Nollywood’s Cinematic Odyssey: From Rituals to Revolution with ‘A Tribe Called Judah


For Culture Custodian, Favour Overo traces the evolution of the Nigerian film industry, Nollywood, from its early blockbuster era in the 1990s, marked by ritualistic and horror-themed films, through the subsequent trends in campus love stories and comedies. In the late 2010s/early 2020s, Nollywood gained international recognition, faced technological advancements, and featured on streaming platforms.

The year 2023 saw a slew of successful films, including A Tribe Called Judah by Funke Akindele, which broke box-office records. The film explores family dynamics, love, trust, and unity, earning praise for its plot, soundtrack, and performances. Akindele’s work is hailed as a turning point in Nollywood, blending profit motives with literary and figurative values, employing symbolism, satire, and suspense.

A Tribe Called Judah introduces an unconventional form of poetic justice and challenges the typical cultural factions in Nigerian cinema. Beyond its entertainment value, the film delves into nuanced subplots, addressing various societal issues. Overall, Akindele’s creation is considered a cinematic masterpiece, representing a new era in Nigerian filmmaking.

Kenneth Nnebue’s 1992 blockbuster, Living in Bondage marked the beginning of an era in the Nigerian film industry. The story which follows a man who ritually sacrificed  his devoted wife in exchange  for  quick wealth and fortune was a hit, selling about 750,000 copies in total. Hence, Living in Bondage  is considered the pioneer film of the classic Nollywood era, inspiring many other filmmakers at that time to follow suit in plots that reveled in ritualism, horror, and mysticism. In turn, these imitations aimed at commercial prioritization, limited creativity with their recurring production motifs. This was around the decline of cinema lucrativeness due to the  introduction of home videos, so the goal gradually shifted from artistry to selling hundreds of thousands of copies  and more if possible. 

Favour Overo for Culture Custodian

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