Single-channel video installation, 6 min. English.
Memory Also Die, the first part of a trilogy that focuses on memory as political taboo, comes fifty years after the collective trauma responsible for the death of memory in Nigeria: Biafra. What is it about the present that makes us unwilling to let the past go? Among the Igbo-speaking people of eastern Nigeria there exists a word: “Echezona,” which simply means “never forget.” There is the possibility of a deeper meaning – the way it is used in these films: it is taboo to forget.
Using appropriated archival film footage layered with personal text, the film takes as its point of departure the old idea that the personal is political – in the sense that collective forgetting is a politically sponsored act. The 1970s – the post-Biafra-war era – were a period of economic boom, marked by a strange mix of optimism, dreams, and ambition on the one hand, and of defeat, disillusionment, and despair on the other. It was also a time of silence, a time of forgetting, a time of migration and exile from memory. Official history had encouraged collective silence, collective forgetting, collective migration from memory.
Didi Cheeka, born in 1971 in the eastern Nigerian state of Anambra, is an off-Nollywood filmmaker and critic. He is the editor of Lagos Film Review, co-founder and curator of Lagos Film Society – an alternative cinema center dedicated to the founding of Nigeria’s first arthouse cinema –, and artistic director of Decasia – 1st Berlin-Lagos Archival Film Festival. His ongoing projects are the documentary War on Memory: The Forgotten History of Nigeria’s Post-War Cinema and the fiction feature In Silence & In Tears. Cheeka is currently engaged in digitizing Nigeria’s rediscovered national audiovisual archives. He is an alumnus of the Berlinale Talents and mostly lives and works in Lagos.