With a thriving film industry churning out an average of two feature films a day, Nigerians are used to seeing themselves on the bigscreen. But a growing row over a Hollywood blockbuster has many seeing red — and demanding an apology from the film’s producers.
At a private screening for government officials recently, Dora Akunyili, Nigeria’s information minister, lashed out at the sci-fier “District 9” for its depiction of her countrymen.
“The film clearly denigrated Nigeria’s image by portraying us as if we are cannibals, we are criminals,” she told BBC’s “Network Africa” show.
In the film a Nigerian gang runs a ruthless criminal enterprise in the alien slum. Gang members are shown trafficking in illegal alien weaponry, engaging in intercourse with the extraterrestrials and performing elaborate voodoo rites in an attempt to steal the aliens’ powers.
Akunyili urged theaters across the country to stop showing the film, and wrote a formal letter of protest to distrib Sony. She has demanded an apology and asked that Sony edit out all references to Nigeria in the film. There has so far been no response from the film company.
Earlier in September Akunyili launched a similar tirade against the company over a PS3 Slim ad poking fun at Nigeria’s notorious “419” scandals. Sony apologized and subsequently changed the ad.
A Facebook group, “Nigerians Offended by District 9,” had attracted more than 600 members as of Sept. 21.