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You are here: FRIAS Fellows Fellows 2020/21 Prof. Dr. Onookome Okome

Prof. Dr. Onookome Okome

University of Alberta
African Studies, Literature and Cinema
External Senior Fellow
June 2021 - August 2021


Dr. Onookome Okome graduated with the MA and PhD degrees from the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria. He taught at the University of Calabar from 1989 to 2002, and then moved to the University of Alberta in 2002 and was promoted to full professorship cadre in 2008. His publication profile includes the edited volume,  Before I am Hanged: Ken Saro-Wiwa: Literature, Politics and Dissent ( New Jersey: African World Press, 199), over forty academic essays on African literature and cinema, two jointly edited books on African popular culture, Global Nollywood: An African Film Industry (Indiana University Press, 2013) with Professor Dr. Matthias Krings of the University of Mainz, and Popular Culture in Africa: The Episteme of the Everyday (Routledge, New York, 2014) with Professor Stephanie Newell of the University of Sussex, UK. The latter is the outcome of the research collaboration with Professor Stephanie Newell while he was the Visiting Leverhulme Professor.  He led the second publication from this research, "Karin Barber and the Study of Everyday Africa” (Research in African Literatures, 43, 4, 2012). In 2010, he was awarded the Alexander Humboldt Research Prize on the basis of his work with scholars in Germany on African popular Culture. He has published over 30 essays on African cinema, especially Nollywood. His most recent essay on Nollywood is the exhibition entry, "Islam et Cinema en Afrique de l'ouest."Tresor de Islam en Afrique. Paris: Silvania Editoriale, 2017. He is currently working on a book-length study, “Nollywood: Text, Context, Controversy.” Okome currently researches and teaches in the fields of African literature, African popular cinema, postcolonial theory and criticism, critical race theory and Franz Fanon Studies.

Selected Publications

  • Newell, Stephanie, and Onookome Okome (eds). Popular Culture in Africa: The Episteme of the Everyday, New York: Routledge, 2014.
  • Krings, Matthias and Onookome Okome (eds). Global Nollywood: The Transnational Dimensions of An African Video Film Industry, Indiana University Press, 2013.
  • Okome, Onookome (editor). “Africa At the Movies: West African Video Film.” Special issues on Nollywood. Postcolonial Text. 3/1, 2007.
  • Okome, Onookome (editor). “Nollywood: Africa Writes.” Special issue on Nollywood. Film International. 5.4, 2004.
  • Okome, Onookome. "Nollywood: Spectatorship, Audience and the Sites of Consumption" [Reprint]. The Screen Reader: The History, Theory, and Culture of the Screen. Ed. Stephen Monteiro. Australia: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017.

FRIAS Research Project

Nollywood: Text, Context, Controversy

Nollywood is by far the most consequential expression of popular culture to come out of Africa in the last century. Its reach is far and wide and its influences breathtaking in more ways than one. Emerging from the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of cosmopolitan Lagos at the close of the 20th century, Nollywood has been hailed as Africa’s popular cinema. It presence has been felt everywhere in Africa and in the African diaspora. Initially thought of as a flash in the pan, this cinema has morphed from its earlier enunciation to a more reasoned and thoughtful expression that is defined by the Africa where it was produced and initially consumed. In quick order old Nollywood begot new Nollywood, returning the audience to cinema theatre which fell through the cracks in the days of structural adjustment in the 1980s. My project tracks the social origins of this cinema, outlining and critiquing the controversies around the film culture which it inaugurated in the early 1990 with the release of the most consequential films in its archive, Living in Bondage (1992).  This book length study reiterates and complicates the intrepid social condition under which Nollywood became a popular outlet for the iteration of collective social and political angst since the 1990s. It grew exponentially in a cultural condition described by one scholar as the “pentecostal republic.” A large chunk of this study is dedicated to the place of the city in Nollywood as postcolonial “invention” and the production of women in it.