Giant in the Sun - Colonial Film Unit (CFU) Clips at Website of the British Film Institute

I have been flicking through Brian Larkin’s Signal and Noise again. And then I went online and found that some films by the Colonial Film Unit are available online via the British Film Institute. Watch Giant in the Sun, a ‘study of Northern Nigeria as it prepares for self-government’:

The commentator introduces Africa as the 'continent of the future' before he outlines, through a map, the different regions of Nigeria. First, the film highlights the continuing traditions of Northern Nigeria. Men travel on camels, while at the market a snake charmer performs while women cook food. 'Old native hand industries are very much in evidence', most notably in the production of jewellery and glass. At the industries in Bida, the commentator explains how the region's government is 'reconciling' modern production methods with traditional skills. In particular, the film shows the training centres established by the government, for example at Abuja, where preference is given to 'traditional native potters'.

Further traditional industries are represented by the dye pits of Kano, and weaving. This is followed by footage of a big new textile plant 'established by the Northern region development corporation together with a famous British firm'. The commentator notes that 'the workers are nearly all Nigerian', and this is also the case at the canvas and rubber shoe factory in Kano, which uses 'homegrown rubber from Western Nigeria'. Next the film shows the manufacture of tinned food and bottles, highlighting how 'mechanised industry is more and more becoming a part of modern industrialised Nigeria'. Sweets and cosmetics are also produced, yet nuts remain the single biggest industry. After further shots of industrial production, the commentator emphasises the continuing importance of agriculture, through shots of the Fulani tribe.

The film next highlights the efforts of the government in controlling disease and in improving health care. An African doctor administers medicine while a local nurse looks after a baby. This leads to a section on education, showing the efforts made for both Muslim and Christian children. Scenes from a higher education college follow, followed by footage of 'mock meetings' conducted by the Institute of Administration in order to train members of district and village councils. It attempts here to explain how government works, showing the district council in operation. This is followed by scenes of dancing, music and sport. It concludes with a 'Sallah' - a traditional festival and celebration - and a regatta. Finally, a compilation of scenes reinforces the film's messages. 'The foundations have been well laid by other older hands. The people of Northern Nigeria face the future with confidence, knowing that with the natural resources of the land and by their own efforts they can justify the proud title of Giant in the Sun'.

Find it here (sorry, there doesn’t seem to be any means of embedding the clip) and more films can be found here.

Its propaganda, of course, and should be watched as such but can anybody identify in more detail these images (posters? wall hangings? printed cloth?) at the walls of the glass workshop in Bida?


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