“The present predicaments of Africa are often not a matter of personal choice: they arise from a historical situation. Their solutions are not so much a matter of personal decision as that of a fundamental social transformation of the structures of our societies starting with a real break with imperialism and its internal ruling allies. Imperialism and its comprador alliances in Africa can never develop the continent…”
Ngugi Wa Thiong’o , ‘Decolonising the Mind’.
Africa has often been the victim of essentialist ideologies. A dated perception would suggest the continent to be an accumulation of a savage consciousness. Art has often been the refuge of the oppressed, the weapon of the voiceless and the courage for the systematically overlooked. Every frame in this short movie is a tale of retaliation. These tales are so enchanting that we tend to look past the angst of the narrator. In the first minutes of the movie ,the narrator asks a question that sadly has no answer. The reason one must fight for if he is left alone with no one to share the world with. To say that Nigeria has witnessed days darker than nights would be an understatement.
The Nigerian Civil war was just another blow, like a set of scavengers gleefully devouring the soul of an already devastated nation. A nation plagued by oppression, poverty, hunger , unemployment and violence. A group of hurt yet resilient individuals who go by the name of Inhumanity Arts dare to dream every day. They dream of planting flowers of hope in the sterile plains of despair.
Their weapon – the most potent one, art. Their works communicate with the viewers, they narrate their stories of their struggle, the struggles of a common man, the powerless civilian, often victims of political tomfoolery and always the most to suffer. Their stories are important and it is through these artists and their art we get to know so much about them, the invisible civilian. In a scene we see a bird in the sky, flying sluggishly, almost tired of the numerous blows it has received since time immemorial.
The bird represents Nigeria in all it’s ruins, with wings the nation still wants to fly, the soul wants to liberate itself from the rancid air of power and suppression. The movie ends with the quote “The labours of our heroes past shall never go in vain”. The movie questions the outcome of the countless deaths in the Civil war. We can hear obscure conversations behind the pictures, sometimes full of levity otherwise serious, a blend of accusations and the promises never kept. One must not look past the aesthetic brilliance of the frames, the animation, the paintings.
The songs act as indicators of intensity, the abysmal hell the inhabitants of an injured country face. There is something uncannily similar in all the pictures – a strange longing for home. Like Agu in ‘Beasts of no Nation’, the pictures lament about their loss through their violent outbursts, their unheard cries. Chinua Achebe wrote : “When suffering knocks at your door and you say there is no seat for him, he tells you not to worry because he has brought his own stool.” It is this suffering the World must notice before it’s too late. Achebe also wrote : “Art is man’s constant effort to create for himself a different order of reality from that which is given to him.”
There can be no medium better than art in this pursuit of happiness. Like the Harvey Dent believed in ‘The Dark Knight’ : “It is the darkest before dawn”, Nigeria must not stop dreaming, must not stop fighting for that which is truly theirs.