"an intelligent documentary from Joanna Lipper. It manages to cover a lot of ground and highlight some of the most pressing issues that have faced and continue to face Nigerians today"
On March 28th this year a historical election occurred in Nigeria. For the very first time an incumbent president was not re-elected and what’s more, he conceded his defeat on the 31st of March handing over office to the rightly elected victor. It has been a road wrought with corruption, greed and bloodshed but finally Nigeria is heading in the right direction.
Nigeria is a vast land that is divided across many lines. The country has over 500 languages, 300 ethnic groups and two dominant religions. In 1993 one man was able to traverse these lines and unite a nation. People from all corners of this oil-rich land rose up together to elect him as President of Nigeria. That man was M.K.O Abiola. Abiola’s win was a sign of a democratic future and his platform of hope shone brightly; however, he would never assume office.
Since independence from the British in 1910 Nigeria had suffered under tyrannical military rule and as soon as Abiola was announced victor, the military nullified the election and re-assumed power. This is the beginning of the documentary The Supreme Choice, which follows the Abiola family and their continuing fight to achieve democracy in their incredibly corrupt land.
This is an intelligent documentary from Joanna Lipper. It manages to cover a lot of ground and highlight some of the most pressing issues that have faced and continue to face Nigerians today. Through effective splicing of old footage and current interviews with Hafshat Abiola and her siblings, Lipper has presented a balanced portrait of the Abiola family. The documentary honours the memory of M.K.O while also highlighting the endemic patriarchal attitudes that persisted in him, and those that have been inherited by his son.
It also justly acknowledges the force that was his wife Kudirat; a woman with no educational background who assumed her husband’s cause and fought with all her might for her people and their right to a democratically elected leader. It is for this staunch belief that she was assassinated.
We watch as the mantle passes from father to mother to daughter; each sacrificing a great deal in the name of their country and democracy. Mother and Father paid with their lives and Hafshat has sacrificed a life of comfort and safety with her children and husband in Brussels. These are sacrifices many cannot understand but, as audiences learn in the documentary, when it comes to the freedoms of people in extreme circumstance such sacrifice is unavoidable to assure a better future for a whole nation.
Now Hafshat fights for what both her parents died for. With her charity KIND, she continues the pro-democracy movement; while also helping to provide a voice to Nigeria’s most marginalised population: women. As Hafshat so eloquently says: “Any society that is silencing its women has no future.”
However, in 75 minutes it is hard to sufficiently broach all the issues, including those relating to oil and international affairs and the work by the ongoing female initiative spearheaded by Hafshat. It succeeds in whetting the appetite and generating interest into the turbulent political history of Nigeria. Audiences will be left with a desire to continue their education and maybe in that, it is a success.