Worthy of the Crown is a documentary about Yemi Oduwale, a flemish boy born in '86. He has a Belgian mother and a Nigerian father. His grandfather is ill, and he wants Yemi to succeed him as a 'chief' in Nigeria. But Yemi is born and raised in Europe and doesn't know anything about the culture of the Yoruba, one of West-Africa's largest tribes. Besides, it's been more than 15 years ago since he was in Nigeria for the last time.
Yemi's grandfather was the 'Ajiroba' of a town called Okeigbo. As the 'right hand of the King', he reigned over a region of 700 square kilometers which has 175 000 inhabitants.
'Yemi', short for 'Adeyemi', literally means 'Worthy of the Crown'. His name alone predestines him for royalty. Furthermore he comes from a royal blood lineage. With the right efforts for the community, he can - in time - become a king.
But how can you hold such a title when you don't know anything about the culture? What should you do to earn it? What is the impact of tribal titles on the modern Nigerian society today? Who is actually ruling the country? And how does that effect the proud Nigerian people, whereof 70 percent lives under the poverty line?
Yemi gathers a crew and decides to take off to Lagos, the old capital, where his family lives.
Yemi's memories of Nigeria are the ones of a ten year old boy. The country always made a huge impression on him, but Nigeria has an image problem. Most people think of it as an unreliable country, with corrupt politicians. The past has proven that - for the biggest part - that is in fact the case. Nigeria has never been very safe, and right now the security level is below zero, due to terrorist attacks, mostly in the North of the country. When over 200 girls where kidnapped from their school, the #Bringbackourgirls campaign aroused a huge outcry of indignation in the international community about what is happening in Nigeria right now. Deathly attacks and bombings on innocent people are rampant. The government doesn't know how to react. 75 people died and 124 got injured when a bomb exploded in a bus station in Abuja. We took those busses too, so our trip isn't without danger.
In 2015 there are presidential elections in Nigeria. All the political parties are campaigning already. Some people fear that the violence in the country will rise and that this could even mean the end of Nigeria as it is.
On the other side Nigeria has a rich heritage and proud people. Tribal cultures are still very much alive. Between these two worlds, we have Yemi, struggling with his identity. Through his eyes, we want to discover what Nigeria stands for today.
Yemi Oduwale is a Belgian actor, playing for both theater, film and television. When he decided to visit his grandfather, he asked his best friend and cameraman Gieljan Van Goethem to join him on his trip to Nigeria. Yemi and Gieljan joined forces with director Roel Nollet, an independent journalist and documentary maker, working for television, and founder of 'the Redhorse Collective'. In Rinus De Wilde, we found the most yolo sound engineer in the world. Pieter Rollier and Thomas Leysen, handle our administration and production work.
The Redhorse Collective is a collective of journalists, documentary makers, photographers and visual artists breaking out of their comfort zone. We tell stories that inspire. Or upset. About everything, but most likely about human rights issues, current affairs, adventurous, social, cultural or ecological themes.
Independent but together we encourage each other to greatness. We look for beauty, solitude, undiscovered places. Truth. Contrast. We believe that 'together' works better.
Studio Brussel - 3 oktober 2014
Humo - 30 september 2014
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