Indigenous filmmakers kick as StarTimes voices Chinese films in Yoruba

Harping on the fact that functional economies all over the world are known to guard their industries jealously, several indigenous filmmakers and film marketers in Nigeria gathered, last Wednesday, to condemn a current trend whereby Chinese and Indian films are being re-voiced in Yoruba language, saying the act, if not quickly curtailed, is not only capable of eroding Nigeria’s indigenous culture but would also constitute a threat to employment generation which the film industry is noted for.

The movie stakeholders, under the aegis of Conference of Indigenous Language Films, alleged that StarTimes, a direct-to-home pay-tv station is more culpable of this act, by dubbing thousands of Chinese films in Yoruba and Hausa languages. They described the development as shocking and an attempt by the Chinese to institutionalize their culture at the expense of Nigeria’s.

Leading other industry veterans such as Prince Jide Kosoko, Alhaji Abdullahi Abdurasak, Barrister Tunji Bamisigbin, Tunji Ojetola, Yomi Fash Lanso and a host of others at a press conference which held at LTV Complex, Ikeja, President of the Theatre Arts and Movie Practitioners Association of Nigeria (TAMPAN), Mr. Dele Odule, urged the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, and the National Assembly to wade into the matter by stopping the move.

He said: “It gives me great pleasure, on behalf of members of the Conference Of Indigenous Language Film Practitioners to address you on an unfortunate situation which, if not quickly curtailed, will not only rob us of the need to sustain and develop our culture, but also of our source of livelihood and by extension, our desire to sustain employment for the several cast and crew members who depend on film production for their daily bread.

“You may have observed, as you pass by some bus stops in Lagos, a convergence of youngsters watching some Chinese or Indian films that have been dubbed into distorted, embellished and uncouth dialogues in Yoruba language.

“The more shocking development, gentlemen of the press, is that, there is an attempt by the Chinese to institutionalize this trend, with StarTimes, a direct-to-home pay-tv station now dubbing thousands of Chinese films in Yoruba and Hausa languages.

“We hereby reject this development in its entirety, and urge the Federal Government and our regulatory agencies to see the danger inherent in this practice and stop the trend.

“This is totally uncalled for at this time when the Federal Government is looking in the direction of the film industry as a viable alternative to oil in its economic diversification policy. Thus, we are trusting that the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who has often expressed his passion for the film industry and his desire to turn the motion picture sector from a creative industry to a creative economy to see this incursion of Chinese films as a barrier to his dream for our industry.

“While we believe that the National Film and Video Censors Board should give these types of films a priority in their occasional raid of the film markets for uncensored and illegal movies, we also urge the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to see this as an indirect way of violating the limit of broadcast time stipulated for foreign contents.”

Odule recalled a 2015 report by leading audit firm, Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) which put the worth of Nigerian entertainment and media industry at more than US$4 billion annually, with the prediction that by 2019, the market will be more than twice as big, with estimated total revenue of US$8.1 billion, saying; “How do we attain this feat if foreign companies now want to take advantage of our local market?”

Sebastiane Ebatamehi

I am a Writer and Online Publicist, destined to give a voice to the silent echoes and hush whispers that are seldom heard