‘The Encounter’ traces Ojukwu’s, Ifeajuna’s path - Uju Ayalogu's Blog for News, Reviews, Articles and More

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Monday, 14 December 2015

‘The Encounter’ traces Ojukwu’s, Ifeajuna’s path

‘The Encounter’ traces Ojukwu’s, Ifeajuna’s path

Late Ojukwu

THERE is a rekindled memory of the Nigerian civil war, as filmmaker, Tolu Ajayi brings to the fore, the story of how Emmanuel Arinze Ifeajuna crossed the path of the Biafran warlord, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, and how the former was executed by firing squad.

The 22-minute production from Trino Studios which screened at the last edition of Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF), was screened to the public last Saturday, raising discussions in different quarters on the twist of incidents leading to the war.

The Encounter beats several stories told about the civil war with an highlight of the two major characters, thereby opening intellectual discourse among Nigerians, especially on the less-reported part played by Ifeajuna, a then Major in the Nigerian Army.

The producers found a peg in Ifeajuna, as a celebrated sportsman who became an educationist and eventually a military man.

The Encounter focuses on the historic relationship between Ojukwu and Ifeajuna.

Viewers were treated to how Ifeajuna’s character, long perceived as a villain, is seen trying to convince Ojukwu, played by Gregory Ojefua to stop the war, which in his estimation was a battle in futility.

Speaking about this character which was played by Amarachukwu Onoh, the writer of the book, which was adapted into a short film, Henry Chukwuemeka Onyema said: “Emmanuel Ifeajuna had the distinctive honour of being the first Nigerian . . . the first African to win a gold medal at the Common Wealth Games in 1954.”

According to Onyema, “There comes a time when history and fiction has to be merged and that was what I did when I produced this short story.”

Ajayi, at a press conference that preceeded the screening of the movie at Genesis Duluxe Cinema, declared: “We want to tell African stories about history to sort of empower Africans”,

Ifeajuna was one of the plotters of the 1966 coup d’état in Nigeria. Following this, he fled the country and eventually returned to be part of the Biafra army. Not long after, Ojukwu sentenced him to death for treason. On September 25, 1967, he was killed by a firing squad.

Set in 1967, Ifeajuna a once celebrated hero of Nigeria is now seen as a traitor and held as a prisoner of war. The film follows what perhaps was his last meeting with the Biafran Commander-in-Chief.

Producer of the movie, Ekene Mekwunye put the cost of the movie at about N7million.

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