With Netflix, Amazon and more publishers claiming Nigerian titles, it can feel surprising when you sit channel-surfing for the whole day trying to find something worth watching.

That’s why we’re here. Some of the best Nigerian movies and tv shows of all time have been released in the last few decades. They show different sides to the Nigerian experience. If you haven’t seen anything on this list, do yourself a favour and fix up.

  • Finding Fela (2014)

This expose on the life and times of Nigeria’s enigmatic musician, Fela Kuti is a staple. The documentary is shot with two timelines. The main story is about Fela’s life, from his childhood in Abeokuta to his final days in Lagos.

The journey sits side-by-side with a visual journal that follows the cast of Fela: The Musical as they prepare for their grand premiere. With interviews featuring Yeni & Femi Kuti and Sandra Iszadore, it’s arguably the most comprehensive look at Fela on Youtube.

  • Up North (2018)

This 2018 movie, by Anakle Films, was one of the most talked-about movies of last year. It helped turn the production firm into a more prominent name. The movie’s highlight, however, is its portrayal of the NYSC program. The movie’s protagonist, a wealthy heir is forced by his father to Bauchi for his compulsory year of national service. There, he becomes more thoughtful and finds love. Up North has its ‘meh’ moments but it’s a good look at the gulfs between Nigeria’s social classes and makes a good case for the oft-maligned NYSC.

  • Knockout (2019)

For many Nigerian 90s babies, Wale Adenuga Productions reflected the playfulness of our childhood. Maybe that explains why Knockout, a movie by the same production firm is one of the funniest and most commercially successful movies out this year.

Featuring an ensemble cast of funnymen that includes Charles Okocha, Brother Shaggy and Klint The Drunk, Knockout is a beautifully offbeat movie about one man’s hare-brained attempt to win a boxing competition. Turn your deep thinking instincts off for this one and just have a few nostalgic laughs.

  • Women Of The Bay (2019)

With much thanks to the DIY culture, a crop of young filmmakers is creating timely exposes on Nigeria as they see it. One of the best in recent times is this short film by Nora Awolowo, produced by Kiki Mordi. The film is a humbling look at the lives of the women of Tarkwa Bay. Most Lagosians know the small island as a prime vacation spot, away from the bustle of Lagos. Tarkwa Bay is also home to an impoverished community of indigenes and local immigrants who service the wealthy Lagos Island neighbourhoods.

  • Hire A Woman (2019)

Considering the new ground that this movie breaks, it’s strange that it’s only a footnote in most conversations. Despite being a staple of the Genevieve Nnaji’s Nollywood in the 1990s and 2000s, chick flicks, and their close cousins, romantic comedies have been replaced with shows of highbrow living in Lagos.

It makes “Hire A Woman” a refreshing watch. It’s like a real-life version of a plotline in Big Brother Naija, only with better acting, more creepy gazes and fewer disappearing accents. Definitely something to watch with bae while you try to forget you have serious problems.

  • “This is Not LA, This Is Lagos” (2019)

Lagos’ alte subculture has caught global attention in the last year, especially around musicians like Santi and Odunsi who have given more eclectic tinges to contemporary music. This documentary by Alte Daily is about one of the overlooked parts of the community; its burgeoning skate scene.

The documentary follows the WAFFLESNCREAM brand that has become known for skate gear and fashion in Lagos as they try to give skate culture into the Nigerian mainstream. The documentary is a refreshing look into what the kids are up to nowadays.

  • “Sweet Crude” (2009)

On a more serious note, if there’s one documentary you want to watch with a box of tissues in your hand and your phone on airplane mode, it’s Sweet Crude. The story of the Niger Delta, Nigeria’s overreliance on oil is familiar to most. This 2009 documentary (and Winner of the Perception of Vision Award at that year’s Seattle Film Festival) goes deeper into the heart of the problem.

It goes to the homes, boats, dead farms and empty nets of the people who have suffered the worst environmental crisis in Nigeria’s history. But rather than simply emphasising the problem, the documentary looks at the history of non-violent protests and the emergence of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).

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Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.