Soul Sisters is the story of the inspiring friendship between two young women, Sade and Sonya. Sade is an "illegal immigrant", a medical student from one of Nigerian universities, who abandoned her education in the sixth year and seized the scant opportunity to flee her birth land for the perceived opportunities of America. Sonya is an African-American young woman dealing with the pressure of cultural ambiguity, struggling with the separation of her loving parents, and seeking an identity that is articulate of her soul's yearning.
In America, Sade hopes to settle down and continue her education, but what life holds in stock for her is different. Through the lives of a lonely and sexually frustrated uncle, and the conflictual life of a young man trapped in the racial forces of the American society, Sade's journey reveals the various existential elements that, often innocently, combine to determine the experience of the individual anywhere in the world.
When Sonya meets Sade, they feel a connection that grows into a relationship that will lead them to individual and mutual self-discovery, and help define life for both of them. Empowered thus, Sade faces the present bane of her life: the American immigration policy.
It is not everyday that one gets invited to the screening of a movie produced and directed by an African in the Diaspora. So when Mr. Rahman Oladigbolu invited me to the screening of his movie at the Roxbury International Film Festival on the beautiful campus of Wentworth Institute of Technology, Boston Massachusetts, I knew I had to be there.
Before I get to the award which Mr. Oladigbolu received the next day, let me pause to say a few words about this movie. The movie, entitled âSoul Sisters' is the story of the travails of a Nigerian medical student who emigrated to the United States without the necessary immigration documents and soon found herself in situations where she had to make very desperate decisions about her day to day survival in America. I do not want to give away the plot and the climax, for those who have not yet seen the movie, but it is a masterpiece that showcases the ignoble sub-culture where illegal immigrants are forced to exist in the US. It chronicles the terrible and dishonorable lifestyle that these individuals live on a daily basis just to survive in the West. Added to this desperation is the incessant plea for financial assistance from families in the homeland. Not since Kafka has someone so aptly captured the depths and essence of Western existentialism and its culture of individualism. As fate bounced this unfortunate Nigeria immigrant from one vicissitude to another, she woke up one day and came to a realization that the space she left behind in Africa might be a better alternative than her current realities in the ritzy US. But that was only the beginning.
At the end of the movie, the audience stood on its feet and gave Mr. Oladigbolu a rousing applause. He walked up to the podium and took questions from the audience on a wide range of topics. You can imagine how proud we were for him, a fellow Nigerian, for achieving this rare feat. This was a welcomed antithesis to the lingering Abdulmutallab's disgrace of his fatherland.
But the icing on the cake came the next day. Mr. Oladigbolu was informed that he has been awarded the Best Emerging Filmmaker's Award. This makes Mr. Oladigbolu a pioneer in the area of African movie making in the West. As far as I know, he is the youngest filmmaker of African descent living and working in the United States today. Mr. Oladigbolu's special story telling skills enable him to look at Western civilization through a different set of lenses. He ignores the hype and the razzmatazz and trains his camera on the underbelly of the beast, a place Hollywood seldom goes.
Talented Africans like Mr. Oladigbolu need our collective support for their creativity to flourish. The Federal government of Nigeria should support his film making effort. The Nigeria Television Authority should work with Mr. Oladigbolu to publicize his movie in Nigeria and other African countries. Nollywood should liaise with him on cross-cultural issues that could provide new materials and insight for their movie production. He has achieved a remarkable milestone. Like the British author wrote, âhe came, he saw, he conquered.'
Benjamin U. Nwosu