Ejinkeonye Interviews Multi-Talented Sam Kargbo
personifies the resilience and ingenuity
of the Nigerian,
producer of Blood Diamonds
law teacher, social commentator and film maker, Sam
Kargbo is many things to many people. Although a regular
TV guest on many topical issues and a newspaper
columnist, Kargbo carries about his life with utmost
modesty. He loves his beautiful wife from Akwa Ibom
State and adores his mentors with a passion. He is the
maker of Blood Diamonds, arguably one of the
highest budget films in Nollywood, the Nigeria Home
Video Industry. Yet he insists filmmaking is just an
avenue for him to pass his message across to a target
audience. In this interview with UGOCHUKWU EJINKEONYE
(February 2005), he talks about his involvement in
filmmaking and the bold efforts of private investors
that have taken the good image of Nigeria across
Most people are familiar with Sam Kargbo
the lawyer, not the script writer and film producer, at what
point did this other side of you come up?
SK: Yes, I studied law. But I have been doing many other things, and
as lawyers would
say, legal things for that matter. I have always been a heckler
and proactive person. I don’t sit on the fence on
matters. I like emptying my
chest and putting my money where my mouth is. I realise
that one stands in a better position
to understand things when one is involved.
I have been writing ever
since my secondary school days. I have written short
stories for radio presentation.
I was one of the earlier contributors to the His and Hers (or something like
that ) on Ogun State Broadcasting Corporation (OGBC)
in 1991. I had a teacher called John
Agetua who encouraged me to take writing seriously but I
disappointed him when I veered off to study law.
He wanted me to study English Language. Am sure he was the one that
influenced people like Nnamdi Okosieme (of Independent )
to study English and Literature. I followed the advice of
another teacher, Mrs.
Lambert Aikhion-Bare, who was equally close to me, to study law.
But even at that
all my colleagues at the University of Benin knew me more for
my writing potentials than for my law studies.
I am also a very outgoing person. My social life is, to be honest,
very complex. My
circle of friends cut across all classes. But I have my
artists. That was why people like T.J. Cole, Mike Nliam and Abay
Esho of Safari
could convince me to invest in movies. To cut cost and perhaps
to simplify matters, I decided to write the first story I was to
shoot. I wrote the
screen play and Teco Benson, who directed it for me,
gave it to one Bat Hills,
a banker, to edit
it, and he did it overnight.
Blood Diamonds came out very well
but I can assure you I am a better writer now and my next effort in
screen play would be better than
Blood Diamonds. Many
people have asked me to screen play for them but I can’t
afford to add that to my busy chores. For now, I will confine
myself to writing my movies.
UE: I have watched Blood Diamonds, and I think
the story is good and ambitious, was it inspired by any
particular incident you witnessed
in real life?
SK: Well, we have been colleagues at the Independent Editorial
Board, and you know my concern for African Affairs. Am sure the general
belief of the Board is
that I know so much about Africa and the world
because I studied International Relations and Diplomatic
and Consular Law at the postgraduate class. But that is not the
case. I am concerned about the world and, much more,
See how the ten year war in
Sierra Leone affected
Nigeria. Beside the material and human resources lost by
Nigeria, it is still host to hundreds of thousands of
Agreed, Nigeria has always willingly played the ‘big
brother’ to Sierra Leone, but what was expended by Nigeria to end the
Sierra Leone could have been put into productive ventures at
for one believe in
the reality of the global village. Charles Taylor (former
Liberian President) was very
brutal and ruthless to Nigerians. He marked them out as
his number one foes
and acted in accordance with that hate mentality. But
look at where he is
today. Is it not an irony? The truth is that Charles
Taylor was fighting a
losing war because he was not content with limiting his
ambition to Liberia.
was how he took the war to Sierra Leone and as it is
clear today he is
the only one that benefited from both the war in Liberia
and the one in
Sierra Leone. My aim or objective was to tell the world what he
had done to Sierra Leone. It was like saying I know what you
did in Sierra Leone before coming to Calabar. It worked
because those who have watched
Diamonds now know better.
Were you involved in selecting the cast? The character of
Don Carlos is excellent,
and several others too; but most people wouldn’t be able to
say that about a few others, especially,
Shan George who acted Vera.
was the one that hired the lead cast but it was Teco Benson that
assigned the roles
to them. For instance TJ Cole was to play the role of Don
Carlos but Teco as
Director thought that the role fitted Desmond better
because of his
size. Luckily for me TJ did not complain and he gladly switched
over to the
role that Dr. Julius Spencer would have played and as you have observed Teco was right.
do not want to fault your reservations about Shan George
but I believe that she did wonderfully well. I know your
stand on morals but mind you, she was
just acting a role scripted for her. If her role was not edited
to get approval (from the Censors Board), you might have hated
her the more. I will always work with her. She is wonderful and
less problematic on set.
am not referring to any moral preferences here. I watched the
film with a colleague, who also is a director and producer. We
both thought some measure of sprightliness was required for a
character undertaking such a hazardous expedition, to endear her
to the audience. But Ms. George simply refused to shine.
There appeared to be a certain reluctance to really enter
role was not for a tomboy. Of course, there were others in the
industry that could have played the role, but she is part of our
circle and we felt that she could do well and we still feel that
we did the right thing. You may not fancy our take on her but I
still insist that she did well. In any case I can’t fault your
standards. As a critic, I guess you have your ideas.
We were expecting
the Mother of all Battles at the well advertised “heavily
guarded cave”, but alas, we were treated to some kind of
anti-climax, was that intentional?
ending is deliberate. Blood Diamonds
is a big story. As you may have
realised, one of the most ambitious stories of NOLLYWOOD.
We intend to have a sequel which will start with the fight at
the caves. Mind you, except
for the few
other people killed inside the cave, you only know that some of
the mercenaries and Don Carlos were shot. Pray that I have the
finances to shoot
and accomplish Blood Diamonds 2.
is your assessment of the Nigerian film industry? There is a
growing impression that the place appears to have become a dumping ground for those who fail to find
in more challenging sectors?
think the Home Video Industry personifies the resilience and
ingenuity of the Nigerian. I had
respect for the young men and women that are behind the industry but my respect
has grown beyond bounds after my experience with Blood Diamonds.
making is a combination of art, science and technology. The industry has talents and artists but lacks
finance. The Teco
Bensons of Nigeria can give you Oscar winning movies if
they get the necessary
funds. The artists are fantastic.
in European movies, we do not use stunts or effects to give you the larger than life
performances that you
credit Hollywood artists with. The industry is still in
the analogue stage.
Perhaps that is why I pity
most critics. The standards of the pirated Western
films they watch were not
Besides, America, India and other nations with successful film
industries have patriotic nationals
that patronise what is theirs. Our elite class do not patronise
the industry here. They are content with watching cheap and
pirated Western films.
immediate effect is that the standards are set by the lower
class that are patronising
the industry. So, until we have our middle and upper class
people buying made in Nigeria movies, do not expect the standards to
improve overnight. In any
case, the present
standards are fantastic for those who
are investing in the industry. You may hate them but not too many
people are in a position of producing movies like Blood Diamonds. I know
how much I spent, and how
much I realised. If commerce were strictly the reasons behind
Blood Diamonds, then I would have been
crying for a long time.
It is widely
accepted that aside fulfilling its primary function of
entertainment, works of art should equally educate and
project positive values,
do you think such a commitment can be detected
in what is currently going on in the industry?
is easy to be idealistic about things but mind you we are all in
a country where not too
many people have surpluses with which to invest in
ideals. The generality of those who go into movie making
do so with the aim of
making what you may call honest living. It is true that
every citizen is
obliged to contribute his or her quota in the education
and development of
the citizenry. The individual would be helped and better
placed to do so if
public officials and bureaucrats who are paid to set
standards do their own part.
do not expect a man who has borrowed money from a bank to make
film he won’t be able to get a market for.
So he would rather settle for comedy
and do things that
you would consider silly but would fetch him his exposure
and give him some profit.
countries like Australia and New Zealand where
the government partners with private individuals, the film industry is
getting the necessary respect and attention. We have people here that can
do better than Peter
Jackson but they do not have the enabling environment. This is
the sad part because the movie industry is capable of surpassing the
petroleum industry in revenue earning. The ascendancy that the industry
has given to Nigeria over other African countries is unimaginable.
is your vision and mission as a writer and producer?
My vision and mission is to continue to use the medium to
reach those that I
would otherwise not been able to reach. I want to
contribute to the building
and shaping of the African conscience. I want to be
as one who did his best
in directing people to the right path.
We have seen Blood Diamonds, when should we expect another work
have another movie on corruption. It is called “No Place To
Hide”. I believe that
public officials and bureaucrats who use the colours of their
offices to divert
the commonwealth to private purses are enemies of progress and
should not be tolerated
or given safe havens. In it, I challenged the individual
to fight corruption with his or her last blood.
am talking with marketers.
It should hit the market soon. I also sponsor music. My adopted
kids at home are coming
out with a 15 track album. I have been working on the
production. Some of
the works were done in Nel Olivers Studio in Benin Republic. I
believe in quality
and I bet when they release their album you will realise that I
stand for quality. They had great support from my circle
of friends. They featured
Baba Fryo and Lt. Shotgun in some of the tracks. Some of the
tracks also featured
in Blood Diamo
are a successful lawyer, public commentator, and now, a film
maker. Would you mind describing the road
you travelled to get this far.
What else can I tell you. In addition to all of these, I
find time to teach law
and I think the students see me as a hardworking teacher.
Because I teach postgraduate
students, it is very easy for me to believe that my colleagues do appreciate
me. They make good returns about me to the authorities and
they in turn
urge me to continue.
am self made. I have been my own father
since the age of fourteen and I am 44 now. You can imagine what
been for me. But all the same I have been touched by many
people. I have
always been fortunate to gain the respect of my teachers.
Ikhariale who is a brother and friend today was my teacher. Prof
Itse Sagay would always vouch for
of people like
them, I try to comport myself
and avoid scandals. I also have my wife, Stella Samuel. She
and I try not to disappoint her. I also have many
brothers and children that
I have adopted along the way.
Majirioghene Bob is one of them. I try to
influence them positively and I have been lucky with some
Thank you. Let’s
return briefly to the film industry. Could you suggest the
various areas you think the industry could
improvement and fine-tuning?
would just ask the Government to give it some attention. There
wrong in giving it a separate ministry. The potentials of
the industry are too great to be
There is this
widespread view that the easiest way to become a
star actress here
is to sleep with everybody that matters in the industry,
starting even with mere studio hands to top officials; in
fact, an insider once told me that
if I got to know what it took some of our “top stars”
to get to the top, that
I would just throw up, what do you think?
industry is just like any other industry. It is difficult to
penetrate. Some people get desperate and do silly things.
Some unconscionable people do capitalise on the eagerness of new
entrants. But I do not think it is right to say that the
industry is as notorious or bad as you have put it. There
are very many decent people in the industry.
Will it be
possible to rescue the industry from the hands of
the powerful but
barely literate marketers dictating
the tune and pace there today?
the industry the world over is not for the acadas.
It is the most
practical industry in the world. Mind you there are
many educated people in
but they are still lagging behind those that you are referring
to as barely
I had the feeling
that before the worthy intervention of the Censors Board, a lot
of film makers allowed desperation
and desire for easy wealth
to push them into producing movies that
promote moral irresponsibility.
In fact, even now, one
can still see the vestigial remains of that preference. What do
is harsh and exhibits ignorance about the industry. Those who
money are pirates. Have you endeavoured to imagine the
amount of money pirates
are making from foreign movies and musical videos? Many
of those in the industry are desirous of making genuine contributions.
Excerpts of an Interview
2005, Lagos, Nigeria….
* * *
* * *
1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus
By Charles C. Mann
a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous
New Revelations of the Americas Before
Columbus, in which he
provides a sweeping and provocative
examination of North and South America
prior to the arrival of Christopher
Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched
but so wonderfully written that it’s
anything but exhausting to read. With
1493, Mann has taken it to a
new, truly global level. Building on the
groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby
The Columbian Exchange and, I’m
proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer),
Mann has written nothing less than the
story of our world: how a planet of what
were once several autonomous continents
is quickly becoming a single,
Mann not only talked to countless
scientists and researchers; he visited
the places he writes about, and as a
consequence, the book has a marvelously
wide-ranging yet personal feel as we
follow Mann from one far-flung corner of
the world to the next. And always, the
prose is masterful. In telling the
improbable story of how Spanish and
Chinese cultures collided in the
Philippines in the sixteenth century, he
takes us to the island of Mindoro whose
“southern coast consists of a number of
small bays, one next to another like
tooth marks in an apple.” We learn how
the spread of malaria, the potato,
tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar
cane have disrupted and convulsed the
planet and will continue to do so until
we are finally living on one integrated
or at least close-to-integrated Earth.
Whether or not the human instigators of
all this remarkable change will survive
the process they helped to initiate more
than five hundred years ago remains,
Mann suggests in this monumental and
revelatory book, an open question.
* * *
Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in
By Melissa V.
According to the
author, this society has historically exerted
considerable pressure on black females to fit into one
of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the
Matriarch or the Jezebel. The selfless
Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to
white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of
those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the
relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable
temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as
an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the
characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television
shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.
points out how the propagation of these harmful myths
have served the mainstream culture well. For instance,
the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for
black females to feel a maternal instinct towards
As for the source
of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their
own bodies during slavery given that they were being
auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless,
it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate
the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate
* * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
* * * * *
If you like this page consider making a donation
* * * * *
Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
* * * * *
The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
George Jackson /
* * *
The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
* * * * *
* * * *
(Books, DVDs, Music, and more)
update 2 March 2012