AiW Guest: Yemisi Arowosafe
Telling a historical tale as authentically and accurately as possible is one that every good story teller strives to attain. The Nigerian pre-democracy story is one that has been told in a myriad of fictional texts, anthologies and biographical texts. 76 is one of such tales, based on true events as they happened in Nigeria; the unsuccessful military coup and the assassination of Gen. Murtala Mohammed in 1976. This story was told against the backdrop of a love story between Captain Dewa, who is from the middle-belt and Suzie, from the South-eastern part of Nigeria. Set six years after the Nigerian Civil War and with memories of the war still fresh in the minds of the people, this relationship was vehemently opposed to by Suzie’s father.
Captain Dewa is caught in the conundrum that followed the unsuccessful coup as he was accused of being involved in the planning, and as a result, his pregnant wife was thrown into a state of agony and fear for her husband’s safety.
76 is a beautifully told story depicting one of the most turbulent times in Nigerian history. The cast delivered well on their roles with Ramsey Nouah, Rita Dominic and Chidi Mokeme in the lead roles. Ramsey Nouah’s portrayal of Captain Dewa was seamless and effortless. His gait, speech, posture were worthy of a soldier well respected in the barracks.
In a bid to stay true to the story and tell it as authentically as possible, the script had to be subjected to a seven-month approval period before filming could start, military personnel were assigned to train the actors and guide the military aspect of the movie. This is owing to the director, Izu Ojukwu’s, knack for attention to details as this can be seen in the choice of costume, props, even down to the cars driven and the choice of furniture.
Transition between scenes could have been smoother to give it a more seamless feel but this doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of the movie and although some of the dialogue was a bit corny and the sound uneven in certain scenes, the acting, directing and authenticity of the story more than made up for the lapses.
It was arguably the most anticipated movie of 2016. It was initially slated to be released on October 4, 2013, but was pushed back indefinitely due to delayed post production. The movie was selected for screening at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) September 2016. It was premiered in Nigeria at the Intercontinental Hotels in Lagos and was shown at cinemas across the country in December 2016.
The movie explores themes along the lines of tribalism, war, love and betrayal. More movies like this should be made. Movies that give an honest, realistic and authentic depiction of history. As Africans, it’s high time we started telling our own stories. The Nigerian history has been shrouded in so much silence and fear. Fear that it could spark unwanted acts of violence but on the contrary, it would better give us an appreciation of who we are, how far we have come and how much or how little has changed. In the words of George Santayana: those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
Yemisi Arowosafe is an avid reader. She’s a lawyer by training, a writer and a photographer. She works in Public Relations and Communications and lives in Lagos, Nigeria. She loves art, minimalist designs and tea. Her sometimes jumbled thoughts can be found at musingsbyjas.wordpress.com