Movie Review: ‘Bariga Sugar’ Will Leave You Holding Back Your Tears

For some days now, I always saw the hashtag #BarigaSugar. It was a short film featuring Tina Mba. So I favourited a tweet and just remembered now to go back to it. I wish I did not delay for this long.

Bariga Sugar is a 21-minute short film Set in the mid-90s. It tells the story of an 8-year-old Ese, who lives in Bariga Sugar, a ghetto brothel owned by Madam Sugar in Lagos.

The story is told from the perspective of young Ese, through her voice we explore the hustle of young women living and earning a living from brothels, we see the hunger for friendship and how if fills a certain vacuum loneliness creates. We see a young boy dreaming big in a place devoid of hope and we see how grief can close up the gap hate and pain create.

Ese lives as a child to Tina one of the many brothel workers. She sees her mother’s customers as friends and always complains about how she had no friend. Jamil comes to live in the same brothel with his mum Hanatu and offers to be Ese’s friend but she is defensive and only connects when she seems him bullied by other children.

They soon become friends and Jamil teaches Ese how to properly read and also encourages her to dream bigger than being the queen of Bariga Sugar. This beautiful friendship faces obstacles and is halted due to an unfortunate situation.

‘Bariga Sugar explores themes that are not always delved into by Nollywood and it does this without typically putting it out to our faces. We see how children who grow up in such environment view marriage. There is the theme of love and friendship and the ability of humans to empathise with other.

It is amazing how we are able to see all that goes on in the brothel from the innocence of little Ese. No matter how tainted it may be children grasp a lot from what they see, hear and observe.

Directed by Nkiruka Chukwuogo and written by Ifeoma Nkiruka Chukwuogo and Ikenna Edmund Okah, Bariga Sugar tackles real life scenarios in the most amazing way. High-end picture quality, sound and the stellar performance from the characters made this short film a delight. Do not be mistaken, it is also an emotionally wrenching film.

Bariga Sugar features Tina Mba (Madam Sugar), Halimat Olarewaju (Ese), Tunde Azeez (Jamil), Blessing Samuel (Tina), Lucy Ameh (Hanatu).

Constance Onyeji - Jarret

Constance is a free spirit who roams the world with a paint brush and colors. She loves to read, is purpose driven and passionate about girl-child empowerment and Children with development disorders and is currently developing projects to help this cause. She enjoys a mind stimulating conversation and is always ready to eat fried yam and egg sauce.

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