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Nigeria’s Ugly Truth July 14, 2008

Posted by Reginald Johnson in AIDS, Africa, African-American, Crime, Culture, Healthcare, International, Minority Issues, News.
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Globally, there has been more attention paid towards the world of pornography. Pornography is almost a trillion dollar industry worldwide. Pornography has been under attack by many of its supporters and opposition.

On the African continent, things are no different. Especially there has been a special interest in looking into Nigeria. Nigeria, Africa’s most populated nation, has been a hotbed for pornography.

Within the last four or five years, there has been an increase in the number of arrests in the sex industry. In Nigeria’s capitol city of Lagos, there has also been an increase in the number of police raids on its brothels that house teenage girls.

These raids have been considered a success by many of the people of the people who are fighting the industry. Government officials in Nigeria have said the task forces established are doing their jobs well.

But there is another side of the coin.

NGOs and individual activists have said nothing has changed and unless the Nigerian government takes a stronger stance – nothing will change.

In the world of pornographic filmmakers, everyone has a story. Getting into the porn business is not all bed and roses – especially if you are in a third world country.

Trying to understand the entire world of pornography itself is a huge undertaking. Just trying to find out about one part it is daunting. The secret locations, recruitment mode and the Mafia-style creed turning the wheel of the porn industry in Nigeria can be a dangerous thing.

Nigeria has a thriving pornography industry. The pornography industry that is within the confines of the costal African country is commonly referred to as ‘Nude Nollywood.’

The NGOs and individual activists who see no real change base their findings on what could seemingly unrelated events. Here is something to consider:

“Have you ever given thought of what becomes of the hundreds of Nigerian ladies deported yearly from the United States and Europe; from locations where they had sojourned on sex trade? Have you ever heard of one success story out of the much-publicised scheme designed to give a new life to those victims (?) of human trafficking?”

In other words, have you ever seen a former comfort-girl, plucked from the glitzy life of Torino, Italy, or the underground world of Dallas, Texas, or the historic undertones of London, England now sweating it out as a waitress or apprentice fashion designer, all in the name of rehabilitation? I don’t mean to say that people do not change and find some other way to exist; but sadly already, these women have marks against them.

In more ways than one, the returnees, have already figured out their worth in dollars and Euros. Those who are indifferent of the things that have gone on have said, “They prove that a leopard cannot really change its spots.” Lacking in employment skills and good academic qualification, the last thing anyone hears about these girls are their unsuccessful bid to make a better life for themselves – without resorting to illicit acts. Sadly, some of the most desperate among these ladies return to Europe, illegally. For those that went underground, they often are never heard from again. The bottom-line is, a few truly slipped across the border while the majority stayed back in the country to do other things.

Those “other things” may never be fully known unless you happen to come across a discreet newspaper advert tucked away in the crowded pages of society magazines like: Fame, Encomium and City People. The message is innocuous and simply informs the reader of the availability of a collection of adult home videos made in Nigeria. The advert will further list the addresses of some distributors in Lagos, Ibadan and other cities where these items can be purchased.

As you would guess, this type of information spreads across various cities like wildfire. There’s hundreds, possibly thousands, of connoisseurs of illicit tastes trooped out to these stores to get copies.

Some were lucky. They manage to get their hands on home-grown porn with explicit titles like: Valentine Sex Party, Oba’s Nine Daughters, A Forest of Flowers, The last Nigerian Virgin and Allen Avenue.

These Nigerian producers of those porn movies smile all the way to the bank, but only for a short time. Vice squads in Lagos and other cities routinely swoop on the distributors, confiscating hundreds of cartons of porn. In almost all cases the movies are kept by the police and a little money changes hands and guess what…no record of any producer or distributor is charged to court. The X-rated industry suffers what the players merely see as a teething problem.

The producer return to their underground and go back to the drawing board. For them the only headache they have is distribution. Getting ‘raw materials’ for their kind of business is not a big deal. With the deportation of Nigerian prostitutes from Italy, England, and the United States, the city of Lagos is crawling with idle girls, rearing to do what they knew how to do best, even before the camera. These ‘veterans’ would later serve as mentors to their home-base counterparts, who displayed at the very first opportunity, a knack for quick learning.

There is also no short supply of unemployed young men who, uncertain of their next meal, are eager for a few thousand naira to play the role of studs in dirty flicks. Encouraging as the public response to their products has been, they were having a problem of penetrating the market worldwide; at least not through the conventional route that employed major distributors for legitimate movies. The legitimate movie industry in Nigeria controls all aspects of the industry, from distribution to duplication, marketing and delivery to the collection of revenue.

What started it all? In the beginning (back in 1996) the home movie “Domitilla” was released, it immediately became a box office hit, grossing over N70 million to the producers and pirates alike. The mad rush for the flick had little to do with fantastic acting and certainly nothing of technical wizardry of the director – even as these were not lacking.

Being a tale of prostitution and city girls, Domitilla’s main magnetism was a whiff of sex. Poor movie watchers had gone for it in the conclusion that the movie would parade some flesh, raunchy scenes and possibly frontal nudity.

Right from the moment the seductive posters hit the streets and titillating radio jingle the airwave, the rush of hormone translated into a manic rush for the videotapes. Though Domitilla was such a commercial success, the movie title crept into the Nigerian lexicon, if anybody expected it to be Nigeria’s first erotica, they cursed silently after watching it.

An unknown Eucharia Anunobi emerged as Nigeria’s first sex symbol. Movie viewers went on to dub her “Nigeria’s Sharon Stone” and Eucharia lived up to that name, shedding her clothes in more films including Theo Akatugba’s Native

If Eucharia had any claim to Nollywood’s sex symbol, she got a good run from actresses like Barbara Udoh, Halima Abubakar (nicknamed the wild cat) and Bimbo Akintola, the busty graduate of University of Ibadan who, it was revealed by her former boyfriend (actor Yemi Solade), never wore anything under her dress.

Some of the ladies that are presently involved in the porn industry in Nigeria have been deported from various countries. These women have helped the industry thrive and show it has no time of slowing down.

A 2006 investigation into the porn industry revealed that prior to 1999, most of the porn videos produced in Nigeria were done by amateurs, often notorious hedonists, who with a handful of dollars and expensive gifts got university girls to do their biddings. It was even said that with the help of hi-tech cameras, the porn makers filmed all the kinky sex scenes in their private homes without as much as the girls having a clue to the fact that they were being recorded.

During two raids of porn outlet in Lagos and Ibadan, the police confiscated hundreds of videos. They all bore the marks of professionals. Not necessarily in the production, but with the naked women gracing the covers of these videos. These women were not innocent, dew-eyed debutantes but rather scorching femme fantales who had lost their inhibitions to dirty lucre.

They left no one in doubt, having long turned their bodies into sex machines that could be manipulated to achieve desired erotic effects. Their nuances were not something picked up from the frivolities common on Nigerian campuses, rather from exposure to an international sex industry alive with all its gaudy sophistication.

Though it was not branded on their faces, the lingos and mannerism of most of the ladies in the sex videos strongly suggested they were deportees from the United States and/or Italy. Evidences would emerge that x-rated videos like Oba’s Nine Daughters did not only star former victims of human trafficking, the productions were financed by former madames, some of whom had as many as 30 girls in their cartel back then from their respective areas of deportation.

Investigations by law enforcement officials revealed that the producers of A Forest Of Flowers are also a husband and wife team. Both had entered the game over 10years ago. They also both are publishers of their own respective porn magazine.

According to a source whom has requested to not be named, the videos were shot in the coconut groove of Badagry (the couple, having made a fortune from their previous financial opportunities). They decided to go into movie production to expand their empire. They are also linked with a series of love shops and involved with the importation of sex accessories. Having long dumped his original profession, the husband styles himself as the Hugh Hefner of Nigeria. The couple admits that they have close to 30 girls in their employ.

Presently, Nude Nollywood has as many as two dozen production houses. It is unknown how many illegal production companies are in existence, but it is believe that around twice as many legitimate ones. Former sex workers who were deported own some of the legal production houses in Nigeria.

Having identified porn as a new money-spinner, quite a number of Alba businessmen are putting their money into porn business. On top of that, many of the local government officials have been known to turn a blind eye, until national and international people push them to get involved. These local leaders can stand to make a great deal of money if they let things go a little.

Nigerian porn producers have become prolific at producing the needed material, and continue to churn out videos. Many of which are exported to neighbouring African countries like Benin, Togo and Ivory Coast.

In attempting to get a more detailed view of what exactly is going on, I tried contacting the Nigerian Embassy here in D.C. The embassy was not willing to go on record, but was willing to talk off record on the matter.

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