Movie director and producer, Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen, recently visited Benin City to garner support for the forthcoming release of his epic film, Invasion 1897, scheduled for October. The film is based on the historical invasion of Benin City in 1897 by the British forces. At the visit to the sprawling GRA home of Esama of Benin, Chief Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion, were some members of cast and crew of the flick, including the lead actor, who played Oba Ovonranmwen Nogbaisi – Pastor Mike Omoregbe, another member of cast, Nosa Ehimema, the screenwriter, Ossa Earlice and others.
Imasuen, who would be making his second historic film on ancient Benin kingdom after Adesuwa, told the Esama that while starting out as a filmmaker, he had told himself that he would make three films on the lives of three important personalities of the Binis – Oba Ovonramwen for ‘resisting the imperialist British’, the late Archbishop Benson Idahosa, the great Pentecostal preacher for ‘transforming the Benin generally regarded as a ‘city of blood’ to the city of God’ and one on Okada man (Igbinedion), a modern-day hero from Benin.
The filmmaker informed the High Chief that the film was in post-production, noting, “It’s a story that will reposition the Edo man globally and to tell the world that the Europeans were not fair in their dealings with the Benin people. The history of Benin is a vibrant one. The Igun people, the people that created the bronze works that the British carted away are still there. The exhibition of such works can still be done to lift the value of the guild. That is why we seek your endorsement for this film”.
On his part, Igbinedion thanked Imasuen and his team for the visit and assured of his support. “I have the greatest respect for you. All over the world and on AfricaMagic, Igbo, Yoruba and now Hausa films have dominated. But we that own the culture lag behind because of lack of coordination, not that we don’t have people in Benin. We Binis must be able to harness our resources. But I am glad you people are documenting history. You people must be praised. In my own case (a film about him), I would like you to say it as it is, and not sweeten it.”
Similarly, Igbinedion expressed his commitment to deepening the cultural values of his people. To this end, he promised to fund a committee that would help resuscitate Edo arts and culture, as a driving vehicle for development. However, the Esama lamented the inability of well meaning Benin citizens to press for reparation of stolen Benin artefacts. He asked, “The bronze the whites left behind, where are they? When some of these people are hungry, they sell the artefacts in their custody. I help to buy from some of them to preserve them. The entire state doesn’t have as much bronze as I have in my private museum. If I tell you how much I have spent on artefacts you will open your mouth in wonder. There’s nothing in the Benin Museum,” he said.