District 9 and the Can of Wild Paradox

altThe multidimensional and controversial movie, District 9, constitutes a paradox of unending and quizzical interpretations which could pass for a documentary packaged as it is, possibly as a style to lampoon and denigrate Nigeria further considering all that was reflected in it.  There is no need attempting to interpret code 9 which could simply stand for the city of Abuja, a synecdoche for the country. Of course Nigeria is mentioned severally by narrators in the movie, so no metaphor is injected but directness as far as the movie is concerned.

It has become a trend to always blow everything about Nigeria out of proportion, anything that probably could have gone unnoticed ordinarily. Other nations may do worse things but they get away with it without any grouse as long as it is not Nigeria. The country has become like a plague to the rest of the world; hell is let loose on any issue that connects Nigeria, they sneeze, they cough and get queasy at the country. The problem here is hydra headed and must be approached from a logical and unbiased point of view irrespective of whatever imbalance is obtaining in Nigeria. I think our media as gate keepers has one onerous task in its hands to rescue the country from the wicked claws of the spoilers before they run the country aground. On the step of all the atrocities credited to Nigeria in District 9, just which country of the world is free from this? The piracy issue piquantly depicted in the movie only puts Nigeria in a baby class where China is concerned. Above all, the machinery used in doing all the dirty works so demonstrated in the movie cannot be traced to have originated from Nigeria but in the developed countries and China.

Permit me to say that the Virginia Tech Massacre claiming 33 lives and leaving numerous wounded in 2007 is fresh in our memories. The brutal murder of 23-year-old Sean Bell who was to marry the next day in New York City 2006 is still here. The 1999 Amadou Diallo also 23 is fresh and what about the recent Harvard University killing of Mr. Justin Cosby, 21 who was shot in the stomach at the university dormitory, the alma mater of Barack Obama and former seven US Presidents? What of the regular and incessant serial killing in the United States? This goriness is hand in glove to all these communities. The world should know what exactly is it that Nigeria is owing these people that they have to insult our sense and sensibilities every time. The pseudonistic insurrection inherent in the character dealing with the aliens as painted in the movie is suggestive of the attitude of the west to see the nation as over reaching itself.

The kerfuffle so fast growing on the movie District 9 which is a systematic satire unleashed on Nigeria is not only a misnomer but an errant unpardonable misdeed by the Hollywood producer of this movie. It does not matter whatever apology Sony gave to the government of Nigeria, it will not halt the circulation of the movie as the deed is done. In fact, by extension the outright banning of the movie is not going to change the situation. As much as the blame game is not really the issue here, certain matters on the ground of this movie must be mentioned in order to dissuade a worse future occurrence. Where was the Nigeria Film Censor Board when all of this was going on? If Silverbird Production brought this movie to Nigeria without the due process particularly by seeking the approval of the film censor board, the due process of the law should be allow to take its full weight on that organisation. However, I don’t expect an organisation at that level whose Chief Executive was sometime the Director-General of the nation’s number one TV station with the highest and largest network in Africa to make that kind of error, there is a need to question his patriotism as a responsible citizen, everything shouldn’t end just naira and kobo. You don’t support the outsiders against your own. These are part of the actions that further encourage the enemies of Nigeria to thrive.

Growing up, all I ever know about the American literatures were the James Hadley Chases, Nick Carter, Mickey Spilling, Agatha Christie, and a host of others with the central focus to parade and show case the gangsterism and the gory killing in America which up till tomorrow is still the life style of the people. But one very salient thing about these authors report of the American madness is that someday the law will catch up with you. This is always the conclusion mostly exhibited in all these writings. In spite of these, it has not stopped people trooping into America on a daily basis as a land of opportunity and God’s own country. But the reportage here particularly leverages on the better angle of that society and so makes the ills appear an everyday life that is not a big deal. As at this moment, one person or another is shot on one of the streets of cities in the US and one crime or another in somewhere in Johannesburg or somewhere there. Nigeria is a far cry to the reality.

The producer did not mince words meaning Nigeria is the object of scorn in the movie painting the picture of a savagery people who are degenerates. When the director of the movie was asked why he chose to reflect Nigeria in such light, he commented that ” a massive part of the crime that happens in Johannesburg is committed by Nigerians. I wanted to have a crime group, and the most honest refraction of a crime group would be Nigerians”, this is not good at all. Unfortunately isn’t it disenchantingly disconnecting to accuse an infinitesimal percentage of the people in a country as being responsible for the crime in that place? SA is a country that had been in the logjam of apartheid for only God knows how many years before they came out of the dark ages though. But to turn and accuse an African brother country that played one of the very key roles in the liberation and the emancipation of the country from the claw of apartheid as being a criminal through one God forsaken movie, I think it is wicked and dehumanizing. The shame thrown at the corridor of Nigeria recently on the step of district 9 creates some form
of international disrepute and disgrace.

Unfortunately, South Africa’s Johannesburg which happens to be a setting in the movie is not free from the culture of xenophobia. Is it not the same South Africa that embarked on a xenophobic onslaught; killing Africans in May-June 2008 here or they assume the world has gone to sleep? Nigerians court peace and humility not because of timidity and for that singular reason no one has a right to daily pour filth on us. A great percentage of the merchandise of South Africa has its market in Nigeria. So, what the hell? That Nigerians have chosen to look the other way does not mean that they don’t know what to do. This is one country that has a retinue of intellectuals and academics with proven scholarship renowned world over. These groups of people are seen all over the world to have achieved unusual feat and contributing immensely to the success of the global enclave in every facet including ICT. Why is it that the mention of Nigeria sends a negative signal?

The character Obssanjo is not metaphorical at all but direct to fire Nigeria. We all know what is going on, but no one should put his finger in the mouth of Nigeria. Sometimes the way the foreign media reports Africa demonstrates the inadequacies and sectionalism in presentation and a deliberate distortion of information to suit their own purpose. But this in another vein expresses some form of euro-centrism on the part of the west. By this, it appears that the west is always terrified when attention seems to be shifting from them to the other nations. In the case of District 9 it is almost suggestive of the fact that the west suddenly discovered that Nigeria ought to be removed from the map by the case where the man who stock computers for sale was said to have stored stolen goods. In a most unwholesome manner, the country and the people were referred to as fucking people.

How many millions have been denied here, too numerous to be counted and have taken solace in ‘God will do it’ someday and not to recourse to killing as pastimes to make of denials as it is so exemplified in the western novels and movies. So, it is difficult to take that away from them since it is a thorough reflection of their experience there. And without any prejudice, the Nigerian culture no doubt has some form of rituals, sacrifice and other ancient practices in its custody which are not meant to harm anybody but a mere reflection of our culture which is often depicted in our home videos. Even at that, the movies are entertaining, didactic but above all educating and try to show the consequences of any evil done.

Going through Alex La Guma,s book ‘A Walk in The Night’ which captured the apartheid South Africa with its attendant ills showed the unsightly and horrendous practice of the people with the white influence fore grounded. He could identify with what happened in that place and was able to critically externalize to us the goriness of apartheid and the out falls that have become the survival inkling of the people with savagery not meaning anything to them. For anyone to say that Nigerians are responsible for the criminal acts in South Africa is a total misinformation and is criminal in itself. Fortunately, visits have been paid to this place and the notoriety of the people in different communities is not lost on one. Is it Johannesburg, Alexandra, Cape Town or even Pretoria with the broad day attack, so what the heck? Nigerians anywhere are honest people, which is not to say there are not a few who are deviants and this is not applicable to Nigerians alone; it is existent in every other country of the world.

Nigeria is one country that is a multireligious state ranging from Christianity, Islam, African Traditional Religion like Ifa, Orunmila, Sango, Ogun, Osun, Oya, (what of Susan Wenger (German) who was the Yeye L’orisa of Osun in Oshogbo), and the worship of these deities have drawn the attention of Nigerians in Diaspora and other members of the international community as adherents, observers and researchers. And a note of caution needs to be raised here in that prior to the incursion of the Whiteman on the black man soil, this has been the religious practice of the people, that Christianity and Islam came would not make Nigeria and other African nations in the bid to belong copy the west and throw away their inheritance, we are no bastards. The country is Libra enough not to enforce any one religion on the people. For this reason the highlights of district 9 has failed to capture in toto the reality in Nigeria rather it is a disabled, distorted and ill directed attempt to slander and violate the ingenuity of the Nigeria people who in spite of their challenges socio-political and economically are managing to survive and live reasonably. It is out of place for those people on the altar of self acclaimed superiority to other nations try to insult an entire hard working citizenry and vilify them on the platform of non performance of its leadership.


Segun Imohiosen

[email protected]



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