Written By Onyeka Nwelue
On the 5th of October, 2012, four young men were beaten up, disgraced, shamed, kicked, machete, wall-eyed, abused, spat at, cursed, tyres sneaked around them and finally burnt in a certain place called Aluu in Rivers State.
They watched themselves die and people also watched them die. They were called thieves. They were killed. Those of us who were not there in Aluu heard different things. We believed almost all the different stories we heard.
This is November. And a movie is made about this gruesome incident that tore hearts apart, shook homes and emotionally enraged Nigerians and the world at large. Many media freaks and junkies, like FabMagazineOnline termed it a ‘tribute’ to the Aluu4, ‘hoping’ the movie ‘isn’t just another money-making ventures for them but first, to truly pay tribute to the ones who lost their lives in that horrendous incident.’
To insist that making a film on such incident is a ‘tribute’ is at once, foolish and ridiculously stupid, because the motive with which the film is being made is not genuine. Before I go on, I will demand that the film idea be completely banned and that the Nigerian Censors Board never allow this particular movie be released anywhere in this country or elsewhere. My fear is that since this is not going to be a true representation of what happened in Aluu, as many people will see the movie as a True Story, the world will only take One Side of the story. Yet, that is not completely my fear.
A very hardworking Nigerian rapper, DaGrin died. A new scam introduced within Nigerian musicians in the name of ‘tribute.’ I refused to see the movie done on him. Many musicians were busy, cashing on the misfortune of his family. Every single artiste who had recorded a song with him in the past saw an opportunity, a very big one at that, to make themselves popular and famous. There was a total misrepresentation of who DaGrin was. In one of his songs, he had pleaded with people, ‘If I die, make you no cry for me.’ There was no single friend of his or fellow musician who respected his wish. People cried in every angle. They could have controlled the crocodile tears, at least, respecting the honest wish of the young artiste who, obviously, felt he would not stay for long, as there are many people who already know when they would die.
Whether or not it’s a tribute, there is something remarkable about Flavour’s Iwe, for Mc Loph who died in a car accident too. There is a story behind the tribute. Flavour would not have made it without Mc Loph. They both knew themselves very well. Flavour had a couch to crash in whenever he visited Lagos. That was in Mc Loph’s house. Mc Loph had where to sleep and eat at in Enugu and that was in Flavour’s house. There was synergy. There was a deep connection to the song and the emotions could be felt from Flavour’s voice in this song. There is genuineness. He did that song because he lost a friend and brother. There was no other intention. If it is not the Truth, I would not find myself listening to the song over 80 times for a week. At a time, it became the only song I felt. Yet, this was not the case for Dagrin and I am very much afraid that this won’t be the case for Aluu4. For how fast they could come up with a deeply emotional tale about the deaths of four young men who were brutally sent to the great beyond, the entire film crew should be questioned!
Those who paid tribute to Dagrin almost played on our emotional feelings. We were deceived, mocked and completely ridiculed. Many of those artistes didn’t even know who Dagrin was until he died. Many of us, just like me, didn’t know Dagrin until we started hearing different voices singing, forcing us to know about this genius who rapped so well that death took him away. I felt that was very disrespectful and if the dead could rise again, Dagrin will be uttermostly disgusted by the fact that no one respected his wish which was that no one should cry for him. Those who rushed to the studios to record songs in memory of Dagrin, to pay ‘tribute’ to him only did so for their selfish interests. There is completely nothing genuine about their tears they are seen shedding in their music videos and wearing black shirts, singing. This is for commercial reasons. For exploiting Dagrin, a huge scam has just happened.
Making a movie on the Aluu4 is like recreating history; it is like charcoaling the Truth. If there is ever Truth, it will be completely diluted and erased. Only one side of the story will be told. Only a perspective will matter. And those who can’t be heard will be made to be Evil. The point is that such movie will not shed light on anything, but pick remnants of everything pummeled by the media. It is like listening to a blind man describe how his face looks. Would you believe him? Wouldn’t you think he is a joker?
The boys who were killed in Aluu have parents. Have you spoken to them? Have you figured out if you are not going to lampoon on their emotions? Have you done enough to be able to write about each character? How long does it take to shoot a movie, talk more of script? Observing characterization? And working towards a true representation of ideas? Does it matter if it was well balanced? Through whose perspective? Those who believe that making a movie on such sensitive issue is a tribute to the dead, are people with no hearts. They are people who would have burnt those young men themselves. They want to see a remake of how it would have been, had they been there. They are vampires.
I am not suggesting that the story of Aluu can not be represented by fiction. My concern is that the media has decided to term it a ‘tribute’ to the Aluu4. Could this be the foolishness of the media? Or that one of the producers of the film was actually there in Aluu when this thing happened and therefore, has decided to tell us about it? Is he not supposed to be with the court, telling of his own side of the story? If finally this movie is made, the producers should be meant to answer some questions, for whatever is transferred onto the screen serves as evidence to the case in question. Whatever is shown to the world as a true story about that incident, will remain TRUE in the hearts of every Nigerian, therefore, it is risky to play with sentiments and the emotions of people who have close ties with the young men murdered.
If nothing is done about this, more scams will be invented in the name of Aluu, more activists will spring up, seeking for ways to make money out of Aluu. Creativity will be bastardised if there is no true or almost exact representation of what happened in Aluu is not shown to the world through this powerful form of art, cinema.
Or do we want to create Gallows of Scammers?
Onyeka Nwelue writes from Paris. He is currently an intern at Beyond Borders: Diversity in Cannes Film Festival.