Nigerian film-makers accused of producing pornographic content

Nigeria’s burgeoning pop music industry and film-makers have been accused of producing “pornographic” content that is sexualising society.

Nigeria’s burgeoning pop music industry and film-makers have been accused of producing “pornographic” content that is sexualising society.

There is growing discontent among religious figures and in the media in Nigeria – which has one of the most influential entertainment industries in Africa – with content from some of the country’s most popular artists frequently banned by censors.

“It is common to see kids as young as five years old dressed in tight-fitting dresses, their faces glistening with makeup, dancing sensuously to modern day songs with sexually explicit lyrics,” said Elder Godsday Orubebe, the minister of Niger Delta affairs and senior pastor of the Glory Sanctuary Christian Centre, speaking at a recent church anniversary.

“We live in a hypersensualised age and much from our westernised popular culture is rife with pornography and the sexualisation of women”.

Michael Ugwu, the chief executive officer of Iroking, an online centre for afrobeat and Nigerian music, said there has been a large increase in the number of music videos being banned for broadcast in Nigerla.

“Artists have begun releasing videos purely for the internet to get round the censors. I have seen the content of both music and movie videos get more and more racy.”

Casualties of Nigeria’s state censors include Iyanya, the popular artist whose recent single Headswell was released last month online only, and P Square, the identical-twin music duo signed by the American star Akon, whose hit single Alingo was also censored for Nigerian TV.

Church figures have been among outspoken critics of the new trend. Nigeria’s film industry, popularly known as “Nollywood”, has also been producing a growing number of films with erotic themes, such as Bold 5 Babes, described as “an erotic comedy about a group of women with supernatural powers they use to seduce men and turn them into BlackBerry Bold 5 smartphones”, and other titles like I Slept with my Boss’s Wife and Strippers in Love.

Industry figures say that the move towards more sexual content is an inevitable part of competing in a crowded market and catching up with global trends.

“More and more people are bringing out movies and music videos, so just as in the west, people are using increasingly racy subject matter to get viewers’ attention,” said Ugwu.

“There is a tension between African culture and this new wave of modernity and naked bodies,” Ugwu added. “People are pushing the envelope, but it’s not just happening here in Nigeria, it’s everywhere. This kind of content has been aired on channels like MTV since the 1980s.”

“What’s happening in music videos and movies in Nigeria would be considered normal in the UK or the US,” said Tony Tagoe, a Ghana-based former artist manager. “It is just that in countries that are very religious, where churches and imams have a strong influenced, they are noticed more.”

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