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HOAYS Director Biyi Bandele: Why can’t Nigerians watch country’s biggest movie?



Thandie Newton, Chiwetel Ejiofor - May 2014 - BN Movies & TV - 01

Half of a Yellow Sun, a movie adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie‘s best selling novel is arguably Nigeria’s biggest production yet.

It stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, Genevieve Nnaji, Anika Noni Rose, Onyeka Onwenu and Zack Orji among others.

Unfortunately, the Nigerian Film and Video Censors Board has halted the public release of the production. Recently, Adichie slammed the delay in public viewing – read it here.

Now the director is speaking out. Biyi Bandele who also directed MTV BasesShuga ” series directed the production set in Calabar. In an article written for, he shares his thoughts on the banning.

To read the full article, click here
Read excerpts;
“It is now nearly eight months since Bala (Patricia Bala, DG of Nigerian Censorship Board) and her board first saw the movie in Toronto and a few weeks since she and her board have failed to issue “Half of a Yellow Sun” the certification that it needs — that the law requires it obtains before it can be shown in cinemas in Nigeria.

In those several days I’ve been assailed — on Twitter, Facebook, and by email — with rumors, innuendos, half-truths, and downright lies, disseminated sometimes directly from the censorship board (they have issued at least one press statement), about why “Half of a Yellow Sun” still hasn’t been issued with a ratings certificate.

The board claims that is has not banned the film but certain aspects of it “have some unresolved issues which have to be sorted out in accordance with the law and laid down regulations.”

It has been rumored that FilmOne, the Nigerian distributors of “Half of a Yellow Sun,” might have been late in submitting the film for certification. Not true. Most films that are screened in Nigerian cinemas are shown to the censor only a day or two before the films open to the paying public. In documentations that have been shown to me, there are instances even of movies being shown to the censor days after the movies had officially opened to the public. “Half of a Yellow Sun” was scheduled to open on April 25. It was submitted to the censorship board at least two weeks earlier.

I’ve also heard tell that the censorship board’s inability to make a decision about a ratings certificate for my film has been brought upon it because of a sudden concern that a movie that depicts scenes from the Biafra war might provoke “tribal violence” in a country that has in recent months been besieged with terrorist bombings and profoundly shaken by the abduction of over 200 school girls by Boko Haram.

Since the Toronto premiere those many months ago, I’ve seen “Half of a Yellow Sun” at other film festivals in all corners of the globe. And Nigerians being the ubiquitous people that we are have been present in the audiences — quite often in great numbers — at each of these festivals.

I am yet to meet a single Nigerian who has seen the film who came out of the cinema thinking that they had just seen a film that would incite anyone to violence. If anything, more than once, I’ve been accosted by cinema-goers — some Nigerian, but really, people of all races — who have been profoundly moved by the experience of watching the film. The refrain I’ve heard from them is, war is nasty, isn’t it.

Whether or not the film eventually gets a ratings certificate in Nigeria, “Half of a Yellow Sun” will be seen by millions of Nigerians. The question is: will they be allowed to see it in their local cinemas and on legally acquired DVDs or will they be forced to watch it on pirate DVDs and through illegal downloads?

If the biggest film that’s ever been made in Nigeria is available to Nigerians only in bootleg form, the censorship board will be doing to the Nigerian film industry what Boko Haram is trying to do to Nigeria: drive a stake through its heart. I sincerely hope they both fail.”


  1. Tiki

    May 21, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    It is so sad – to see a movie about Nigeria, I have to wait until I sit in an Odeon cinema. Tueh!!!

  2. @edDREAMZ

    May 21, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    Naija no want progress as simple as A.B.C..

  3. Mz Socially Awkward...

    May 21, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    Tell them, hunnay! Say it loud and clear. The delays to certifying this movie have just become a silly joke. Are they blissfully unaware that Nigerians of different religions and ethnicities read & digested the book without rising up to re-enact it?

    Narnsense. Instead of pandering to Boko Haram, dear government, why don’t you just GET them already?

  4. Concerned_Boyfriend

    May 21, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    This is what happens when you have half-educated morons in position of authority. This is indeed sad. Corruption has literally destroyed every sector of that country.

    Proudly unNigerian!

  5. Fums

    May 21, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    Sadly, our leaders, the people in positions of authority in this country are not progressive and will see divisive, tribal, ethnic and religious undertones in everything under the sun. Dear Biyi, we haven’t addressed Biafra as a nation. Our leaders choose to be in denial and its not really surprising that this movie has been, and will be stalled for as long as possible. In their minds, it’s the “right and best” thing to do for Nigerians. Keep the pressure…

  6. cicimileko

    May 21, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    This movie is a very lovely ugly truth that we want to leave in the past and remain positive to our true self. so many innocent lives were lost while so many good people became bad in order to stay alive…………………and now with the new crisis everywhere and a bunch of people holding the stability of the country to a ransom, we are watching history unfold before our very eyes in the 22nd century……………………so nobody wants to go enjoy the movie and go home feeling helpless!!!

  7. nene

    May 21, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    everything is difficult in nigeria, especially when they know you are a “foreigner”, they want to frustrate you. i hope they eventually release the movie, if not, that will be too bad of them.

  8. idomagirl

    May 21, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    This entire thing is so shameful. Tufia.

  9. Aragon

    May 21, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    Awusa/Fulani occupying positions they are not qualified for is the simple reason.
    Take the matter to the appropriate quarters and you may yet get the movie released.

    • 5'5

      May 22, 2014 at 8:27 am

      your hate cant even spell. It is Hausa.

  10. Tosin

    May 21, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    They don’t want to say one thing, and their oga at the top will say another thing. Sucks.

  11. me2me

    May 21, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    You guys really have to understand certain things before you lash out. They have really not said why it is being delayed.

    • Bleed Blue

      May 22, 2014 at 10:50 am

      @me2me You see that bit in the 3rd paragraph where BN says “read it here”? It’s a link. Click on it and you will find Chimamanda’s quote saying:

      “This week, Nigerian government censors delayed the release of the film adaptation of “Half of a Yellow Sun” because, according to them, it might incite violence in the country”

      And let’s assume you were right that they haven’t really said why its being delayed…is that not in itself a show of inefficiency?

  12. slice

    May 22, 2014 at 12:13 am

    Have you “found something” for them? 🙂

  13. deb

    May 22, 2014 at 1:14 am

    Nigeria and half baked people in the seats of power. Illiteracy keeps taking us back to the stone age. But seriously when you sit with some people and interact with them you w ill realise that being intelligent and being able to make an intelligent conversation and reasoning is a talent.

  14. Amaka

    May 22, 2014 at 8:48 am

    Pls what are they afraid of? Enemies of progress. They aren’t thinking of Nigerians but their selfish selves!!! Playing politics in every means possible. If you don’t release the film what you are afraid of will happent; and likewise if you don’t bring back our girls!!!

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