Crux of the Bongo Movie from a Digital Disruption Lens

Issa Athuman Mbura


This paper reports the findings of a study that had explored digital disruption as an analytical lens developed based on the constructs of two theories: the digital disruption theory and the disruptive innovation theory. The study had employed unstructured in-depth interviews, direct observation and virtual ethnographic to consult media experts, pioneer filmmakers, Bongo Movie’ producers, movies library’s keepers, movie retailers, movie translators (deejays) and social network sites (SNS) to collect data. Based on the study findings, the paper argues that the shift in technological paradigm, specifically from the use of expensive and inaccessible technologies used in filmmaking engendered the development and sustainability of the Bongo Movie genre in Tanzania. This technological paradigm shifts were twofold. To begin with, there was a transition from the use of celluloid film and analogue video cameras to digital video cameras in film production. Second, there was a shift from the use of optical prints and Vertical Helican Scan (VHS) tapes to optical discs such as Digital Versatile Discs (DVD) in the distribution of films. These changes in the technologies used in production and distribution of films provided entrants into the local film industry with necessary tools to produce low-budget films and service the low-end market of the country, which augured well with the country’s resource-poor context. Moreover, these Bongo Movies “disrupted” the erstwhile traditional, established, and stringent patterns of consumption of both locally-produced and foreign-imported films in local film markets. Overall, the Bongo Movie genre evolution appears to be a model of how digitally-motivated disruptions can occur in a local film market in a developing nation’s video-film industries and become a staple particularly among the low-end clientele.

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