Why Nigerian entertainment speaks Yoruba?

OUT OF THE OVER 500 LANGUAGES SPOKEN IN NIGERIA, ONE STANDS OUT AS THE UNOFFICIAL LANGUAGE OF EXPRESSION ACROSS THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY. FIND OUT WHY YORUBA LANGUAGE IS DOMINATING THE INDUSTRY.

 Nigerian Soul Artist Asa with an Eyo Masquerade; a major culture symbol of the Yoruba people / Via thestylehq

Nigerian Soul Artist Asa with an Eyo Masquerade; a major culture symbol of the Yoruba people / Via thestylehq

The Nigerian Entertainment industry has grown into one of Africa’s major exports. From music to movies to culture and lifestyle, this last decade has been a season of bloom for the industry. Growing progressively through the years, the Nigerian music industry alone is expected to be worth $86 million (N27 billion) by 2020. This growth has been credited to an explosion in digital distribution of music which in turn is slowly and steadily reducing the traditional piracy culture that has held the industry back for many years now. With the film industry standing as the second largest movie industry in the world, thousands of movies are produced yearly alongside the multiple tracks released daily in the sister music industry, the boom in the Nigeria entertainment industry is clearly massive.

Through the both industries one language has come to stand as an unofficial  language of communication and expression and this might have you thinking everyone in Nigeria either speaks or understands Yoruba. Yoruba language, the native tongue of the approximately 60 million Yoruba people in West Africa spoken in Nigeria, Benin, and Togo dominates the Nigerian entertainment industry and the reason for this is simple – Lagos.

 National Theater, Lagos / Via zikoko

National Theater, Lagos / Via zikoko

Seeing that Nigeria has over 500 languages, the Yoruba language has become the uniting medium of expression, dominating the Entertainment industry and Lagos plays a major role in this. Lagos the economic center of the country with a massive population of over 21 million people has over the years grown into country’s major entertainment hub. Lagos today is home for most of the top production houses, record labels, entertainment outlets and media houses. The city stands as the center for entertainment deals and link ups making it near-to impossible for most young and budding talents around the country not to move into the city. With the Lagos being a Yoruba state and being rooted in the rich Yoruba culture, breaking into the Lagos market would naturally mean first a language compromise and then a culture compromise tailoured to reach the greater population; the streets and the people of the land. Winning the Lagos market most times (if not always) means winning the Nigerian market. This is why Yoruba language has grown into official entertainment language in Nigeria.

 Ariel View, Lagos / Via lagos1city

Ariel View, Lagos / Via lagos1city

Today, almost every song released in Nigeria has a line or two delivered in Yoruba Language and this is a standard culture. Beyond the Music industry, the buzzing Nigeria movie industry, Nollywood caught the Yoruba bug also but in a different expression. Yoruba Nollywood which produces movies tailored to reach the Yoruba speaking Population plays an important role in the Nigerian Entertainment industry raising new actors, directors and producers who eventually spill into the parent Nollywood industry. Seeing the high demand for Yoruba movies, DSTV, the most popular direct-to-home digital satellite TV service provider launched a special channel catering to Nollywood Yoruba (Afmag Yoruba) in response to the high demand for Yoruba movies.