Against the backdrop of concerns on the outright ban and state-sponsored surveillance of digital platforms and telecommunications service providers in Africa, Paradigm Initiative’s short film FOCUS tells a story of civil rights, liberty and justice in the digital ecosystem.
Directed by Award-winning Nigerian poet Tolu Ajayi, FOCUS spotlights the fundamental challenges of digital rights in Africa and urges the government and stakeholders to initiate, and enforce laws that support every citizen’s digital rights and internet freedoms in Africa.
Speaking on the need for digital rights, the Director of the short film, Tolu Ajayi stated,
“This is a story of the Judas’ kiss and the smeared lips. It is a short narrative of digital foul play; an utmost betrayal of popular trust and constitutional rights to protect basic human interests online. We took a cue from the series of state-ordered activities that have hindered social and political will, justice and expression offline and online. It is a tale of mass struggle flying in the face of digital oppression.”
This is coming on the heels of various agitations by civil societies, and events fueled by non-existent laws that have pronounced the urgent need for the promulgation of legislative frameworks that guarantee the digital right, data protection and privacy of individuals and corporate citizens.
Based on true events as curated from people’s experiences, the movie documents the series of youth-led civil agitations, protests for absolute online freedom and violation of rights such as; enacting repressive laws, Police brutality, illegal arrest and killings of bloggers and citizens, Internet disruptions, and illegal surveillance.
Commenting on the purpose of the short film, the Communications Officer, Paradigm Initiative, Valery Njiaba, said,
“What we are doing with FOCUS is simple. We are using storytelling to engage our African communities on complex social issues, in a way that instils a sense of urgency and help everyone make sense of the different complexities that constitute the issues we are tackling.
“Beyond historical data and evidence-based statistics, we frame them into a story perspective, spotlighting the current realities and what various stakeholders—the state and the citizens should do for a progressive state.”
FOCUS advocates for respect for digital rights, and legal frameworks that promote individuals’ online privacy and data protection. It clamps down on the threat posed by a full-on surveillance state and calls for legislation that forbids data intrusion.
FOCUS is a co-production of Paradigm Initiative and Up In The Sky Films with backing from The Kingdom of Netherlands, United States Department of States and Open Society Initiative for West Africa.
Paradigm Initiative is a Nigeria-based pan-African social enterprise. Since its establishment in 2017, Paradigm Initiative has been working to advance digital rights and inclusion in Africa and empower youths with life-changing digital, life and business skills.