When you see the caption “The Supreme Price” as title of a film what comes to your mind? A question pops up, the price for what? You ponder, what does it mean? Is it the willingness to sacrifice all for a change to happen or the willingness to be positively radical in ones fight for democracy?
The Supreme Price is a documentary by award winning Director Joanna Lipper. It tells the story of the pro democracy movement in Nigeria, by using the account of the life of MKO Abiola and his wife Kudirat Abiola through his family and other notable people at the heart of Nigeria’s fight for democracy in the 90’s.
It tells of the 1993 election where Nigeria elected MKO Abiola as the new civilian president in a historically fair and none violent election. He had promised to put and end to corruption and poverty. This was the opportunity of a lifetime for the Nigerian people to end 23 years of Military dictatorship and send Nigeria into a Democratic era.
However, the election was annulled by the military who did not want to end their rule and General Sanni Abacha took the reigns of power. Shortly after, Abiola was imprisoned after he called upon the present Government to step down and allow his presidency to begin. His wife Kudirat Abiola an uneducated woman took over the leadership of the pro democracy movement, leading strikes , protests and rallies against her husband’s imprisonment and the annulment. She proved the patriarchal society that she a woman could mobilize people and bring about a positive change.
Kudirat became a torn to the Nigerian Military government and was assassinated in 1996. Joanna Lipper skillfully fits together both past and present sequences with interviews narrating events through Hafsat Abiola and her siblings with other noted speakers including the likes of Wole Soyinka and Dr J Okei – Odumakin who were also in the struggle for a better Nigeria.
At the time of her mother’s murder Hafsat was just about to graduate from Harvard. her father later dies in prison under suspicious circumstances. We see her return to Nigeria after many years in exile to continue her parents fight with a lot of determination. She was resolved to take the baton of leadership of the pro democracy movement to see her parents vision of a democratic Nigeria come alive and to see that the supreme price they paid was not in vain. She opens up about her fears coming back not knowing what to expect. But she becomes a voice for women who have been oppressed she wanted change and fights for it. She to too pays the supreme price by leaving her children with her husband in Belgium to take a government post in Nigeria.
In the film, Joanna gives Hafsat Abiola and her siblings free reign, peeling back the veil on the Enigma who was MKO Abiola and his life; the greatness he could have let Nigeria achieve and the legacy he left behind. We are told of their struggles their pain their fight for Justice their fight to release Nigeria from the hands of Military dictatorship, and the ultimate price of death paid by MKO Abiola and Kudirat.
The Supreme Price explores politics in Nigeria as the entry point to wealth in a country in which a tiny percentage are live like kings largely because of the access to the wealth of the nation. She takes us through the shambolic politics of Nigeria. From coup to coup military ruler to military ruler the every dangerous chess game placed by various Nigerian government.
The film is not about the Abiola family and their trials tribulations and snuggles but about the people of Nigeria, the violence corruption and oppression that Nigerians continually face even till today 22 years after the said election was annulled, The country is no better today that it was before. Through the Abiola family we see the political instability cultural diversity military violence and heavy handiness of thegovernment. A Patriarchal culture which does not value women, they have rights but are denied profusely. We see her Kudirat Abiola’s and her struggle as an uneducated becoming a hero and a role model for justices did for women.
Joanna allows the a natural flow she pulls at the hearts strings of the audience. Kudirats children are honest, truly revealing in all accounts they give. The film is still very relevant today with the chaos that Nigeria is in. Here’s hoping it will put a mirror to face of the Nigerian people and get them to act now or face being in shambles in another 22 years.
The Supreme Price is out in UK Cinemas now.