Do you know what bad acting is? Bad acting is what they have in Nigerian movies. I’m sorry if that offends anyone, but it’s just the truth.
It should be a crime against humanity for anyone to air those movies anywhere. On top of the atrocious acting, you have poorly written storylines, sound quality that will make your ears feel assaulted, and editing that even an amateur editor should be ashamed of.
And for some reason, the homeboys in Nigeria feel the need to have a song for every single scene in their movies, all the way from “It’s 8:00 o’clock and we’re pounding yams” to “Look at me I’m buying a tomato now.” The singing is decent at least. I’ll give them that.
But despite how terrible these movies are, they’re still very popular all over Africa. You’d find some auntie watching them in Tanzania, just as you would find and uncle right here in Namibia laughing along to these abominations. They are so popular that everyone now refers to them simply as “African movies.” One of the most interesting phenomena I have ever scene!
Time and time again, I would be sitting with friends and family in the TV room, watching an Oscar-worthy American movie, Hunger Games or something, then someone would go, “Aiii man! What things are things?! Me I don’t like these things. Put an African movie, man!” (Yes, they would say it exactly like that). And then immediately when you change the channel to Africa Magic, everyone starts smiling again, and commenting on every scene, “Yes, that girl is very bad! I saw her in the other movie. She’s very bad. Oh, this one is the priest. I remember. My sister told me. She watched his other movie.”
Wonders shall never end.
Why though? That’s what I’ve been asking myself. Why would they be so crazy about movies that are so obviously bad?
But then I saw this kind of behavior in myself too. When I was in America — for the two seconds that I was there — I noticed that I didn’t like the “lush green” landscapes. I missed Namibia with its dry savannas and sparse vegetation. I didn’t like the tall trees they had everywhere. I missed my stumpy thorny ones here. I missed the dry heat and the emptiness, the desert-like climate.
Strange, isn’t it? You would think I would automatically like the green forests bustling with life but… Sorry America. I didn’t.
Could it be that we like and prefer things because they’re familiar and not necessarily because they’re good?
I think the reason so many people like those African movies is because they’re familiar and therefore relatable. They look at the actors as if they could be the neighbors next door. The surroundings are similar to what they see everyday around them. And the concepts shown in these movies — the outrageous myths, the gossiping, and the pre-Ashley Madison fool-around-with-the-servants types of infidelities — those are things that can relate to because they experience them in their own lives.
And maybe the Namibian landscapes seem dreadfully lifeless to visitors, but for someone like me who grew up here, they are familiar. That’s why I prefer them.
Objectively, The Hunger Games is better than Mr Ibu, but to my African homegirls, Mr Ibu is more familiar. And therefore preferred.
Isn’t it the same thing that happens when girls marry guys that are similar to their dads? He could be the biggest d-bag in town. He could have an ego bigger than Kanye West’s. But if he reminds a girl of the man that cradled her in his arms for years, she would gravitate towards him.
What about those women that go back to their abusive husbands? The guy is obviously horrible, but being with him is so familiar that she returns even after barely managing to escape. She prefers the familiarity of life with him than without.
And could it be that some people find pain and suffering just so familiar that they subconsciously sabotage all their chances of getting out of their suffering? I have a cousin who is unemployed and really struggling to raise her three children as a single mother, but she has managed to ruin countless opportunities, from myself and my dad, to get out of her poverty. I’ve come to just accept that she’s reached the point of no return in her life. She’s just so comfortable with her suffering that even though she constantly asks for help, she doesn’t really want to be out of it all.
Familiarity certainly seems to have more impact on our choices than we might think.
Is pizza really better than Indian roti or is it just more familiar? Is Kim Kardashian really prettier that those Masai girls with the exaggerated earring and nose ring holes (*you should probably not Google that*) or is her face just more familiar?
Some food for thought.
Cheers to life!