Nigerian Ebola movie extols moment of heroism

 A man cycles past a billboard in Lagos promoting the premier of Nollywood film "93 Days" dramatizes Nigeria's response to the Ebola epidemic in 2014 ©Pius Utomi Ekpei (AFP)

A man cycles past a billboard in Lagos promoting the premier of Nollywood film “93 Days” dramatizes Nigeria’s response to the Ebola epidemic in 2014 ©Pius Utomi Ekpei (AFP)

Hollywood plague movies are usually about a fictional viral outbreak, unleashing chaos and anarchy that can only be stopped by heroes who transcend the panic.

That’s not true for “93 Days”, a Nollywood film premiering on Tuesday, which dramatises the story of Nigeria’s response to the very real Ebola epidemic in 2014 that killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa.

Hundreds had already died from the disease in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone when Ebola surfaced in Nigeria as a Liberian finance ministry official, Patrick Sawyer, arrived in Lagos on July 20, 2014, visibly unwell.

When it was confirmed he had the haemorrhagic virus, there were fears it would spread like wildfire in the megacity of 20 million and across Africa’s most populous nation — and then beyond.

But that’s not what happened in Nigeria, and for many people that was nothing short of a miracle.

There were just 19 confirmed Ebola cases and seven deaths, including Sawyer, and Nigeria lifted its state of emergency 93 days after he was first admitted to hospital.

During a recent advance screening of “93 Days” in Lagos, the audience was chatting and flicking through their smartphones as the titles rolled, in typical Nigerian fashion.

But when the words “based on a true story” appeared on screen, the room fell silent.

“For the first time, Nigerians united to fight against a common enemy, everyone was scared,” producer Bolanle Austen-Peters told AFP.



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About Cholo Brooks 15818 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.