How Northerners were excluded from movie “The Wedding Party” – Bello Shagari

Filmmaker and grandson of Shehu Shagari, Bello Bala Shagari, recently expressed his thoughts about the exclusion of Northerners from “The Wedding Party” movie.

His tweets were received with a strong negative reaction by a large number of people.

Bello Bala has released a detailed explanation of his comments to Pulse Nigeria. According to the documentary filmmaker,
a foreigner who sees “The Wedding Party” will conclude that Nigerians are not more than Yoruba and Igbo people, thus jeopardising our diversity.

Read detailed explanation below;

The wedding party movie is certainly one of the best movies out of Nigeria. The quality, the storyline and the humor are just amazing. Without any doubt, it appears to be a breakthrough in the Nigeria movie industry and marks the beginning of many goodies that are yet to come.

 The movie I believe is set out to be not just for Nigerians but the global audiences, given the standard in which it was produced. Financially, it is budgeted beyond the Nollywood usual standard; it consumed sixty million naira. Indeed, It is unlike the usual local content.

However, throughout the film, one can feel and sense the Nigerian culture put into play, although inconclusively. There was no justifiable sense of diversity, contrary to a review by Temitope Adeyemi on who wrote “The Wedding Party is a comedy, and even though there are many lessons that could be drawn upon from the issue of intertribal marriages.”  She also added, “If you have ever attended a Nigerian society wedding, all the people you meet there are well represented in this movie.” Here she’s implying the idea of inclusivity has been achieved.

The movie is about a wedding between a Yoruba and Igbo families and the kind of drama that comes with it. Inclusivity in filmmaking and other endeavors have become critical to professionalism today, gender-wise, race-wise and otherwise, it is a global practice.

For Instance, you’ll hardly see a Hollywood film shot in the U.S these days without coming across one immigrant or another, sometimes even a tourist, because that is the reality. It is strategic to marketing too. But to my dismay, that didn’t happen in the wedding party.

Consequently, to a foreigner, the film will appear as though Nigerians are not more than Yoruba and Igbo people just like the Hutu and Tutsi of Rwanda, thus jeorpadising our diversity, because it is neither true nor a good impression. Nigeria is a home to over 350 different ethnic groups. In contrast, to really depict the true picture of what is typical about the Nigerian elites, there was a white girl who plays the friend of the bride. It is a norm that the children of the elites often invite their foreign friends to their wedding, but how not other Nigerians respectively?

Notwithstanding, I took the debate to my twitter handle and wrote “#TheWeddingParty movie is such a wonderful development in the Nigeria movie industry, but the northerners were excluded unfortunately.” Due to the shortness of the statement, it could easily be misunderstood because it was not elaborating.

The contrast between people of the south and those of the north is relatively much, and that’s why I particularly mentioned “north” because it is what I can easily identify.  The tweet has indeed got some interesting responses and a number of insults. Many have also argued that my point is either invalid or irrelevant.

In fact, one twitter verified Henry Okelue said this in reply to me “how would northerners have been included if the story line does not have any northern situation in it?” It is the same way we neglect collective responsibilities. Some even thought I meant including Kannywood stars in the cast!

It wouldn’t have been a bad idea too but that wasn’t my point. We must be able to look beyond producing local content, whereby Nollywood sticks to what is southern, west and eastern if you like. Kannywood is simply local, as they don’t even speak English.  Sadly, in some inclusive Nollywood movies, the northerners have easily been ridiculed and limited to playing the role of a gate man! gate man?  And vice versa all in the name of humor.

We have a duty as filmmakers to unite our people in movies like The Wedding Party even if it is not true about us just to foster unity. I was even more disappointed when someone replied with a tweet that “But the thief at the party dressed like he’s Hausa na… please manage that one.” Implying that that the thief in the movie is a Hausa man. He may be right, the thief dressed like a northerner, even though I convinced myself, and many others who believed so that he was Yoruba as the name “Lukman” is relatively more common with them. But I doubt if my senior colleagues will make such a mistake with the intent of ridicule because they are professionals.

The Wedding Party

Finally, I believe it is time to forge ahead, and act as nation. I am not commenting here as a northern representative or defendant, and I passionately defy the idea of being identified with any region but as Nigerian. This is simply a criticism rather than a protest with good intent of calling for improvement. Nigeria is a multicultural and multilingual country, and should be depicted as such for professional and strategic reasons.

Apart from that, The Wedding Party is a very successful breakthrough in the Nigeria movie industry, I love it and I am proud of it. A Nigerian doesn’t stand alone because he is not one, he is many in one; Meaning, wherever a Nigerian finds himself should put it at the back of his mind that he is an ambassador to more 350 different people.

The Wedding Party” follows the drama that happens during the planning of a wedding between a Yoruba bride, Dunni, and an Igbo Groom, Dozie.

A collaboration between EbonyLife Films, FilmOne Distribution, Koga Studios and Inkblot Productions, “The Wedding Party” was directed by Kemi Adetiba.

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