Location: United Kingdom

A Naija Guy living (and loving) in the UK.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Icarus Girl and Naij a Documentary

The weekend was pretty busy with me trying to immerse myself in Nigerian Cultural delicacies to balance my week of hanging with my European Colleagues (there were two "leaving dos" at work this week) and speaking in my best "fone".

Saturday evening saw me heading to Hackney's Arcola Theatre to watch a play of Helen Oyeyemi's Icarus Girl. When Helen received a publishing deal and an advance to write two novels it was with a figure rumoured to be about £400,000 which was one of the largest in the UK by an unpublished writer and the largest for a teenager - she was just 19 and studying for her A Levels at the time.

Icarus girl is the story of bi-racial Jessamy Harrison who is troubled by the spirit of her dead twin (I really hope you guys have read the book!). It lightly explores the issues of children growing up in two cultures (tell me about it) and the Yoruba folklore of Ibeji and Abiku.

While I had watched "the Gods are not to blame" at the Arcola a couple of years ago, Icarus Girl was hosted in a basement room that is hardly much larger than most front rooms in Naija. The intimate setting meant that you could almost reach out and touch the actors and thus the haunting performance of Natalie Best as the spirit Titiola was all the more spooky. Helen's second novel The Opposite House will be published in June. Like UKNaija, I chose to go to Suya Express - convieniently located round the corner from the theatre - after the performance and invested in their Burantashi (its orishirishi beef grilled, try it out guys its superb!) before heading home.

So it was off to "Naij a Documentary" on Sunday at the Cine Lumiere in London's South Kensington just round the corner from the Victoria and Albert Museum. Naij is a documentary that was put together by a young Nigerian Investment Banker at his own personal expense, that comprises of original archival footage from Nigeria's history Colonial times through to present day. While Naij obviously reflected his personal politics through slick voice overs (like my girl says what is the point of having a voice if you don't have an opinion) it featured enough video footage of historical events, Western news media footage and interviews to enable one to form their own conclusions about the events. At almost three hours I am amazed at how it captured the invited audiences attention all the way through and remained entertaining.

Highlights of the documentary for me included

  • the interview with one of the 1966 coup plotters (I think it was Major Nzeogwu) who spoke calmly to camera - less than 24 hours after the event - about chasing down and executing Tafawa Balewa, he explained that the Sardauna - a man that Time Magazine had refered to as the perfect Victorian - had been found hiding amongst the women and children (who wan die?),
  • Emeka Ojukwu as he stonily smoked a cigar amidst the fanfare that circled the apparent 'resolution' of the Igbo discontent in Aburi, Ghana in January 1967 - Gowon can be seen in the background of the shot backslapping, drinking while all smiles, unaware of the unresolved restlessness of the Igbo officers,
  • Fela Anikulapo Kuti's interview where he reveals his welted buttocks to camera as proof of flogging by Obasanjo's henchmen and finally
  • the BBC interview with MKO Abiola (audio only) in 1994 while he was being arrested by armed police led by the Commissioner of Police (when asked by the BBC how he could be conducting an interview while he was being arrested by armed guard he retorted "they have come to arrest me and not my mouth"

Well done Actualize Productions you may have started a Nigerian cultural and intellectual revolution, through the young Nigerians in diaspora who now better understand the journey that the Country has made through its 47 years of Independence. Its certainly whet my appetite to try and fill in some of the gaps....


Blogger uknaija said...

Ah, you should have invited me to Obalende Suya- although I'd have thought you were still too young for bura ntashi...kana jin hausa?

7:12 pm, May 02, 2007  
Blogger Morountodun said...

Ba na jin Hausa and yes I am waaaay too young to need the assistance of Burantashi in that way (is the Suya express dish supposed to have the same effect?)

7:31 pm, May 02, 2007  
Blogger Uzo said...

Icarus Girl scared me sooooo much i couldnt finish the book. Would have been interesting to know if i could have sat through the play....

7:32 pm, May 03, 2007  
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