How Mo Abudu helped to seal Oscars pidgin recognition for Nollywood

While agitation for reforms across sectors continues to inform gatherings on Nigerian streets and roads, a clamour which was made a while ago, seemingly forgotten by everyone, has yielded result, and it is good news for the movie industry.

When Genevieve Nnaji-directed movie, Lionheart, Nigeria’s first-ever entry for consideration in the International Feature Film category, was disqualified on the grounds that it didn’t have sufficient usage of foreign language in it, there was outrage on social media as analysts felt the film had the substance to triumph in the category.

One of the arguments raised was that English was the unifying language for the heterogeneous Nigerian society. As such, it was difficult to have a film shot in a local dialect which would appeal to the whole country, rather than a section of people.

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Despite the outcry, the decision of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences stood. However, as preparations commence for the 93rd Academy Awards, which is otherwise known as Oscars, it appears that the criticisms were not for nothing.

In what represents significant progress on the inclusion of a robust movie industry as Nollywood, Nigerian Pidgin English has been declared a non-English (foreign language) recording dialogue in films

This comes after CEO of EbonyLife Films, Mo Abudu, reportedly took it upon herself to make a case with the International Features section on recognising Nigerian Pidgin English as a foreign language and was asked to justify her argument with a letter.

And this highlights the essence of not just grumbling but taking the case to the decision-makers. Nigerian Pidgin English is actually a better argument than Standard English given the unique linguistic elements makes it ‘foreign’ to non-Nigerians.

It is also strategic that Mo Abudu’s latest movie, Oloture, which is already winning acclaims, is able to qualify for the International Feature Film category following the recognition of Nigerian Pidgin English as a foreign language.

While Mo Abudu deserves credit for the moves, more significantly, Nigerian films will enjoy more global attention with this latest milestone as Nollywood continues to grow in the reputation as a force to be reckoned with worldwide.

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