OLOIBIRI: The Review

OLOIBIRI: The Review

Oloibiri: the movie

This movie is based on a true story. It mirrors events that transpired during a pivotal point in the Nigerian history. To give an in depth review of this film, some relevant facts relating to this events have to be examined. So here you go, a little journey down memory lane.

In January 1956, the first oilfield in Nigeria was discovered in Oloibiri: a small community in Bayelsa. After years of previous attempts at exploration by other drilling companies, this field finally got discovered by Shell D’arcy (now known as Shell Petroleum Development Company).

Following this discovery was a boatload of promises to the natives of the host community. Of course, being the first location proven to possess the most valuable resource that would lead to immeasurable development in the country (such was the expectation), it is only natural to look forward to at least half a percent of such development. The people of Oloibiri were hopeful that finally, their “remote” community would become a hub for development.

As we all know today the narrative is very different. Not only is Oloibiri one of the most underdeveloped places in Nigeria, Nigeria herself has been ranked the world’s poverty capital and the third worst country in the world.

The reality of the Oloibiri people is infact suffering and death. With constant oil spillage, air polution, water and land polution, poisoning of plants and crops, farmine, and death caused by drinking polluted water being the resultant effect of this unfortunate exploration. The movie correctly portrays this ordeal as it shows helpless families: mothers, fathers and children having no other choice but to live on these polluted substances and eventually dying due to the poison. The roads until this day are undeveloped, no good hospitals, schools, or properly set up necessity for living. This has been the cycle of existence in this community. The natural effect of this suffering are the two major ideas that this movie is hinged on.

The movie retells the Oloibiri story, only this time, from the stand point of revenge and regret. The characters Boma Tamuno aka The Gunpowder (played by Richard Mofe Damijo) and Timipreye (played by Olu Jacobs) represent the ideas of revenge and regret respectively. Revenge being the younger generation of the Oloibiri native who is resentful toward the older generation for not putting up a fight against the exploitation that wrecked their land. And regret being the minority of the older generation who did try to put up a fight but was shut down by the majority who probably believed that development was imminent.

These two themes are an attempt by this production to draw a scale for measuring the possible influence of both parties–host community and exploiter– in the turn out of events. Using the young generation to challange the stand point that the natives of Oloibiri are blame free in this exploitation –as we see Boma confront Timipreye, mocking him for running away when he could have fought. And Timipreye in his defence says that he could not have fought alone. This just goes to show that while it is true that the natives may have resisted, the odds that they would have won was just too slim. First, only very small percentage of the men in the community (who were mostly driven by their personal interests and greed) represented the people. Second, knowing how consent isn’t really a factor in such situations, it wouldn’t matter whether or not the community agreed to such exploitation. And most importantly, in such a situation where one party has a better advantage than the other, the other, it is very unlikely that the more advantaged party does not have it’s way.

Another twisted reality is the fact that even though the younger generation started off wanting to avenge their land, they ended up terrorising the land. We see this in Boma’s character as he is more of a threat to the peace of the land rather than a blessing.

This production then goes ahead to creatively satirize. As it kind of advises against the mentality of revenge, wallowing in self pity, entitlement and being easily susceptible to violence. This it does by building characters like the boys of the True Men Alliance group that represent these mentality and stating its stance against it by letting the armed forces triumph over them and having the voice of Boma’s mother advising the youths to not go in her son’s chosen path.

Judging from all that has been discussed, it is correct to conclude that the Oloibiri movie is a good production that tugs strongly on our psychological perspectives.

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