Esiaba Irobi abstract, Nollywood Project

Discourses of “ Whiteness” in Contemporary African(Nollywood) Cinema

By Esiaba Irobi

This essay examines how the medium of cinema, which was used in the past by the West to “frame” Africa as a gyration of savage tribes, has been appropriated by Africans and is now used to interrogate “whiteness” as a discourse of political ignorance, oppression and misrepresentation of the black ‘Other’. The paper traces the origins of this deconstructive impetus to indigenous African community theatre which used, and still uses, its ritual multi-media such as sculpture, masks, drama, costume, poetry, satirical songs, music, drum language, space and architecture to “construct” critical, and sometimes iconoclastic, discourses of whiteness since Africa’s first contact with Europe in the 15th century. The focus of the essay’s discourse is the Nollywood video film phenomenon which exploits information made available by globalization to interrogate Western hegemonic notions of itself and ridicules the ignorance of the West about Africa and Blackness in video films such as The Master which is studied in detail in the essay.