Six Nigerian Films That Create Awareness About Health Issues 

In Nigeria, people who suffer certain illnesses, for instance lifelong, transmissible or mental health problems, tend to be stigmatized, treated as outcasts and may even be deprived of societal or employment privileges. Stakeholders, such as the government and non-governmental organizations, continually make efforts through campaigns and programmes to educate the public on those health conditions.

Some Nigerian filmmakers have also made films that center physical and mental health problems. These films have helped to create awareness about and contributed to de-stigmatizing these illnesses. Here are six such contemporary Nigerian films, both feature-length and short, that are directly or indirectly involved in the sensitization efforts.

Dazzling Mirage (2014)

The Tunde Kelani film is adapted from a novel of same title by Olayinka Abimbola Egbokhare and contributes to discourses and public awareness on sickle-cell anemia, a genotype-bound disease. Written by Ade Solanke, the drama stars Kemi Akindoju as the lead character, Funmiwo, and it delves into the life of a young woman who is a sickle cell patient and her attempts at navigating the social and emotional challenges associated with her condition. Kelani further uses the film to draw the attention of young, marriageable people to the importance of their genotype and to misconceptions surrounding sickle-cell disease. Also starring in the film are Kunle Afolayan, Bimbo Manuel, Yomi Fash-Lanso and Taiwo Ajai-Lycett. Dazzling Mirage is available on Netflix.

 

For Maria Ebun Pataki (2020)

Statistics show that at least 1.5 million Nigerian women suffer from postpartum (also “postnatal”) depression, a medical condition in which women experience feelings of depression and anxiety after childbirth. This reality is the focus of Damilola Orimogunje debut film, For Maria Ebun Pataki, a story about the difficulties faced by a young woman Derin while in labor and after the delivery of her first child. The film, which meticulously details the usually understated post-birth reality of a woman’s body, stars Meg Otanwa, Gabriel Afolayan and Tina Mba. The production also explores the challenging moment of transitioning to motherhood. For Maria Ebun Pataki has been available on Netflix since January 16, 2022 and is a must-watch for all young couples and women on the verge of experiencing motherhood.

 

Sylvia (2018)

Sylvia provides a nuanced perspective on mental health through the  story of a man, Richard Okezie (Chris Attoh), who appears to bestride  the spirit and physical realms. When he decides to get married to a woman, Gbemi (Ini Dima Okojie), his spirit spouse Sylvia (Zainab Balogun), with whom he has had a long-term bizarre relationship, becomes furious and vengeful. The film, written by Vanessa Kanu and directed by  Daniel Oriahi, explores the belief in the existence of the supernatural world, exploring how one’s perception of spirits and other intangible beings influences their physical disposition and mental wellbeing. Sylvia makes for an interesting watch and can be streamed on Prime Video.

 

93 Days (2016)

Produced by Bolanle Austen-Peters and directed by Steve Gukas, 93 Days is based on the 2014 outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Nigeria, particularly reenacting the medical response to the arrival of Ebola virus in Lagos and successful efforts to contain it. The drama film is dedicated to the memory of Nigerian medical doctor Ameyo Adadevoh who quarantined Ebola patient and Liberian diplomat Patrick Sawyer, refusing to yield to threats of the Liberian government, and caught the virus and died  afterwards in her efforts to curb the spread of the West African epidemic. Chronicling the sacrifices of medical practitioners, the film stars Bimbo Akintola as Doctor Ameyo Adadevoh and Keppy Ekpeyong Bassey as Patrick Sawyer. 93 Days is accessible on Prime Video. 

 

Iyawo Mi (2023) 

Mo Abudu’s directorial debut and Yoruba language short film Iyawo Mi creates awareness on mental health, an issue that is considered taboo in Nigeria and many African societies. The film stars talented actors Bolaji Ogunmola, Segun Arinze, Lateef Adedimeji and Jude Chukwukwa. Iyawo Mi is about the story of a young married man Kunle based in downtown Lagos. He returns home one evening to the shocking discovery that his wife Eniola has experienced an acute mental breakdown, suffering hallucinations and threatening everyone around, including her children. But then, out of desperation to find a solution, he takes actions that result in tragic consequences. 

 

Her Perfect Life (2023)

Her Perfect Life, written and directed by Mo Abudu, is a short film that tells the story of a 39-year-old Lagos-based young woman, Onajite Johnson Ibrahim, who is considered highly successful by societal standards. From a blossoming career to a booming business, loving husband and wonderful children, she seems to have everything going for her. Yet despite  the near-impeccable exterior, she grapples with unstable emotions and suicidal thoughts. The short film takes a swipe at depression, a mental disorder that is usually responsible for suicide. Pearl Thusi and Joseph Benjamin play lead roles in the film, while Mary Lazarus, Christian Paul, Omowunmi Dada and Uzo Osimkpa feature in supporting roles.

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