5 Times Nollywood Gave Us Badass Female Protagonists

June 17, 2020

Half the time when we see women on screen in Nollywood they are either chasing after marriage or fighting off a wicked mother in law while married. It’s like even in on-screen fiction women have been reduced to the demographic of people whose biggest ambition and the ultimate goal should be conjugal bliss. Thus making singlehood the perpetual antagonist. That’s why seeing the female characters on this list was a breath of much needed fresh air.

For this list, the focus is on female characters that were not immersed in clichéd storylines about women hustling to get married, stay married, or win society’s approval. This list is about the female characters who came in with a different kind of bang.

Adaeze – Lionheart

zikoko - Nollywood female protagonists

Even though romance found a way into this story it wasn’t at the center of the plot. Throughout the movie, Adeaze’s biggest problem was keeping her father’s company afloat. Not making it through relationship ups and downs or editing her ambitions to fit into the Nigerian wife material box. And not once was her being single brought into the mix as a course for concern.

Lulu – Potato Potahto

zikoko - Nollywood female protagonists

Lulu was unconventional in a lot of ways. For a society where marriage has been branded as the one thing every woman should aspire to, Lulu effortlessly walked away from hers when it became uncomfortable. And I love how the plot did not make her out to be lonely and wretched for leaving her husband. Instead, it focused instead on the personality clashes between them both leading up to their divorce.

Hankuri Phillips – Love is War

zikoko - Nollywood female protagonists

Hankuri Phillips raised a lot of questions about women navigating politics in Nigeria. Her character particularly threw light on the loss of identity women suffer after marriage; the fact that they are neither accepted at their original states of origin (because they “married outside”) nor in their husband’s state of origin (because they are not from that state).

Dera – The Arbitration

zikoko - Nollywood female protagonists

This movie contributed a much-needed paragraph to the conversation about rape culture. Dera was suing her former boss for rape. The fact that she had previously led an affair with him became proof ad reference that having consensual sex with a person at one time didn’t mean you could still be raped by that person at another time. It also proved that brute force and violence don’t have to be involved to make it rape.

Eniola – King of Boys

This list wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t mention the legendary Eniola. The woman who slayed hard, paved her way and built a solid reputation for herself without having to sleep with anybody.

PS: All the movies listed are available on netflix.

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