5 Movies that Offer Some Insight Into Nigeria’s Political History

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Nigeria has a dynamic political history from pre-colonial times to the era of British rule and the post-colonial period. Documenting these times which hold great significance for Nigeria as a nation is not always easy since it requires a lot of research, facts, and funds.  Nonetheless, some Nigerian movies have been able to properly depict Nigeria’s stringent political history.

Here are five movies that do a good job of portraying Nigeria’s story:

October 1 

Produced and directed by Kunle Afolayan, October 1 was released in 2014 and set in Nigeria’s pre-colonial times just before we gained independence. The movie tells the story of Danladi Waziri (Sadiq Daba), an incorrupt police officer that was deployed from Northern Nigeria to a Western town called Akote in Yorubaland to uncover the mystery of a serial killer, Prince Adereropo (Adedamola Adedoying) who had been taking the lives of young girls.

Nollywood actress, Kehinde Bankole plays the role of Miss Tawa who was the village belle and the killer’s first love who he was obsessed with. The film aptly shows many vices that existed in the pre-colonial era: discrimination against women as Miss Tawa believed she was not taken to the city because she is a female, ill practices meted out by white men to the policemen, and sexual harassment.

The movie won three awards at the 2014 African International Film Festival. It also won nine awards out of 12 nominations at the 2015 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards.

Other Actors in the movie include Kanayo O Kanayo, Fabian Adeoye, Abiodun Aleja, and Femi Adebayo.

Half of a Yellow Sun

Half of a Yellow Sun is an Anglo-Nigerian movie released in 2013 and directed by Biyi Bandele based on the novel of the same title written by award-winning author, Chimamanda Adichie.

The film explores the plight of Nigerians during the civil war based on the story of twin sisters; Kainene and Olanna from a wealthy home who return home in the 1960s and are forced to choose different parts as the war breaks out and they struggle to survive.

Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, Onyeka Onwenu, Anika Noni Rose, Joseph Mawle, Genevieve Nnaji, OC Ukeje, and John Boyega, the film explored the war, inter-tribal killings, love, and the struggle for Biafra’s independence.

The movie was nominated for Outstanding Foreign Film in the Black Reel Awards 2015, Outstanding Independent Motion Picture in the Image Awards 2015, Silver Mirror Award in the Oslo Films for the South Festival 2014.

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace is focused on one of the biggest highlights of Nigerian history; the slave trade. Released in 2006, and produced by Jeta Amata and Alicia Arce, the British-Nigerian drama tells the story of a British slave trader, John Newton who sails to Nigeria to buy slaves but has a change of heart after witnessing the brutality of slavery and almost losing his life.

Believing that the grace of God saved him, he gives up slave trading and becomes an Anglican priest who writes the now-famous hymn, Amazing Grace.

Starring Fred Amata, Joke Silva, Mbong Amata, Nick Moron, Zack Amata, Mbong Odungide, the movie was able to portray the violence that came with the British trans-Atlantic slave trade, how Nigerians dropped their traditions, mode of dressing, and religion to adapt to the western lifestyle.

It was a movie that remains relevant as a visual representation of the slave trade. It received 11 nominations at the African Movie Academy Awards in 2007, winning the Award for Achievement in Cinematography.

Invasion 1897

Produced by Lancelot Imasuen in 2014, Invasion 1897 is a  Nigerian movie that re-enacts the 1897 invasion, destruction of the ancient Benin kingdom, and the betrayal and exile of its once-powerful king, Oba Ovoramwen.

The story was narrated by a young prince of Benin, who was arrested and brought to trial for stealing historical artefacts from a British museum.

Featuring Mike Omoregbe, Segun Arinze, Rudolph Walker, Charles Inojie, Paul Obazele, Justus Esiri, Charles ‘Chucky’ Venn, and Leo Mezie, it was able to show some parts of the history of the longest standing Nigerian empire; the Ancient Benin Kingdom, it’s unique traditional history and the events that shaped up the empire to what it is today.

Invasion 1897 was nominated in the Best of Nollywood Awards (BON) for best cinematography, best actor, best special effects, best editing and it won for Best film, best sound design, and best Director in 2015.

The Herbert Macaulay Affair

Produced by Nigerian filmmaker, Imoh Umoren, The Herbert Macaulay Affair tells the story of Nigerian Nationalist, Herbert Macaulay, his rebellion against the colonial government, and the events that led to his death.

Set in the 1920s, the movie begins with young Herbert Macaulay stepping off from a ship after schooling in England in 1893 and proceeds to his passionate pursuit of a fair society through opposition to colonial positions on land rights, taxes, and racial segregation as it existed in colonial Nigeria.

The movie was able to explore the story of a very important man whose history is shrouded in mystery for no good reason just like his appearance in the now outdated One-naira note. The film starred William Benson as Herbert Macaulay and Saidi Balogun as Eshugbayi Eleko.


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