The Women’s Rising Event was held in Lagos in March to celebrate International Women’s Month, a few events were held across the city but the most significant was the special film screening of ‘The Supreme Price’, an award winning documentary by Joan Lipper. The film was inspired by women especially in Nigeria and also featured Civil Rights Activist Hafsat Abiola Costello the daughter of late M.K.O. Abiola and Kudirat Abiola.
In 1993 Nigeria reportedly elected M.K.O. Abiola as president in a historic vote that promised to end years of military dictatorship. Shortly after the election, however, M.K.O. Abiola was imprisoned as another military regime assumed power, and his wife, Kudirat Abiola took over the leadership of the pro-democracy movement, organising strikes and marches and winning international attention for the Nigerian struggle. Because of this work, she too became a target and was assassinated in 1996. Director Joanna Lipper elegantly dovetails past and present as she tells this story through the eyes of Hafst Abiola, who was about to graduate from Harvard when her mother was murdered (her father died in prison two years later). Determined not to let her parents’ ideals die with them, Hasfat has dedicated her adult life to continuing their fight for democracy. Returning to Nigeria after years abroad, she is at the forefront of a progressive movement to empower women and dismantle the patriarchal structure of Nigerian society. “The Supreme Price ” is an unprecedented and personal look at the Abiola story-which is still unfolding.
The film documentary covers the events that led up to the death of Chief M.K.O Abiola in 1993 and the important role his late wife Kudirat Abiola played as a partner, a mother and most of all a strong Nigerian woman. The film was emotional and championed the important role Kudirat Abiola played fighting for what she believed in which was the first step towards empowering Nigerian women and giving them a voice to fight against poor leadership.
In 1993 at the age of 16, as a young teenager living in Lagos at the height of political change her life was more about friends and school rather than political developments, although the fight for power at that time was evident everywhere no one could escape what was happening.
As the film played at the event, I peeked past my eyes, blurred by a cloud of tears and so how touched everyone around me was. People realised how much Abiola sacrificed for Nigerian women to have a voice to and the freedom to march in the streets and protest against all odds.
In 1993 there was no Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and Abiola fought for the injustice brought upon her husband. She fought for as a civil rights activist, she fought for all women in Nigeria and empowered women outside of the restrictive context of the home.
The audience was amazed to see how Nigerian women from all over the country united to march in the streets lead by Kudirat Abiola to demand justice from a military government that refused to acknowledge Chief M.K.O. Abiola as the elected president.
Abiola was an inspiration who was also inspired by Nigerian Women but most of all her daughter who is a current civil rights activist fighting for women’s justice in Nigeria.
Fast forward to 2015 and things are slowly changing for Nigeria women. Abiola’s legacy, resonates through the decades as a reminder that women, and Nigerian women are strong and fearless. Today with the help of social media we can all easily unite as one to voice protest when our leaders do wrong.
The film and the Women’s Rising event act as a tool to remind the Nigerian people that justice, peace and equality are attainable when unified and are fights worth sacrificing for.
Kudirat Abiola’s legacy continues to inspire women around the world and specifically in Nigeria, where she represents a strong, fearless, beautiful woman and is remembered as a hero.