The Ghanaian market is today littered with a plethora of Nigerian and Ghanaian movies ranging from Beyonce- a supposedly over-pampered and supremely hubristic First Daughter; through Princess Tyra- another self-centred lass whose boyfriend had been hijacked by another, to Agya Koo- the crafty comedian whose antics leaves many a Ghanaian person in stitches. I have never been a fan of these Ghanaian/ Nigerian movies mainly because I hardly have the time to enjoy movies these days and, most importantly, I find these movies intellectually unchallenging and downright revolting, to be perfectly honest. A few of the scenes that I have managed to endure in passing have made me question the abilities of the 'directors' who actually make these movies. Clearly they are not serious and take the viewing audience for non-sophisticates or dunces or both. Why people still throng after what are clearly travesties of serious movie making is still unknown to me. In fact the whole Ghanaian movie industry appears to be retrograding rather than progressing. I mean take Kow Ansah's Heritage Africa (1989) and Love Brewed in the African Pot (1981)–two of Ghana's most seminal productions. To this day I can vehemently contend that not a single one of these recent burlesques can compare with these. Other landmark productions such as African Timber by Peter Bringmann and even our very own Osofo Dadzie and Obra Series were much, much better than any of these rag-tag Ghanaian/ Nigerian productions. Why do I condemn these so-called Ghanaian movies? Well let me explain in the following paragraphs.
Firstly, these movies do not, in any conceivable way, represent the true Ghanaian way of life or any conceivable contemporary way of life anywhere in the world, for that matter. Take Beyonce for example. Does the director of this movie really want the audience to believe that First Daughters in Ghana or anywhere for that matter behave in such hubristic ways? Is the First Maiden chauffeured around by a cavalcade of three Land Cruisers? Does she really give gifts of $5000 and $1000 to people she meets for the first time? What bullshit! Not even Zenator Rawlings, in all her flamboyance and extravagance, lived on the hog like this. The acting is at once both unreal and plastic. Its lack of intrigue is only surpassed by its inability to captivate the viewer and lead him on. A viewer with even the intellectual prowess of a roach can clearly deduce the ending from the first couple of scenes. Perhaps it is no surprise that the majority of viewers are relatively less sophisticated and less demanding of higher standards. Clearly the new crop of Ghanaian movie makers are desperately trying to emulate the Nigerian movie industry or 'Nollywood' as the latter rather unashamedly prefers to label its film industry- a name which not only betrays that industry's efforts at plagiarising Hollywood but is also palpable in its lack of originality. I am by no means implying that movies cannot be based on other cultures or that they cannot be based on wholly fantastical conjectures. What I am saying is that if 'Nollywood' or its Ghanaian equivalent is going to dabble in the fantasy genre, they better make damn sure that they have the resources and the talent to be able to make such movies.
Secondly and strangely enough the industry appears convinced that the use of mansions, sleek cars and mulattoes are the hallmarks of an epic movie and hence the introduction of Nadia Buari, Majid Michael and Van Vicker. Even stranger still is the fact that the audience has bought into this fallacy. Unsurprisingly and as has been the case since Diogo de Azambuja touched down on the shores of El mina in the Central Region, the Ghanaian and Nigerian film audiences have fallen over themselves over these amateur actors mostly because of their skin colour. What a shame! The highly suspect 'African Film Festival and Academy' has gone so far as to name Nadia Buari the Best African Actress for 2009. God help me! If this is the calibre of actresses we have in Africa then I am afraid Kow Ansah has suffered in vain. Exactly why does Nadia Buari deserve this 'honour'? I dare say that she only got this award because she is a mulatto and nothing else. Or perhaps she has found other more sinister and libidinous ways of finessing her way into the minds of the kingmakers at the African Film Festival & Academy -a character trait she is reputed to be disproportionately blessed with. [See “Three Top Actors in Sex Video” http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/blogs/blog.article.php?blog=1603&ID=1000005461]. Can the reader really assert, hand on heart, that this lass is a better actor than Maame Dokono and other less celebrated Ghanaian actresses? Or that 'movies' such as Beyonce are better composed than any of the Osofo Dadzie series? Clearly not! I can almost guarantee the reader that the next person to get the next award will be another mulatto. It is a shame that this slavish mentality which has plagued the collective African psyche for centuries and has manifested itself in almost all walks of African life is still extant even in the 21 century. Our own Osofo Dadzie and Obra were so much better than these farces they call movies and the acting was, by far, more original. All these Ghanaian and Nigerian movies are so unashamedly mechanical and plagiarised as to drive the intelligent viewer ad nauseam. Even the vocabulary and phraseology is identical and plagiarised. Something always has to be done “for crying out loud”. All the actresses, as matter of course, have to wear contact lenses of some sort. Oh please!
It is high time Ghanaian, Nigerian and indeed African movie makers had some respect for their obviously captivated army of viewers. And before the reader concludes that this lack of originality is a result of a lack of funding let me make it clear that money, or the lack of it, does not necessarily make an excellent storyline and certainly not a better actor. If you haven't got the money to stage a plausible car accident scene in a movie there are other ways you can allude to the accident in the story without necessarily tinkering with that highly complicated stunt. Why stage a fight scene when you know that you haven't got the special effects required for staging such a scene? I mean this is the 21st century “for crying out loud” where even a five-year old can tell the difference between a real punch and pretence. The result of such foolhardiness is the typical poorly choreographed and highly surreal fight scenes the viewer must needs endure in these horribly made movies.
Bernard Asher is a Lecturer of Business Management and Economics @Guildford College of Higher Education, Guildford, England. E.mail:basher @guildford.ac.uk.