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Democracy Day: Nollywood On Nigeria’s Democratic State

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When you ask a pre-schooler, or pupil the definition of democracy, we’re all familiar with the sing-song answer the child would gladly chorus: “Democracy is a government of the people, by the people and for the people” as articulated by Abraham Lincoln.

June 12th stands as a stark reminder etched in the collective memory of Nigerians, representing one of the saddest realities of Nigeria’s democracy. As we commemorate Democracy Day, we reflect on the ongoing journey towards a more democratic society through films.

As a Nation rich in culture and history, Nigeria’s political landscape has been captured and can be critiqued through Nollywood films. This article explores films that boldly portray the complexities of Nigeria’s democratic journey. They serve as historical anchors, helping us appreciate the Nation’s struggles, victories, and ongoing challenges through a cinematic lens.

Saworoide and Agogo Eewo: A Reflection of Leadership Marred by Corruption

“The king serves the people and not the other way around”

– Baba Opalaba (Saworoide)

Released in 1999 and 2002, respectively, Saworoide (Brass Bells) and Agogo Eewo, both directed by Tunde Kelani, serve as cultural and historical allegories, offering a poignant commentary on how democracy is often stolen from the Nigerian people. These political feature films remain perpetually relevant due to their exploration of themes such as corrupt practices, the killing of vocal citizens, and the exploitation of the populace.

Agogo Eewo, meaning ‘taboo gong,’ acts as a check on the chiefs, just as the Saworoide serves as a check on the ruling king in the narratives. However, in both stories, the parties involved shirk the ritual rites required for them to sit on the throne, attempting to escape accountability. Over time, these neglected traditions gradually lead to the erosion of their power and authority.

Posed as an allegorical examination of the dictatorial rule of both civilian and military leaders in Nigeria, the films provide a central theme on Nigeria’s political realities from years past. The politically-sponsored killings of citizens, bloody coups d’état disrupting peace and order, and the passiveness in addressing the political and economic needs of the citizens are daily realities across various African nations.

These films draw viewers’ attention to the illicit actions of rulers during that era in Nigeria’s history which are still reminiscent today.

October 1 : Nigeria’s Rotten Foundation and Eventual Democratic Corrosion

There is quite a lot to unpack from this nollywood film. Set during the final days of British colonial rule in 1960, in Ilara Mokin town of Ondo State, a Police Inspector named Waziri is commissioned to unravel the mysterious deaths plaguing the town of Akote. Directed by Kunle Afolayan, the film starts with the crime, delving into Nigeria’s turbulent birth: a stark portrayal of violence.

A predator relentlessly pursues a fleeing woman. In a chilling sequence, he overtakes her, committing the heinous acts of rape and murder by strangulation.

Without delving too much into the plot, the film highlights the struggles and aspirations of Nigerians as they transition from colonial subjugation to self-governance. This period was marked by hopes for a democratic society free from foreign control. The film explores themes of ethnic tension, corruption, and the quest for justice, which resonate with contemporary political realities in Nigeria.

With the Nigerian national anthem hitting rewind back to the 1960s version, “Nigeria we hail thee,” this film feels like a hilarious throwback, with Kehinde Bankole taking us on a ride down memory lane. It’s like Nollywood decided to give us a comedic mirror to reflect on our political reality today, proving that sometimes, history has a seriously funny way of repeating itself.

King of Boys: A Metaphor for Power Struggles in Nigerian Politics

Stop the handshake before it gets to the elbow. That is how we remain in power.”

– Aare Akinwande

Well, Eniola Salami grabs the whole arm eventually.

Since its release in 2018, there has been extensive critical discourse surrounding the intricate dynamics of Nigerian politics portrayed in Kemi Adetiba’s film, King of Boys. Additionally, King of Boys is a film that delves deep into the power dynamics and political intrigue within Nigeria.

The film follows the story of Alhaja Eniola Salami, a powerful businesswoman and political figure, as she navigates the treacherous waters of politics, crime, and ambition. It highlights the deep-seated corruption and criminal activities intertwined with Nigerian politics. Furthermore, the film portrays how political figures often engage in unethical practices to secure their positions and eliminate rivals.

Through its compelling narrative, King of Boys offers a rich commentary on Nigerian politics and the state of democracy in the country. Additionally, serving as a cinematic mirror, the movie vividly reflects the myriad events and machinations within Nigerian politics, both directly and indirectly impacting democracy.

4th Republic: Not Every Saintly Figure Adheres To The Path of Righteousness

4th Republic is a political thriller directed by Ishaya Bako and released in 2019. The film explores themes of political intrigue and corruption. It follows the story of a female gubernatorial candidate, Mabel King, played by Kate Henshaw, who becomes embroiled in a controversial election process marked by violence, manipulation, and fraud.

4th Republic offers a critical examination of Nigeria’s political landscape, highlighting issues such as electoral malpractice, gender inequality in politics, and the struggle for justice.

The film depicts the pervasive issue of electoral malpractice, including voter intimidation, ballot box stuffing, and manipulation of results by political actors. These challenges undermine the democratic process, erode public trust in institutions, and hinder the ability of citizens to freely choose their leaders.

Similarly, 4th Republic also explores the gender dynamics in Nigerian politics, highlighting the barriers faced by women in accessing positions of power and the resistance they encounter in navigating the political landscape. Overall, the film sheds light on the complexities and shortcomings of Nigeria’s democratic system, emphasizing the need for reforms to ensure free, fair, and credible elections.


As we celebrate Democracy Day, these nollywood films remind us of the importance of vigilance, active citizenship, and the continuous effort required to uphold democratic values. These are stories woven from observations told from a cinematic and creative perspective that has made these realities ever so relatable. Through their narratives, they underscore the necessity for transparency, accountability, and reform in the quest for a more just and democratic society.

I would like to conclude with the film, Koseegbe also by Tunde Kelani, asking this rhetorical question, an afterthought that ponders from the film’s narrative: the change we desire, are we ready for it?

For more nollywood political dramas. you can explore: Your Excellency, If I am President, Green Fever, and ’76.

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