“Memory Also Die”, the first part of a trilogy that focuses on memory as political taboo, comes fifty years after the collective trauma responsible for the death of memory in Nigeria: Biafra. What is it about the present that makes us unwilling to let the past go? Among the Igbo-speaking people of eastern Nigeria is a word: “Echezona”, which simply means never forget. There is the possibility of a deeper meaning – the way it is used in these films: it is taboo to forget.
Layered with text – of a personal nature – Memory takes as its point of departure the old idea that the personal is political - in the sense that collective forgetting is a politicially-sponsored act. The 70s – the post-Biafra-war era – was a period of boom, from the Arab oil embargo on the USA. A strange mix of optimism, dreams and ambition – of defeat, disillusionment and despair. It was also a time of silence, a time of forgetting, a time of migration and exile from memory. Official history had encouraged collective silence, collective forgetting, collective migration from memory.
Rather than straightforwardly, presenting actual images of trauma spaces and survivors, this film appropriates archival footage of activities and people in similar spaces where survivors once lived, walked and worked unaware of what was to come – sort of what was once there, now lost. Remembering and forgetting are entangled in this narrative, using textual overlay to allude to the Freudian truth, according to which every society is created on the basis of a collective crime; to pose, in a direct political sense, the question: what was the political crime that created modern Nigeria?
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