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Cast: Rita Dominic, Ramsey Nouah, Chidi Mokeme, Pat Nebo, Adonijah Owiriwa, Ibinabo Fiberesima, Daniel K. Daniel, Nelly Ekwereogu, Bolaji Ogunmola, Preach Bassey, Ben Nwosu and Efetobore.
Director: Izu Ojukwu
Despite the constant burlesque of movies produced in Nollywood, we as viewers must not fail to give honor to which movie is deserving. ’76, formerly known as Lions of ’76 is one of the assets in Nollywood where the cast, costume designers and the director (in my Gen Z voice) got the assignment. It is no surprise that the movie went ahead to win The Best Nigerian Film and Best Production Design in the Africa Movie Academy Awards 2017. I mean, the props hit the nail on the head, the vintage cars, the vintage costume, from the wigs to the jewelry, and the fine moustache on our dearest Ramsey Noah. Everything was in sync with the 70’s so much so that I felt like seeing the movie was a rite of passage of some kind.
’76, which is based on a true story, takes the viewers ‘behind the scenes’ of our major historical events. While our generation consistently weeps over our shattered emotional fracas as a result of a degenerated system of living, we tend to believe that the older generation have no idea about what we’re going through. We like to view their toxic engagement to ‘make-belief peace’ as foolishness, and their ability to adapt to harsh systems of government no matter what degree it comes, makes us see them as a weak, and a cowered in generation.
However, ’76 brings us into that state where we see how difficult it was for our fathers to breathe, love, and to express their exuberance in a country where the military wore their innocent blood as a badge of honor. We get the chance to see how our parents were able to sustain defense mechanisms to survive in a war-torn country, perhaps, we can learn a few lessons from them, let’s get into it now, shall we?
In Izu Ojukwu’s ‘76, Joseph Dewa, played by Ramsey Nouah, is a military man indeed, romantic, caring but strong willed; who is consequently accused of involvement in the 1976 military coup. At this unfortunate turn of event, his pregnant fiancé, Suzanne, played by Rita Dominic, would do anything to vindicate the father of her child.
The movie melancholically mocks the result of the civil war and incessant coups; the military claimed to have the best interests of Nigerians in mind, however, the truth of this statement struggles to gain weight till date. Through the relationship between Joseph and Suzy, we see how the post-war generation, having seen the devastation of war in their parents’ lives decided to take sides with love and oneness irrespective of tribal differences. They are quite willing to see the good in every military government that comes their way just to enjoy a fraction of peace and quiet in their individual lives.
However, Suzy’s father, played by Ben Nwosu, represents the older generation; who finds it difficult to believe in the oneness message due to the trauma that the civil war carved into their consciousness. To them, the civil war zoomed in an eternal hatred and enmity amongst Nigerians, and the military regime is nothing more than a bad omen. Suzy’s Father warns Suzanne of an impending doom based on his fifteen years’ experience in the Biafran Army, and in his exact words, “Your Mother suffered a lot during the war, I don’t want you to suffer the same fate. Who do you think will raise your children?”
Whose side are you on? The side of carefree love of the post-civil war generation or the well fenced suspicion of the civil war Generation? For me, none of them are wrong in their positions, however, the unreliable military regime became the beginning of the end of the love story of Suzanne and Joseph Dewa.
The movie also light-heartedly touches on the Luxury, Music and fashion of the late 70’s in Nigeria. When the former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon had famously said “Money is not Nigeria’s problem, but how to spend it”; put Nigeria not only a leading position in economy but also in fashion trends in those days. The military which were at the helm of affairs, were the major custodians of the bulk of Nigeria’s wealth. Izu Ojukwu paints such reality in Memry Savanhu’s Eunice. Eunice does not hesitate to flaunt her body, beauty and taste in music as she pleases, she does this extravagantly, shoving it in Suzy’s face at every chance she gets. In a way, the viewers may conclude she looks down on Suzy who is homely and different from her.
However, Eunice, like Nigeria is a sad mimic of luxury, taste and greatness, and like many Nigerians, when difficulty comes knocking, she quickly moves on to another lover.
In summary, permit me to flatter Izu Ojukwu’s ’76, as every scene is a well delivered baton to our generation to aid us as we collectively run the Nigerian race. I will use this medium to emphasize on the importance of learning our country’s history and it’s far reaching effects in our present lives. As earlier stated, the actors wore their characters with rich mannerism and accuracy that I barely found areas to nit-pick. It is a must-watch for every Nigerian wishing for a better Nigeria as the movie takes us back to the ‘what-went-wrong’.
Special Notes from the Editors
Have you seen ’76? If you haven’t seen it, then you should. Let us know how much you liked this review in the comment section, kindly share this review as a lot of work was put into it to bring it to your screens.
I’ll like to heartily thank Ruth Abusomwan, who is the writer of this piece. I like how she was able to transition her thoughts on paper coherently, reading your work gives me so much joy. Dearest Readers, kindly do well to give her a shoutout on my behalf in the comments section, she did a fantastic job well done with this piece. Thank you so much guys, see you same time next-week!