In 2019, Chude Jideonwo set up a rudimentary studio and invited his radio broadcaster Tosyn Bucknor for the first of a series of interviews that would fundamentally change how he saw storytelling. His guests had lived very different lives and had unique perspectives on how the world worked. But different as they seemed, he found he could resonate with each story because like them, he was a product of the irreplicable conditions that shaped his country and their continent.
Unfortunately, this shared reality is conspicuously absent in modern media. News cycles and investigative reports on the continent are a morass of clickbait headlines and divisive reporting, defined as whole by a persistent lack of context. These omissions are in part the result of storytellers who are taught to engage events using Western sensibilities and produce stories to cater to a Western audience. Any information that doesn’t align within this narrow framing is either discarded as a distraction or distorted to fit into this narrative.
The consequence of this is that the stories Africans tell, about the world and the events that shape it are inauthentic, inaccurate, and sometimes even harmful. To create an environment where the stories that are told on the continent lead to true transformation, journalists must take on the responsibility of building a shared lexicon, understood by narrator and audience and dynamic enough to reference the past and shape the future.
Many stories that do not survive beyond a single news cycle or a buzzy hashtag continue to influence the daily lives of millions. Events mentioned only in passing or referenced as gossip offer key insights to our collective psyche. People who gain notoriety and then fall into obscurity are forgotten, even though the impact of their actions are central to our experience on justice, policy, kinship and community. Until these people, events and stories are given the kind of careful interrogation they deserve, we will continue to grapple in the dark, and struggle to understand our place in the world.
Through a series of documentaries, travelogues, and specials, Chude Explains will revisit these points in our past and present with the goal of mapping the interconnections between cultural phenomena, historical events, and contemporary trends in Sub-Saharan Africa. By adapting the format of each documentary to best serve the subject matter, Chude Explains will circumvent traditional stereotyping and common tropes around stories surrounding poverty, class structures and ethnic cultures. Each instalment will provide an expertly told, easily digestible lexicon around an important person, topic or event, vital to understanding our relationship with them. Collectively, the series will provide a guide to demystifying the emotion ties, social conditioning and contextual references that influence modern events around the continent, and perhaps provide the momentum for the relevant people to act, when necessary.
Chude Explains: because there is always a deeper story.
Awaiting Trial is a docudrama series that follows the lives of 3 people caught by the injustice of the Nigerian Police, and are held by the unfair structures of both the police and the faulty legal system. This is a story not just about systems but about the people they destroy. It presents the devastating ramifications not just in terms of justice and fairness, but in terms of destroying families, upturning mental balance, creating an environment and culture of fear.
The historic #EndSARS protests were an opportunity for Nigerians to confront the injustice that permeates several levels of society like a grid. We scheduled interviews with families who lost their children from Lagos to Anambra to Ogbomosho, going on the streets for hours to hear the stories. It was heartbreaking. And while much of the world is focusing on the aftermath of the protests, something deeper it spoke to needs yet to be given pride of place – the thousands of young Nigerians who are held without charge in police stations and prisons across the country. Missing family members, truncated academic dreams and bankruptcies have trailed this unending phenomenon. With the government trying to silence #EndSARS protesters, and civil society still trying to find what to do about it, this docudrama seeks to galvanize Nigerians to make informed decisions ahead of the election, based on the documented and relatable experiences of these individuals.
Nigeria’s Gen Z is geared up to really participate in the electoral process for the first time this year, with fresh new candidates that have are not presently in office, an Obama-type movement building momentum for the first time in 30 years. The generation had lost hope in the country, but suddenly in this election they see the possibility of change. Weaving their lifestyles and narratives as the central character of this film, we take a deep dive into how elections actual work in Nigeria – speaking to those who steal votes, grassroots campaigners who buy votes, presidential candidates and the country’s top journalists. It is the story of how elections are done in Nigeria, but it is actually the story of Gen Z coming of change in a time of hope and despair.
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