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Self-Hate In Nollywood Movies

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I KNOW: there is incredible phenotypic diversity in Africa.

I KNOW: that although most Africans are west Africans, it doesn't automatically make west African phenotypes the typical/representative African phenotype--blah, blah, blah...

But I've got something to say here anyway about the lengths that west Africans in Nollywood are going to in order to emulate white beauty standards (among other things). Here is a short list of cringe-worthy behavior that I have noticed that are expressions of self-hate or submission to white supremacy in Nollywood movies:

  • Actresses that are clearly bleaching are chosen to play front-and-center roles while looking like something from Michael Jackson's Thriller video. This is unhealthy. Other fields (such as in fashion, firefighting, or space exploration) dictate that employees in these fields must be healthy or fit to work within them. [WHO definition of health] Why can't Nollywood at least nurse a cultural aversion to bleaching? Is that too much to ask??? (Arguably, one could say that consistently allowing bleaching actors and actresses to play leads in movies would be the same as preferring other types of people with obsessive, unhealthy emotional/psychological disorders, such as anorexics, for lead roles. It's funny how western sections of certain industries, such as fashion, have caught on that featuring unhealthy people front-and-center can have negative effects on the psyche of their audiences, especially when their audiences are young. For example, folks have even had ads pulled or sued companies that they felt used ads in which models appeared "too perfect"--remember that Taylor Swift incident? The negative impacts of bleaching are known far and wide in Africa, yet, it is still a billion-dollar industry that gets free advertisement in Nollywood movies due to a slew of mentally ill actors/actresses and the apathetic/self-hating directors that cast them.)

  • The stiff wigs that almost always emulate non-African hair/hairstyles, and the usage of such wigs being correlated with an elevation in socioeconomic status/attractiveness in movies

  • Unkempt natural hair/traditional hair styles (like braids, locs, etc). African hair being unkempt can easily be linked to the long-standing white supremacist tradition of disdain for African features. This disdain was rendered as a rationale for why our hair was "unsightly" and needed to be covered (ex. with scarfs), removed (ex. cut off), maintained (ex. always bound up in one hairstyle or another but never worn freely), or restrained (ex. permed).

    • For examples of the real-world censure that I've referred to, google the C.R.O.W.N. Act or the Tignon Laws.

  • The use of contact lenses to change the appearance of eye colors from brown to something else, normally blue (blue eyes are pretty much non-African, and developed a couple thousand years ago outside of Africa due to a genetic mutations) (Eiberg, 2008). The blue eyes, similar to the aforementioned cardboard wigs, are a type of accessory that indicates higher status or beauty.

  • You hardly see the wives of rich men being dark-skinned.

  • In movies that feature royalty, they tend to make the princesses (who are normally sex symbols) light skinned.

  • Servants (especially male ones) tend to be darker-skinned. Ironically, the kings also tend to be darker-skinned too.

  • There are off-hand remarks about light-skinned characters being "fine boys" and "fine girls" but no similar remarks being made about the "fineness" of darker-skinned boys or girls.

  • In comedies, darker-skinned Nigerians are quick to be referred to as "monkeys" or "gorillas" by their adversaries in verbal altercations. Likening Africans to apes (animals) has a DEEP racist history that runs the gamut from anthropology and physiology to medicine (Diogo, 2018). It also has a home in some fields of pseudoscience, such as phrenology.


Nollywood has been acting, in some capacity, as a vehicle for the amplification of self-hate among Nigerians (and frankly, most Africans, since Nollywood is the dominant African movie system on the continent). We need to do better. ASAP!



Diogo R. (2018). Links between the discovery of primates and anatomical comparisons with humans, the chain of being, our place in nature, and racism. Journal of morphology, 279(4), 472–493.

Eiberg, H., Troelsen, J., Nielsen, M., Mikkelsen, A., Mengel-From, J., Kjaer, K. W., & Hansen, L. (2008). Blue eye color in humans may be caused by a perfectly associated founder mutation in a regulatory element located within the HERC2 gene inhibiting OCA2 expression. Human genetics, 123(2), 177–187.

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