Once upon a time, the Ghanaian movie industry was very vibrant. Not even Nigeria’s Nollywood of today could match it. I remember in the 90s, a lot of Nigerian Actors and Actresses collaborated with their Ghanaian counterparts in an attempt to boost their movie industry.
The Nigerians succeeded. Not only did they break through the Ghanaian movie industry, but also overwhelmed it. Ghana’s Ghallywood is now trailing Nigeria’s Nollywood. Nollywood movies are now more popular than Ghallywood movies. Even Ghanaians prefer Nollywood movies to those produced by Ghallywood.
However, the Ghanaian movie industry is getting a shot in the arm from Kumasi-based Kumawood, a purely local language-speaking (Akan) movie industry, which features mostly actors and actresses from the Ashanti region.
Some vibrancy has been infused into the Ghanaian movie industry by Kumawood, which churns out movies by the day. Kumawood now appears to be giving Nollywood a run for their money. Though some showbiz critics say Kumawood churns out substandard movies, which lack international appeal, the industry’s potency cannot be underestimated.
Today Ghana’s movie industry is thriving so well. Despite its success at reviving the industry, something remains repulsive about Kumawood movies. A Kumawood actress once said bitterly that most people see their productions as mediocre. To some extent I agree that their movies are somehow not done well. I admit some media productions are doing a good job but the others could do better.
It is through movies that we market our culture and country to the rest of the world. And so whatever is portrayed in those movies, either speak well or bad of us. Whenever we watch Hollywood movies, we get mesmerized and wish we were in fact in America. That’s how meticulous Hollywood is in marketing America to the world. Why do you think the whole world perceive Americans as very powerful, disciplined and authoritative people? It’s because of what they’ve seen in Hollywood movies.
During the AMAA (Africa Movie Academy Awards) this year, I observed one thing; the local language movie sector of Nigeria, Kenya and other African countries were awarded. But as usual, Ghana’s Kumawood productions were missing. Not a single nomination for any of them. And trust me; this has nothing to do with acting skills because many kumawood actors can really act.
So what is kumawood not doing right?
Most of the movies from kumawood have very predictable themes: sorcery, black magic, voodoo, juju, evil etc. But is that all Ghana is about? We make it seem as if witchcraft and sorcery are peculiar to Ghana and Africa. Who said America doesn’t practise sorcery? But their movies do not centre on only that.
Ghana can boast of a very rich and colourful culture. From our food, dance, marriage, naming ceremonies, music and so much more. We can market Ghana well through these. Our movies need to portray Ghana in a more positive way to the rest of the world. We are not all about witchcraft and sorcery.
A black American friend of mine once told me something which made me sad but got me thinking. She said Ghana is full of sorcery and black magic. I got intrigued and asked her why. She said these unfortunate words: “Your movies mostly portray evil and witchcraft.” How sad! I had to convince her that Ghana had a lot more to offer than just what is portrayed in our movies.
It is important that Ghanaian movie producers target the international market with their movies. That’s way, they will make sure they portray aspects of Ghana and Africa that appeal to an international audience. They should learn from other movie industries across the world so that they add some creativity to their productions.
Africa is a beautiful place to be. Let’s tell our stories in a spectacular way.