Old Nolly: 10 Must-Watch Nollywood Classics

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Old Nollywood movies hold a special place in the hearts of many young Nigerians who grew up watching them. The term “Old Nollywood” refers to the Nigerian film industry during the late 20th century and early 2000s, which was characterized by the production of low-budget films shot on video. Despite the limitations of the technology, Old Nollywood movies were known for their prolific output and wide range of genres, including drama, comedy, and action, that dealt with themes such as love, family, corruption, and tradition.

If you’re looking to take a trip down memory lane, here’s a quick look at some of the Old Nollywood classics that were must-watch films during that era.

Osuofia in London

The 2003 Nigerian comedy film, Osuofia in London, is a classic in Nollywood history, having achieved massive commercial success. Starring Nkem Owoh as Osuofia, a naive villager from Nigeria, the film was produced and directed by Kingsley Ogoro.

The story follows Osuofia as he learns of his brother Donatus’ passing in London and travels to the city to claim his inheritance as the sole beneficiary named in Donatus’ will. However, upon arriving in London, Osuofia discovers that his late brother’s English fiancée, Samantha, played by Mara Derwent, is unsure of the Nigerian custom of Osuofia inheriting his brother’s goods.

Osuofia in London is a hilarious comedy which stems from cultural differences and will keep you laughing throughout.

                       Living in Bondage

Released in 1992, Living in Bondage is widely credited with revolutionizing the distribution of movies in the country. Written by Okechukwu Ogunjiofor and Kenneth Nnabue and directed by Chris Obi Rapu, the film launched the careers of actors Kenneth Okonkwo, Bob Manuel, and Kanayo Kanayo.

The movie centers on Andy Okeke, a man who is unhappy with his financial situation and becomes increasingly dissatisfied when he runs into his former friend Paul, who is now wealthy. Paul reveals to Andy the secret behind his wealth: a money ritual that requires the death of a loved one.

Although hesitant at first, Andy ultimately agrees to sacrifice his wife, Merit, for the ritual, but soon discovers that despite his newfound wealth and status, his life becomes chaotic as he is haunted by his wife’s spirit. Eventually, with the help of an old friend who introduces him to Christ, he is able to overcome the pain and find redemption.

In 2019, Living in Bondage: Breaking Free, a sequel to the 1992 classic was released and it made the list of highest-grossing Nigerian films of all time.

                               Koto Aye

Produced by the late Yekini Ajileye, Koto Aye instated Iya Gbonkan’s place in film history. The film features an ensemble cast including Abija, Koledowo, Ajileye, and many more talented actors.

The story takes place in a town that is being disturbed by a group of old people, who are witches, and wish to control the affairs of things. The film was well received by audiences and is considered a classic in the Nollywood genre.

                  Nneka the Pretty Serpent

Nneka the Pretty Serpent is a 1994 Nigerian horror drama film that explores the theme of demon possession and healing through the lens of a mother’s desire for a child. Written, directed, and produced by Okechukwu Ogunjiofor, the film is considered a trailblazer in the Nollywood genre for popularising storylines about demon possession and the role of pastors in healing.

The story follows a woman who longs to have a child of her own and turns to the river goddess  (mami water) for help. In return for the goddess’ assistance in getting pregnant, the woman pledges to give the child to her. The mother gives birth to a daughter named Nneka, who possesses extraordinary abilities and uses them to seduce wealthy, married men and steal both their money and souls.

                        Blackberry Babes

Blackberry Babes tells the story of a group of young women who are determined to live a lavish lifestyle, a common theme seen in many Nollywood films. The film focuses on the use of BlackBerry smartphones as a symbol of the characters’ desire for wealth and status.

The main character, Damisa, played by Oge Okoye, is joined by her friends, Tonto Dikeh, Mary Remmy and Annie Macaulay, in their pursuit of the latest BlackBerry models and their constant use of BBM to share gossip and talk about their lives. The film delves into the characters’ obsession with material possessions and the lengths they will go to in order to maintain their image of success.

                             Aki na Ukwa

Aki na Ukwa is a beloved Nigerian family comedy that follows the antics of two mischievous brothers, PawPaw and Aki. The film, which stars Osita Iheme and Chinedu Ikedieze in the lead roles, tells the story of how the brothers cause chaos in their home, school, and entire village.

Upon its release, the movie received positive reviews and has since been considered a classic in Nigerian cinema. The dynamic performances of Iheme and Ikedieze as PawPaw and Aki are often cited as a major factor in the film’s success.


                 Beyonce and Rihanna

Beyonce and Rihanna is a Nigerian film that takes a comedic approach to the alleged rivalry between international pop stars Beyonce and Rihanna. The movie features Nadia Buhari and Omotola Jalade Ekeinde in the respective roles of the two pop stars, and follows the story of their interest in a music producer, Jay (played by Jim Iyke). The film is a playful take on the reported tension between Beyonce and Rihanna in the mid-to-late 2000s.

One of the film’s most memorable scenes is the dramatic finale of Part 2, when Beyonce collapses on stage due to an energy drink overdose as the two characters compete against one another.


Domitilla is a 1996 movie which delves into the lives of a group of young women who resort to prostitution as a means of survival. The movie follows the character of Domitilla, played by Sandra Achums, as she becomes involved with a powerful politician and becomes his mistress. However, things take a turn for the worse when the politician dies suddenly, leaving Domitilla as the prime suspect.

The film features an ensemble cast including Enebeli Elebuwa, Maureen Ihua, Charles Okafor, Ada Ameh, Kate Henshaw, Basorge Tariah Jr, and Anne Njemanze, who all deliver powerful performances that bring the story to life. Domitilla is a thought-provoking film that highlights the harsh realities faced by those who resort to prostitution as a means of survival.

                            Diamond Ring

Diamond Ring is a classic Nigerian Nollywood film that tells the story of a university student named Chidi. Played by Richard Mofe-Damijo, Chidi gets caught up in a dangerous world of crime when he joins a gang of bad boys to rob a mortuary. The film’s thrilling plot takes audiences on a journey as Chidi and his gang face the severe consequences of their actions.

The movie features a star-studded cast including Sola Sobowale, Liz Benson, Bimbo Akintola, Teju Gbade-Oyelakin, Bukky Ajayi, Tunji Bamishigbin, and many more, who all deliver powerful performances that bring the story to life.

                           Egg Of Life

Egg of Life is a 2003 Nigerian film that tells the story of a prince who is on the brink of death, and a quest to save his life. A group of young women, played by actors such as Clarion Chukwurah, Funke Akindele, are sent on a dangerous journey into an evil forest to retrieve the egg of life. Throughout the film, the characters face many terrifying obstacles and not all of them make it back alive.

The film was directed by Andy Amenechi and features notable actors such as Pete Edochie, known for his powerful performances. Egg of Life is a thrilling adventure film that showcases the bravery and sacrifice of the young women who embark on the journey to save the Prince and the themes of healing, courage and hope.