The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival has begun in Durham. One of the films making its world premiere is The Supreme Price, which follows the return of Hafsat Abiola back to her home country of Nigeria. Hafsat Abiola is the daughter of the former president of Nigeria, M.K.O Abiola and Kudirat Abiola, who spoke out boldly against political corruption in that country in the 1990’s and ultimately lost her life because of it.
Hafsat Abiola's father, M.K.O. was elected President in 1993 but his election was annulled soon thereafter by a military dictatorship. He was thrown in prison. "Already as a young college student at Harvard she [Hafsat] began engaging in activism to raise awareness about the corrupt military dictatorship in Nigeria.” says film director Joanna Lipper.
After M.K.O's imprisonment, Hafsat's mother begins speaking out. A move that ultimately causes her death.
When Hafsat was growing up Kudirat Abiola was a housewife. But when M.K.O. ran for election she assumed a more public role and helped secure her husband's victory in the North of Nigeria. Hafsat, now at Harvard, heard of her mother's efforts to help her father win the election. “She was very proud of her mother and understood that her mother was now taking a much more public role that was very radical for women in Nigeria at that time.” says Lipper.
But Lipper also says there was great concern over Kudirat's activities, “I think both Hafsat Abiola and her siblings were extremely worried about their mother’s activities. She led the biggest strike in Nigeria ever. She shut down oil production in Nigeria in the 90’s in protest against the military dictatorship and it was the longest strike in Nigeria’s history. So she was really attacking the government at their core.”
Kudirat Abiola was assassinated a few days before she was due to go to the United States to attend Hasfat’s graduation from Harvard. She was in her Mercedes going to a meeting when her car was ambushed and she was shot multiple times in the head. Lipper says "It was definitely a state sponsored assassination and that the assassins sent to kill her had been sent by the military."
After her mother’s assassination Hafsat went on TV and spoke out against the killing and the military’s involvement. A move that could have put her own life at risk. A few years later she returned to Nigeria and now spends her time fighting for women's and voters rights in that country. A field of work which is still full of danger. “If you want to have an influence and be involved in politics in Nigeria you have to be willing to put your life on the line.” says Lipper.
The Supreme Price which will have its world premiere at the Full Frame Documentary Festival this Friday. You can find out more information at fullframefest.org