Journal of African Cinemas ⎻ Bongo Movies: A Study of the New Swahili Cinema

 The Volume aims at describing and analyzing the ways in which Bongo movies narratives locate its identities and form, and critically examine the underlying operating principles behind its aesthetics, its affects (distribution) and how its specific constitution performs discourse. It proposes both a quantitative and qualitative look at the experience of Bongo movies as an emerging African cinema. I use language as the most identifying factor as it makes sense in recognizing how fast Bongo movies have superseded Nollywood amongst audiences in Tanzania. However, I also believe there are many other factors surrounding that growth. 

I am pitching the volume at the young, African, university social sciences student market and therefore there is need to deliberately undercut its academic bent, not its rigor of research assets, in order to make it readable and yet authoritative. 

As you all know the readership of textual material on African cinema in Africa is small but I believe a volume of this nature could encourage young people to think beyond information and towards analysis and the basis of knowledge- research on a living environment. 

I also recognize that users too have their own specific needs. I would like us to aim at providing the reader with a broad range of answers based on what they know of the phenomenon, especially as regards its comparison to Nollywood. The volume needs to have a prospective usability in its association with industry, academic discipline and culture. 

While I would love for us to write a quantitatively researched volume, I am always reminded by this silly dictum that Einstein had in his office at Princeton, “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts. 

To contributors, I therefore propose the following areas for the volume. They are intended to discuss the phenomenon (used in its phenomenological theorizing) as a subjective experience of a social structure. This is an introductory volume on the subject and therefore I would like to get any and every body to want to read at least a couple of articles in the volume, even if only because “it was short enough for me to finish reading it at a sitting”, as I once overhead a student! 

Bongo Movies: A Study of New Swahili Cinema


•A diagnostic evaluation of the implications of this phenomenon for production and marketing video film in Tanzania, 

•Examination of the structure of the industry in Tanzania 

•Assessment the problems encountered by the emerging video/ film industry, and assessing its prospects. 

THEME 1: Popular Culture 

I am not Nollywood- I am Bongo: Film and Popular culture 

THEME 2: Cinema and Identity 

Swahili Language, Culture and Film: Cinema and the discourse of urbanity 

THEME 3: Critical Analysis 

A Cultural history of Bongo movies: From copycat to what? A critical analysis of Bongo movies 

THEME 4: Formulas 

The Bongo Movies Star System: success of celebrity culture and its pitfalls. 

THEME 5: Distribution- 

STEPS and The Road to Mine and Hut (mind and heart) 

THEME 6: Marketing: 

The Video Hall Phenomenon 

THEME 7: Exhibition: 

Television and Festival Distribution 

THEME 8: Audiences: 

Audience Experiences of Bongo movies: Audiences as growth drivers- the growing Swahili market as a regional cinema and ultimately in the Swahili diaspora 

THEME 9: Industry: 

Bongo Movies: The future- A look at Bongo movies as a perishable commodity and proposing ways of advancing it and solving inherent problems 

THEME 10: Policy: 

Bongo film and Ethics: Content regulation: Policy and government intervention and the place of various stakeholders in the industry. 


A self-reflexive analysis of the first ten years of the journal that aims to enable Africa-resident scholars, in the context of the global discipline, is on free access: “Africa, film theory and globalization: Reflections on the first ten years of the Journal of African Cinema 

Please submit a 200-word abstract by 1st May 2023. Complete articles of up to 8000 words, interviews of up to 4000 words, and film reviews of up to 2000 words are due by 30 July 2023. Please submit abstract to 


Notes on authors, interviewers, back copies and purchase information is available here: 

Co-editors are Keyan G Tomaselli - University of Johannesburg, Martin Mhando - Zanzibar International Film Festival. 

Book and film review editor: Addamms Mututa - University of Johannesburg. 

The journal is indexed on Scopus, the Web of Science Emerging Journal list, and IBSS ProQuest. 

Intellect publishes 100 journals in film, performance, broadcasting, production and media cultures. It is based at The Mill, Parnall Road, Fishponds, Bristol BS16 3JG, UK