This week on the media blog has been all about Netflix.
But can you really blame us? Ever since the streaming giant announced it was officially fielding an office in Lagos Nigeria and creating original content to specifically cater to our stories and audience, the entire Nigerian media industry has been forced to sit up and take notice. Now that the initial euphoria from our jubilation has subsided, we can finally bring a critical eye to the partnership between Netflix and Nollywood and begin push for the kind of content we want to see.
One of the things I want to see from the Netflix Naija vertical is more women behind the camera. Kemi Adetiba has already been tapped to do big things with the platform and she is being honoured in Netflix’s ‘Because She Watched’ campaign that honours 50 women filmmakers form across the world with content on their service. Lala Akindoju is finally getting her opportunity to make a global splash as producer of the Netflix Naija original that is in the works, and that as well is long overdue. But I feel that the Netflix Naija roster is sorely lacking in young and original female voices. And there haven’t been any voices as original and as urgent to be heard as Ifeoma Chukwuogo.
Chukwuogo’s short film ‘Bariga Sugar’ debuted in 2017 on Youtube, and elicited such a visceral reaction from our usually jaded Nigerian film audience that she had to pull it off the platform at the request of film festivals at home and abroad. Tackling the dynamics of sex work without demeaning women who are part of that world, somehow wrangling stellar performances from child actors with no previous formal training and giving us a truly heart wrenching twist in less than 30 minutes, Chukwuogo showed herself a prodigy in an industry filled with middling talent.
Three years later, Bariga Sugar still packs as much of a punch as it did the first time it was shown, and the follow up projects Chukwuogo has teased in the last year Adindu, No Victors and Under show she indeed does have the range.
Consider this our official petition to get Ifeoma Chukwuogo her own Netflix original.
Edwin Okolo is an author and journalist who has worked with YNaija, TheNativemag and the Naked Convos.