One of the first things my younger siblings do whenever I go home on holiday is unlock my phone, storm the MX player app and scroll hungrily for exciting movies — and in no time they’re grumbling, “brother, you don’t even have any interesting movies. Your phone is no fun at all.” Perhaps, instead of the Avengers, they’re seeing the Nigerian warrior queen Amina, instead of Naruto; they’re seeing The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind or I Am Not Your Negro, or some other historical/documentary movie… and that’s just my thing: history. But, why? You may ask.

For me, there’s a thin line between success or failure and the past. Whilst today is the best time to decide the future, we cannot ignore the impact the past has on it (today). In fact, even though tomorrow makes today’s history, it’s now that tomorrow is determined. This would mean it’s not unwise to regularly visit yesterday and learn, relearn, or unlearn from it.  

If you look around carefully, you see a number of things that go wrong because (a bad) history is allowed to repeat itself. In Nigeria, there are three major instances as I’ve observed; one is the issue of collecting rice to vote for a candidate you don’t trust, the other is tribalism, and the third, nepotism. If there’s anything the past has taught us, it is that indulging in the aforementioned never results in anything good, yet people still engage in it—and there’s only a reason for that; they haven’t properly visited the past and unlearned or learned from it.

So, why do I pack my phone with documentary/historical movies? To be informed, first of all. More than the mere instant gratification that comes when watching films, historical/documentary movies serve me timeless information that makes me stand out in academic/intellectual discussions. Also, to learn—and by learning, I mean arming myself with the grit, values, attitude and character of people like William Kamkwamba (in The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind) who made a windmill out of waste and saved a village from drought; Desmond T. Doss, a selfless soldier in Hacksaw Ridge (a-World war 2-inspired movie); and equally to unlearn the mistakes of many. They say experience is the best teacher, I say that isn’t always the case: you don’t need something to happen to you to learn; just observe what has happened before you and learn.

True, every movie has a mirror of real life, thus one might find little reason to be genre specific, but really, there’s nothing as powerful and inspiring as knowing that what you’re watching actually happened to someone or something. In fact, I’d argue that any (low-spirited) person who sees Maya Angelou: And the Caged Bird Sings, will surely have another reason to face tomorrow head-on.

So, go watch a historical/documentary movie today, will you?

This article was written bChisom Charles Nnanna; connect with him on Instagram via here 

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