“…The film clearly denigrated Nigeria’s image by portraying us as if we are cannibals, we are criminals… The name [of] our former president was clearly spelt out as the head of the criminal gang and our ladies shown like prostitutes sleeping with extra-terrestrial beings…”
This is what Nigerian Information Minister Dora Akunyili, said about the new Sci-Fi movie District 9 showing in some theatres now.
The Nigerian government has since banned the film in the country and is demanding an offical apology from Sony Pictures Entertainment, who have yet to comment. Is the Nigerian government right to ban the film? Do you think it’s racist?
The film in which aliens nicknamed “Prawns” face eviction from their slum in Johannesburg, is facing a lot of heat for portraying Nigerians in a negative light. The top Nigerian gangster in the film is called Obesandjo, which closely resembles the last name of of Nigeria’s ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo.
A facebook group called ‘Distric 9 Hates Nigerians’ was formed in which some describe the film as ‘ridiculous’ and ‘sad’. Prince Adetunji commented on the page saying:
“I was totally disgusted by that movie’s obvious hate for Nigierans.It had me walking out the theatre saying “Nigerians don’t behave like that.I’ve had to enlighten many of my friends on the dislike many South Africans have for Nigerians.”
This blogger diasgrees and feels that the facebook group has been hastily formed. The blog argues:
“If District 9 really does hate Nigerians, it clearly hates its powerful, white characters even more. Objecting to Nigerians being portrayed as morally bankrupt criminals seems pointless when almost every group of characters in the film have little or no regard for the law…Despite initially appearing powerless, the Nigerians exert a tremendous amount of power over the aliens by controlling their weapons and food supply. These power struggles are an everyday reality in District 9’s slums, emulating the country’s real-life problems during the same period in which the film is set.”
In her blog, Nnedi Okorafor, describes hers and her daughters’ reaction to the film:
“Our whispered cursing really started when the film got to… “The Nigerians”. It was all downhill from there. I’d say this was the whitest big budget “African science fiction” film ever but really it’s the ONLY big budget “African Science fiction” film ever. Go figure. Even when the mainstream science fiction film is set on the “Dark Continent”, the central character is still white, ha ha, wow.”
Tolu Olorunda criticises the media and says:
“Each time mainstream news channels deem Africa worthy of coverage, the images never seem to develop beyond a one-dimensional approach that leads most viewers into thinking all Africans live in huts, are struck with life-threatening diseases, and can’t speak the English language.”
He also criticises hollywood and says:
“…Peter Jackson decided to create a movie in which Nigerians are revealed to be alien-eating, imbecilic prostitutes.”
Do you think Hollywood is racist towards Africans? Do you think Africans are too sensitive when watching films where African characters are portrayed?