By Linda Orajekwe
With a singular goal to be the voice of the unheard and tell their stories like only they can, Nigerian presenter, actor and producer, Bolanle Olukanni, is out with her documentary project, ‘God’s Wives’, which she intends to use to highlight the issues facing Widows across Nigeria. During an interview, Olukanni revealed the challenges she faced while ensuring that this project becomes a reality; a reality that viewers in Nigeria will see come first week of December.
What’s the purpose of ‘God’s Wives’?
‘God’s Wives’ is a foundation established to protect, empower and re-dignify women who have lost their husbands.
Why this project?
During one of our shows on ‘Moments’, we had Mrs. Chinyere Ankoruwu, Executive Director of Self-Worth Organization, the NGO that we now work with. She came on the show and told us about the challenges that widows face. I was deeply moved by the stories. I began working with them in December 2016.
When did you decide to embark on this project?
I decided to shoot the documentary in July. It’s been a long and tasking one but I’m really pleased with the end results.
What’s has your journey with this project been like?
It has been a journey. It’s my first time shooting a documentary with me being the writer, producer and director. I had to learn on the go, following my instincts. I am really passionate about creating content and telling people’s stories which has been my main drive.
How long have you been trying to get this done?
I have wanted to produce a documentary for 2 years but was waiting for the right story.
What were the challenges you faced during this project?
Being a first time director, I faced a lot of challenges but I was lucky because I worked with a good director of photography – Albert Oghuan. Together, we were able to create some really good shots. I did have to re-shoot some parts of the project because being my first time, directing was a bit of trial and error. Overall, I am happy I didn’t give up.
How did you know the widows to use? What informed your selection process?
Well, since I had been working with the ladies at Self-Worth Organization, I knew a few of their stories and I asked Mrs. Ankoruwu to assist me in also selecting the women who would be comfortable sharing their story. We have a lot more stories to share but we wanted to start with these two.
What do you hope to achieve with this documentary?
‘God’s Wives’ is meant to enlighten and start a conversation. There are so many cultural practices that we frown at yet widows are still forced to practice them. Widows are marginalised and the treatment they face is unjust. I hope that ‘God’s Wives’ will encourage people to fight against unjust practices and treat widows with extra care.
What’s that one thing you’ve learnt during the course of this journey?
It’s been a really sobering experience for me, seeing how unjust our communities are to those without a voice. It has inspired me to be more vocal about social issues that I care about.
What role do you think society and government have to play in ensuring that widows are treated better than they’re currently being treated?
I think government needs to be a lot more accountable when it comes to widows. There needs to be social services such as widows remittance that will give widows assistance for a period of time until they are able to get back on their feet.
When will it be out?
It will be screened the first week of December and will start showing on local television stations across Nigeria.