‘Sex for Grades’ has become so common in Nigerian universities, it has almost become a culture. Many victims of this assault often remain quiet due to fear of stigmatization and possible intimidation, leaving their stories and justice in the wind.
Netflix in its latest movie, “Citation,” tells the realistic story of sexual assault and often untold experiences of victims on campus. The film centres around Moremi (Temi Otedola) a postgraduate student, who accuses celebrated professor, Lucien N’Dyare (a charismatic Jimmy Jean-Louis) of sexual assault.
At 2 hours and 30 minutes, the movie tells the story of a widespread issue of rape culture on campuses. But that was too long as the movie could have easily made the same impact in 90 minutes.
The story begins with a young woman arguing with her professor for giving her an F, a grade which essentially prevents her from graduating. The professor tells her the grade isn’t final and she could meet him in a motel room to “discuss” it.
The lady told her friends about it and they decided to take matters into their hands by bursting into the room and catching the professor in the act. The prof tries to escape while he was being beaten and paraded and was hit by an oncoming vehicle. The lady’s search for justice backfires as she and her friends are kicked out of the university by the school panel.
Two years later, Moremi finds herself in front of the same panel as she narrates what transpired between her and professor Lucien in flashbacks.
Like many who fall prey, Moremi’s relationship with her professor began from a place of innocence. He was having problems with his car and she offered to teach him. That seemingly innocuous exchange leads to an unexpected conversation about sex in the professor’s office.
Moremi’s conversations with Lucien in French and her funny Yoruba accent while speaking with Koyejo was cool, interesting and gave the impression of sophistication.
As Moremi shares her story with the tribunal, N’Dyare’s refold their encounters in lies that are more believable due to his status and credentials.
The film written by Tunde Babalola and directed by Kunle Afolayan tells the true stories of power play in educational establishments that extends well beyond Nigeria’s borders.
Moremi’s romantic relationship with Koyejo (Gabriel Afolayan), a medical student and martial artist, hits the rocks as she gets familiar with her prof. What follows is a field trip to Senegal, where the professor tries to kiss her.
The drama shows how easy it is for a victim to feel shame, despite the attempt to bring justice.
The tribunal heats up as Moremi begins to wonder if school officials believe anything she says with the professor’s carefully crafted lies seem to win the panel.
The flashbacks end with a house party at the prof’s home, where he attempts to rape her and the following scene where the prof dismissed her citation with the plan to give her an extra semester.
The final bout contextualizes how the person who holds the most power is the one who has the stronger voice.
The story is laced with Moremi’s bravery and inner strength as she stands against the professor, searching for evidence to prove her accusation. I won’t share the outcome of the Tribunal to avoid spoilers
If I am to mention one major turn-off it will be that there was no mystery or surprises in the storyline. Also, the supposedly dangerous and graphics scenes like the rape scene looked more choreographed than real.
That said, I would like to point out that the African music selections and wardrobe choices were great and exciting. Also, Temi Otedola as Moremi did a great job with the acting. Without her, the movie holds little intrigue.
Apart from sexual harassment, the movie showed beautiful and exciting highlights of Nigerian and African culture especially during the trip to Senegal.
Citation is currently number 1 in Nigeria on Netflix and is rated 5.6 on iMDB
In summary, Citation reflects the harrowing story of sexual assault even though it’s not a new story. Its is wholly plausible and common even in Nollywood. However, the music, wardrobe and display of Africa culture in the movie is something to watch out for.
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