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The fearless wife of Nigeria's President who never was

SACRIFICE: Kudirat Abiola

AS MUHAMMADU Buhari's first full week as Nigeria's President comes to an end, it seems a fitting time to remember those who died on the bloody road to democracy in Africa's most populous country.

The Supreme Price is a sinister but touching reminder of the lives lost in that arduous journey, most notably Kudirat Abiola, who was assassinated 19 years ago today.

An unsung hero in Nigerian history, Hausa-born Kudirat was the second wife of the late Chief MKO Abiola who in 1993 was democratically elected President with a historic majority pledging to put an end to corrupt military dictatorships.

Before he could be inaugurated, Abiola was imprisoned - later dying in mysterious circumstances - to make way for the military rule of the brutal General Sani Abacha.

Kudirat stepped up to the fore and campaigned for her husband's freedom until the mother-of-seven was brutally shot as she drove through Nigeria.

The critically-acclaimed documentary from award-winning director Joanna Lipper focuses on the Abiola family in the run up to the 1993 election and their lives thereafter while celebrating the legacy of women in the pro-democracy movement in a modern Nigeria.

"Women in Nigeria have degrees without ever attending school," joke a group of women seated in a meeting in one scene. "The all have PhDs - Pull her Down syndrome."

Kudirat's influence through the documentary is hailed as transformative of the way that women in Nigeria have become democratically engaged.

Through the simple process of people power, old footage of market women, unknowing feminists taking a stand against the tyranny of military rule in the ways that they knew how, is a strong visual of how far Nigerian women have come.

Lipper fast forwards to present day democratic engagement where participants have become more sophisticated.

Through the formation of NGOs, organised lobbying and seeking political office, the modern Nigerian woman is socially conscious and refreshingly so.

As the narrative comes full circle viewers can enjoy watching the birth of a leader in the form of Hafsat Abiola, the daughter of Kudirat and MKO Abiola.

From 1996 as a young Harvard student, to becoming a mother and a wife, Hafsat embodies the spirit of her mother in her dedication to championing the legacy of Kudirat in her representation of women and democracy.

"A society that silences its women has no future," is the echoing message received loud and clear.

The documentary is highly recommended viewing for those seeking to understand Nigeria at the point that it is at now.

In his first days in office, President Buhari passed a law making female genital mutilation (FGM) illegal.

It was another small step in the right direction and another victory for women in Nigeria.

A screening of The Supreme Price (Dir: Joanna Lipper) takes place at the Phoenix Cinema on Sunday, June 14, at 2pm followed by a Q&A with Nadia Denton, author of The Nigerian Filmmaker's Guide to Success: Beyond Nollywood

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