Hooray for Nollywood

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In the Nigerian-produced film for Netflix, “The Black Book,” actor Richard Mofe Damijo plays an ex-security forces agent-turned-deacon, who exacts revenge against the crooked police officers who framed and murdered his son. As he tracks down the bad cops, wrote Wired magazine, he seeks to “dismantle a rotten institution that he helped build.”

The West African country’s military and massive oil industry also serve as important plot points in the film about redemption, which has become a global blockbuster.

More than 70 million people have streamed “The Black Book,” delighting boosters of Nollywood, Nigeria’s version of Hollywood. But, as University of Nigeria lecturer Ezinne Ezepue noted in the Conversation, the film also shines a light on the violent corruption that mars Africa’s most populous country.

Last month, for example, Nigerians staged memorial events for the victims of police brutality who died in clashes with security forces three years ago, reported the Associated Press. Those clashes stemmed from protests against the vaunted Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a unit that has since been disbanded due to its heavy-handed tactics. Fifteen protesters arrested during those events are still in prison, according to human rights activists.

“Nobody is going to be happy when you are unjustly killing people … oppressing them,” said Adebowale Adebayo, a memorial organizer who, coincidentally, is an actor, social activist and online content creator known in Nigeria as Mr. Macaroni.

The military, furthermore, continues to perpetrate “enforced disappearances” – kidnapping by government forces, essentially – in the country’s northeast, added Amnesty International. The organization noted that these disappearances were among many crimes that Nigerian troops committed in the region as they fought against Boko Haram, an Islamic State-affiliated terror group that has been ravaging the region for years.

Gangs also wield significant control of other parts of the country, including vast illicit markets, explained the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime. Street crime is common. For Al Jazeera, a Nigerian student penned a first-person piece about how he was almost lynched while walking casually in Uyo, a southern city.

Corrupt security forces, terrorists, organized criminals, and petty thugs have made violence so endemic that Nigerians commonly wear magical charms they believe will protect them from bullets. It is not uncommon that someone tests their faith and dies from a gunshot wound, reported Africa News.

It’s like a film that never ends.

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