Introduction: ‘The Visitors’ series
… was a crime series which I created and designed for television in the early 1980s, at the invitation of one of the producers at the then WNTV/WNBS Station (the Western Nigeria Television and Radio Broadcasting Station).
I confess that at the time I was not – as I am still not – very fond of television, for a number of reasons. And even less impressed was I by the format of the contemporary crime series in the Western media that the producer proposed as our palimpsest. For me, the Western series were outrageously irresponsible, pandering more to the demands of commerce rather than to the profound issues of our times. Invariably they over-sensationalized sex and violence, and of course paid no attention at all to the problems relevant to our societies in Africa. It is understandable therefore that my initial response to the invitation was cold.
But the producer was unrelenting and, after further reflection, I did in fact begin to warm up to the idea. Why not, I asked myself, seize the medium and subvert it for my own purpose? After all, the challenge of borrowing the channel of popular art forms for the discussion and examination of serious issues had always fascinated me. Could this not be done too for the television crime series? In any case, I told myself, it was worth a try. And that was how ‘The Visitors’ series was born.
The first, and most serious challenge, obviously, was to find a substitute for the violence – that part of the genre that had come to constitute perhaps the most attractive item for viewers. This was a big question for me. In our situation in Nigeria, where the gun-manufacturing industry was at best rudimentary, and sophisticated gadgetry was rare to find, even among our security agencies, the presence of guns in these films was a powerful bonus, adding to their exotic appeal, to their power of entrancement. But this was precisely the problem for me – that this kind of opium only helped to spread and increase the lust for violence, and mindless violence too, amidst our communities; similarly for the abuse of sex and libertine license in the films.