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Omoni Oboli responds to allegations her New Movie is a Rip-Off of Spike Lee’s “Chiraq”

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Wives-On-Strike-Chiraq

It looks like people are comparing Nollywood actress Omoni Oboli’s new movie “Wives on Strike” to International director Spike Lee’s 2015 movie “Chiraq”.

She has sent out a press release to address the allegations, calling it a crab mentality.

See what she wrote below.

For those who do not know what the Crab Mentality is, let me first describe it using the Wikipedia: Crab mentality, sometimes referred to as the ‘crab in the bucket’, is a way of thinking best described by the phrase, “if I can’t have it, neither can you.” The metaphor refers to a bucket or pot of crabs. Individually, the crabs could easily escape from the pot, instead they grab at each other in a useless “king of the hill” competition which prevents any from escaping and ensure their collective demise.

For The analogy in human behavior is claimed to be that members of a group (in this case, Nigeria) will attempt to negate or diminish the importance of any member who achieves success beyond the others, out of envy, spite, conspiracy, or competitive feelings, to halt their progress. It is akin to the ‘Prisoner’s dilemma,’ whereby two completely ‘rational’ individuals might not cooperate, even if it appears that it is in their best interest to do so.

It has been making the rounds by some that my soon-to-be-released movie, ‘WIVES ON STRIKE,’ which is about a group of women who decide to deprive their men of sex for the sake of a cause, was copied (or stolen) from the movie, ‘Chiraq’, which was produced and directed by the internationally acclaimed ace filmmaker, Spike Lee. Firstly, let me table some facts here: the movie concept came to me about 4 years ago when we wanted to do a movie about women going on strike, but we just couldn’t find a reason for the strike that would make sense to our audience. We felt there was no sense in making comedy, just for comedy sake. At least, that’s how I think, and I like to stick to what I know and leave others who are better at their own areas of expertise to do theirs. So when my husband and I wanted to do something concerning the Child-Not-Bride issue which was steaming up back in 2013, we decided that we had found a good enough reason for the strike. I wrote the script, and when we were ready we started principal photography in April 2014. Unbeknownst to us, the women in South Sudan were suggesting a sex strike to end the war in their country later that year after our shoot, and this I heard last year from a United Nations worker whom I met while speaking on the issue of the child bride and our movie’s theme. When I shot the movie, or back when I was writing the script, the idea of going on strike was just fantasy and wishful thinking, not knowing that it had really been conceived by other women in practice, or by other filmmakers and playwrights in theory.

The first time I heard of ‘Chiraq’ was when my husband sent me the trailer last year, prior to its release. We both foresaw the headlines, “Omoni Oboli copies (or steals) from Spike Lee’s Chiraq for her movie,” or, “Nollywood is at it again! Copy! Copy! Copy! Omoni Oboli has joined the bandwagon of Nollywood producers who steal original works and make it their own”. Spike Lee’s ‘Chiraq’ is quite similar to the South Sudan women’s reasons, because it is about ending violence in the Chicago violent black community. It is in no way similar to mine! But that could be ‘clever me’ trying to steer so far from being the same that I’ve tactfully (or tactlessly, considering that I’m Nigerian) changed the plot, as some might assert. Let’s look at it scientifically, or systematically: There’s nothing new under the sun, therefore, stories and ideas are not exclusively given to one person only. The fact that one person presented it first does not always mean the other person copied. I shot my movie in 2014 as clearly shown on the clapper boards of my movie rushes. Spike Lee commenced principal photography (that means he started shooting) in June 2015, and released in select theatres on December 4 of the same year. Heaven forbid that Spike Lee would copy little old Omoni Oboli, “who is in our Nigeria here!” How can that happen?! If I had released it first on October 1st, instead of ‘The First Lady’ like I did, then Spike Lee was definitely being artistic and the similarities were just mere coincidences, but since I decided to release later, then I ‘definitely’ (beyond a shadow of a doubt) copied Mr Lee. Case closed!

I have never met Spike Lee. The only other way I could have had the same movie theme, would be to trace correspondence between us, and I don’t have any such correspondence. We’ve never exchanged emails or met in any capacity. If I wanted to copy a movie theme, it would be safer to go for one who isn’t as popular as Spike Lee, unless you’re dumb! Not that I’ve not been called that by people in the privacy of their own homes, simply because many perceive us who are in the movie industry as dumb. That is such a strong theme, that if I had known beforehand, or knew that Spike Lee was doing the movie at the same time (which he wasn’t) I wouldnt have shot the movie or I would have mentioned that it was adapted from his movie. It’s a lot easier to copy from an obscure industry which is less know than yours and get away with it than the reverse. Which is safe to say that if Spike Lee was copying from me, no one would blink since Hollywood is a bigger industry. They would simply say, “Spike copied from who? Never heard of her,” and move on. But I know that he didn’t copy from me either, cos our stories are radically different, save for the sex deprivation theme. Also, he coined his from a classical Greek comedy, ‘Lysistrata’, by Aristophanes, whom I’d never heard of until just now while trying to write this article (doing some research) and most people haven’t either.

Why did I start with the metaphors? It is simply to call out so many among us who would rather believe the worst of their own rather than admit their faulty standards: who, instead of doing their due diligence to ascertain correctly the truth about anything, would prefer to attack and believe the worst of their own. They make statements like, “let’s be real,” and trail it with big words and their statuses, showing that they live in affluence or live abroad or locally, and possess the level of intellect to know better than we mere mortals who have not walked in their shoes, as the only validation for their claims. Haba! When are we ever going to give ourselves a chance or a break from the hateful, condescending, self-loathing, low self esteem, pull down syndrome that basically surmises our position as truly living with the ‘Crab mentality’? When would we, like other nations, first take time to celebrate, and then do our due diligence to find out the truth before we start mouthing off words that we can’t affirm often with the intention of pulling our own down? How can we demand love from others when we don’t even know how to love ourselves first. We rarely use those same standards when assessing others from other nations. We live by the code, “It’s the Nigerians that are wrong first, until proven otherwise.” We hope to make ourselves look big by making others feel small. We have, as my husband would put it, the “King and I” syndrome, which he basically defines from the king’s character in the movie of the same title as standing tall because you’ve forced everyone else to bow in your presence, and not because you’ve climbed higher. What would be the aim of those who keep bringing this issue up, but to try and make my work less than what it is so that I can lose at the cinemas. I thank God that my work has been successful so far, and by His grace we will record another success with ‘Wives On Strike.’ in Jesus name! Amen!

Please go out there on the 8th of April and show support for your girl by watching my movie, ‘WIVES ON STRIKE,” (a comedy) which is in no way like that of Mr Lee’s ‘Chiraq’ (a satirical musical drama), but by God’s grace would impact lives and entertain everyone who goes out there to watch it. In the spirit of the new movement to buy Nigerian, the first step to achieving this turnaround must start with our deliberate actions towards loving Nigeria first, and watch how our taste for Nigerian goods would develop and help build our economy. See you all at the cinemas on the 8th of April and God bless you all. As always, I love hearing from you so drop me a line. Keep smiling!

Missed the trailer for “Wives on Strike”? Watch it here.

38 Comments

  1. mimi

    March 16, 2016 at 9:13 am

    Omoni please take several seats……… I can count many nollywood movies ave seen over the years which is clearly an adaptation of a known hollywood movie. This defence from u is so lame. I read alot of stuff online by many UNKNOWN nigerian writers and i wonder why these people are not script writers for nollywood. Its so terrible that u copy in a way that even a dumb person can tell. I dont waste my time on Nig movies, and most times i question the intelligence of everyone involved in those movies. Its sad.

    • Comprehend

      March 16, 2016 at 10:33 am

      Even with Clapper Board Date Evidences you still can’t believe her? What have you contributed to Nigeria and why not do better if Nollywood is not doing it right?

    • Onlooker

      March 16, 2016 at 10:47 am

      Wow! Have u seen Mr Lee’s Chi Raq? Or Ms. Oboli’s movie for that matter? How can you then conclude and ask her to take seats that you’re clearly in need of?
      Does Hollywood have an autonomy of creativity? How many dogone Hollywood movies borrowed from Bollywood yet no one is calling them out for stealing.
      I think Ms Oboli did a good job of addressing a greater issue here. As long as we judge ourselves as copycats, our products as not good enough, and our creativity as stolen , then we can’t really blame them for thinking us “inferior”. What we need to change is first how we treat ourselves.

    • Beeeee

      March 16, 2016 at 12:13 pm

      But we are not talking about the countless nollywood movies you have seen, we are talking about this particular one that has not even been released yet. We have only seen the trailer. You don’t waste your time on Nigerian movies, yet you wasted your time on the countless ones you have seen….smh …Your comment is confusing and contradictory….

    • Tee

      March 16, 2016 at 4:36 pm

      Her defense is NOT lame, she took her time to educate the likes of you but obviously you need more than one reply to help your ignorance.. SO please, take a big chair, seat down, read some more and STFU!

    • cybernd

      March 16, 2016 at 9:41 pm

      Ivie Okujaye copied honey upandan including the movie cover and Africa Magic and other kept celebrating her as if she’s done anything different

    • fixnigeriaseries

      March 18, 2016 at 8:08 pm

      Wrong! Story line of Jessica Alba’s “Honey” is WAAAAYYYY different from that of Ivie Okujaye’s “Make a Move”. It’s not cool to make false accusations, honey, especially on such a public platform and when you are not sure of your facts.

  2. Minka

    March 16, 2016 at 9:20 am

    Long crap! why even respond at all?

  3. george

    March 16, 2016 at 9:20 am

    All this is publicity stunt!! i will not still watch

  4. Suwa

    March 16, 2016 at 10:35 am

    Minka and George, you two are just something else… She shot her movie in 2014 while Chiraq shot his in 2015. kai

  5. Funky

    March 16, 2016 at 11:11 am

    Let’s be honest with ourselves. A lot of Nollywood movies are adaptations of Hollywood movies.

  6. lyl

    March 16, 2016 at 11:12 am

    Omoni nne climb down from ur high horse! Ur split personalilty no geh part 2!

  7. For crying out lord

    March 16, 2016 at 11:30 am

    what is wrong with this woman !! just wake up in the morning and decides to write this essay!! there is nothing social media will not show us!!!

  8. Chum Chum

    March 16, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    Blah blah bla bla bla every time.

  9. Beeeee

    March 16, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    People, we are not talking about all Nollywood movies, we are talking about this particular one. Omoni’s movie was made in 2014, the one she supposedly copied was filmed in 2015, how is that even possible…nna, Spike Lee copied Omoni’s movie jor….

  10. Tia

    March 16, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    Umm, I hope you guys know that Chiraq is an adaptation of Lysistrata, an early Greek comedy by the famous Aristophanes. Plus apparently there’s already been a Nigerian adaptation, like the way Women of Owu is a brilliant adaptation of women of the Trojan War. I’m 100% sure cause I studied Classics while away at boarding school, and between Nigerian literature and Classics, I think they make a good match. Hopefully that’s what gets is 🙂

    • Tunmi

      March 16, 2016 at 3:30 pm

      Thank you. Frankly there was no need to response. Even if there was, the second paragraph was enough

  11. Tia

    March 16, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    *this

  12. c_ogochukwu

    March 16, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    just the title of the movie will tell u is a rip-off of chiraq

  13. Uberhaute looks

    March 16, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    Wives Revolt by JP Clark, was written years ago…Django (Fred Aseroma and Hank Anuku was first acted in Nigeria although with a different theme from Quentin Tarantino.
    My point is, Hollywood isn’t the only custodian of story telling. Embrace yours

    • fixnigeriaseries

      March 18, 2016 at 8:11 pm

      Thank you oh! The JP Clark play (we read this as one of the literature texts for JSSCE in my days) – the name slipped my mind, but thanks for reminding me. Inferiority complex will not finish us Nigerians…we need to warn ourselves.

  14. Yinka Taiwo

    March 16, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    Don’t mind them Omoni. White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen are two different films of hollywood speaking on the same subject. Yet non of the writer knew or heard about each other until both films were released.

  15. Cheers

    March 16, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    Omoni should stop lying, wives on strike was shot last year, remember uche jumbo traveled since 2014 and came back last year, abeg make she go with her copy copy films

  16. Dolly

    March 16, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    I remember being the first to allege she copied Chiraq and i can see Omoni alter egos all over this post lol. First off, thats such a long essay to write just to dispute any similarities between the two movies and honestly you sound like a broken record. Just so you know, this further do damage to the nos. you are expecting at the theater. You just just told your movie in a nutshell.

  17. Cookie

    March 16, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    I just can’t be bothered to read such long epistle….if she copied -her headache, next…

  18. yeah

    March 16, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    She lost me when she used WIKIPEDIA to get a definition, WIKIPEDIA is not a source to use to get any sort of definition to be put in a press statement. So no! What happened to the Oxford English Dictionary? Stopped reading after seeing definition from Wikipedia fail fail fail! (Screams loudly In Evelyn Lozada’s voice )SECURITY!

    • lacey

      March 17, 2016 at 12:48 am

      My dear you got me! I stopped after wiki ref!? Very shallow article! Why don’t you keep cool and let people watch and decide!

    • Tosin

      March 17, 2016 at 7:16 am

      incorrect.

  19. yeah

    March 16, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    Ok I let her slide oxford dictionary does not have the definition but the Collins online dictionary has it! Still maintain that WIKIPEDIA is not a reputable source! For all the ITK’s!

  20. Tosin

    March 16, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    this happens often A LOT plenty. inspiration sotay i write a line then hear it on a friend’s song (but it’s not a new song) or a very unusual object and my favourite musician mentions the same, or I name a character and see the same name similar character in DE Lawrence, … happens in science too. sometimes the same muse whispers abroad… sometimes it’s copying, sometimes it’s just spirishual. Omoni and Spike think alike. Good stuff.

    • Tosin

      March 16, 2016 at 4:19 pm

      DH. TE.
      D.H. Lawrence.

  21. Prec

    March 16, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    “Yeah”, get off your high horse, most people don’t know Wikipedia is not a reputable source, hell I didn’t know till Freshman year in college, after I included it as my source in a research paper.

    • Tosin

      March 17, 2016 at 7:20 am

      and it’s a guideline for training and for acadas, but then you get sophisticated enough to dump the guideline.
      one downside of wikipedia is it’s not fixed. one upside it’s hot, a living thing. essay suggestion, argue this out with your prof.

  22. Celestine .O

    March 16, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    I’m happy U r leaving it in God’s hands. If truly it was an honest work don’t bother about the returns God is the giver of ur career so He will always bless ur hand work if u deserve it .Next time don’t bother too much to convince anybody, remember nobody has seen the movie yet so until they see it they can’t tell if it’s pirated work or not. Don’t allow anybody to weigh u down. U r a hard working woman, meanwhile looking forward to seeing another block buster from ur stable. *Winks

  23. oyin

    March 17, 2016 at 1:18 am

    Guys there are many movies with the same theme and also chariq is based on an old Greek play , they may have similar themes, that does not mean they are copies of each other. Also in Hollywood a lot of movies with the same theme come out within the same releasing period e.g. Olympus has fallen and white down. Yet no one accused each one the movies from stealing each other. let first see the movie then we judge

  24. TANTRA

    March 17, 2016 at 6:00 am

    Frank Raja Arase(Ghana wood) copied 2 Indian movies I love – RACE & FIGHT CLUB and created his own movię- The Game. I used to love his movies. I still do but since my discovery, I now doubt his creativity.

  25. Tee

    March 17, 2016 at 7:04 am

    No presidential viewing for Aso rock, Werrin happen?

  26. Tosin

    March 17, 2016 at 7:13 am

    English teacher say: weaken allegation in headline to insinuation

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