5 Nollywood movies that tackle social issues

5 Nollywood movies that tackle social issues

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Nollywood, Nigeria’s booming film industry, has a long tradition of creating films that not only entertain but also address critical societal concerns. From poverty and corruption to gender inequality and mental health, Nollywood filmmakers have fearlessly addressed a wide range of societal concerns on the silver screen. Here, we shine a spotlight on five remarkable Nollywood movies that have left an indelible mark by boldly confronting social issues.

“Lionheart” (2018) – Directed by Genevieve Nnaji

Lionheart depicts the story of Adaeze Obiagu, who aspires to take over her father’s business after he is unable to operate it due to health concerns. Her father, however, asks his brother Godswill to take his place, and Godswill and Adaeze must collaborate to save the company from debt and a potential takeover by businessman Igwe Pascal. Genevieve Nnaji’s directorial debut, “Lionheart,” is a moving depiction of family relationships and female equality in Nigeria’s corporate sector. The film follows Adaeze, played by Nnaji, as she deals with the challenges of running her father’s transportation firm in a field that is dominated by men. Through Adaeze’s journey, “Lionheart” confronts persistent gender biases and questions traditional ideals of leadership and success. “Lionheart” enthralled audiences worldwide with its inspiring story and stunning performances, stirring discussions about women’s empowerment and workplace inclusiveness.

“October 1” (2014) – Directed by Kunle Afolayan


Set against the backdrop of Nigeria’s 1960 independence war, Kunle Afolayan’s “October 1” digs into the dark underbelly of colonialism, corruption, and identity. It tells the fictional account of Danladi Waziri (Daba), an officer from Northern Nigeria who investigates a series of killings of young women in the isolated Western Nigeria village of Akote shortly before Nigeria gained independence from British colonial authority on October 1, 1960. October 1 addresses a variety of issues, including sexual abuse of children by religious authority figures, religious and ethnic warfare, politics in Colonial Nigeria, and Nigeria’s unification and independence.  As Waziri solves the mystery, “October 1” faces the history of British colonial control, ethnic tensions, and the difficulties of nation-building. Through its captivating tale and multifaceted characters, “October 1” pushes viewers to confront painful facts about Nigeria’s past and present, spurring discussions on nationalism, justice, and the long-term effects of colonialism.

“93 Days” (2016) – Directed by Steve Gukas

“93 Days” is a 2016 Nigerian film directed by Steve Gukas, drawing inspiration from the true story of Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian-American lawyer. Sawyer arrived in Lagos on July 20, 2014, already in poor health, to represent the Liberian government at a conference. When he arrived, he was instantly admitted to First Consultant Hospital. Sawyer’s story, later identified as Nigeria’s Ebola index case, unfolds as a primary narrative in the film, showing the tragic circumstances surrounding the Nigerian Ebola outbreak. The film tells the true story of the brave healthcare workers and government leaders who risked their lives to contain and prevent the epidemic’s spread. Through its harrowing depiction of the Ebola outbreak, “93 Days” focuses attention on public health issues, government response, and the Nigerian people’s perseverance in the face of adversity. The film’s depiction of the Ebola outbreak raises public health and resilience concerns, stressing the importance of teamwork and compassion in the fight against contagious diseases.

“Ije: The Journey” (2010) – Directed by Chineze Anyaene

It is a compelling story about two sisters, Chioma and Anya, who are driven apart by betrayal and circumstance. Chioma, played by Genevieve Nnaji, travels from Nigeria to Los Angeles in search of her sister Anya, performed by Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, who is accused of murder. Through their parallel journeys, “Ije” delves into topics of immigration, cultural identity, and the search for justice. Chioma explores deeper into her sister’s turbulent past, and the film confronts problems such as domestic violence, rape, rape stigma, corruption, and migrant worker exploitation. “Ije: The Journey” illustrates the obstacles that Nigerian immigrants experience abroad, as well as the enduring bonds of family and sisterhood, through a riveting story and superb acting.

Figurine” (2009) – Directed by Kunle Afolayan

While attending a National Youth Service Corps camp, two friends discover a mysterious sculpture in an abandoned temple in the forest. One of them decides to bring the artwork home.  They had no idea that the sculpture belonged to the goddess “Araromire,” who grants anyone who sees it seven years of good luck, followed by seven years of terrible luck. As the two buddies grow into prosperous and successful businessmen, their lives start to change permanently. Nevertheless, after seven years, things began to deteriorate. Through Afolayan’s skillful narrative, “Figurine” challenges audiences to think critically about the difficulties of taking personal responsibility and the consequences of unbridled desire.



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