Where are the Nigerian heroes? – Bolanle Austen-Peters on making 'Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti'

Bolanle Austen-Peters highlighted in a new interview the importance of learning about Nigerian historical figures.

Bolanle Austen-Peters discussed her motivation behind creating a film about Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti [Instagram/bolanleaustenpeters]

In the interview, Austen-Peters was asked about the importance of the film. She emphasised showcasing Nigerian heroes, particularly for younger generations and also highlighted the lack of exposure to these stories compared to Western figures.

She said, “For me, growing up you hear a lot about American heroes, you hear about Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and Winnie Mandela, you're asking yourself, 'Where are the Nigerian heroes?' It's important that we begin to tell those stories. A lot of our children do not have that historical perspective. They don't get these stories, because we're not producing enough of them.

She also highlighted the importance of learning about these historical figures. “Settling in our history books, history is no longer something that is on the top of their agenda in schools as well, but in the school abroad, you learn everything about the culture, the people. So it's very important that we begin to reinforce in the minds of our children that there are Nigerian heroes who paved the way, who have done great things and that these are people that they can also look up to,” she said.

Austen-Peters, who also is the brains behind “ Fela and the Kalakuta Queens” said that it was her investigation into Fela Kuti's history that brought her to his mother, whose work inspired her.

Funmilayo came on the hills of me having directed Fela and the Kalakuta Queens on stage, and understanding Fela's personality and obviously his siblings. I began to ask myself, 'Who is the mother that birth all these phenomenally successful people?' Then I started researching her and because of the relationship that I had developed with the Ransome-Kuti family, they were very excited to partner with us on this journey.”

The film tells the tale of Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Fela's mother, from her groundbreaking years as the first female pupil at Abeokuta Grammar School to her union with Israel Ransome-Kuti. She and her husband opposed injustice and founded the Abeokuta Women's Union. This led to a bloody conflict with traditional and colonial leaders who stood in the way of justice and fairness.

See the full interview below:

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