In the Present, Our Past is Present: Tradition, (Post)Modernity and Gender Politics in Nigerian Video Films
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Author: James Tsaaior The dialectical interaction between tradition and (post)modernity constitutes a bold and visible trajectory in African aesthetics. The video film in Nigeria particularly participates in and resonates this interactional reality. But rather than construct Manichean, fixed and ossified relations which are asymmetrical and conflictual, there exists a robust, healthy and symbiotic relationship between tradition and (post)modernity in this filmic tradition, pointing significantly to the continuum of history, culture and life in Africa, and Nigeria, in particular. Within this aesthetic tradition also is inscribed the politics of gender. This is contingent on the fact that much of Africa is phallocentric and societal institutions and values are patterned to privilege phallic ideology to the mutual exclusivity of matriarchal ideology. This paper engages the video film tradition in Nigeria within the paradigmatic schema of (post)modernity and the gender politics that mediate and govern its practice. It deploys a historicist, feminist-deconstructive perspective as a strategy for the analytic exploration of Nigerian video films. It submits that the mutual interaction between tradition and (post)modernity foregrounds the nexus between heterogeneous cultures and values in the fashioning of a filmic tradition that is positioned and situated within its cultural milieu and yet valorizes inherited hybrid values which are relevant for its thriving and authenticity. The paper also negotiates the gender calculus that characterizes the landscape of the video film in Nigeria as a patriarchal society and calls for a re-configuration of gender relations in favour of women whose humanity is sometimes occluded and even negated in the films thereby constructing a meaningful space for women.
Nigerian video film