If you are into social media and all the hype it generates, then you are so in luck today, as there’s bound to be alot of tweets, likes, retweets about the The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences disqualifying Genevieve Nnaji’s ‘Lionheart’ from the Oscar race in the Best International Feature Film category. The fact is that The Academy is so spot and the decision unfortunately is very correct. But before you get your pants in a twist, lets quickly decipher the reasons together.
Some years ago, I was lamenting to whoever was listening, that there’s a huge problem amongst blacks and Africans, that goes beyond racism and white privileges – it is what Bob Marley termed ‘mental slavery’. Mental slavery is more devastating and the terrifying aftermath of the actual slavery that was abolished decades back.
Africa and its people are unique, special and strong. We are blessed despite being colonised because of our talents and gifts. After all, if Britain and the other colonialists had so much natural resources and overflowing manpower, why will they want to steal from the wretched Africans? Look all around you, Africans reign supreme. From Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder through to Floyd Mayweather in boxing; Paul Pogba, Mo Salah to Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in football, Charlize Theron, Lupita Nyongo and Viola Davis in films. And trust me, this has nothing to do with race but about talent and shedding the mindset of playing second-fiddle to nobody else.
Talent and resource is not the main problem amongst Africans or Nigerians, it is the harnessing, correct utilisation and great belief in it. I strongly belief that Genevieve Nnaji, like Kemi Adetiba, Nse Ikpe Etim, Omotola Jalade and few others are super-talented, but can you actually justify the fact that, Genevieve Nnaji’s ‘Lionheart’ is Nigeria’s FIRST-EVER submission in the Best International Feature Film category? Guess Nollywood stars didn’t have the mindset to challenge Olivia Colman or Mahershala Ali.
Just like me, singer, Wizkid recently reeled against international awards organisers like BET, MTV Europe Music Awards, the MOBOs and more, who have special categories for African acts and hand out the awards backstage. Wizzy famously said “I don’t take nonsense from anyone trying to look down on Africa. If you are not going to show us the same love you show your international artists…then don’t show us any love at all, we don’t want it.” I find it so patronising and insulting, not because it’s discriminatory but still perpetuates the slavery mentality.
The rules of the games has seriously changed and you can attend Glastonbury or any music festival with Coldplay, Jay-Z, Ed Sheeran, Wizkid, U2, Kanye West or Stormzy headlining. So why create a special category to put Burna Boy, Drake, Dave (David Orobosa Omoregie), Davido, AKA or Shatta Wale in? They are all in the same F**king category.
The Academy by disqualifying Genevieve’s film actually deserves some praise, as they seem to understand that Yemi Alade should be competing in the same category with Nicki Minaj, Cardi B and Beyonce for the best female award. Ironically most Nigerians cannot understand this crucial point. The message The Academy is passing across for disqualifying ‘Lionheart’ is very loud and clear, and I’m worried that amongst all the social medial anger, the message is somehow lost. The message is simple, if Genevieve directs and produces such an amazing film, why isn’t it vying in the main categories? It is really baffling why Genevieve is retweeting and referencing Ava DuVernay’s tweet in her reply to the disqualification to The Academy, as the Ava herself does not understand the issue.
To @TheAcademy, You disqualified Nigeria’s first-ever submission for Best International Feature because its in English. But English is the official language of Nigeria. Are you barring this country from ever competing for an Oscar in its official language? https://t.co/X3EGb01tPF
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) November 4, 2019
The disqualification is not about Nigeria or Nigeria’s languages as Ava seems to want everyone to think, the message is that if ‘Lionheart’ like ‘Black Panther’ or ’12 years A Slave’ was shot ‘predominantly in English’, then it should be good enough for the other categories not best international film. Why settle for Best International Feature Film?
Nigerians are doing great things globally, so before we let our thoughts be warped by social media and patronising twerps, can we remind Ava what Genevieve would really have achieved if she had a $20 million budget to directed a film, like she did with Selma?
The fact is that Genevieve should be applauded, though her film might have been ‘rightly’ disqualified – according to their rules, it opens the door wide open for Mercy Aigbe, Adekola Odunlade and Toyin Abraham to show The Academy that Nigerians can shoot good films in “a predominantly non-English dialogue” when they bombard them with barrage of Yoruba films.
What we need going forward are Nigerian billionaires not going after teenage Nollywood stars and turning them to 10th wives, but becoming investors or even helping fund a gofundme page to raise some serious money and let Genevieve and her fellow Nigerian talents dazzle the world with their skills. I’m delighted that we now know where we are going and we know the pathway to take to reach our ‘destination’, so be not surprised when Adesua Etomi, Wunmi Mosaku, Funke Akindele or Rita Dominic wins Best Actress at the Oscars or Wizkid or Davido scooping a Grammys…It Will Happen Very Soon!!Photo Credit: Getty