‘Lahira story is part of our history’
Beyond entertainment, film is a great avenue to educate the populace and beam light on social ills or explore critical social matters of interest. This is exactly what new TV series, Lahira, aims to achieve.
Lahira tells a story about the insurgency in Nigeria through the character of young and a brave Northern girl, Lahira, whose village was destroyed by armed men. Produced by Justice Atigogo, Lahira features a diverse cast of actors from across the country, including Nobert Young as General; Miracle Inyanda as Lahira; Alfred Atungu as Hamza Bin Sale and Grace-Charis Bassey Effah as Alicia Kubanji.
Last week, The Guardian interacted with the cast of the movie who shared their experiences working on the project that beams light on insurgency in Nigeria.
When asked about adaptation and display of emotion, fast-rising Miracle Iyanda who plays the role of Lahira said being part of those affected in the insurgency played a great part.
“The emotion was a build-up. Lahira is a relatable story. I’ve lived in a city where there was a crisis all around; they killed a lot of people. My parents had to carry me. Putting myself in that situation helped me interpreted my role.”
On the role and challenges, she said: “It’s devastating when you find yourself in a terrible state as a young girl. When you find yourself in situations that can be so devastating, you can shut down and decide to just succumb to this situation. But then, Lahira showed courage just like the Chibok girls and kept pushing even amidst daunting challenges.”
On how the series will resonate with viewers, she said: “This story is part of our history. This movie helps people from other parts of Nigeria to see what people in troubled zones are going through. This story is also going to help society understand the effort the military is dealing with the problem.”
On the effort put into place to help those in the affected areas watch the series, she said: “Part of the things I am doing is creating awareness through social media, not only that, a lot of people have reached out to me trying to find out how they can watch the series and I told them how to access DStv app. So, we were able to subscribe for some people; people who can really relate to this might not see it in a long time. But part of the things we did was taking out clips, and putting it on platforms that could reach out to other people.”
Speaking on the choice of cast for the series and challenges on set, Director of the movie, Peter Fada, said: “Lahira is a very unique piece, and for this kind of project, giving a creative direction is not an easy task. We were making a series and we were shooting as if we were making a movie for the cinema. It wasn’t an easy task, because we wanted to achieve cinema-like pictures using the time and budget for the series.
“We were shooting with extra on a daily basis, which is so difficult, and we were also trying to shoot with very high production value, which also was very difficult. But we worked with a crew that know what they are doing, actors who understood the script and understand the vision for the project; it makes the job of the director a lot easier. So, by the special grace of God, on this project, we had men and women who were working with us that understood the vision and made things easy for me.”
Speaking on the role Lahira played in addressing germane social issues, he said: “Insurgency is a topic that is very popular in the media, and it has been a problem for us as a nation since it started almost 20 years ago. We felt like giving a voice to those that are affected by this menace. We feel that Lahira will also go a long way to help Nigerians to identify with the efforts the military is putting in place.”
On the kind of research he undertook while preparing for the movie, he said: “Without the impute from MultiChoice, we won’t be talking about how good Lahira is. A filmmaker needs the backing of financiers to be a good project. Even if we have the will to make this, but we didn’t have MultiChoice, it will never have happened or achieved the high level of quality it has today.
“Basically, the insurgency is something I’ve been researching for a while. I’m one of those filmmakers that want to tell original Nigeria stories; we want to be able to tell our story. You cannot speak about Nigeria today without speaking about the insurgency; it affects almost every life. So, basically, it is a topic I have been working on together with my team of creative writers, and it happened that preparation met opportunity, MultiChoice came on board to support our vision.”
On the impact Lahira has had on him, personally and professionally, he said: “As a filmmaker who worked with MultiChoice on this project, I was able to learn new ways of working. Basically, MultiChoice exposes me to some methods and some workshops that people don’t normally get as indigenous filmmakers.”
On her thought on the project and how it has shaped her career, Grace-Charis Bassey Effah, who was a journalist in the series said: “It’s a huge honour to be a part of this project. This is an incredible project that has been added to my resume. Insurgency is something a lot of people do not want to talk about, so, making a series to talk about the issue is also lending our voice to a cause that nobody really wants to talk about. So, I’m really proud to be part of this project that I’m hoping that it gets to the right places and something is done about it.
“I’ve heard several stories about what is happening and why insurgency cannot be curbed. I believe that in this century, something like this should not even be heard of, because we have the technology, the technical know-how, the expertise… everything that every country should have to fight this insurgency. So, why do we still have this problem?
“I’m not a politician, and I’m not going to go in that route. I’m just an actor, a bloody actor and a passionate Nigerian. So, I’m just going to talk from that angle. We have telecommunication services in Nigeria that can track every communication that happens in Nigeria to the location. We have all the access routes, yet our government makes us believe that they don’t know where the people are, and why it cannot be curbed. Our brothers and our sisters are dying.”
She continued: “I’m hoping that this project would be an eye opener to everybody watching it, to the government, that they will harken to our voices, our cry and do something. Let’s leave sentiments aside and join hands to put an end to this problem.”