Amina, the long-anticipated historical movie, which took the veteran Nollywood producer and actor, Okechukwu Ogunjiofor, about 25 years to execute, mainly received poor reviews on November 4, 2021, release.
The consensus was the same from northern Nigerian historians to Nigerians on social media. However, the historical drama was also criticised because the dialogue was in English instead of the Hausa language.
Initially shot in 2015, the movie garnered so much buzz on social media because it was hailed as Ogunjiofor’s comeback movie.
Initially scheduled for release in 2017, the eponymous epic movie tells the untold story of Queen Amina of Zazzau.
The producer said it took the crew about 25 years to produce and engage the services of over 1000 cast members.
According to Ogunjiofor, the cast was engaged in pre-production training where they were first camped for three months and trained on how to ride horses and use swords to fight on horsebacks before commencing shoot properly.
Lucy Ameh (Queen Amina), Ali Nuhu (Danjuma), Yakubu Mohammed ( Barde), Victoria Nweke (Mero), Abu Chris Gbakann (Sarki), Dan Chris Ebie, (Galadima), Usman Tijani (Ibrahim), Clarion Chukwura (Zumbura), Ummi Mohammed (Zaria), Godwin Ogaga(Kabarkai) played the lead roles in the film.
As with most Nigerian historical figures, little or no documented information and data means that not much is known about Amina’s ascension and reign, which was a significant flaw in the film.
The movie was criticised for falling short of the historical reality of Amina’s reign.
Indeed, this newspaper’s review noted that the producers focused on making a good movie rather than solidifying a historical tale.
The movie also generated several debates in the entertainment circles, especially among northern viewers, who, in most cases, said the movie did not truly represent Queen Amina and her culture.
Furera Bagel, a lecturer at Bauchi State University, wrote on her Facebook page: “I finally got the chance to watch the much-awaited Amina movie on Netflix. I say that although the director has tried in his attempt to portray the warrior queen, I was afraid that he would not do the movie justice when I saw these words on the screen before the movie even began, “At a time when women were subjugated.” Come on! We are talking about a queen who ruled men and led them to war!”.
She spotted what she described as historical inaccuracies and mistakes in the movie, such as when the Igala regent addressed Madakin Zazzau as “My friend from the desert!” However, Ms Furera noted that Zazzau couldn’t be a desert. “Even Maiduguri is not a dessert!” she noted.
“The Kusugu well is situated in a bush when even in the Bayajidda legend, it was the only well in Daura. It should be in town. The Sarki holds a staff of office. The British introduced that, so it didn’t exist during that period. Hence, the chief priestess of Zazzau pronouncing it as Zowzow,” she said,
She, however, said she was impressed “by some of the costumes, architecture, makeup and decorations in the palace, especially the Sarki’s quarters.”
Responding to the criticism that trailed the film’s release, notable Nigerian filmmaker Izu Ojukwu, who directed the film, said directing a historical movie like ‘Amina’ posed a unique challenge.
“No film is simple to direct, especially in Nigeria, considering the challenges we have in Nigeria. Amina had its peculiar problems, which included managing the cast and crew and retrieving information to create the story was not easy, as there was little or no information,” he told PREMIUM TIMES.
Mr Ojukwu, who is best known for directing the Nigerian historical fiction drama film, ’76’ in 2016, also noted that the absence of archives and oral and written history in Nigeria affected the fine details that could have made the movie a masterpiece in the real sense of the word.
“In Africa, we hardly have archives of past events. This is because most of our history is from oral literature. So the movie Amina was a whole adventure. It demanded that we visit various museums to listen to different versions of oral literature because we wanted to create a historical movie. It wasn’t an easy task, but it was worth it”, he said.
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