Why Half of a Yellow Sun must not fail

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Email: fidelisduker@yahoo.com Twitter: @fidelisduker

Fidelis Duker QEDI have read, heard and witnessed several debates and arguments surrounding the most anticipated Nollywood – or rather Nigerian – movie of 2014 which according to available report gulped a whopping 8 million pounds or 10 million dollars. When you juxtapose these humongous figures with the title of this article you will understand why I insist this film adapted from a book by multiple award-winning writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, must not fail.

The movie Half of a Yellow Sun unlike the book of the same title has generated several reactions since its Nigerian release was suspended or like some will like to believe banned from screening in Nigeria by the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB). The film had been scheduled for release on May 5 2014 only to be suspended by the board for reasons bothering on national security which personally I cannot fathom. I actually see the action of the board as hypocrisy and high service because a part of the country as we all know has been held under siege by the Boko Haram insurgents.

Interestingly, I find it very absurd that the romantic film could be subjected to the viewing of security operatives by the NFVCB. The action of the board is not only disappointing but surprising because this same board sponsored the Toronto screening of the film which a delegation including the Nigerian High Commissioner to Canada Chief Ojo Madueke attended with the director general of the board in attendance. This calls to question the position of the board on the film and my issue with a part of a larger Nigerian political culture that is steeped in denial and hypocrisy.

I am more concern about the success of this film because the ripple effect of its failure on the industry will be monumental for the following reasons:

  • Budget: Half of a Yellow Sun is probably the most expensive film in the last one hundred years in Nigeria. Looking at that huge budget, there is need for caution on the part of government agencies to see the film succeed.
  • Foreign investment in Nollywood: The success of Half of a Yellow Sun will encourage foreign investors to invest in the Nigeria movie industry considering the fact that the movie had foreign investors. Failure based on the suspension by the board might dissuade other investors.
  • Local investors: Every Nigerian filmmaker knows the apathy of local investors in the Nigerian film industry and the commercial failure of Half a Yellow Sun will send a dangerous signal and confirm the fears of our local investors who hitherto do not believe or support Nollywood.
  • Censorship of creative content: The brouhaha of the suspension of the film which attracted the attention of the local and international media including might not encourage foreign producers to partner with Nollywood for fear of having their creative contents banned or suspended.

However, some will argue that because of the tensed security situation in the country, there is need for caution in the kind of information being disseminated because it could inflame the already charged situation in the country. Although I might concede to some extent that the board’s decision was not totally unreasonable considering the current security situation in Nigeria, we cannot hide from our history and there is need for the NFVCB to contribute to the development of the industry. The need to release the film is important at this critical stage of development of the Nigerian motion picture industry.