'Yellow Sun' rises in West Africa
Hollywood finds funding, crew for Nigerian tale
"Half of a Yellow Sun," with Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton, shot in Nigeria with a largely local crew.
Daytime temperatures hit muggy highs in the 90s. The start of the rainy season had the makeshift dressing room for a cast that includes Thandie Newton, Dominic Cooper and Chiwetel Ejiofor looking like a triage unit.
But spirits were high, as the production, which wrapped principal photography in June, marks the most ambitious attempt yet to bring Hollywood-style filmmaking to a nation best known for the low-budget fare of its local Nollywood industry. Far from the smoothly run locations industries of South Africa and Kenya, the producers know they're blazing a trail in a country that still scares off most potential filmmakers and investors.
For co-producer Andrea Calderwood, who lensed "The Constant Gardener" and "The Last King of Scotland" in Kenya and Uganda at a time when both nations were largely uncharted territory for filmmakers, the upside is clear.
"At that time, nobody wanted to let us make a film in East Africa," she says, "but now people don't think twice about shooting in Kenya."
In order to give investors confidence in filming in a country that remains untested, Calderwood says the goal of "Yellow Sun" was to show the film as being international in scope from the beginning. The cast includes recognizable foreign talent. When executive producer Yewande Sadiku began to raise financing, she worked with a U.K. sales agent and secured a bond for the film. Her pitch to Nigerian investors -- who ponied up roughly 80% of the coin -- was based on international sales estimates. Foreign partners like the British Film Institute gave the proposal more muscle.
Nigeria, as Calderwood points out, is a business-oriented culture with a can-do attitude. Once investors were confident in the film's potential, they began lining up. In the end, the producers raised more than $7 million.
Sadiku sees the film as a bridge between Nigerian cinema and the international film community. Most of the local crew members, who make up roughly 60% of the production, are getting their first chance to work on a film with a high level of technical detail, acquiring skills that will help the local industry moving forward.
Calabar, the city in which the production is based, boasts Tinapa Studios, a topnotch facility that is being redeveloped by Nigerian media mogul Mo Abudu, and has been used throughout the shooting of "Yellow Sun."
The high cost of filming in Nigeria, however, remains a hurdle. Much of the lighting and grip equipment had to be brought into the country; problems getting it through customs delayed work for a week. Despite the assistance of companies like Jungle Filmworks and Audio Visual Services in Lagos, there are no production-services companies equipped to handle the logistics of a full-scale Hollywood production.
Such services will only come as filming in the nation grows, Calderwood says. "It needs a critical mass to support this level of technical infrastructure," she notes.
Most important, though, government needs to get onboard. Calderwood estimates that the film's budget was 25% higher than it would have been in a country like South Africa, which offers significant incentives and rebates. Despite what she calls "a lot of support and goodwill" from every level of government, a similar system to officially offset production costs is still lacking.
Still, Calderwood feels that for Creek Town and the rest of Nigeria, such progress is just a matter of time. "Once the first film comes, and people see that it's possible, then more will follow," she predicts.
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"Yes, a nation must EARN the patriotism of its citizens by INTENTIONAL means, and not take its citizens for granted, lest they take their loyalties elsewhere in this technologically mobile world."- Professor Bolaji Aluko,Great point. I would also add that a nation's leaders must earn the respect and trust of its citizens by INTENTIONAL means, and not take its citizens for granted, lest they take their loyalties elsewhere in this technologically mobile world. Professor Aluko of all the combatants in this shameless orgy of finger-pointing comes close to moving the conversation beyond the true and tired brier of orthodoxy, to a new way of looking at our world. Perhaps, it is because, today, listservs like this cater almost exclusively to a certain age-group nearing the Geritol generation, conversations tend to be predictable in how they are authored and anchored. Youngsters do not think like this any more.In a certain sense, for a long time now, Western education and civilization have foisted on Black Africa, two tribes, one made up of the self-serving intellectual and political elite, and the rest, the dregs, the dispossessed. The poor are the ones.that die by the millions, they are the ones that watch their children die of malnutrition and abusive education in the hands of intellectuals and politicians. They are the ones that are doubly victimized by thieving pastors. Their suffering knows no end.I ask my fellow intellectuals today: How many of us are in Nigeria? How many of us have children in Nigeria? How many of our children can speak an indigenous language? How many of our children give a hoot about any of this? It is our collective hypocrisy that even as we fight over parochial leaders like Pa Obafemi Awolowo, our children are abroad at Starbucks, sipping lattes with their Spanish teachers. We will line up the poor, struggling in the dying remnants of ancient civilizations, to fight for our ideals.Chinua Achebe has said his piece. I applaud him for jumpstarting a conversation. I believe his narrative more than that of a Pa Awo or Pa Enahoro (my townsman) garrulously defiant about the need to starve to death children, just to make a deadly point. I will also say that I did not need Achebe's book to come to that point. As a minority, my communal balls have been squeezed by the big three groups. Having said that, many igbo intellectuals have been reflected deeply on the war, and to their credit have been unsparing of Igbo leaders in the horror that was the Nigerian civil war. Ngozi Chimamanda Adichie for instance managed a certain distance from the war in her lovely book, Half of a Yellow Sun. That book should be required reading in every classroom in the world.The lack of ownership, the ability to self-reflect by my fellow intellectuals is everywhere. Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, that thug whose shenanigans are clinically chronicled here by Professor Moses Ebe Ochonu rules the Twitter waves along with fellow thugs like Dino Melaye, and Fani Femi Kayode. Dimeji Bankole will soon join them. Lately he has been vomiting howlers like this nonsense, "Nigeria has bad leaders". Perhaps, Africa is where bad ideas go to die. And yes, my point is this: Chinua Achebe's book, There Was a Country, has fueled the bile of ancients, flag barriers of ethnic prejudices, shaking gnarled fists at the truth of Nigeria's shame... There was a country indeed...Perhaps I exaggerate a bit, but nations and physical boundaries are so 20th century. Nations as we know them are dying, and not just because the great teacher, Chinua Achebe says so. There is no end to the finger-pointing and recriminations. My generation of intellectuals and rulers (I would not call them leaders) has proven eloquently that we have lost the plot when it comes to Nigeria's desired future. Many have taken to open looting, and virtually all have become defensive and perhaps abusive when it comes to getting feedback. Professor Pius Adesanmi has a beautiful piece, The Gulag Ekitilago about the alleged excesses of Governor Fayemi. It is hard to believe, for those of us familiar with Fayemi's fine pedigree as a prodemocracy activist. But read it. And Biafra seems so far away: http://saharareporters.com/column/gulag-ekitilago-pius-adesanmiWe really do not need caterwauling gerontocrats to learn about our history. I say, dear Nigerian: Google is your friend and historian: To trace your history, google Nigeria, el-rufai, Femi Fani-Kayode, Obasanjo, corruption. I say to our youths, since elders won't read to you, teach yourselves; befriend Google, e-trek the world, read about how your heroes pillaged Nigeria... I have not read Professor Achebe's new book, but I heartily recommend it. It is a great book.Good night.- IkhideStalk my blog at http://www.xokigbo.com/Follow me on Twitter: @ikhideJoin me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/ikhideFrom: Mobolaji Aluko <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Sunday, October 14, 2012 6:26 AM
Subject: Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - The Virtue of Ethnocentrism
My whole point is that while Internet caterwaulers and other lesser landlubbing beings can make accusations of marginalizations of the Igbo, the erudite Prof. Chinua Achebe does not have the luxury of such throw-away lines, for he must back it up with good prose about what "lack of marginalization or the fullest integration of Ndigbo" would mean. Is it a mental marginalization - in which case very little can be done about that - or a physical one? Prof. Achebe's excusable slips of post-war ethnocentrism showed in his slim piece "The Trouble with Nigeria" - but that was in 1986, twenty-five whole years ago. I have attended two of his academic Colloquia on Africa and Nigeria at Brown University, even chaired one of the sessions, and I did not detect any ethnocentrism in the quiet man who sat through many of the sessions in his wheelchair, and made the occasional gracious comment. To return to 1986 themes in this his 2012 piece without moderation is "troubling with Nigeria", no pun intended.UNQUOTEToyin Adepoju:I too join you in commending Adeshina Afolayan for his short piece, even if I do not agree with him 100%, as I cannot be expected to. I however agree with him 100% in his concluding paragraph:QUOTEIntegration translate into a fusion of ethnic energies. I cannot cease being a Yoruba just as you must remain Ibo (or Hausa, Efik, Edo, Kilba, etc). However, for Nigeria to succeed, it must make it possible for me to remain who I am; it must give me reason to transfer my ethnocentric allegiance to the national framework without losing myself in the process.UNQUOTEYes, a nation must EARN the patriotism of its citizens by INTENTIONAL means, and not take its citizens for granted, lest they take their loyalties elsewhere in this technologically mobile world. That is why, as far back as far back as February 1995 - more than 17 years ago now, as I was grappling during with my Nigerian citizenship abroad during the thickets of the June 12 crisis - I wrote in the concluding paragraph of my essay "The Content of our Discontent", the following:QUOTETHE PLACE OF THE INDIVIDUAL NIGERIAN AND HIS COMMUNITYSo what must we do ? First, each Nigerian must re-emphasise his DIGNITY, and emphasise that the (electoral) vote is his lowest level share of political power, and that it must be respected, both now and in the future.Secondly, he must be free to identify without fear or loss of status with his community, that group with which he has historical, cultural and lingual similarity. Nigeria is in fact not a nation yet, but a COUNTRY OF NATIONS, for it is precisely historical, cultural and lingual similarities which define nations. We must also insist that as part of the country called Nigeria, all communities must be fully part of its ecumene, that is its economic-political territory, its economic, political and cultural life, or else some communities will ever chafe to define theirs.Thirdly, our collective cause must be based on the twin assertions of DIGNITY and RESPECT for all ethnic groups in Nigeria. We must remember that no one can make us feel inferior without our consent. I am not asking for ethnic fascism nor must we assert ethnic superiority. In fact tolerance, sacrifice and inter-dependence should be watchwords.But in Nigeria, while everyone must strive to save Nigeria from itself, if it so permits, "prideful communities" must also be ready to save themselves. The deterioration of our schools and social and physical infrastructure, the hopeleness of our youth and the heavy-heart being carried around by our adults can simply no longer be tolerated.Anger we have, shame we must avoid and pride we must restore. We must build a sense of purpose and consensus which the generation before us has woefully lacked, and we must let that passing generation know that we can no longer tolerate dilly-dallying with our lives. We are merely six years away from Year 2001, and we are in a real danger of being swept aside by history.Finally, we must also remember our history, much of which consists of numerous avoidable conflicts among ourselves. We can not take our unity for granted, rather we must work purposefully and tirelessly for it. We must, beginning immediately, spend some of our time carefully and unemotionally ruminating on what aspects of liberal democracy is compatible with our various cultures, so that we do not repeat the same mistakes of the past.All of these are tasks that must be done.UNQUOTEThat is why I HATE the description of the "detribalized Nigerian", which is a fiction, and which I have stated elsewhere is used as a backhand compliment to describe ONLY the Yoruba public person who ABUSES his Yoruba people publicly.Toyin, you wrote:QUOTEIn those national appointments, whose interests do you know them as serving? Individual, ethnic or national? If they serve national intests and are paid for the job does that not demonstrate loyalty to Nigeria? Can you identify Akunyili, Okonjo-Iweala, Ezekwesili, Bart Nnanji and Ihejirika as not committed to Nigeria?Its not true, therefore, to describe these figures as not transferring their loyalty to Nigeria.So, to claim that Igbos are not integrated into Nigeria, as Achebe has done, is false.UNQUOTEExactly, absolutely false, unless there was massive/is massive deceit going on by Akunyili, Okonjo-Iweala, Ezekwesili, Bart Nnaji and Ihejirika, or by Ekwueme, Enwerem, Okadigbo, Nwabara, Nnamani, Chukwumerije, Anyim, Ekwerenmadu, Orji Kalu, etc. all of who have either gotten appointments on the national level and/or having been elected as politicians on the sub-national scale, or have sought national position, or have taken positions as Speaker, Members of the National Economic Council, President, etc. on a national level.What about on a voluntary level - and that hallowed level: our football national team?According to my trusted Wikipedia, here are the people that were called to camp for the October 2012 SuperEagles team that trounced Liberia 6-1 just yesterday:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Papa Idris (INJURED) 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 Reuben Gabriel (INJURED) 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 and in the last 12 months here were those, in addition to the above, that were called to camp:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 And what about the Super Falcons (women's) team:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 In fact, on the field, there are times where there are as many as seven, eight Igbo players (male or female) out of the eleven players on the field - one would think it is a Biafran team with one or two Nigerian mercenaries - and Nigerians don't worry/mind at all - they are all Nigerians after all! :-)And what about our banks? Here are the names of the various directors as at November 2011:
Access Bank (Nig.) Plc 1. Mr Gbenga Oyebode, MFR Chairman 2. Dr Cosmas Maduka Director 3. Mr Oritsedere Otubu Director 4. Mallam Mahmoud Isa-Dutse Director 5. Mr Emmanuel Chiejina Director 6. Mr Babatunde Folawiyo Director 7. Mrs Mosunmola Bello-Olusoga Director 8. Mr Aigboje Aig-imoukhuede GMD/CEO 9.Mr Herbet Wigwe GDMD 10. Mr Taukeme Koroye ED 11. Mr Okey Nwuke ED 12. Mr Obeahon Ohiwerei ED 13. Mr Ebenezer Olufowose ED Citibank Nigeria Limited
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