by Benjamin Njoku
…Call on the country’s govt to address the problem with the utmost seriousness
Organizers of the 16th edition of Abuja International Film Festival, AIFF, and The Africa International Film Festival, AFRIFF, have announced the immediate suspension of all South African films submitted for the festival scheduled to hold from 22nd through 25th of October 2019, following the fresh attacks on Nigerians and other foreigners in South African.
In separate statements released during the week, they jointly condemned unequivocally the reoccurring xenophobic attacks against African migrants including Nigerians in South Africa.
According to the founder and festival director of AIFF, Mr Fidelis Duker, their actions are hitched on the global outcry especially by Nigerians across the world who have called on their compatriots to boycott South African products and services in Nigeria in retaliation of the violence against their countrymen in South Africa.
The statement reads thus: “ On behalf of the management and organize of the 16 th Abuja International, we wish to announce the immediate suspension of all South African Film Entries submitted for the 16 th Abuja International Film Festival scheduled for 22nd to 25th of October 2019.”
“We as an International Film Festival condemn unequivocally the reoccurring xenophobic attacks against African migrants, including Nigerians in South Africa.”
“We have observed the global outcry especially by Nigerians all over the world who have called on their compatriots to boycott South African products and services in Nigeria in retaliation of the violence against their countrymen in South Africa.”
“However, AFRIFF has taken this painful and avoidable decision to suspend entries submitted by filmmakers from the Republic of South Africa until further notice. We therefore strongly condemn hate, prejudice and xenophobia actions of some South African nationals and reiterate our unequivocal condemnation of all violence in any form. The film festival is a platform that was created to promote mutual harmony, respect for the dignity of life. We will continue to advocate a society where everyone’s rights and freedoms are respected. The right to live and earn a living, freely, safely and protected by the law.”
“We therefore as a matter of necessity call on the South African government to address the issue of xenophobic attacks with utmost seriousness where the perpetrators are brought to book.”
Also, on its own, the founder of AFRIFF, Ms Chioma Ude in a statement condemned the prevailing act of violence, murder and wanton destruction of properties of foreigners in South Africa.
“AFRIFF is aware of the ongoing xenophobic attacks in various cities in South Africa and condemns this act of violence, murder and wanton destruction of properties of foreigners in the strongest terms.”
“It is the belief of AFRIFF that the arts as exemplified in films is a powerful tool of shaping public opinions, beliefs, attitude, disposition and actions, hence we believe that it is a vehicle that should be explored maximally to spread the gospel of tolerance, co-operation and mutual understanding amongst the spectrum of humanity.”
“It is important to also state that AFRIFF has had a long-standing relationship with DIFF and Kwazulu-Natal Film Commission which has resulted in the exchange of ideas, films, filmmakers, financing and future co-production opportunities. To this end, we are reviewing all the films submitted to the festival with the intention of expressly removing any film and banning any filmmaker from the festival that has positively expressed xenophobic ideas or any kinds of bigotry. We commiserate with the families of the departed and those who have suffered bodily damage and loss of property and we remain disposed to offer whatever assistance that we can in the furtherance of healing and true accommodation in that much-hallowed spirit of Ubuntu,” the statement reads.