Why Book Adaptations in Nollywood Don’t Exist

In a previous article, we discussed key things we would love to see in Nollywood this decade and one of those were the adaptations of books.

Though there are a few nollywood productions on adaptations such as the classic Things Fall Apart which brought Pete Edochie to the limelight, The Village Headmaster, Half of a Yellow Sun directed by Biyi Bandele, recently the animation adaptation of The Passport of Mallam Ilia. Movie adaptations of books are rare in Nollywood and even when they happen, most times the producers and investors are not indigenous Nigerians.

A good example is the forthcoming HBO series, Americanah based on the book of the same name by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Adichie’s work have been adapted in the past including Half of A Yellow Sun with lead roles played by British-American actresses, Thandie Newton and Anika Noni Rose, On Monday of Last Week (A story from her The Thing Around Your Neck short stories collection) and now, Americanah.

Produced by Lupita Nyong’o, the 10-episode series will star Nyong’o, Zackary Momoh, Uzo Aduba and Corey Hawkins, while Danai Gurira will serve as showrunner and writer. HBO has also announced that the first two episodes shall be directed by Chinonye Chukwu. The cast and crew of this production are American dominated. Even the Nigerian names are of Hollywood and not Nollywood.

This had eyebrows raised on social media from Nollywood actors including Stella Damascus who was of the opinion that Nigerian stories should be told by Nigerians.

Unfortunately, in the movie industry, if you want something then you have to go for it. If Nigerians wanted this series to be about them, then Nollywood should have considered buying the rights to the book and adapting it to a motion picture.

This is really what we are hoping to see. We want more domestic adaptations of our own works and we want to see them being done well. We really hope producers will consider this and create more of our favourite books on screen.

We are looking forward to seeing HBO’s 10-episode series about Adichie’s Ifemelu and Obinze.

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