Holding Nollywood accountable

Have been feeling under the weather since the weekend, so used that opportunity to watch Nollywood films with the parents. Unfortunately, I could not get to flea market to collect movies from my usual Senegalese hook-up. Anyway, Youtube to the rescue.

I have always admired veteran Nollywood actresses and film, The Maid, starring Eucharia Anunobi, amongst others, caught my attention. It's a religious film - which is more palatable to my conservative parents (as opposed to films such as this one). Anyway, the film, produced in 2004, follows a Christian family and their maid as they come into a better financial situation and slowly lose their faith. The maid, (played by Mercy Johnson), later becomes demon possessed and enlists the help of the Eucharia's children - no older than 12 or 13, in carrying out demonic activities in school and in the family.

You can already figure out the rest of the film - maid and children run havoc in various homes and schools, powerful pastor comes in to cast out demons and "To God Be the Glory." No need for spoiler alerts here. However, in light of this year's revelations of the child witches phenomenon, I found the portrayal of the maid and children as agents of Satan to be incredibly disturbing. The scene below opens with a child in a cast who was injured during one of these violent exorcisms. Later, another young boy admits to killing his parents and preventing "locking up" the success of his uncle's business.

Such scenes are highly reminiscent of testimonies from rescued "child witches" who claim they were severely abused or abandoned because similarly minded "pastors" accused them of causing the misfortune of their parents through occultic means. Also, many are familiar with the all to familiar story of justifying abuse metted out to house helps who also may be deemed as "witches and wizards." Unfortunately, as in the case here, reality, at times, inspires some Nollywood themes. However, Nollywood, in turn, reinforces some of these realities through films such as these. Not only does to further ruin Nigeria's fragile image, it also supports the notion that yes, some children are indeed agents of evil, bearers of evil spirits which require purging. Films such as these demonstrate the need to reign in Nollywood's negative portrayal of Nigerians.

Speaking of Nollywood, check out the NollywoodForever blog, which provides detailed reviews about the latest Nigerian and Ghanaian films. Highly recommend it. Much better than my short-lived attempt (couldn't support the habit at the time).


Ojukwu's comments reflective of larger social unrest

To even attempt to describe the political mess that has occurred over the past ten years in Anambra state is quite the feat. However, Chxta, at his blog has done so, and I commend him for it. Seriously, it reads like a very complicated drama - and I am surprised that Nollywood has not yet picked up on it yet - godfathers, rifts between brothers, dubious shrines - the whole nine.

Currently, the Anambra Court of Appeals is deciding whether to re-instate Andy Uba as governor once the Peter Obi's term expires in 2010. Leader of All Progressives Grand Alliance Party (APGA) and former military leader of Biafra, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, made headlines last week when he claimed that installation of Andy Uba as governor were grounds for the start of another civil war.

“...What we are playing out [in Anambra] is not anything short of playing with the possibilities of another civil war.

I make no apologies about this; the Anambra people are looking unto me, and I am sure most of them have already decided that if we have to fight again, I will be Commander-in-Chief. So, I want to make it clear today I am before you and I am begging. Please I am begging, not drag us into another civil war.

“I make it quite clear that whatever we are playing with we must know the full consequences of it. The full consequences are that we are stepping with our eyes wide open into another bloody conflict. I will not sit around and allow Anambra State to be used as a balloon ball for children to kick around. No. We have our rights. We are a people. I will certainly, to the end, support justice for Anambra State.” (emphasis, mine)

Over the past few days, several have debated whether Ojukwu's calls for justice on behalf of Anambrarians are in essence, calls for another civil war - an invitation for chaos. More than 30 years post-1967, the unsavoury memories of the Nigerian civil war still remain ingrained in the psyche of a number of Igbo who survived the conflict and whose lives remain forever changed by memories of forced conscription, air raids, and starvation. Members of the opposing party and others have strongly condemned Ojukwu's comments and some, not necessarily associated with PDP, have even gone as far as stating that Ojukwu himself, poses a national security threat.

Critics of Ojukwu's critics maintain that Ojukwu's comments were largely taken out of context, claiming that Ojukwu merely stated that decisions taken by the court could potentially destabilise that state. And of course, across Nigerian or Igbo messages boards, requests for Ojukwu's canonisation as the Igbo patron saint have been registered.

While Ojukwu's comments were somewhat misunderstood by the mass media (see bolded portions above), I still question his motives. He did clearly state that if Anambra found itself in such a civil war, he would position himself as the people's "commander-in-chief." Reactions to Ojukwu's careless statements have surprised me a bit, for I was not aware that he still commanded such respect and loyalty from the masses (or perhaps, this is an Anambra thing?). Personally, I am of the opinion that Ojukwu has long expired his usefulness and that his latest rants thinly disguise his selfish desire for some relevance in modern Igbo politics. Also, let us remember that beyond the Biafran war, this is not Ojukwu's first time he has called for popular uprisings on the part of the Igbos. During his failed bid for presidency of Nigeria, in 2007, he ironically states that Igbos will only be fulfilled if there were allowed to live a "separate existence."

Ambitions aside, Ojukwu's recent penchant for civil wars and separate existences reflective of larger trend that has been embraced by several parties, organisations and ethinic groups within Nigeria. When dissatisfied with due process or the rule of law (both of which are have largely been corrupted), the alternative presented to Nigerians is anarchy and chaos. Nigeria's fledgling democracy and tenous stability is oftentimes the target and unfortunate victim of, at times, well-meaning parties. The crisis in the Niger Delta is case-in-point and I would even venture to say that the recent, though resolved, stalement between univerisity unions and the Nigerian government served as a destabilising force within the nation. Ojukwu, Niger Delta militants, unions - all find themselves resorting to methods which put the people they claim to serve at a disadvantage. True change will only come to Nigeria when ordinary citizens are able to effectively petition their government in the face of grave injustices.