The film trailer for “Oloibiri” was the first film trailer to get me excited in 2016. The trailer was different, it was fresh, action filled and it looked like a trailer that did not struggle to compile the film’s juiciest parts to gain the viewer’s excitement. It was relaxing watching it several times on Africa Magic. It was top 3 on my list and like the trailer promised, “Olobiri” delivered action but also education.
It is no secret that oil has been a curse and a blessing to Nigerians. It has provided a lot of wealth as it has provided poverty. 2016 has been the year where conversations on oil- what it means to us, why we depend on it and if we, as Nigerians can do without it thrived. It was interesting to read articles on the issue, it dominated the Newspapers. It is special to see this conversation through the art form we enjoy the most -film. 2016 has also been the year some of us have discussed the issues that have affected the oil producing states. What is the life of the people like? Riding on the themes of exploitation, ignorance, prejudice and hope, “Oloibiri” takes us back in time and allows us the opportunity to learn about the village where oil was first discovered in Nigeria.
Boma a.k.a Gunpowder played by Richard Mofe Damijo is a first class University graduate of Geology who refuses to work with an oil company because they have infiltrated and destroyed his peaceful creek, destroying lives and taking advantage of everything and everyone that can make them richer. Elder Timipre (Olu Jacobs) is one of those that have suffered as a result of the pollution of the village. He loses his wife as a result. He soon leaves the country on scholarship and when he returns, he has an agenda.
These characters represent several things that have happened and have affected the village. The character of Chisom played by Ivie Okujaiye, is a young medical doctor, who comes in contact with Powell played by William R. Moses. Powell escapes a kidnap attempt. These characters, their lives and their individual stories and encounters make Oloibiri what it is.
“Oloibiri” thrives because it is a film rich with facts. It brings to the fore the plight of the people of “Oloibiri”. We feel the injustice that has been meted out on these people. Do we blame the government (even though they are not questioned), or the people? Oloibiri does not attack the government as much as it does the people; perhaps, it is to implore us. The government has disappointed us to many times, what can we do for ourselves, that is the message I got from the film. The people of Oloibiri had wealth in the oil that flowed from their lands but that did not give them enough power. They could not recognize it. It is Boma and Elder Timpre that are able to challenge the exploitation because they see it. They have felt the pangs of the exploitation that feeds on their people and through them; a message on education in general, is passed. Boma is aggressive in his approach, he is unbending. He is a degree holder that does not feel at peace in what used to be his peaceful creek. The simple idea of making Boma a degree holder makes a very important point. Elder Timpre has felt the blow of the exploitation of his people directly.
Samantha Iwowo helms the script with Curtis Graham directing. The script could have only been written with a brilliance that has been fuelled with a passion and an eagerness to educate the masses on this important story. That is the best part of Oloibiri- its brilliance. On every aspect you feel a wave of inspiring intelligence; it comes from the writer, the director, the crew and the cast. It is a collaborative effort that yields a rewarding result. Oloibiri is satisfying on many levels.
Oloibiri is a timely piece. It deserves all the rave and the accolades. Most importantly, Olobiri deserves a safe space in our historical archive; it is not a film that should be forgotten. It serves the right dose of education even for those that insist not to care.
About the Author
Rejoice is a 21-year-old aspiring Filmmaker and a big dreamer. She’s also a ‘Theatre and film’ arts graduate from the University of Jos, Nigeria.