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1976 film 'Shaihu Umar' based on Tafawa Balewa's book set for US distribution

The feature-length movie was restored by the Berlin-based Arsenal Institute. ArtMattan Films will handle its distribution.

'Shaiu Umar' based on Tafawa Balewa's novella has been restored.

According to a recent report by Akoroko, Berlin-based Arsenal Institute restored the film from the original negative, and it has since been acquired for distribution by ArtMattan Films, who are the founding sponsors of the touring New York African Diaspora International Film Festival (NYADIFF).

Directed by Adamu Halilu in 1976, the notable work of Nigerian cinema was rediscovered in 2016 when the negatives and prints were found in the Nigerian Film Corporation's archive.

Shaihu Umar is based on a novella by Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, who served as the first and only prime minister of Nigeria after independence in 1960. Set in northern Nigeria, the story follows the titular character, Shaihu Umar, an Islamic scholar, as he recounts his life story, marked by modest beginnings, separation from his mother, trials of slavery, and eventual adoption by his Arab master as a son rather than a slave.

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"The film's significance lies in its rediscovery as a cultural and historical depiction of Nigeria during a transformative period in African history, produced during a period that was not far removed from independence," Akoroko reports

Watch the teaser below:

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