Shorties: this powerful animation commemorates the lives lost in Nigeria’s #EndSARS protests
'The Days to Follow’ is director Jamila Dankaro’s way of paying homage to those killed in the Lekki toll gate massacre.
Riann Phillip and Sophie Zhang
17 Mar 2023
Shorties spotlights films with bold ideas and fresh perspectives via an exciting new generation of POC filmmakers.
Nigeria has long been a country fraught with political turbulence met with public outrage. From the #EndSARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) protests and online campaigns at the end of 2020, to the assiduous cost of living crisis, and a free-falling naira, this year’s election season was one charged with hope. That hope quickly transformed into rage as the farce of the elections unfurled.
On 25 February 2023, Nigerians all over the country turned up to vote at their polling stations. Only 28% of eligible voters were able to participate, with many unable to cast their ballots due to malfunctioning machines, lack of resources or official staff. Roads were reportedly blocked so that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials could not pass in some areas. The INEC declared Bola Tinubu as the winner of the highly disputed election at 4am (WAT), with immediate outrage in the streets and online. Many claim the election was “rigged since the beginning” and that Tinubu “has no mandate”.
Tinubu is thought to be one of Nigeria’s richest politicians, has a history of drug-related controversy, and publicly supported the use of violence on protesters peacefully demonstrating against SARS. Now, his ascendency only emboldens his cause. Despite the official SARS unit being disbanded in 2020, other special police force units have been set up in its wake.
Over two years after Lekki toll gate massacre, ‘The Days To Follow’ is an animated short commemorating the lives that were lost during the #EndSARS protests. Not only that, but the film also depicts the difficult process of grieving and finding support for those who managed to survive.
In the aftermath of the massacre, families continue to mourn their loved ones, meanwhile, the army and government have refused to take accountability for the police brutality that occurred two years ago. In such a context, it is vital that films like ‘The Days To Follow’ bear witness to the events and aftermath experienced by many in the #EndSARS movement. As Jamila Dankaro, the writer and director of the short, states, “All over the world, we (Black people) are arguing the validity of their voice and with this pain in mind, I wanted to create something to honour the families who lost their loved ones. I wanted to create something for my people.”
The animated short starts with upbeat music as Kemi and Sade – two sisters – begin the day, going about their ordinary lives and bickering about small things. The two sisters are completely oblivious to the fact that their lives are just about to be changed forever as the tone of the film soon becomes much more sombre and serious. The two sisters attend an #EndSARS protest, alongside many other Nigerians, however, the police quickly turn violent against the protestors. The two sisters try their best to stick together and dodge the bullets and bombs used by the police; but in the morning, only one sister wakes up, alone in the room they once shared.
Explaining why she chose to create the film through animation, Dankaro explains: “I wanted this story to honour the victims of 20 October, 2020 without evoking trauma, this is why we used animation instead of traditional film”. The sensitive depiction of trauma is central to this short film, as the film goes on to depict how the surviving sister struggles with loneliness, but eventually finds solace and support in group therapy.
You can watch The Days To Follow by Jamila Dankaro above.
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