TBFF 2015: The Supreme Price
After an extended absence, Hafsat Abiola finally returns to her homeland of Lagos, Nigeria, a place she was forced to flee after the events that occurred following her father’s, M.K.O. Chief Abiola, presidential victory in a free election in 1993. The victory was short lived as her dad, who never took office, was imprisoned after a series of military coups impacted the region. On top of that, her mother, Kudirat, who fought for both women’s rights in Nigeria and her husband’s release as the rightful president of the country, was murdered in 1996. It’s these memories that have led Hafsat to travel back to Nigeria to take up the political cause her parent’s started.
The Supreme Price explores major political issues that have impacted Nigeria. Director Joanna Lipper traces the country’s history from its 1960 independence from Britain, including 27 years of military rule that began in 1966, until modern day. Lipper also looks at the various social aspects, including the Muslim tradition of a husband being allowed to take up to four wives, of the time. One of the more fascinating points the film touches on is the important role women have played politically.
Women in Nigeria were a key demographic in social change. They used various types of protests, such as the workers’ strike at the lucrative government oil fields led by Kudirat, to evoke action. They shut down the markets and staged naked protests which ultimately helped to unite Nigerians across the region regardless of their religious differences. These are major accomplishments when you consider both the traditional and religious attitudes that are still prevalent today. The systemic nature of male dominated traditions, and the reality of the four-wife tradition, has made it hard for women to strive for equality. Even Hafsat’s brother, who was up to three wives at the time of filming, does not feel that his sister should be in politics. He admits that the men currently running Nigeria are not doing a good job, but thinks that the country can still find better male options before needing to consider women.
In juxtaposing Hafsat’s journey, from attending school in the United States to living in Belgium with her husband and children to accepting a suburban Lagos government position, with the history of Nigeria, Joanna Lipper’s paints a vivid portrait of both Nigeria’s past and its potential for the future. Lipper effectively uses archival footage, graphics, and timelines to present a cultural history filled with military dictators and both ethnic and religious diversity.
The Supreme Price is a comprehensive account of the volatile history of a relatively new independent nation. The film presents the social and political facts in a truly gripping and compelling manner. It is a film that I can recommend.