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Nollywood Drama 'Blood And Henna' Tackles 1996 Pfizer Drug Testing Scandal In Nigeria

by Tambay A. Obenson
April 15, 2013 11:30 AM
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In a story that's reminiscent of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment here in the USA; in short, several Nigerian families lost children during a 1996 Pfizer trial of an experimental meningitis drug. 

In all, 11 children died in the trial. Others suffered blindness, deafness and brain damage.

A few years later, the company reached a settlement with the families via a $35 million fund created for the families in Kano State in Nigeria, where the brief trial of the experimental drug, Trovan, took place.

Although Pfizer continued to contend that its drug tests were not responsible for the deaths and injuries.

Blood and Henna is a new Nollywood movie which tackles the above case.

Directed by Kenneth Gyang, and starring Sadiq Sani Sadiq, Nafisat Abdullahi, Ali Nuhu, Ibrahim Daddy, Beauty Sankey, Salihu Bappa, and Yachat Sankey, the synopsis for Blood and Henna follows:

Nigeria, early 90s. Musa comes back to his village after his shop has been burnt in Lagos as a result of protests surrounding the military’s two-party system. Back home, he re-unites with his two friends, especially Shehu, a radical journalist who is now teaching the community’s kids in a makeshift school after running away from the city himself on account of the military’s crackdown on journalists protesting their handling of the political situation in the country. Musa meets and falls in love with Saude whose father is the richest farmer in the village. The girl is married off to him after Musa sells her father’s pepper in the city, breaking new grounds and making huge money for her money-loving father. Their marriage is rosy at first until Saude experiences a series of miscarriages… and a meningitis outbreak threatens to breakup the family’s happiness.

According to Nigeria's Vanguard, the film premiered in Nigerian theaters during the first quarter of this year, and was reportedly a blockbuster - understandably. However, I'm being told by others in-the-know (Nollywood Tweets to start), it has yet to premiere.

But you'll find a trailer for it below, and although it's not entirely convincing as a work of film art, I'm still curious to see how this particular story unfolds in this particular film, made by Nigerians for Nigerians.

But first, watch a 2011 Al Jazeera report on the matter (the trailer follows):

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  • STER | April 16, 2013 10:16 AMReply

    Ok sorry to disappoint you but for cinema news you may want to get your sources directly from the cinema houses itself or from dedicated sites to movies. these are some of the african titles that was in the cinema first qtr this year Dr. Bello, Streets of Calabar, Inside Story, The Meeting, A Wish, Okon Goes to School, Phone Swap, Inside Story, Phone Swap, Man on Ground, Nairobi Half Life, The Lost Number, Awakening, My Life, My Damage ; Flower Girl, The Assassin’s Practice, Oluranlowomi (Benefactor), Unguarded, Letters to my mother, and thsi April we have Flower Girl Oluranlowomi (Benefactor) Unguarded Playing Safe Zambezia Weekend Gateaway Contract The Courier. I know these because some of us actually go to the cinema just to watch African titles as oppose to american films that we have been fed our whole life. I hope these clarifies.

  • ster effram | April 15, 2013 11:41 AMReply

    'The film premiered in Nigerian theaters during the first quarter of this year, and was reportedly a blockbuster - understandably....' It wasn't this year or else one of the major blogs which profile movies would have covered it. Pls let us know when it will be in the cinemas.

  • Tambay | April 15, 2013 11:52 AM

    According to Nigeria's Vanguard website it did premiere in the first quarter of this year; unless their information is incorrect. But they are a reliable source:

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