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Tuesday, 27 May 2014

New Documentary Film Relays Kudirat Abiola's Struggle

A new documentary film on the ordeal of the late Hajia Kudirat Abiola, wife of the late business mogul and winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Bashorun MKO Abiola, by an American film-maker, may be released in Nigeria soon.

The film, 'The Supreme Price', directed by Joanna Lipper, a lecturer at Harvard University, United States, traces the evolution of the pro-democracy movement in Nigeria and efforts to increase the participation of women in leadership roles. “I set out to make a film that honours the personal and professional sacrifices that Kudirat and other women activists make on a daily basis as agents of change in Nigeria,” said the documentary film-maker.

Lipper uses Hafsat Abiola as the central character of a story that talks about the challenges of transforming a corrupt culture of governance into a democracy capable of serving women – a people considered as the most marginalised population. Determined not to let her parents’ ideals die with them, her experiences as an activist following the annulment of her father’s victory in the June 12, 1993 election and her mother’s assassination by agents of the military dictatorship, among other pro-democracy issues, form the substance of Lipper’s documentary.

Kudirat Abiola, who was contesting the annulment of the June 12 election and subsequent incarceration of her husband, was killed in 1996 by gunmen believed to have been sent by Major Mustapha, the then CSO to former president Sani Abacha. Lipper’s movie engages pro-democracy activists such as Professor Wole Soyinka; Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, President,Women Arise for Change Initiative and Campaign for Democracy; Olalekan Yusau Abiola, eldest son of M.K.O and Nicholas Costello, Hafsat’s husband, among others, as notable characters .

Her work as a documentary filmmaker has been supported by the MacArthur Foundation, Ford Foundation, ITVS, Britdoc Foundation, the Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund, Women Make Movies and Chicken & Egg Pictures. Lipper is also considering making a film on the Boko Haram insurgency and the much-talked about kidnapping of over 200 school girls from Chibok, a community in Borno State.

According to her, “Several years ago when I began working on my documentary, I had no way of knowing that, in the months leading up to the film’s premiere at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, Nigeria would be front and centre in news around the world. The horrific kidnapping of over 250 school girls in the northern part of the country is a tragic story that touches upon the film’s key themes: the need to protect, educate and empower women and girls; the need for increased numbers of women leaders in political positions of power to represent their best interests; the violent backlash in the face of progressive change when it comes to traditional gendered stereotypes that involve the oppression of women and the complete absence of a Nigerian government that is accountable to the masses.”
She added: “I hope that this film will reach and inspire women who might not otherwise have the opportunity to see it, and that it will provoke conversations around the world about global solidarity amongst women when it comes to equal rights and leadership, while protecting the rights of the most vulnerable.”

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