Advancing the Value of Ethnography

Cash as a Good


This film explores the interplay between cash, trust, beliefs about money and institutions during an economic crisis in Nigeria.

In 2012, the government announced a cashless policy to see the country move towards a cashless future. Over the next few years, they rolled out cashless initiatives like POS systems, which the people gradually embraced and adopted. Fast forward to 2022. The CBN governor suddenly announced the redesign of the three highest currency notes. He gave a short timeline for the old notes to be taken out of circulation, launching the country into unprecedented chaos.

This film explores the narratives of Nigerians in Lagos State as they go through the crisis. A compelling thesis of the dynamics fueling the situation emerges as they share their experiences in interviews and through the researcher’s observations captured in videos and photographs. Cash, to Nigerians, is a tool to purchase trust, loyalty and power. The absence of cash in an economy without trust capital led to the social and economic breakdown, especially in the crucial lead-up to the nation’s 2023 political elections.

Cash as a Good is an apologetically humanized view of the crisis. Where the focus is often predominantly on the economic repercussions, the film takes an empathetic ethnographic approach to show the interplay between cash, trust, and institutions. The result is a holistic perspective on the crisis and a high-level commentary on Nigerian money beliefs.


Lese Awodiya‘s work includes studying and analyzing Nigerian culture with a particular interest in its preservation and global consumption. She considers herself duly equipped for this work by a lifelong interest in cultures, several failed attempts to learn various languages, extensive research background and an academic background in communication and global engagement. She also holds a master’s degree in Management Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Arts Leadership diploma from Queen’s University.


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