons sharing same cultural milieu as the audience depict the culture of its audience; the
village scenes, political and traditional justice systems, land tenure, costumes, hair-dos,
tattoos, drumming, singing, dancing, indigenous foods and drinks, as well as religious beliefs
all culminating into telling the history of Nigeria and its unity in diversity. For instance, the
8
first Nigerian video film, ―Living in Bondage‖, projected socio-cultural traits and propensity
of the average Igbo trader, who will stop at nothing to have a breakthrough in business. Thus,
Nigerian video films are not only rebuilding such cultural values but playing a very significant
role in Nigeria‘s socio-politico-cultural influence in Africa, and by extension the Western
world. It is pertinent to note that in its two decades of existence, Nollywood has gone through
some generic and developmental trends.
Values refer to appropriate courses of action or outcome; they reflect a person’s sense of right
and wrong or what “ought” to be. Values tend to influence attitudes and behaviour as it
identifies what should be judged as good or evil. They help solve common human problems
for survival and are responsible for why people do what they do and in what order they choose
to do them. Values was summarized by Professor Moemeka in his article titled:
―Communalism As A Fundamental Dimension Of Culture,‖ as follows: (i) The Supremacy of
the Community (ii) The Sanctity of Authority, (iii) Respect for Old Age or the Elderly (iv)
The Usefulness of the Individual v Religion as a Way of Life. In addition to those mentioned
by Moemeka, it can be deduced that warmth of human relationship, resilience and love of
country are embodiments ofthe serial values. People‘s perception about the universe makes
for the basis for the formation of their scales of values. Therefore, a people‘s attitudes are
explainable against the backdrop of their cosmology. Various values found in our society will
be made explicit through an analysis ofselected movie.
There is no denying the fact that some values are held dear to us and these values took
different dimension by the incursion of Western values which were and are still being
communicated largely through the medium of films. One would then be compelled to ask,
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―Do these negative influences of home movies bring about cultural and behavioural change?‖
Opubor et al (1995:1) answers this thus,
Of all the media of communication, the motion picture has perhaps the most universal appeal and impact; a film can rise above the limitations of language, and cultural barriers by the power of its visual images, its use of music and sound effects and can succeed in conveying much the same message to audience of heterogeneous background.
The ability of film to transcend beyond diverse cultures is obvious in the consumption of
movies around the world. In Nigeria for example, Indian and Chinese movies amongst others
are consumed by a large number of the population irrespective of the fact that they hardly
understand these languages. Viewers can on the average understand and describe the subject
matter of such movies, on the other hand, Nigerian movies; Yoruba, Ibo, pidgin etc are
consumed not only within the shores of Africa but in parts of the Western world and such
viewers also recognize the themes of the movies.
If indeed as it has been proved that these negative influences bring about cultural and
behavioural change it wouldn‘t be wrong then to say that positive influences when portrayed
would elicit positive changes. Thus this study is an attempt to analyse the positive societal
values; cultural, political and social value content of Nollywood movies which has been so
accused of projecting negative vices, as Nollywood‘s impact and transformation of Nigeria‘s
culture, politics, society and economy cannot be underestimated, and neither can its influence
on viewers.
1.2.Statement of the Research Problem
Critics have argued that Nigerian movies reflect negative ways of life which is often imbibed
by its viewers and this in turn result in their display of negative behaviours, attitude and
10
values. This argument is valid in the light of the earlier produced movies. However, with the
commendable development of the industry in thematic expressions and production, the
statement becomes questionable. This research will serve to prove that the statement has
become obsolete by analysing recent Nigerian movies.
1.3.Aim and Objectives of the Study.
The aim of this research work is to establish that, Nollywood movies communicate positive
values in all ramifications of the society and thus has positive influence on its viewers.
The study will seek;
1. To demonstrate the various positive trends projected by Nollywood movies
2. To correct the notion that Nollywood movies only reflect materials which contradict or erode
the quality of life and undermine the people‘s values and norms.
3. To show how Nollywood can be improved as a medium of transformative communication for
the nation.
1.4.Research Questions
2. What are the positive trends projected by Nollywood movies?
3. Do Nollywood movies reflect only materials that contradict or erode the quality of life and
undermine the people‘s values and norms?
4. How can Nollywood be improved as a medium of transformative communication?
1.5. Scope of the Study
A lot of recent Nollywood movies today are enriched with imitable values which will bring
about positivity in our actions. However, for the purpose of this research three movies will be
used to analyse the social, historical and political issues in our society.
11
1.6.Justification of the Study
The general conception in most quarters is that Nollywood movies encourage illicit behaviour
in viewers especially the youths in various aspects; violence, sex, robbery, organized crime,
prostitution, murder, occultism, treachery, infidelity, etc. while for some, Nollywood movies
impact positively in minimal areas of culture, triumph of good over evil, love, serves as a
medium of talent development, entertainment, communication and a few others. Thus,
conducting this research will establish that Nollywood movies contain projections which
bringabout desired attitudinal change on its viewers. The study also explored and reviewed the
societal-values as found in Nollywood movies.
1.7. Research Methodology
This section describes and explains the methodology deployed in this study and what
informed my choice of methods. The study is a qualitative research conducted in order to
explore the various societal values that are being projected in Nollywood movies. This is with
an intention to bring to the fore, the significant contributions of Nollywood to the
developmental growth of our nation and Africa at large. This choice of research method is
ideal considering that a qualitative research is aimed at gaining a deep understanding of an
event, rather than a surface description of a large sample of a population it generates data
about.
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Research methodology is a systematic way to solve a problem. It is a science of studying how
research is tobe carried out and the procedures by which researchers goabout their work of
describing, explaining and predicting phenomena (Chinnathambi, et al, 2013)
1.7.1. Selecting the Research Method/Instrument
The research method is a ―crucial element‖ in the research process as it determines the
response gotten which will in effect confirm the answers being sort. For the purpose of this
study, the descriptive method of research was used. Creswell (1994) in an attempt to define
the descriptive type of research said it is to gather information about the present existing
condition. Emphasis is here placed on describing rather than on judging or interpreting.
Descriptive research is mainly concerned with describing the detailed nature or condition of a
given situation as it exists at the time of the study. In terms of finance, the descriptive
approach is quick and less expensive. Here judgement is mostly subjective however; it is
flexible in that during the duration of the study, further investigation may be conducted.
In this study, the descriptive research method will be employed so as to assess the various
societal values being projected in Nollywood movies and establish how they impact positively
on viewers and how this positive impact can manifest into national development. I chose to
use this method considering the objective to explore available literatures and the object
(movies) in question to obtain first hand data. The flexibility of the descriptive method is quite
advantageous for me. Qualitative approach generates verbal information rather than numerical
values (Polgar & Thomas, 1995:9). That is to say that qualitative research provides rich and
well-grounded descriptions and explanations as well as unforeseen findings for new theory
construction. Unlike the quantitative which makes use of statistical analysis, qualitative data
13
gathering methods are only concerned with understanding the occurring phenomena in their
naturally occurring states. It is worthy to note that qualitative instruments evoke a more
realistic feeling of the research setting which cannot be obtained from statistical analysis and
numerical data utilized through quantitative means.
For this research, two types of data will be gathered; primary and secondary data. The primary
data will be derived from an analysis of select movies. While the secondary data on the other
hand, will be obtained from published documents and literatures relevant to the subject matter.
1.7.2. Analysis of Movies
A total of 3 Nigerian movies spanning political, social and historical themes were analysed to
establish their content of societal values. For each movie,different values were identified and
critically assessed.
1.7.3. Library Research/Internet Sources
To achieve a communication research of this nature may be very difficult without the use of
library and internet materials. The diverse literatures drawn from these sources will greatly
enrich this study and make room for an understanding of theories used as well as the analysis
made.

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