“Kill Boro” Review: Another Fictionalization of  Niger Delta Struggles and Survival 

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Set in the fictional oil-rich region of Azuama, Kill Boro explores themes of family, survival, militancy, hope and redemption, particularly through the lead character Boro, played by Philip Asaya. Boro, a debt-ridden ex-militant, faces threat for defaulting on a loan taken from his former underground boss, Jaguar (Yibokoko). Outside the world of crime that he is previously attuned to, Boro gets frustrated in the struggle for survival and becomes an abusive father to his son Elijah (Kosisochukwu Ogbureche) and wife Boma (Ini-Dima Okojie). Full of hate for his father, the young Elijah attempts to persuade Bossman (Gregory Ojefua), a local gang leader, to kill Boro. But as the possibility of Boro’s death in the hands of Jaguar looms, his family and friends, including the grudgeful son, find themselves in a race to save him.

Kill Boro, directed by Courage Obayuana, is a crime drama that navigates the realities of the Niger Delta region. Despite being rich in oil, the Niger Delta, located in southern Nigeria, is underdeveloped, and many of its inhabitants are impoverished. This is evident in Azuama where there are problems of oil spillage and water pollution, oil bunkering, militancy and violence. The poor standard of living of the masses in these communities often predisposes the youth to criminal behavior. We see this in Kill Boro when Elijah apprehends a pickpocket of his age group.

Azuama community in Kill Boro is prone to violence. The gangs of Bossman and Jaguar constitute youths who are involved in gun violence, illegal oil bunkering and extra-judicial killings. There’s a scene of a certain Mr Emma who is killed by Jaguar’s boys. Another scene involves the confrontation between the Bossman-led and Jaguar-led gangs, which results in Jaguar being fatally shot and Elijah sustaining gunshot injuries. The film attempts to project Bossman’s gang as the good guys, especially for their vigilante role in the community and Bossman’s commitment to sponsoring the education of indigent community children such as Oraberema (Beloved Osagie). 

On the other hand, Jaguar and his men are represented as unrepentantly malevolent and a nuisance to the community. Apart from their assaults on oil fields, they expose children to petty crimes and extort from the poor. There’s a scene where Jaguar’s men harass an unnamed man for refusing to pay any more imposed illegal dues. Then, it doesn’t appear as if the police or any other state security institutions are within reach in the community and can be trusted to save the people from the oppressive hands of the Jaguar-led gang. 

Azuama is a slum, with poorly constructed homes and polluted water evident, and the people live in squalor. It is no surprise that families, such as Boro’s, are plunged into debt, cannot afford to send their children to school, and can hardly consistently afford a proper diet. The lack of lucrative employment opportunities and appropriate orientation for young people like Denzel (Michael Dappa), Lyd (Blessing Uzero) and Gentle (Brutus Richard) makes it easy for them to turn to a life of gangsterism and become willing tools in the hands of underground lords for survival. The film, thus, pictures a society that is neglected by the authorities, a miniature reflection of the failures of grassroots government and politics in contemporary Nigerian society. Though lacking in biting humor typical of the genre, the film may be considered a half-hearted satire on life in the ghettos and other such rural regions in Nigeria today.

The use of Pidgin English as the language of interaction among the people of Azuama helps achieve authenticity in the narrative. Across many of the Niger Delta communities, such as Warri and Ogulagha in Delta state, Pidgin is the lingua franca. The version of Pidgin spoken in these regions is often ridden with peculiar slang and street terms. These slang expressions are rife in Kill Boro. One such moment is the ensuing conversation after the pickpocket is cornered, with the characters caught up in the use of expressions such as “disembark” (meaning “stand down”), “kporus me” (meaning “deal with me”), “who goes you?” (meaning “who are you?”), AK men (policemen), and “pinching” (meaning “stealing”). 

Kill Boro thrives as a cinematic artwork of social realism, with the cinematography, setting, costume, thematic concerns and storyline reflecting the relatable struggles of the masses in a particular region of the country. The dent in the film lies in the acting department as some of the actors deliver performances that are no more than passable. Michael Dappa, for instance, unlike Uzero, fails to inject a sense of authority in his interpretation of Denzel. While the hulky physique and belligerent looks of Asaya contribute significantly to the body language of Boro, the delivery of his lines often starves the character of its deserving awe. 

History will probably be kind to Kill Boro as it joins the list of Nollywood films (Black Gold, Black November, Oloibiri, Blood Vessel) that are mild or acute representations of the struggles and identity concerns associated with peoples of Niger Delta communities. Only last year, the Moses Inwang-directed Blood Vessel, a tale of six Niger Delta youths who, in search of greener pastures abroad, get on a ship as stowaways, was released on Netflix to critical acclaim, amassing nominations at the recent Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards. While Kill Boro does not contract the visceral grit of Blood Vessel, it topicalizes the growing attention on a region whose people, often thought of as minorities, used to be overlooked in mainstream entertainment and popular culture.