Film and Politics in Africa - Call for Abstracts and Papers

deadline for submissions: 
May 30, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Federal University Otuoke
contact email: 

Film and Politics in Africa


Concept Note

Film is a significant tool due to its deployment of sounds, images, text and actualities that mirror people and societies everywhere. It reflects human society, in terms of its past, present and future. Also, film evolved from African cultural expressions in the form of festivals, rituals, dance performances and drama. The pioneer African dramatists, playwrights, filmmakers and cultural practitioners are testaments to this evolution process of and transformation into what is regarded as film today in African contexts. Harrow (2023) claims that the developments in African films, including the late 1980s and 1990s video revolution that birthed Nollywood and the streaming platforms occasioned by digital technologies in producing and distributing films in the 2010s and 2020s have inserted African film into the World Cinema as a commercial success.

He argues that the transformations have liberated African filmmakers and resulted in an incredible, enduring flow of creative, inventive, and thoughtful filmmaking (Harrow, 2023). Therefore, Harrow (2023) strongly believes that Nollywood has shifted the focus from engaging films, with social or political messages, to entertainment movies. While this may be true, several film cultures have emerged in the evolutionary intersections of cinematic expressions across the continent of Africa. We now have what is called Collywood (African films made in Cameroun or Camerounian languages), Ghallywood (African films made in Ghana or Ghanaian languages), Riverwood (African films made in Kenya or Kenyan languages),   Kannywood (Hausa films or films made in the Hausa language), among others, that dot and interject not only commerce but political issues across the African continent.

The idea of African film today is intertwined with the pre- and post-colonial history of every African being and nation. Though the central goal of film is entertainment, evidence has shown that film has been deployed for other different purposes. Thus, film has been used to play diverse roles in society like any communication medium such as information, education and entertainment. Politics is human and thus has found use for films to achieve some ends. Like any art form, film has been utilized to propagate culture and activism in the course of human history (Cantrell, 2020). On people’s political perceptions and attitudes, evidence reveals that films have proved effective (Eilders & Nitsch, 2015; Singh, 2018). Seeing films as politics of representation, Somwya (2022) believed that they can be used to reinforce societal stereotypical narratives instead of being liberating avenues for new thinking. The advent of technological transformation, the Internet, streaming platforms and social networking sites has changed the development of the African film industry. As a matter of fact, the rate at which African films have engaged in political events and themes is far ahead of the focus African scholars have devoted to African film industries. With the rate films are being churned out in Africa, there is a need for constant scholarly engagement with this momentum, considering the influence of films on Africans’ perceptions of themselves and their respective African societies.

Salami-Agunloye (2023) asserts that world leaders have exploited the power of films, politically, socially and economically. Leaders like Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, for example, successfully used films as propaganda tools during World War II (Belton, 1996). This shows the power of film in influencing, transforming and changing attitudes, behaviour and perception.  In addition, over a century ago, D. W. Griffith utilized the enormous power of film in his highly successful film The Birth of a Nation (Darity, 2008), as a medium to influence public opinion. It was largely successful because it captured the social and cultural tensions of the era. More recently, films like Hotel Rwanda (2004), about the 1994 Rwandan genocide were successful for the same reason. Similarly, during the 1890s until 1920, with the growth of industrialization in American culture, there was a big shift in the urban areas; American culture experienced a period of rapid industrialization. Films were creatively employed to convey stories embedded with American tastes, desires, customs, speech, and behaviour which were screened in these urban areas. The aim was to erode regional differences and create a more homogenized and standardized culture.

In Africa in particular, film has, since colonial times facilitated various forms of political schemes. History has it that the colonial master deployed film-based propaganda as one of their strategic tools to naturalize the myth of the white man’s burden on the continent. In French colonies in particular, this colonial master also used various film-related policies to entrench the Whiteman’s domination and to even sacralize Africa’s continuous dependence on the West – particularly France – for funds, technical support and even artistic creativity (Haynes & Okome, 1997; Ihidero, 2020; Tomaselli, 2021). Similarly, many post-independence African filmmakers such as Ousmane Sembene, Tunde Kelani, Paulin SoumanouVieyra, Peddie Okao and Jean Marie Teno, among other proponents of the Third Cinema movement, sought to mobilize cinema and film-related activities to militate against issues such as neo-colonialism, cultural genocide and bad governance in Africa (Tomaselli & Eke, 1995; Haynes, 1997; Omoera & Anyanwu, 2020). To these multiple examples of film-based activism, one may add the plethora of politically committed filmmakers who today express or represent the voice of Africa, and sometimes rebrand the continent on the international stage. Thus, cinema has since its coming to the African continent, been a political or politicized tool.   

In Africa, film has been involved in deepening political consciousness, political mobilization, peacebuilding, conflict communication, advocacy, and political communication for development for over a century.  Today, film's influence has grown exponentially, ostensibly because of the emergence of digital technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI). In this book collection, we seek contributions from established and growing scholars, researchers, and practitioners of African film on the variegated involvement and intersections between film and politics in various regions of Africa, with a view to improving the parlous state of affairs. Their contributions can emanate from the following sub-themes or anyone related to the main theme:



African films, politics and African historical developments

African films, politics and popular cultural movements

African films, politics and peacebuilding

African films, politics and digital technologies

African films, politics and artificial intelligence (AI)

African films, politics and Cultural Revolution

African films, politics and aesthetics

African films, politics and filmmakers

African films, politics and migration

African films, politics and governance

African films, politics and corruption

African films, politics and terrorism

African films, politics and education

African films, politics and gender

African films, politics and the creative economy

African films, politics and Generation Z

African films, politics, militarism and military governments

African films, politics and democracy

African films, politics and human rights

African films, politics and religion

African films, politics and AIKS

African films, politics and language

African film, politics and ethnic consciousness

African film, politics and futurism

African films and the (neo)colonial propaganda

African film festivals, politics and identity

Politics and film policymaking in Africa

African films and environmental politics

African films and international geopolitics

African films and political propaganda

African films and cultural diplomacy

African films, globalization and national branding


Submission Procedure

Abstracts of not more than 400 words and brief authors’ bios can be submitted to the following email addresses on or before December 15, 2023:,, Notifications of acceptance or rejection will be given by January 15, 2024.  Authors of accepted abstracts will be invited to submit their full chapters by May 30, 2024. The 7th edition of the American Psychological Association (APA) referencing style should be used. The font should be Times New Roman 12 and the word count should be a maximum of 6000. The book will be published by Routledge.



Cantrell, J. (2020). The relationship between implicitly political films and political

polarization. Journal of Student Research, 9(1), 1-10.

Belton, J. (Ed). (1996). Introduction to movies and mass culture. Rutgers University Press.

Darity, W. (2008). A “birth of a nation.” Encyclopaedia of the social sciences, 2nd ed. Gale

Virtual Reference Library, 1, 305-306.

Eilders, C. & Nitsch, C. (2015). Politics in fictional entertainment: An empirical classification

of movies and TV series. International Journal of Communication 9, 1563–1587

Harrow, K. W. (2023).  African cinema in a global age. 1st edition. Routledge.

Haynes, J. (1997). Nigerian cinema: Structural adjustments. In J. Haynes & O. Okome (Eds.),

Cinema and social change in West Africa (pp.1-25). Nigerian Film Corporation.

Haynes, J. & Okome, O. (1997). Evolving popular media: Nigerian video films. In J. Haynes

& O. Okome (Eds.), Nigerian video films (pp.21-44).Nigerian Film Corporation.

Ihidero, V.O. (2020). Postcolonial anxieties and the politics of identities in Genevieve Nnaji’s

Lionheart: A contrapuntal analysis.Nigerian Theatre Journal: A Journal of the Society of Nigerian Theatre Artists, 20(1), 1-15.

Omoera, O.S.  & Anyanwu, C. (2020). Politics of succession in Nollywood films, Saworoide

and Ikoka. CINEJ Cinema Journal, 8(1), 185-217.

Salami-Agunloye, I (2023). Women in Nollywood industry: Reconstructing the cultural

environment. In O. S. Omoera, B. Ojoniyi, & V. O. Ihidero (Eds.), One tree a forest: studies in Nigerian theatre poetics, technology and cultural aesthetics. National Theatre.

Singh, V. (2018). Role of media and usage of films and documentaries as political tool. Journal

of Emerging Technologies and Innovative Research, 5(6), 210-218.

Somwya, A. (2022). Politics of representations in cinema and recent interventions.

International Journal of Innovation Research in Technology, 9(1), 1205-1211.

Tomaselli, K. G. (2021). Africa, film theory and globalization: Reflections on the first ten years of the

Journal of African Cinemas. Journal of African Cinemas, 13(1), 3-28.

Tomaselli, K. & Eke M. (1995). Perspectives on orality in African cinema. Oral Tradition, 10 (1),