In “Omozi”, Fatimah Gimsay Captures A Gritty Tale of Motherhood and Migration
In just two scenes, Fatimah Gimsay’s Omozi captures the ugly reality of the "Japa wave" as experienced by Nigeria’s desperate, young and working-class demographic.
The almost 8-minute film shows how a mother’s desperation for a better life pushes her to seek desperate measures through a love interest.
It opens with its central character, Omozi, discussing a debt she plans to pay *wink wink*. Her love interest, who seems to be part of this scheme, enters the scene, where she shows off her packed bags and they plan to take a journey from Nigeria to Togo, with the ultimate destination being Belgium. When Omozi makes it clear that she wants to bring her little daughter along, he frowns at it. They had discussed this before, the child is not his responsibility. He insists that they can start a fresh family when they get abroad.
At this point, Gimsay's Omozi pushes the plot further, taking an extreme act of desperation and taking her daughter along with her in the end. Ultimately, Omozi and her child are met with a fate that depicts the reality many intended migrants face when seeking greener pastures.
Speaking with Gimsay, she expressed that the original idea behind the film was to explore complicated mother-and-daughter relationships that stem from mothers having to relocate without their daughters to make ends meet.
In Gimsay’s words:
"What happens when a Mother does want to take her child along? We always hear stories ‘oh my mom left me when I was ten to go abroad and came back to carry me when I was sixteen’ but what happens when a mother decides she wants to take her child with her and would do anything to make that possible because honestly, every mom does it for their child.”
“Another angle I explored was to show that this Japa wave is not as smooth sailing, people are sold promises and then scammed, people are desperate, we hear stories of people selling their properties for a life overseas and then getting scammed, it’s a reality I wanted to address, however ethical or not people are fleeing from hardship and are getting their dreams shattered by bad people.”
In August, an exposé by Sky News revealed that a rising number of Nigerians are falling victim to a fake job scheme for job opportunities that do not exist within the United Kingdom’s skilled worker visa system. The report noted that Nigerian migrants had been coerced by “travelling agents” into paying exorbitant sums to enter the UK, only to find themselves stranded and without the promised employment upon their arrival.
In the 2023 Trafficking in Persons Report, the Nigerian government is said to have initiated investigations into 1,242 cases, including 511 sex trafficking cases, 282 labour trafficking cases, and 449 cases of unspecified forms of trafficking.
Fatimah Binta Gimsay has several works in her name, having started as a writer’s assistant for Hush; an African Magic series, to co-writing critically acclaimed shows, to writing and directing her own short films of note. Gimsay’s list includes MTV Shuga Naija season 5, Ndani TV’s Game on Season 2, Africa Magic’s Enakhe, Man of Her Dreams, and many more.
Gimsay says it was at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic that she decided to start making her own films.
“I realised I had to leave my bubble," she explained. Gimsay’s first film featured Teniola Aladese, Genoveva Umeh, and Anee Icha in an anthology short film that explored three women in an online anger management workshop, she has since written three more films including Yasmen, the critically acclaimed IJO and Omozi.
When speaking with Fatimah on the realities of independent filmmaking, she stressed that a major challenge was its financial strain.
“I do not recommend, the only thing that kept me going was that I was thirsty to put myself out there because you get too comfortable in the TV world, Nollywood is massive, you shouldn’t get comfortable in one spot," she adds.
She also stressed the importance of relationships within the industry as a driving force for independent film writing and filmmaking, a relationship of such which she told us came in handy when TNC Africa decided to pick up Omozi.
“The thriller had caught the eye of someone on their team I am cordial with, I had written a project for him once and we stayed cool and cordial, he reached out to me asking what my plans were for the film, I was open to anything because i had already been panicking, film festivals are not cheap, so I was grateful for the opportunity.”
Regarding her career, Gimsay mentions that she currently doesn't plan on releasing any films after Omozi.