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1.0       Preamble

Research has shown that the rise of African cinema took effect from the early twentieth century, a period of the decolonization of sub-Saharan Africa, though what became African cinema during colonial rule did not reflect the core of African cultures and values. Instead, African cinema at that time was characterised by Western stereotypes and Africa was utilized merely as an “exotic” background for Western cinema. However, the development of African cinema underwent a significant change in twentieth century, when many African countries obtained their independence.

This phase of development in African cinema is especially true of the former French colonies, whose local filmmakers received technical and financial support from the French Ministry of Co-operation. It has been observed that most of the films, prior to independence were egregiously racist in nature Borom Sarret (1963), Niaye (1964).

Prominent African filmmakers of the independence era – such as Ousmane Sembène and Oumarou Ganda, amongst others – saw film as an important political tool for rectifying the erroneous image of Africa. Sembène, a Senegalese writer, had turn to cinema probably to reach a wider audience. He has been described by Dennis Mclellan (2007), a Times Staff writer as the “father” of African Film because of his leading role in the development of African cinema. Also his first production, La Noire de…, in 1966 which is based on one of his short stories; was the first feature film ever released by a sub-Saharan African director.

Clement Tapsoba, in his “The History of African Cinema and the Origins of FEPACI” posted on Cultural Diplomacy website states:

The African cinema industry acknowledges undeniably the need to develop its own way of making films, support their local initiatives, and invest in cinematic cultures such as films festivals. It has shown significant growth and progress in the beginning of the 21st century, a fact reflected in some innovations like the creation of Journals of African Cinema and African TV channels (African-Magic). Many countries such as Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa offer the great opportunities for content producers and distribution platforms for film, television, digital media, mobile and other forms of entertainment. An ever-growing film industry, encouraged by increased investments and the abolition of censorship, will further add impetus to an already booming sector by allowing creative minds to harness this cultural capital. Furthermore, an expanded film industry translates into a flourishing labour market, providing new opportunities for young talent and consequently helping to combat the global contemporary phenomenon of youth unemployment and other social vices. However, in the long term, investments in the film industry of Africa will aid African countries in their quest for the universal goal of sustainable development.

It is important to take a look at another core of this discourse ‘domestic violence’. Violence is the use of physical force to injure somebody or damage something and can also be an extreme form of aggression, such as assault, rape or murder. Violence is a phenomenon that is prevalent in many societies of the world. The subordination that comes with domestic violence knows no barrier whether educated, uneducated, and rich or poor. According to Ose N. Aihie, in his article “Prevalence of Domestic Violence in Nigeria: Implications for Counselling”,

Domestic violence is the intentional and persistent abuse of anyone in the home in a way that causes pain, distress or injury. It refers to any abusive treatment of one family member by another, consequently violating the law of basic human rights. It includes battering of intimate partners and others, sexual abuse of children, marital rape and traditional practices that are harmful to women (1).

Domestic violence is an age-long vice which existence is rooted in patriarchy, and has remained unabated to the present age despite efforts to eliminate it. Encarta dictionaries defines patriarchy as, “a social system in which men are regarded as the authority within the family and society and in which power and pssessions are passed on from father to son”. To support this view, Ine Nnadi, in her article “An Insight into Violence against Women as Human Rights Violation in Nigeria: A Critique” cites Evelyn Lee, who observes, “I can just say that the problem itself is not a new one. Even though we have been writing on it for a long time, it is probably as old as mankind when we think of cave men with their clothes dragging women by their hair from the cave” (50). It has remained a known fact that in Nigeria particularly, through the daily reports on the news-media that domestic violence against women, young girls, and children has become a daily occurrence.

1.1       Statement of problem

Over the years, film scholars and practitioners have evaluated the cinema as a viable communication tool in addressing social vices such as community clashes, religious conflicts, and youth restiveness. It could be imagined that, on daily basis, there is always a victim of violence somewhere in Nigeria especially in our homes. Nigerian news-media on daily basis through their communication channels contain reports of spouse-to-spouse, and parent(s)-to-child cases of domestic abuse and from one story to the other it continues to appear gory and worse. On August 27, 2014, ten cases ranging from one form of domestic abuse to the other were recorded across some Nigerian news-media online. The essence of this study is to discuss these major issues, assessing the causes of domestic violence in homes and its effects as it relates or appear in cinema. The researcher here advocates for a kind of national cinema that exposes these ills extensively irrespective of who it affects. The researcher believes that Africans should explore contemporary channels like the cinema, in exposing, tackling and dealing with contemporary issues like domestic violence that erodes the Africanness of Africa.

1.2       Research Questions

The discourse is hinged on two research questions:

  • How destructive is domestic violence to the immediate society?
  • What role(s) can the Cinema play in addressing domestic violence?

It is the preoccupation of this study to endeavour and attempt a comprehensive survey in answering the research questions.

1.3       Objective of the Study

The usefulness of the cinema in our contemporary society cannot be underrated or neglected, that is why this study discusses an aspect of its essence as regards combating violence in our homes. This study discusses, sensitizes, and advocates the role of the cinema in addressing domestic violence. The main goals of this study are –

  • To advocate against the menace of domestic violence through the cinematic medium.
  • This study extends its advocacy to the use of the cinematic medium in the propagation of ETfD (Electronic Theatre for Development) programs in Nigeria.
  • It also provides insight and enlightenment for the society on the vital issue of discourse; expounding the adverse effects of domestic violence on its victims and the society at large.

So many measures are being put in place by the Government, NGOs, and Civil society groups to advocate against this kind of violence in our homes and filmmakers should contribute their own quota towards this struggle in order to make our immediate society safe.

1.4       Significance of the Study

The dynamism in contemporary theatre practice has motivated scholars and filmmakers to develop creative consciousness using the cinematic medium. This study is significant because it analyses the role of cinema in addressing domestic violence. The study has its spotlight on the primary unit of the society, (the family) and the films chosen for analysis reflect such. This study will be of great importance to theatre scholars, counsellors, development agencies, public health workers, organizations, researchers and individuals with interest in addressing domestic violence. It will further provoke a more critical inquiry into this area of study and will serve as a reference material for future researchers in this area.

1.5       Scope of the Study

Several studies have been carried out on issues related to domestic violence and the role of the cinema in several areas of endeavour but this study will not delve into the discussion of all the studies. This study limits its scope to the examination of Chineze Anyaene’s Ije (2010), and Uche Jumbo’s Damage (2011). The films are produced and directed by Nigerians. They are produced with full Nigerian content both in their storyline and motif which reflect in detail the topic of study. The movies are very much contemporary because they were shot within the last decade, ‘reflecting’ the most recent cases of domestic violence. The movies are, no doubt, very vital for a comprehensive evaluation in this research. The evaluation is guided by the theories of National cinema, Psychoanalysis, and Structural violence as its framework.

1.6       Research Methodology

The nature of a particular research or study determines the methodology to be adopted in carrying out such a study. This research applied the qualitative research methodology because explores the potentials of the literary, historical, and artistic aspects of research method in doing justice to the subject of discourse. Sam Ukala, in discussing literary methodology of data collection, in his Manual of Research and of Thesis Writing in Theatre Arts, states:

This is also called the analytical methodology. It focuses on written and printed library and archival sources, especially books, journals, thesis, reports, literary works, such as plays, novels and poems. Data are collected from these and analyzed in relation to the research questions and objectives (13).

He further states on the historical methodology, “This entails the investigation of documented sources, such as books, journals, reports, films, video and audio tapes, archival materials, archaeological excavations, artefacts (such as carvings, drawings, sculpture, paintings and textile print) as well as oral sources” (12). Also, Ukala describes the artistic methodology as a unique methodology because “it deals with relativity, contains elements that cannot be quantitatively or empirically measured, and allows for reliance on intuition, inspiration, and imagination, which may be called the 3I’s” (14).

This methodology gives the researcher ample room for creativity. The researcher carried out an organised study of books, journals, articles, reports, theses and also analyzed films as well as oral sources in the course of gathering, and evaluation of data. To ensure comprehension of this study, contemporary video films based on the Nigerian motifs and structure, produced and acted by Nigerians were analysed.

1.7       Definition of Terms

The following words are defined Cinema, Violence, and Domestic violence because they are the keywords and their definitions are vital as well as operational in this research. Microsoft Encarta premium, in defining a cinema states:

Cinema is a series of images that are projected onto a screen to create the illusion of motion… the cinema are one of the most popular forms of entertainment, enabling people to immerse themselves in an imaginary world for a short period of time. Some films combine entertainment with instruction, to make the learning process more enjoyable. In all its forms, cinema is an art as well as a business, and those who make motion pictures take great pride in their creations.

The Wikipedia online free encyclopedia, in states:

Violence is the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, mal-development, or deprivation. This definition associates intentionality with the committing of the act itself, irrespective of the outcome it produces. Generally, although, anything that is turbulent or excited in an injurious, damaging or destructive way, or presenting risk accordingly, may be described as violent or occurring violently, even if not signifying violence (by a person and against a person).

Microsoft Encarta premium, declares:

Domestic Violence or Spouse Abuse is a physically or emotionally harmful acts between husbands and wives or between other individuals in intimate relationships. Domestic violence is sometimes referred to as Intimate Violence. It includes violence that occurs in dating and courtship relationships, between former spouses, and between gay and lesbian partners.


Emily Burrill and others, in Domestic Violence and the Law in Africa, posit:

We … define domestic violence broadly, to include all acts of violence which are seen by those who inflict, endure, or regulate them as being justified by a filial relationship. By using this definition, we also wish to draw attention to the connections between violence committed by men against women and other forms of violence that are justified through the institutions and ideologies of kinship and family. Violence between parents and children, violence between co-wives in polygynous marriages, and even—as Katherine Luongo demonstrates in her chapter—violence against suspected witches were all shaped by such ideologies.

Nnadi states, “Violence can also be the unlawful use of force or threat to use force on a fellow human being. It is any action, behaviour, attitude against people based on anger, frustration, stress, power, ego or even ignorance which could lead to injury, harm, disability or even death” (2).


1.8       Theoretical Framework

In this work, three theories have been adopted, in order to meet the objectives of the study they are; National cinema, Psychoanalysis, and Structural Violence. The concept of National Cinema has been appropriated in a variety of ways for a variety of reasons. National Cinema, means the cinematic products of a given nation or country imbued with some core values specific to the given nation. It is pertinent to note that it has been argued that the parameters of a national cinema should be drawn at the site of consumption as much as at the site of production of films. In other words, focus should be on the activity of national audiences and the conditions under which they make sense of and use the films they watch. Andrew Higson, in his article The Concept of National Cinema, claims:

In general terms, one can summarise these various mobilizations of the concept as follows; First, there is the possibility of defining national cinema in economic terms, establishing a conceptual correspondence between the terms ‘national cinema’ and ‘the domestic film industry’, and therefore being concerned with such questions as: Where are these films made, and by whom? Who owns and controls the industrial infrastructures, the production companies, the distributors, and the exhibition circuits? Second, there is the possibility of a text-based approach to national cinema … what are these films about? Do they share a common style or worldview? What sort of projections of the national character do they offer? To what extent are they engaged in exploring, questioning and constructing a notion of nationhood in the films themselves and in the consciousness of the viewer? (36).

This theory is applied in the interpretation of the films analysed in this discourse. ‘National Cinema’ classifies films as it appeals to the tendencies of a given nation. Films produced in a particular nation carry the motif and content of a given nation.

In addition, this study interprets the actions, reactions, and counter-reactions of the abusers and their victims with the application of the ‘psychoanalysis’. To ensure a good understanding of this theory, views of different psychoanalytic theorists are analysed. Charles Bressler posits:

Developing both a body of theory and a practical methodology for science of the mind, Freud became the leading pioneer of psychoanalysis, a method of treating emotional and psychological disorders. During psychoanalysis, Freud would have his patients talk freely in a patient-analyst setting about their early childhood experiences and dreams. When we apply these same methods to our interpretations of works of literature, we engage in psychoanalytic criticism (120).

Psychoanalysis recognizes the debacle of the humanist tradition based on the Socratic dictum: know thyself. It involves the revelation of unwelcome truths. Its therapy is obtained through the analysis of suppressed feelings and emotional conflicts. It can also be said that psychoanalytic criticism can exist side by side with any other critical method. Being that this approach attempts to explain the how and why of human actions without developing an aesthetic theory – a systematic, philosophical body of beliefs about how meaning occurs in literature and other art forms – Marxists, Feminists, and New Historicists, for instance, can utilize psychoanalytic methods in their interpretations without violating their own hermeneutics. Psychoanalytic criticism may then be called an approach to literary interpretation than a particular thought of criticism.

Psychoanalysis is a kind of interpretation that deals with the psyche, mind, with thinking, with exercising the mind of the individual. The mind is the centre of meaning because in all cultures, we attribute meaning to the mind. Psychoanalysis is a specific method of investigating unconscious mental processes. Psychoanalytical criticism is the application of psychoanalytic theory to the interpretation of an action. Although Freud is unquestionably the founder of this approach to literary analysis, psychoanalytic criticism has continued to develop throughout the 20th century. Carl Jung, Freud’s rebellious student borrowed some of Freud’s ideas but rejected many others. Jung branched out into new theories and concerns and established analytical psychology. In 1960s, the French Neo-Freudian psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan revised and expanded Freud’s theories in the light of new linguistic and literary principles, thereby revitalizing psychoanalytic criticism and ensuring its continued influence on literary criticism.

Freud developed various models of the human psyche which became the changing bases of his psychoanalytic theory and his practice. Early in his career, he posited the dynamic model, asserting that our minds are a dichotomy consisting of the conscious (rational) and the unconscious (irrational). According to Bressler, Freud argues:

The conscious perceives and records external reality and is the reasoning part of the mind. Unaware of the presence of the unconscious, we operate consciously, believing that our reasoning and analytical skills are solely responsible for our behaviour. Nevertheless, … it is the unconscious, not the conscious that governs a large part of our actions (121).

This irrational part of our psyche, the unconscious, receives and stores our hidden desires, ambitions, fears, passions, and irrational thoughts. Freud developed yet another model of the human psyche known as the typographical model. In an earlier version of this model, Freud separated the human psyche into three parts:

  1. the conscious – the mind’s direct link to external reality, for it perceives and reacts with external environment allowing the mind to order its outside world.
  2. the preconscious – the storehouse of memories that the conscious part of the mind allows to be brought to consciousness without disguising these memories in some form or another.
  • the unconscious – Freud contends that this part holds the repressed hungers, images, thoughts, and desires of human nature. Being that these desires are not housed in the preconscious, they cannot be directly summoned into the conscious state. These repressed impulses must therefore travel in disguised forms to the conscious part of the psyche and will surface in their respective disguises in our dreams, our past and in other unsuspecting ways in our lives.

The most famous model of the human psyche however is Freud’s revised version of the typographical model, the Tripartite model. This model divides the psyche into three parts: the Id, the Ego, and the Superego. The irrational, instinctual, unknown, and unconscious part of the psyche Freud calls the Id.

Id – Pleasure Principle – Irrational human being who is self destructive.

Ego – Reality Principle – the conscious state of mind, it operates on the consciousness of reason.

Superego – Morality Principle – The Concept of Conscience.

Bressler states:

The Id contains our secret desires, our darkest wishes, and our most intense fears, the Id wishes only to fulfil the urges of the pleasure principle. In addition, it houses the libido, the source of all our psychosexual desires and all our psychic energy. Unchecked by any controlling will, the Id operates on impulse wanting immediate satisfaction for all its instinctual desires.

The Ego is the rational logical waking part of the mind, although many of its activities remain in the unconscious. Whereas the Id operates according to the pleasure principle, the Ego operates in harmony with the reality principle. It is the Ego’s job to regulate the instinctual desires of the Id and to allow these desires to be released in some non-destructive way.

The Superego acts like an internal censor causing us to make moral judgments in light of social pressures. In contrast to the Id, the Superego operates according  to the morality principle and serves primarily to protect society and us from the Id. Representing all of society’s moral restrictions, the superego serves as a filtering agent suppressing the desires and instincts forbidden by society and thrusting them back into the unconscious. Overall, the superego manifests itself through punishment. If allowed to operate at its own discretion, the superego will create an unconscious sense of guilt and fear (123).

It is left for the Ego to mediate between the instinctual (especially sexual) desires of the Id and the demands of social pressure issued by the superego. What the Ego deems unacceptable it suppresses and deposits in the unconscious, and what it has most frequently repressed in all of us is our sexual desires of early childhood.

Carl Jung enunciates the theory of Collective Unconsciousness or what could be termed the theory of Collective Reasoning. To Jung, all people in all cultures possess and respond to inherited images and mythic processes generally described as Archetypes’ (Group Behaviour). In his model of the human psyche, Jung accepts Freud’s assumption that the unconscious exists and that it plays a major role in our conscious decisions. For Jung, the human psyche consists of three parts or models:

The Persona – deals with the personality everybody wants to present to the public.

The Shadow – deals with the part of your personality you want to hide as a result of your complex situation.

The Anima – deals with the conscious mediator between the shadow and the Persona.

Psychic individualism is achieved only when the person with the aid of the Anima confronts and accepts the presence of the Shadow.

According to Bressler, the Jungian models consist of: