How do we choose our battles in Africa?

This week, our Nigerian brothers and sisters went up in arms with their Kenyan counterparts over a decision by Warner Media to cast Lupita Nyong’o in ‘Americanah’ an adaptation of Chimamanda’s book. 

To the Nigerian community, that role should have been given to a Nigerian actor. It’s well known in Africa that Nollywood is big, so is Bollywood by the way, but there is a reason Hollywood rarely casts big names in movies intended to tell stories about those communities. This is not to say they do not feature them at all; they do but rarely as the main cast. 

And accent has never been an issue for Hollywood, they have never seemed keen on a perfect accent no matter whose story they’re telling. 

A lot of African themed movies have been shot in the US by Americans and many people hate the way they struggle with a few Swahili words, we have seen ‘President’ of a country in Africa with this generic ‘African’ accent. To them, we all speak the same!

I don’t blame them if Nigerians love Chimamanda so much they should do their own version of an adaptation of her book. They should not even call it ‘Americana’, it can have a name like ‘Chimamanda our girl’, and could feature Rita Dominic or Tontoh Dikeh or even Omotola if they want. 

I’m sorry, but if it is America that has decided to turn the story into a TV series, then America will have its way. 

Having said that, Nigerians need to decide whether they belong with the rest of Africa or not! The other day, most of Africa denounced xenophobic attacks in SA that saw a lot of businesses and property belonging to Nigerians being destroyed. Then when Nigerian musicians featured in Beyonce’s The Lion King album, East Africa and Kenya, in particular, wished they had their own representatives, but in no certain terms did they claim to be more African than West Africans. 

As Africa, we can denounce the west and its unfair representation of the continent without making it seem like we are fighting each other. 

Even in the US itself, a lot goes on before the movie is shot and red carpet moments hit our TV screens. They also have cases where producers were asked why they cast Jennifer Lawrence and not Kirsten Stewart or Helen Mirren and not Judi Dench, that has never stopped them from going all the way and producing the movie, or it has not stopped us from watching their work! This is because, by the time the production team is writing a script they have a character in mind, they will cast that character unless something beyond their control happens.

Nigeria are you for us or against us? How do you choose your battles?

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