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Amina the movie: Backlash trails Nollywood movie on Zazzau Princess

Amina the movie was premiered on Netflix for streaming on November 4, 2021 after a long wait....

Amina the movie was premiered on Netflix for streaming on November 4, 2021 after a long wait.

The film is a historic movie centered on Zazzau Princess, Queen Amina, who reigned in the 16th Century, and history had it that she led men to war and conquered many towns.

The movie was produced by Okechukwu Ogunjiofor and directed by Izu Ojukwu with many stars from Northern Nigeria such as Ali Nuhu, Asabe Madaki, among others.

Daily Trust Saturday watched the trailer of the movie, in which the Princess (Lucy Ameh) was seen as a young girl telling her father, the Emir of Zazzau (Abu Chris Gbakann) that she wants to be a warrior. “I desire to know how to use weapons like one of your soldiers, Baba,” Amina said to her dad.

In another scene, a member of the council, Magaji Mjinyawa, was seen telling the emir not to allow Amina to join the army. He said, “No woman has ever dreamt of joining the Zazzau’s armies,” to which the Emir replied, “I am disposed to see how proficient she, in particular, turns out to be.”

However, the movie has generated a debate in the entertnment cycle, especially among northern viewers, whom in most cases say that the movie doesn’t truly represent Queen Amina and her culture.

Dr Furera Bagel, a Lecturer at Bauchi State University, wrote on her Facebook page, “I finally got the chance to watch the much awaited Amina movie on Netflix. I must say that although the director has tried in his attempt to portray the warrior queen I was afraid that he would not do the movie justice when I saw these words on the screen before the movie even began, “At a time when women were subjugated”. Come on! We are talking about a queen who ruled men and led them to war!”

She added that there are many historical inaccuracies and mistakes in the movie, such as, when the Igala regent addressed Madakin Zazzau as “My friend from the desert!” Dr Furera notes that Zazzau can’t be a desert. “Even Maiduguri is not desert!” she noted.

“The kusugu well situated in a bush, when even in the Bayajidda legend, it was the only well in Daura. It should be in town. The sarki holds a staff of office. It was the British that introduced that so it didn’t exist during that period. The chief priestess of Zazzau pronouncing it as Zowzow,” she said, among other mistakes she noted.

She, however, said she was impressed, “by some of the costumes, architecture, makeup and decorations in the palace, especially the sarki’s quarters.”

“I wish Kannywood could attempt even something close,” she concluded.

One Ahmed Musa Husaini wrote, “The highly-anticipated and much-hyped Netflix release ‘Amina’ was a complete disappointment: below standard cinematography, zero historical and cultural relevance, poor screenplay, embarrassing costume design and blundering misrepresentation of ancient Zazzau’s history. Just a typical Nollywood movie with a Netflix cover! Even Kannywood can do better.”

Dandelion Dumas, who couldn’t hide his displeasure said, “#Amina the movie on Netflix was a grave mistake, it seems so rushed that they forgot to dig more or do a thorough research, they reduced the storyline to a regular Nollywood asaba movie.

“That’s not how to give an account of a warrior (Queen Amina of Zazzau) who ruled and expanded her territory using her military skills for years. Telling a story that’s long become a cliche requires more than the resources and creative liberty that produced this thing on Netflix.

“Watched the movie, I felt disrespect for potraying the legendary Queen Amina in such bad light.”

Nasir Jajere said, “I wasted my time on this movie. So many historical inaccuracies, mix up of pre-Islamic and post-Jihad cultural practices of the Zazzau people. Burning of the dead is unafrican, especially when done in Hindu-style. Yes, Zazzau is still not a desert and the Igalas never used Danjuma in those days. This is what you get when a movie misses the censorship board. I wonder how Kannywood actors feel featuring in Nollywood movies that promote deep-rooted prejudices and reinforce historical inaccuracies of their own people,” he said.

Ibrahim Sheme, the publisher of the popular Kannyood magazine, ‘Mujallar Fim’ shared Dr Bagel’s review, and said, “This is a fine review, balanced too. I have forwarded it to the director of the movie, Izu Ojukwu, and to the lead actress, Lucy Ameh. I also drew the attention of a few who acted in it, such as Ali Nuhu, Lynn Chukwurah and Asabe Madaki. There is always a latent peril in non-indigenes producing a movie on other cultures, though it is not entirely incorrect to do so (many movies have been produced by Hollywood and Bollywood about other people, e.g. Mel Gibson’s ‘Apocalypto’ and ‘The Passion of the Christ’ and Moustapha Akkad’s ‘The Lion of the Desert’). However, it is important to involve the indigenes and experts like historians as consultants, at least for fact-checking. Izu may have done that on this movie, but I daresay he did not do enough, and he and his crew must have been in a hurry to finish it – the Nigerian way. Hence the glaring errors.”

This is a challenge to Kannywood producers – Muhsin Ibrahim

Speaking to Daily Trust Saturday when contacted Dr. Muhsin Ibrahim, a lecturer at the University Of Cologne, Germany, who authored the first book on Kannywood and who has been commenting on Kannywood issues for over a decade, noted that this is a big challenge to Kannywood mainstream producers.

He referred to what he wrote about Kannywood producers missing important opportunities in their backyard. “Alien’ filmmakers continue challenging Kannywood by exploiting their dominant language (Hausa), region (northern Nigeria) and stories. It’s high time Kannywood abandoned Bollywood-like movies. They should explore more serious, abundant subject matters in their surroundings. Hausa, as a language, has given them the edge over Nollywood whose films are majorly in English. They are yet to realise this fact,” he said.

Though, the movie has received a lot of backlash, some fans appreciate the movie. For Chinedu Amah, he said,  “Finally got to see Amina the movie, I like the attempt at artistry, the sets looked really beautiful. They could have worked on some those accents too, but maybe that’s because I’m used to the accent. I enjoyed the story, quite different from the regular stuff you find from Nollywood. And err while I could tell some of the special effects weren’t super I think the attempt is respectable. The fight sequences seemed neat too. We need to tell more stories like this, there’s more to Nigeria that native doctors and fast money. Kudos to the team.”

Kannywood producer reacts

Reacting, a popular Kannywood producer, Alhaji Naziru Dan Hajiya who produced popular movies like ‘Kar ki manta da ni’ and many more said, “I heard about the reviews and comments people have made regarding the movie Amina. I Understand that the movie contains some historical inaccuracies.”

On the issue that the Kannywood industry should be blamed, Dan Hajiya said, “Yes, our problem is that we don’t go the extra mile to get this kind of big stories.”


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