Controversial Nollywood actor, Emeka Ike has always claimed that he was one of the founders of Nollywood. His claim is however being challenged by veteran producer Wale Adenuga who believes that Emeka Ike should check his facts again before making any such claims. Here are excerpts from his recent interview with Vanguard:
Why are the Yoruba actors not under the Nollywood?
The reason is that when somebody claims he founded Nollywood, Oga Bello and of course I cannot be part of that. You were alive in 1983 when I produced my first film when Emeka Ike and his Nollywood people were still in school. They started their own film-making in 1992 and they are claiming that 1992 was the beginning of film-making in Nigeria.
Would you then call me a member of Nollywood? Bello made Omo-Orukan in 1980s. Will Bello now come under Nollywood formed by somebody who began his career in 1992? Emeka Ike started in 1992 and in one of his interviews I read, he said he founded Nollywood. So, would I belong to such industry founded by Emeka Ike who was born when I was making films? Or will Ogunde of blessed memory consider Emeka Ike as his own pioneer?
Young boys and girls have pocketed Nollywood and sent veteran actors into forced retirement. These old actors are now living in abject poverty due to inactivity. Some of them facing avoidable deaths. But you see, there is nothing bad in adopting Nollywood as name for Nigeria film industry, what I expected was that when you are telling the story of that Nollywood, it behooves on you to say it started in 1950s, giving credence to those who started it before you.
I can’t be part of a Nollywood started by Emeka Ike because I was making films before he was born. I can’t consider him as my pioneer. That is why Yoruba and Hausa are not part of it. Go and ask Muazu in the North who has been making films since God knows when, will Emeka Ike be his pioneer? They defined Nollywood as product of 1992. It suggests that those who have been making films before 1992 are not part of Nollywood. That to me is a dangerous claim.
What is the way out now in order to foster unity and development of the industry?
The urgent formation of a National body of film-makers is important now. We can set up national guild which will include producers, directors, make-up artists, editors, actors, production managers, set designers, location managers among others. All these guilds will elect the president of the overall association of film-makers.
The national executive will then be able to work with government at all levels and corporate bodies on issues affecting the industry like piracy and funding. The body will also take care of quality control. The government should also institutionalize funding plan for the industry where film-makers would be able to access loans, grants or other forms of financial aids.