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Where is the #MeToo Movement in the African film industry?

In the last several months, the American entertainment industry has been rocked by a string of sexual harassment allegations. Countless actresses and celebrities revealed that they had been victims of unwanted sexual advances by Hollywood film producer, Harvey Weinstein. The now infamous film producer was accused by more than 50 women of multiple counts of indecent sexual acts including assault and rape. One by one, different women came forward and gave horrid accounts of their encounter with Weinstein, some of which dated back to the early 1990’s. The sheer number of sexual assault charges brought against Harvey Weinstein triggered the so-called “Weinstein effect”- a phrase used to describe the wave of people from across sectors who are reporting their own experiences of sexual assault.

Soon enough, there was an avalanche of similar charges leveled against other prominent men in politics, technology and corporate sectors. Although this was largely taking place in the US, the UK was not spared. From the offices of Westminster right down to the doors of the BBC, Members of Parliament (MPs) and journalists were facing their own sexual abuse allegations. The widespread nature of these allegations saw public figures like former defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon resign for alleged sexual misconduct and Damian Green sacked, for sexual impropriety.  In the wake of these tales of sexual impropriety, the MeToo campaign was sparked in the United States and it soon went viral. Originally started by Tarana Burke in 2006 - a women’s activist renowned for her work with survivors of sexual violence, in particular, women of colour, the campaign was reignited as a solidarity platform for victims of sexual assault to share their own stories. Many Hollywood actresses have since openly shared their stories of sexual harassment - among them include Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelia Jolie. 

In Nollywood - (the third largest film industry in the world after Hollywood and Bollywood and Africa’s movie entertainment capital), underneath the veneer of the humorous and entertaining movie productions hides sinister tales of sexual harassment. According to a number of Nigerian local sources, sexual harassment in Nollywood is an epidemic. There are numerous reports of Nollywood film producers requesting sexual favours in exchange for giving actresses movie roles. In one particular instance, Nollywood actress - Annabel Zwyndila recalled having to repeatedly turn down unwanted sexual advances from a movie producer when she went to him to collect her script. Another actress, Rahama Sadau accused Nollywood film producer Adam Zango of sexual harassment and called him out for removing her from his production for refusing his sexual requests. Incidents of sexual harassment are worse in Nollywood and by extension the African entertainment industry because of the visible patriarchal system which allows men to get away with it.