One Nigeria. That has been the goal since 1914 when British colonial leader, Frederick Lugard amalgamated the Northern and Southern Protectorates of the Niger area. Thus began the never-ending struggle for power and dominance among the 3 major ethnic groups in Nigeria. From stereotypes to war stripes, the unity of the Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba people have become more wistful thinking than reality. Ironically, there are about 200 more ethnic minorities included in what is known as Nigeria. Filmmaker, Abba Makama comes from one of such minorities in Plateau State and has sought to unite the voices of ethnic discord in his latest film, Green White Green.
Green White Green was screened for the first time in Nigeria on Friday, 30 September, 2016 during the opening night of the 6th Lights! Camera! Africa! Festival at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos. The story traces the paths of 3 young boys from the 3 major ethnic groups in Nigeria who have just completed secondary school education with enough ambition to fuel a nation. One is an aspiring artist, another an amateur filmmaker, while the third dreams of following a trickster to New York. Viewers would also meet a frustrated older brother, prying parents, a group of trouble making youths, and a high-talking professor. Amidst these jigsaw characters are the nuances of culture differences, current issues, and the travails of a creative in Nigeria.
It is no coincidence that Makama has named this film after the colors of the Nigerian flag as he has chosen to make a statement on what it means to be Nigerian. The oneness of Nigeria is depicted by the boys’ impartial friendship, but even this has its occasional woes. Then, there is the irony of a character in the film extolling an era and war he never lived through. Boys will be boys and the 3 main characters just want to have fun or in this case make a movie that will create an impact. Thus, in his efforts to represent a One Nigeria on camera, Makama scripts another movie into the main movie. No, I would not tell you more as you would have to watch Green White Green for yourself to uncover the plot.
The Lights Camera Africa Team arranged for a question and answer with Abba Makama the filmmaker and the audience that gave a standing ovation at the closing credits probed him about his choices and intent with the film. Makama revealed that certain Nigerian movie industry (Nollywood) influencers had labelled Green White Green as “too cerebral.” Others referred to the movie as Meta-Nollywood, a term that seems to bestow an alien semblance on this work. The truth is this film sets itself apart with its goal of depicting a unified Nigeria from script to screening amidst the ongoing chaos in the country.
Green White Green was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and would soon be available to the public on Netflix.