the danger of the Nigerian brand

interesting conversation about the recent science-fiction film, District 9, can be found at Nnedi's blog here.

Just saw the movie last night and was horrified at its depiction of Nigerians, to say the least. Yes, I am used to slandering of the Nigerian brand and usually, I try to not let it bother me. However, after the horrific events that took place in South Africa in May of last year, I could not stomach the positive reviews of District 9. Last year, South Africa declared war on its immigrants, particularly Nigerians, who were deemed as the culprit for the plight of black South Africans (apparently, apartheid can take a back seat on this one....). During the month of May we were bombarded with images of the slaughter, burning, destruction of our fellow Nigerians and other Africans caught in the mayhem. District 9, for me, only served to legitimize such violence against the savage Nigerians, since in the words of the director, the tiny fraction of Nigerians living in South Africa, are indeed responsible for the MAJORITY of crime in a country that has been touted to have one of the highest homicide rates in the world...

Unfortunately, as one commenter posted on her blog, it is relatively easy to take shots at Nigerians seeing that we would not be able to come up with a concerted rebuttal or make a dent in their pockets. Previously, I have taken the Nigerian re-branding project lightly; however, scenarios such as what I have described seem to necessitate a serious look at the dangers, the baggage inherent in the mere mention of the words Nigeria, Nigerian. Rather than waste time on useless logos and mantras of "Good People, Great Nation" (or whatever they are using these days), efforts should go towards countering such portrayals of our people at home and abroad.

17 comments:

  1. KG said...:

    It never ends does it? I had been hearing rumblings about this movie for the past 2 weeks but just reading this quote is making me very very mad:

    The Nigerian thing is there because I wanted to take as many cues from South Africa as I could... If I try to keep South Africa as true to South Africa as I could, then, unfortunately, a massive part of the crime that happens in Johannesburg is by the Nigerians there. It's just the way it is. I wanted to have a crime group, and thought the most honest refraction of a crime group would be Nigerians, for one.

    Is he for real??!! Honestly, I don't think filmmakers realize the power and influence they have in their hands when they make movies. Like so many people said on Nnedi's post, it was just easy to go target the 'powerless' group cos if he used some other group, that movie would never have been made.

    It's so annoying really and it just further stresses the point that we as Nigerians (and Africans) need to get it together.

  1. Artsville said...:

    For some reason, I actually find this quite amusing. A good friend of mine has been very upset about it but like you said, I'm used to it really and I refuse to be upset by it. The people who will be worse hit are the Nigerians abroad and if this movie gets popular, an already existing bad image will only get worse. Le's see if our rebranders will have a rejoinde.

  1. Myne Whitman said...:

    I am watching the rebranders too but I wasn't too put off sha. It was a nice movie and it was Sci Fi so that gives them so leeway at least for me. A lot of movies like Taken for instance dealt factually with eastern european white slavery. I don't remember a fall out. Lets watch and see

  1. sunnyside said...:

    Rather than waste time on useless logos and mantras of "Good People, Great Nation", efforts should go towards countering such portrayals of our people at home and abroad. these logo's are so upsetting i think i think they are going to give me an ulcer.

  1. SOLOMONSYDELLE said...:

    hmmm...I read Sugabelly's post and she convinced me not to watch the film. I choose to not support anyone who will disrespect me or those I love.

    That being said, the issue becomes whether or not there will be a reaction to the portrayal of Nigerians in this film. We bloggers would probably have an easier time drumming up some attention and forcing the issue if we focus. The problem is whether we will get the right attention and support from those who could truly help make a difference and force people such as the South African director to think carefully before stating misguided/biased/hateful rhetoric as fact.

  1. I may bother to watch the movie if I can find it for the purpose of having something done or joining others to keep talking about the need for a good portrayal of Nigeria be it home or abroad.

  1. Doja 2.0 said...:

    I find it hilarious when south Africans blame Nigerians for all their troubles...I just think they are in denial of the fact that their children live in the slums and are highly disadvantaged by years of discrimination. it is easier to blame other people for ones troubles.

  1. Doja 2.0 said...:

    Have not watched the film and have no plans to do so.

  1. Rosie said...:

    I saw this movie and I was grossed out. I was also upset by the depiction of Nigerians. It was irresponsible on the part of the film makers. I don't know why there is no outrage.

  1. Beauty said...:

    Is there a middle ground for Nigeria? Being both The Giant and The Nightmare of Africa comes at a cost and if we are portrayed as thus, why counter or dispel the myth? More biting at Nigeria's larger than life chip on the shoulder is evident in this Sci-Fi but are we learning from it?

  1. nneoma said...:

    @all....sorry for not responding to comments on time....very unlike me....my sincere apologies

    @KG - unfortunately, the director holds captive an audience which probably knows nothing about Naij...so his statements are pretty powerful

    @Artsville - Re-branders unfortunately did not comment on this film...i guess they had bigger fish to fry, since Akunyili released a statement about the whole Sony PS3 debacle

    @Myne - thanks for your comments...not familiar with Taken. Evidently, there is not much of a fallout from the D9 controversy, other than the few pieces here and there I have found online

    @sunnyside - my thoughts exactly. though they did do counter the sony -s3 adverts recently....its a start

    @SSD - one can only hope. Like i said, I have not seen much in terms of Nigerian reactions to this film. Thought the response would be greater. but i guess that is due to the nature of the film...possibly sci-fi does not tickle the fancy of most naija bloggers

  1. Parakeet said...:

    Am enraged...its all I can say really. This isn't fair but who said the world was fair eh? We just have to organise ourselves and fight this. But alll I see is a lot of frustrated individuals with little or no joint effort.

  1. SA said...:

    Couldn't we get a petition signed in hundreds and sent to relevant authorities? Nigeria's foreign and information ministers, South African government or parliament or films board. Just something to make some collective noise. I hate this feeling of helplessness going around. We sure can do something.

  1. nneoma said...:

    Now to finish responding to comments

    @ST - some have suggested boycotting the movie....however, it is not yet an organized effort

    @Doja - sad, but at times, true.

    @Rosie - as to where is the outrage, there is a growing wave of dissatisfaction amongst nigerian bloggers

    @Beauty - there is a saying from my place that a group of men went to go and harvest yams. one of them brought back quite alot for his coffers. Upon seeing this, others claimed that he used money rituals to do so.....the bigger you are, the more you are hated, in my opinion

    @Parakeet and SA- wow, long time.i think Akunyili's response to the PS3 affair was a good step in the right direction

  1. Beauty said...:

    How do we counter such portrayals of our people at home and abroad? "Chinyere Igwe, a member of the House of Representatives (PDP, Rivers State), slapped a Sergeant-At-Arms that dared ask for his identification prior to allowing Igwe into the National Assembly Complex". Nobody hates us more than us.

  1. pam said...:

    Dora responded 3 or 4 days ago to that District 9 mess

  1. nneoma said...:

    @Beauty - there are more than 140million Nigerians. And yes, we, at times, can be our own worst enemies. Considering such a number of potential enemies, we are not in need of anymore - outside of Nigeria.

    @Pam - yep, saw the BBC article on it yesterday. will post an update soon. thanks.