June 2019, arsenal cinema

SHAIHU UMAR

SHAIHU UMAR, 1976

SHAIHU UMAR (Adamu Halilu, Nigeria 1976), an important work of Nigerian cinema, was long thought to be lost. But in 2016, negatives and prints of the film were found in the archive of the Nigerian Film Corporation. Arsenal restored them and they were shown at the 2018 Berlinale Forum. SHAIHU UMAR, which is set in northern Nigeria at the end of the 19th century, is based on the eponymous novella by Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, who would later become the first prime minister of independent Nigeria. It starts with a discussion between students and their respected teacher, the Islamic scholar Shaihu Umar, who tells them of his modest background and the fact that he was separated from his mother after his father’s death and the banishment of his stepfather. His subsequent trials and tribulations include slavery. He is put to a number of tests before being adopted by his Arab master Abdulkarim, not as a slave but as a son. Presented by Didi Cheeka, a filmmaker and critic from Lagos. (12.6.)