Life Magazine (1963) provides glimpses on 'movie culture' in Nigeria
An hour ago the postman rang and delivered my first acquisition of the new year – a 1963 edition of the US-American magazine Life that I have been unable to locate at the local libraries. So, thanks to Abebooks and a Canadian trader here was my first good surprise of the year (after hearing that another of my heroes, John Berger died yesterday).
Why do I tell you about an old edition of an American lifestyle magazine, you ask?
Well, this is a special edition devoted to the movies - 'A Moving Mirror of Modern Times,' as the editorial has it – and its scope extends beyond the usual suspects in North America and Europe. Some of the reporting about the movies and their reception in the 'rest' of the world may feel patronising to contemporary readers but it provides some glimpses nevertheless. And, some of them on cinema culture and in particular the role of the United States Information Agency in Nigeria. I'll get back to this issue of Life Magazine at some point in more detail, but for now I'll leave you with two photographs that I quickly (and therefore badly, i.e. forgive the quality) reproduce here (I'll get better scans next time I go to the library).
The Ebumawe of Ago Iwoye (centre) at film screening by the United States Information Agency mobile film unit. (Source: Life Magazine, 1963, Vol. 55(25), 20)
The caption reads:
'Nigeria. There are 74 movie theatres in Nigeria [in 1963], but thousands of Nigerians out in villages and the bush see movies brought by mobile units of the United States Information Agency. Above the Ebumawe (chieftain) of Ago-Iwoye gets a laugh out of a newsreel as he sits between a USIA men (right) and a Peace Corps teacher. Below, the Emir of Zaria and his bodyguards look solemnly at a documentary of this year's civil rights march on Washington.'
The Emir of Zaria (centre) at film screening by the United States Information Agency mobile film unit. (Source: Life Magazine, 1963, Vol. 55(25), 20)