A Documentary film that shines light on the story of hopefulness by a community in Northeast Nigeria, that was once lost in despair when they were forcefully removed from their homes following a devastating attack by Boko Haram.
Ngarannam: The Homecoming
June 3, 2023
LAGOS, NIGERIA - June 3, 2023, The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) organized a private screening of a documentary film directed by a Nigerian award-winning filmmaker, Joel ‘Kachi Benson at the Alliance Française in Lagos, Nigeria. The film provides an insight based on a first-hand account into the lives of a community that suffered displacement as a result of the Boko Haram conflict. The film highlights the visionary and innovative approach of the Regional Stabilization Facility (RSF) - a groundbreaking program which aims to restore lives with dignity and bring a sense of normalcy back to people facing conflict.
Ngarannam: The Homecoming is centered around three residents of the Ngarannam village - Amina, Falmata, and Hassan. The documentary chronicles a touching story of struggle, loss and fear as it follows their journey right from the very first 2015 insurgency attack on their village that launched their world into disarray, to the 2022 intervention program engineered by UNDP.
After losing everything following an attack by Boko Haram, residents of Ngarannam, a small community in Northeast Nigeria, now have a chance to rebuild their homes and lives and live up to the full potential of their aspirations beyond life in displacement camps. A return to Ngarannam signifies hope for many who are displaced by circumstances beyond their control.
UNDP - alongside support from the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Borno State Government, the European Union, Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom - set out to tackle the problem of displacement and conflict by taking an unprecedented approach to address the challenge - they want to rebuild the entire town of Ngarannam from the rubbles left behind following the attack by the insurgents.
The story has culminated into the production of both an emotionally moving documentary and an immersive virtual reality film set to help viewers experience life in a camp for people who have been displaced and to watch the incredible transformation of their village.
“Borno has gone through a lot of internal and external turmoil over the last decade. The only way to prevent the next generation from joining the extremists is to make sure that many villages are stabilized, allowing people to return and use their agricultural lands, which will allow them to earn their living. That is why, I’m glad UNDP has joined hands with us in giving the next generation renewed hope, and by helping us to reach others to continue to support more work like this.” Remarked His Excellency Professor Babagana Zulum, the Executive Governor of Borno state, as he expressed gratitude for the general effects of the collaboration.
Mohamed Yahya, Resident Representative for UNDP Nigeria, shared. “Ngarannam offers us an opportunity to rethink our work and how we can leverage Nigerian talent and homegrown ideas to address the challenges of displacement and other development issues. Through this film, we are telling a powerful story of people who are normally not visible in a dignified manner. Ngarannam: The Homecoming is about people who are rising above their circumstances and willing to collectively be part of a journey that shifts the trajectory of their future - it is the unbeatable power of people when they are part of something that is meaningful.”
The architectural designs created by Nigerian architect Tosin Oshinowo includes 864 new homes, a school, a hospital, a police outpost to keep the village secure, and a marketplace to provide ways for the returning families to make a living. This is the first time a project of this scale will be tried in the African region.
Joel ‘Kachi Benson, whose work has been featured in major film festivals around the world is known as the first Nigerian director to use virtual reality technology for storytelling and sheds more light on it: “The bulk of my work is actually around documenting conflicts and what I am drawn to is the resilience and the strength of the people and not the tragedy, Ngarannam: The Homecoming is a story of hope, family and home.
“On the night we escaped I wondered if I would ever walk along the fields I played in as a child and if things would ever go back to the way they were. After living in a camp for almost a decade, I hope our story inspires others not to give up on their dreams of returning home someday.” shared Amina Modu, 19 years old, who is one of the main characters of the film.
Mr. Yahya further added, “We are grateful to the Borno State government and our partners for their unwavering support. Without the generosity of our donors, we would not have been able to undertake the rebuilding a community of this scale and significance in such a short time. The story of Ngarannam as depicted in the film gives people hope that they too can be part of solutions that prioritizes their needs and ambitions. - We now have a proof of concept that provides us with the blueprint to scale up and replicate the same work in other affected regions.”
Link to additional media here: Ngarannam: The Homecoming Media Assets
Note to Editors
About the Regional Stabilisation Facility:
The Regional Stabilization Facility (RSF) is a financing facility developed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with support from Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom (U.K.), the Netherlands and the European Union (E.U.), to facilitate the implementation of the Regional Strategy for the Stabilisation, Recovery & Resilience of the Boko Haram-affected Areas of the Lake Chad Basin (RSS) of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC). The RSS seeks to restore security and bring relief to communities affected by the Boko Haram insurgency in Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria.
The stabilization project window of operation is normally short with no guarantees, but the team successfully delivered a prototype village that becomes pivotal for scaleup and reference for future projects where addressing challenges of displacement can be addressed in a dignified manner with the community at the heart of the solutions.
On October 22, 2022, Ngarannam was launched. See the press release here for full details: The Government of Borno State and UNDP, with support of the EU and partners, reopen the Ngarannam Community in northeast Nigeria
Under the Regional Stabilisation Facility initiative, UNDP in Nigeria is currently supporting the rebuilding of six communities across Northeastern Nigeria in three (3) states - Borno, Adamawa and Yobe. Read more about the Regional Stabilisation facility here:
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the leading United Nations organisation fighting to end the injustices of poverty, inequality, and climate change. Working with a broad network of experts and partners in over 170 countries, UNDP helps nations to build integrated and lasting solutions for people and the planet. In Nigeria, UNDP provides technical and policy development support to the Federal Government of Nigeria and supports the implementation of interventions across various thematic areas to meet the medium to long-term national development priorities and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Learn more: https://www.undp.org/nigeria
About Joel ‘Kachi Benson
Joel ‘Kachi Benson’s work revolves primarily around social impact storytelling, and his documentaries have been featured at various festivals and venues including The Berlin Film Festival, Hot Docs, Cannes XR, The Phi Centre, and The British Film Institute. In 2018 he became the first Nigerian filmmaker to use Virtual Reality technology for storytelling, when he produced and directed In Bakassi, a virtual experience of life in one of the largest IDP Camps in Northeast Nigeria. In April 2019, ‘Kachi Benson produced and directed his second VR film, Daughters of Chibok, a ground-breaking virtual reality experience that takes viewers into the heart of one of the unsolved mysteries of Nigeria's war against insurgency. Daughters of Chibok, won the Venice Lion for Best Immersive Story at the 76th Venice Film Festival, making Benson the first African to win the award in that category. He is on the list of the NAM 2019 Top 100 Most Influential Africans, and the MIPAD 2021 Most Influential Persons of African Descent.
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Christabel Chanda - Ginsberg Ngele Ali
Public Engagement, Outreach & Partnership Lead, Regional Communications Advisor, Africa
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