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Vivian Efua Darkwa

United Kingdom

More about Vivian Efua Darkwa

Thesis Title: The Depiction of Mental Illness in Nigerian and Ghanaian movies

Vivian is a PhD student in the School of Arts and Humanities. Vivian's thesis considers the representation of mental illness in Nigerian and Ghanaian movies. The aim is to investigate negative or positive impacts on mental health literacy in Ghana. Studies on visual representation of mental illness in film are common in western countries but now developing in West Africa. African film production started around 1960 with celluloid films.

These films were either funded by the state or by foreign aid. However, economic difficulties experienced in the 1980s halted film making. Video film production, which is producing films straight onto VHS tapes, started by accident around the same time. However, it soon became apparent it was less expensive, less cumbersome in production, and easy to market and sell. This meant individuals, whether trained as film producers or not, could convey their ideas through the medium of film.

This new branch of film making began almost simultaneously in Nigeria and Ghana. The national film making industries are now known as Nollywood (Nigeria) and Ghallywood (Ghana) with subcategory industries. The industry, especially Nollywood, has become a phenomenon both in Africa and the diaspora.

Prevalent themes are sympathetic to African socioeconomic issues and health is a major feature. Mental illness is a recurrent theme, often presented as a consequence of abusive behaviours such as taking drugs, and the disregard of spiritual protocols. Although both countries practice allopathic medicine, more attention is given in films to traditional forms of medical care.

This study addresses the questions:

  • Why is this theme prevalent in Nollywood and Ghallywood film?
  • Do producers have a rationale for making these films?
  • Are images of mental illness derived from cultural, historical, or belief systems?
  • How do the representations impact on mental health awareness systems in Ghana?

A cross-sectional research design which uses mixed methods in the collection and analysis of data will be employed. Instruments used are interviews, focus groups and surveys. A content analysis is conducted on all data collection methods. This triangulated approach is in conjunction with philosophy, social theories and concepts to ascertain a rigorous empirical study.

Director of Studies

Jenni Ramone

Research groups, centres and projects

Arts and Humanities
Culture and Media

The School of Arts and Humanities offer opportunities for postgraduate study leading to a PhD, by both full-time and part time study, across a wide range of disciplines.

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