Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

Nigeria’s image problem

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For anyone who has seen the hit film District 9, it’s no surprise a Nigerian minister would be upset by it.

The science fiction film, set in South Africa, is an allegory on segregation and xenophobia, with alien life forms cooped up in a township of the type that grew up under apartheid and victimised and despised by humans of all descriptions.

No section of human society comes across particularly well, but the Nigerians are crudely caricatured as gangsters, cannibals, pimps, prostitutes and dealers in guns and addictive drugs (in this case cat food). The gang leader’s name sounds exactly like the surname of Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

It’s just a film of course and the slurs needn’t overly detract from the entertainment. (They didn’t for the Nigerian half of my family anyway).

South African sci-fi

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There has been some excellent writing and drama from South Africa over the years, and much of it is serious stuff.

One thinks perhaps of Athol Fugard and J.M. Coetzee. Even the titles — Sizwe Bansi is Dead and Disgrace — convey a certain gravitas, at the very least.

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