Saturday 26 December 2009

Nigeria: District 9

A viewing of District 9

The release of District 9 [1] created a bit of Nigerian angst for all sorts of derogatory references made about my motherland and countrymen, however, I never like to comment about issues and events like this without having read the book, watched the film or verified the sources of the information in the discourse.

This Christmas offered me the opportunity to watch District 9 and really I am surprised about the angst it created.

Realities appearing in films

The subtext of Nigerians creating a scam, feeding on alien flesh in order to gain power and running illegal markets could easily have been taken with a bit or mirth and laughter if we did not take ourselves too seriously and did not always fall to defensive postures when subjected to unmitigated abuse.

Whilst this was a film for global distribution and it might have not helped the presumably dented image of Nigeria and Nigerians, it is not strange that the reality of the animosity between Nigerians and South Africans was depicted in this way.

Just about 2 years ago there were riots in South Africa about aliens, then, it was about nationals of other countries in that country and whilst a majority of Nigerians wherever they are in the world live honest, irreproachable, dignified lives, there are the few who besmirch the name of our great country with nefarious activities that are at best shameful, sometimes utterly despicably criminal and beneath contempt.

Taking ourselves too seriously

We should not allow those few to define the context of the many more, the work of dealing with that begins with individuals families, communities, society and also what our leadership and government who should work to promote in thought, in deed and in verifiable results in Nigeria and abroad images of good conduct, civility and the reduction or absence of corruption.

What I saw in District 9 was not outlandish in any sense, it was interestingly a warped perception of Nigerians and the name of the leader of the criminal Nigerian group bearing a semblance to an erstwhile president did not leave me full of any indignation – there are things his regime could have done to prevent that kind of publicity, but that is beside the point.

If I might add, the language of communication between the so-called Nigerians was not Nigerian to my hearing.

The real District 9

The more critical issue in District 9 has the danger of being missed; which is first the inhumane treatment of minorities or people different from us, the scheming activity of a father-in-law to get rid of his son-in-law because he felt the man was spineless and the willingness to expend human lives in the quest for the profits of biogenetical engineering.

Those in my view affect the whole of humanity and must command the greater attention than the hurt feelings of certain cellophane-skinned Nigerians whose activism against the mentions added to increased curiosity about the film and its seeming box office success.

The ridiculous reactions

The inability of Nigerians to suffer a modicum of self-deprecation or a joke at our expense just made the whole thing ridiculous, the Minister of Information’s intervention with the banning of the film in Nigeria was a publicity coup for Sony.

In the end, there is a part of the Nigerian psyche depicted which was as truthful and it was bitter to accept, there are people who would do anything to attain power, even supernatural power and if aliens would provide that means, there would purveyors of snake-oil remedies that promise such powers.

Sadly, the DVD I watched was bought in Nigeria, whilst the packaging looked like an original product with all the trimmings, it was the first time I could not watch a supposedly internationally released DVD on my system without glitches that jumped scenes, skewed conversation and even froze on my computer.

I would hate to think Nigerians had also bootlegged a DVD that portrayed them in bad light – Now, that would not be funny at all.


[1] District 9 - Wikipedia

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