This is the time of the year when Hollywood studios typically dole out their most earnest and starriest dramas in the valiant hope of netting trophies come Oscar season. One good example is “Concussion” which centers on a Nigerian forensic pathologist and neuropathologist, Bennet Omalu, who inadvertently found himself in a war against the National Football League after discovering chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in football players who took countless blows to the head playing the sport. The significance of the movie to America is big in the sense that American football is the most popular sport in the country, and such a movie that paints the game in a bad light is bound to cause jitters in some quarters.
Omalu’s character is brought to life in the movie by Will Smith, who plays the entire movie using a Nigerian accent. It is safe to conclude that Hollywood has gallantly managed to create an accent for ‘Africans’ which they use whether the person is Liberian, Nigerian or Rwandan. In most cases, these films go on to win awards. Hail the African accent! Remember Forest Whitaker in Last King of Scotland, and Morgan Freeman in Invictus!
Dr. Omalu, in the course of his research, meets a lady who had recently migrated to the United States from Kenya. Prema Mutiso, a role played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, introduces herself to Dr. Omalu as a Registred Nurse who previously worked at the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi. Through Prema Mutiso, the world gets to see the true traits of a Kenyan woman-caring, visionary, confident, bold, romantic, independent, soft-spoken, and supportive. She offers unconditional support to her husband when he starts receiving threats from powerful individuals within the NFL.
It’s hard to watch “Concussion” and not feel infuriated about the systems of power that exploit bodies for profit and then have the gall to not take care of these people.