The porn culture in Nigeria is growing: Nigerians are said to consume the most porn online, surpassing the United States. Now, a small number of Nigerian producers are creating a home-grown industry by making and sharing sexually explicit content online.
Three years ago, when Nigerian actress Afrocandy released her sexually explicit film Destructive Instinct, she was quick to insist that her movie was not pornographic. In an interview in the Nigerian newspaper The Vanguard, Afrocandy said, "The only request I have to anybody who calls me a porn star is that they should please show me any porn movie I've done before, because I haven't seen my porn before."
Fast-forward a couple of years and Afrocandy can actually now claim the 'porn star' label. She released a hardcore porn movie earlier this year, co-starring an actor who used the pseudonym 'Mandingo'.
Curious about what, if anything, this has to say about the state of a porn industry in Nigeria, I started on a digital adventure to find out more.
Wild on Twitter
Responding to a new 'follow' on my Twitter account sometime last year lead me to several Twitter pages dedicated to sharing explicit content, including photographs and videos. @Naija_Erotica boasts that it is 'Nigeria's Number One Porn Site to Act, Watch or Download Free Naija Homemade Sex Clips,' even though attempts to visit its website (naijaerotica.com) yield an error message. There is also @ftpnaijaporn, aka Naija Fuck Tour, which claims to be 'The First Official Nigeria/Africa Porn Company'.
Their content tends to feature people who look like Nigerians and are shot in an amateur style. And if sex sells, it also definitely draws a crowd. Followers of these Twitter sites range from the thousands to the tens of thousands.
However, not all opinions of these accounts are positive. Some of the concerns that came to my mind as I looked at many of the clips were the grainy quality of production, the sets, which looked like typical Nollywood sets, and the sexual health and safety of the actors involved, given that the clips often feature unprotected sex.
Women who are involved in activities that are deemed 'immoral' face the brunt of society's judgement.
Homemade in Naija
Technically speaking, making porn is illegal in Nigeria. At least, that is the word on the streets. Online forums have mentioned a proposed law to ban porn websites but there is nothing concrete. Therefore porn production in Nigeria is very, very underground.
I have heard suggestions from sources in the Nollywood industry that production thrives in small cities outside Lagos, such as Enugu in the South-East and Taraba and Zamfara in the North of the country, to avoid suspicion from authorities.
According to Kingtblak, who has been making videos on his iPhone since May 2016, Nigerians will do anything for good money - and this includes getting naked in front of a camera. Kingtblak identifies as an entrepreneur: He saw a gap in the production of pornographic content in Nigeria and rose to fill it. With the profit from his business, he provides for his daughter.
As a young Nigerian man who wants to 'live people's dreams while making money from it', Kingtblak is the sole actor in his videos. He also shoots, edits, markets and runs the website on his own. Along with his Twitter and Instagram accounts, where he posts 'behind the scenes' shots of his amateur porn videos, Kingtblak runs HocHub, a website in the style of PornHub, where users can pay to watch his videos. The many women who appear in his videos along with him are, according to him, women who reach out to him through his social media pages.
"People are not ready to make porn in Nigeria but they're always on international porn sites," Kingtblak said. Indeed, it has been suggested that Nigerians search for more pornographic content online than Americans. Yet, the general attitude is that porn is toxic and harmful.
For Kingtblak, facing daily criticism, arrest by the police and harassment from owners of the hotels where some of his pornographic videos are shot, it is all in a day's work. Yet he continues because there is a demand, as the 179 000 people that follow him on Instagram will testify.
Women in the porn scene
Afrocandy stands out as one of a few Nigerian women who openly produces and stars in sexually explicit films. The fact that Nigerian society is often very harsh towards women who express their sexual desire or agency, with women facing a strong public backlash, does not faze her. However, the same can't be said for some of the actresses who appear in the growing amateur porn scene online.
According to Kingtblak, many of the women who act in his videos were simply curious and wanted to explore their sexuality. Only a handful of them were willing to accept the label of 'porn star' due to the negative perceptions of society, he said.
Women who are involved in activities that are deemed to be immoral face the brunt of society's judgement. I came across comments body-shaming many of the women who appear in the photographs and video clips. Just scrolling through Kingtblak's Instagram page reveals comments like: "That fat girl looks dirty", "As her life don spoil finish, so wetin her real husband gangan go do," and "Please is it that this ladies dem be bastard or orphans... no mama papa or siblings... am not understanding hoo." Many more commentators seem to be insulting the actresses rather than Kingtblak himself.
"Most girls love to do crazy things secretly in [Nigeria], but they join in to criticise those who do it openly," he said.
He showed me the Snapchat account of one of the actresses he works with. In one still she had typed: "Am a Nigerian porn star so I don't wanna be fucking around, but sex chat [is] cool, u can all get anything you want... " Despite this affirmation, Kingtblak believes that deep down even these actresses want to renounce the title. "They don't want to be an example," Kingtblak said.
Kingtblak himself is not immune to societal pressure. He revealed that his childhood friends were all aware of his chosen career path. After appearing on a Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) news programme, the news soon spread to his family. His parents and grandparents are now aware of the work he does. His mother prays for God to help him so that he would stop his "selling body business", as she puts it.
"Most girls love to do crazy things secretly, but they join in to criticise those who do it openly." - Kingtblak
"They see that I'm really dedicating so much of my life [to it] and won't listen to them, so they just insult me," he said. However, Kingtblak defends his career. "No one feeds me so no one has the right to choose for me."
Is there a future for Nigerian porn?
The majority of those who consume pornographic content that is made in Nigeria are Nigerians, according to Kingtblak, who shared the recent stats from his Instagram page. The top location for his followers was in Lagos, while most of his website's subscribers are Nigerians abroad, in countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Malaysia and Turkey. Within Africa, Kingtblak has fans in Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya.
While most consumers seem to be African, a good number of the porn produced in Nigeria may be made by foreigners. There is a history of porn producers from the United States and Europe making films in African countries.
"Oddly enough, it is mostly foreign directors who come to Nigeria to shoot these movies," said a Nollywood movie producer and director who preferred to remain anonymous.
This was confirmed by another producer who will also remain anonymous. Both cited producers from Europe and Lebanon who were seeking to collaborate with local producers in order to make sexually explicit videos. As visitors to Nigeria, they often reach out to Nollywood directors and producers, looking for help in finding actors, sets and locations.
Even as the production of sexually explicit content online seems to be growing, attitudes are not changing. A quick search of porn in Nigeria reveals that several media outlets and forums equate it with child pornography. Articles either focus on the government's efforts to ban it or reflect on its effect on children. Spend enough time on the social media pages of Nigerian porn producers and you will find death threats. All this suggests that should porn production increase in Nigeria, it will most likely remain underground.
"The attitude to sex is not changing in Nigeria," states Kingtblak, "People are still blinded and full of superstition."