Louis Theroux’s Law and Disorder in Lagos

It was to be expected that Louis Theroux’s Law and Disorder in Lagos would receive mixed reactions. There would be those loved it and those who loathed it. And surely, there were … in fact, the first responses I found on the web, in comments to a (culled and not attributed) commentary of Theroux on his experience published on Nigerian Films, were very angry. I’m not sure whether they were based upon an actual viewing of the show but they accused it of, once again after Welcome to Lagos, promoting a negative image of Nigeria, indeed Africa. Of course, they are raising the important issue here of who represents whom to whom. As one commentator on a page I can’t relocate anymore pointed out, all those European and North American documentaries about Africa are not accompanied by an anyhow comparable number of documentaries by African film makers about social problems in Europe and North America. (Although I’d challenge the same commentator’s claim that ‘the West’ was not producing films about its own social problems.) But these aside, most reviews were rather positive. There was nothing compared Soyinka’s vocal criticism of the BBC’s Welcome to Lagos series, or that by Dalhatu Tafida, Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the UK. Let me quickly point you towards one I really enjoyed reading, the one on Nigerians Talk. Personally, I enjoyed it, in so far as you can enjoy a documentary about what essentially amounts to exploitation and corruption. But that’s the thing with me, that’s already been the case with the Welcome to Lagos series: Where others criticize its representation of Lagos, indeed Nigeria, I pick up so many little things in the background that release pleasurable memories, make me kind of ‘home’ sick. The mix of languages in Welcome to Lagos’ visit to the slums, Louis Theroux’s bafflement at what he observed which so reminded me of my own, even the portrait paintings in MC’s house. So, admittedly, I’m biased approaching these films with a slightly different agenda. And, then, I also enjoy Theroux’s interview style.

So far, I haven’t quite found the whole documentary on Youtube but here are the first thirty minutes (with Finnish? subtitles). Check it out and make up your own mind.


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