image: The Guardian UK/Mo Abudu/Premium Times/Hidden Camera Naked Shots of Òlòtūré
Few years ago, we got a good glimpse into modern slavery through CNN’s hidden camera naked shots. It was the CNN Freedom Project to ending modern-day slavery. Good that came up before Òlòtūré (“Endurance”) came on stage.
From the CNN Freedom Project documentary, Nima Elbair started out by telling us that we are watching the auction of human beings in the 21st century. This is as she went underground as a prospective candidate, to be trafficked to Europe. She is dark in complexion!
Kristie Lu Stout says, “it is when your freedom is denied, that is when you really feel it.” This and many other reports came in as the CNN Freedom Project shines light on stories of modern-day slavery all over the world.
It is a global problem, an age long trade, that leaves no country or group of people as saints.
Tobore Ovuorie And Her Investigative Journalistic Work
The CNN work and that of others was followed up by Nigeria’s Premium Times Newspaper. They did an investigative work inside Nigeria’s ruthless human trafficking mafia. And their report was published on August 12, 2014. After them, the baton was given to Mo Abudu which has led to the production of Òlòtūré.
Tobore Ovuorie of Premium Times was motivated by years of research into the plight of trafficked women in the country. The loss of a friend also pushed her to go undercover in a multi-billion dollar criminal enterprise. She emerged bruised and beaten, but thankfully alive. This was after witnessing orgies, big money deals in jute bags, police-supervised pick-pocketing, beatings and even murder. This is her story.
Help From The Wrong Quarters
Tabore wanted to break through the hypocrisy and official propaganda. She was determined to show how, every day, criminals in Nigeria are helped by the powerful, to enslave fellow young citizens.
She gave herself a new name, ‘Oghogho.’ This helped her to connect with another Oghogho I., who is an accomplished, and wealthy human trafficker.
Oghogho I. told Tabore, “don’t worry about crossing borders and getting caught. Immigration, customs, police, army and even foreign embassies are part of our network. You only run into trouble with them if you fail to be obedient to us.”
Tabore said two of the trafficked sex workers she interviewed had tried to find help at Nigerian embassies in Madrid and Moscow. It was a wrong step. They soon realized that the very embassy officials from whom they had sought deportation, had immediately informed their pimps.
Even as close as November 17th, 2020, Premium Times reported that the Nigerian Embassy in Germany suspended a senior Embassy security staff. His offence, an allegation that he solicited sex from a woman before renewing her passport. What prompted an immediate action was a video that went viral.
To Every Labor And ‘Work’ There is Profit
How will you define “work?”
Merriam-webster dictionary defines work in different ways. We will focus on the first three definitions. The first is, work is to perform or fulfill duties regularly for wages or salary. The second is, work is to perform or carry through a task requiring sustained effort or continuous repeated operations. And the third definition is, work is to exert oneself physically or mentally especially in sustained effort, for a purpose or under compulsion or necessity.
From the three definitions, every task, duties or action undertaken during slavery and by compulsion is work. And it has its own industry.
The slave trade of the 16th to 19th century that took away West Africans as slaves to the rest of the world was profitable “work” to both locals and foreigners. The foreigners did not go into the inter land. Local chiefs coordinated the attack (evil “work”) on innocent people. They were the ones who held them as captives before sending them over to the foreigners once their ships arrived. The foreigners took away the human cargo, just as they took away raw farm produce. Both, were simply goods for commercial business transactions.
Hidden Work, Naked Profits
Today, Oghogho I. too is profiting from her business.
Tabore reported that Oghogho I. owned four luxury cars, and two houses in Edo State. And that she was busy completing the building of a third house near the Warri airport in Delta State. Others she had met through her initial ‘call girl’ exploits were also clearly on their way to “riches” too.
Priye was set to go back to the Netherlands, where she worked before, to become a ‘madam’. Ivie and Precious were quite happy to go back to Italy. She narrated that, “Precious had already made enough money to start building her own house in Enugu, a city that is located halfway in between Abuja and Port Harcourt.”
Hidden Camera Naked Shots: Òlòtūré Official Trailer
Through Òlòtūré’s hidden camera and naked shots, the difficult realities of these women, particularly those who were sexually exploited, comes to light. It shows how they are recruited and trafficked overseas for commercial gain.
In just days after its debut, Òlòtūré has become the top watched movie in Nigeria. And it is among the top 10 watched movies in the world on Netflix.
CNN Shines Light On Òlòtūré’s Bright Light
Aisha Salaudeen also did a report for CNN titled, New Nollywood film shines a light on human trafficking in Nigeria.
She reported that human trafficking is a $150 billion global industry. And that according to a 2014 report by the International Labor Organization, two-thirds of this figure is generated from sexual exploitation.
The film Òlòtūré is also doing well in countries like Switzerland, Brazil, and South Africa because it is authentic and “deals with the truth,” Abudu said.
“EbonyLife has done seven movies. But this is the most impactful one we have ever done. And the most important.”
The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) is the law enforcement agency in charge of combating human trafficking in Nigeria. They want the film to be made available to people in rural communities who don’t have access to Netflix.
The International Organization for Migration (IMO) estimates that 91% victims trafficked from Nigeria are women. And based on their traffickers notoriety, they would have sexually exploited more than half of them.
Nigerian Filmmaker Kenneth Gyang Brought The Stories To Life
The film Òlòtūré, was directed by award-winning Nigerian filmmaker, Kenneth Gyang. It features Nollywood stars like Sharon Ooja, Omoni Oboli and Blossom Chukwujekwu.
According to Indiewire, Gyang was already working on a trafficking project when he was approached by EbonyLife in 2019 about Òlòturé.
EbonyLife is Mo Abudu’s production company.
In an interview, Gyang said he was inspired to make the movie after absorbing the experiences of Nigerians suffering in exile around the world.
The Search For ‘Next Level’, Never Always Have A Happy Ending
“I travel a lot, especially in Europe and I see Nigerian sisters, West African sisters in dark corners of countries like Luxembourg,” Gyang said. “But I was especially outraged by a BBC documentary series a few years ago. It was about a Nigerian girl who left to go to Europe because she was promised work. But she ended up in Agadez [Niger]. She was then sold to different men everyday to make enough money that could get her to Libya.”
Getting enough money was never certain, and same with the dangerous desert trip to Libya.
The film concludes on a very bleak note, with Òlòtūré’s fate uncertain.
Though it’s not quite the happy ending that audiences might be hoping for. For the filmmaker, that’s the point.
“I didn’t want a ‘Hollywood ending’ for this film because I want people to talk about the film. And the only way you can really talk about it is to show the reality of these women’s lives,” Gyang said. “Because very few of them are actually saved in real life.”
While Òlòturé is brutal to watch, it however explores a world that only a few know anything about in unflinching detail. Even though those who take the “Òlòturé adventure” brings lots of negative publicity to Africa. This is therefore another effort to change the African narrative overseas. A change away from stories about poverty, famine, war, disease and despair – what novelist Chimamanda Adichie calls, the danger of the single story. Gyang also wants to tell stories that have social impact and reveal truths that could lead to change.
Past Pains That Stirred The Desire For Change
Gyang referenced a 2019 report that said as many as 20,000 Nigerian girls were sold to prostitution rings in the west African nation of Mali alone.
“I watched the report on Al Jazeera and it made me so mad,” he said.
“I didn’t want all that stuff about them being saved because it’s just not the reality of most of these women. And it would not make sense to represent this fantasy and have people watch, and maybe believe that that’s how it ends for most of them, because it’s not the case.”
He’s hopeful that the film could inspire the Nigerian government to act more aggressively on the issue of human trafficking, although that has yet to happen. “I’ve seen a lot of important personalities talking about the film in Nigeria and I think that should get the government’s attention,” he said.
Mosunmola Abudu (Mo Abudu) is an accomplished woman and she has been described as “Africa’s most successful woman” by Forbes. Abudu is a talk show hostess, TV producer, and human resource management consultant. She is also a media personality, entrepreneur, venture capitalist and a philanthropist.
In her own little way, Mo is contributing to a project that is hopefully, trans-generational in its impact. History records the works of Mary Mitchell Slessor, a Scottish Presbyterian missionary to Nigeria. She was able to stop the killings or abandonment of twins in Cross River State.
Why Is West Africa The Hot Bed Of Slavery?
Think again. 12 million Africans were brought to the Americas as slaves in the 16th to 19th centuries. But today, as at 2012, there are a conservative 21 million fresh human beings who are living in slavery worldwide.
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