If you’re anything like me you have probably never heard of M.K.O. Abiola, the man who won the democratic elections in Nigeria in 1993 (due to the military regime not wanting to give up power he was never recognised by them as being president) and you will not have heard of his wife Kudirat (one of M.K.O.’s 4 wives) who upon his post-election imprisonment took over the pro-democracy campaign until she, like her husband, was killed.
This award winning film has as its narrator Hasfat Abiola, one of M.K.O.s and Kudirat’s daughters; through her telling of her personal history she reveals to us the wider history of Nigeria and its struggle for democracy, most importantly women’s struggle in Nigeria to have a place at the table in politics.
Using difficult to find archive footage and combining it with interviews from family, friends, politicians and historians, Joanna Lipper weaves a very powerful tale which at its heart is a lesson for us all. In Nigeria politics was and still is a matter of life and death – because in Nigeria if you rule you control the oil and the wealth and people are willing to kill for that.
Hasfat Abiola is a thoroughly modern woman not only by Nigerian standards but also ours. Educated mostly abroad she married a white English man (who converted to Islam for her) and divides her time between Belgium, where her husband and children live, and Nigeria where she works in politics. Relentlessly campaigning for the rights of women and trying to improve the health and welfare of every Nigerian she is all too aware of the possibility that she too could end up paying ‘the supreme price’.
This is a moving film that both educates and inspires; we see politics in action, people being involved with passion, there is little apathy like we see in our own country. I heartily recommend this uplifting film; it is the history of a family, the history of a country and it looks to the future; “such a beautiful thing women can do when they choose to demand change”. Quite.