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Africa And The Rape Culture: A Review Of Kunle Afolayan’s Citation

Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, wife of the Lagos state governor | Photo Getty

“Citation” stands as a newfangled Nigerian film that has since gathered quite a number of both positive and negative reviews. Could the film’s fame come from the fact that a certain billionaire’s daughter was featured in it; or that the film in itself was great in content as per reflecting life or that the acting skills of the casts where impeccable?

The film is such that relays the emotional account of the sexual assault of a 20-year-old Masters student, Moremi, at the University. However, it did not lead to rape because of the little self-defence skill she picked up. Despite that, it mirrors the story of many rape survivors who stayed silent while enduring the harrowing experience. Like the historical Moremi, she courageously challenges her oppressor regardless of the unheard nature of the public accusation of a student at an “academic god” (Prof Lucien N’Dyare, a facsimile of rapist) while concerned with the sway he held on the panel. The rape culture is dominant in our society and has been brought to the limelight through various means. Even though it is not the first of its kind; the fact that it does not sparingly focus on the theme but on projecting it, undisputedly keys into the new openness of speaking up against rape and sexual assaults #Metoo and we can summarily say #sorosoke.

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Its high rating emerges from the “sex for grades” point of view and the opening of the Nigerian society to responsively discuss rape issues in school settings that have long been hushed. We are also confronted with the consequences of actions and how they affect individuals. In the case of Cardosa’s sister who committed suicide not long after giving birth, she was already going through trauma from rape then childbirth from rape. This could have triggered postpartum depression; with this is a glimpse of what life can be like for the victims after such a dreadful experience. Many victims go through a psychological breakdown and are not given the proper care they need when the society already slut shames them to the point of self-blame. The depiction of the film can be said to be a ripple effect of the BBC undercover story that revealed the sex for grades scandal in 2019, unravelling a lot of dark webs in African/Nigerian universities.

Temi Otedola in Citation.

The film is a clear depiction of the battle of the sexes. Moremi’s naivety and familiarity in making Lucien think that her friendliness is as a green light, but she can be excused on the basis of being exposed to education in a foreign land and so not solely realizing female student and lecturer relationship to be a different ball game in Africa. For the African/Nigerian purview, the behavioural pattern of education suggests that being free or friendly with a lecturer is forbidden. So being friends with a lecturer who is also perceived as untouchable also means the high chance of an amorous relationship. Clearly, speaking up opens a cankerworm that many did not know about Professor Lucien, lecturer-rapist. Where speaking up seems like an act of suicide, we have a character that defies that and does the unimaginable.

The irony of the film triggers a lot of perception where the panel seemed to be giving more audience to Lucien’s testimony, to protect the face of the university to the detriment of justice for the victim. It illustrates the incident of the numerous Monica Osagies who speak up, poignantly also shooting the film in the heart of one of the first scenes that births being vocal towards sexual assaults. In the same breath, Moremi does not get full justice based on her evidence and relay of the event, but in this case from another man whose testimony fulfilled her long-awaited justice.

Ironically, in the film, Lucien might have won the case brought against him, but for the Deus Ex Machina, as embodies through the young man who testified to how Lucien’s sexual assaults saw to his sister committing suicide.

Citation is simply stating that the average female Nigerian student is tortured with the idea of being pressured for sex to succeed in school, but the present times ushers in a new era where fear is quenched and justice can be pursued.

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