The Film

We developed feature-length film for the study, which was produced in collaboration with iROKO Partners, the leading distributor of films from the Nigerian film industry (Nollywood). The film, Water of Gold, runs approximately two hours and stars well-known Nollywood actors. It tells the story of a poor fisherman named Natufe living in the Niger Delta, and of his rags-to-riches brother, Priye. The two are close until Priye leaves their village, eventually returning many years later as a rich businessman. Against his brother’s protests, Priye enters politics and begins to work with corrupt local politicians. The film depicts corruption harming Natufe and his neighbors’ livelihoods, including bad medical care, police harassment, and oil companies disrespecting environmental concerns. Natufe becomes outspoken against the corrupt system in which they live.

In the treatment version of the film, Natufe and a local activist set up a toll-free “shortcode” telephone number, and in six scenes totaling 17 minutes they encourage community members to use the short-code to report on corruption by text message. They explain that their activist group will use the text messages to write a public report. Subsequent treatment scenes separately depict men and women of varying social classes reporting corruption to the shortcode. These treatment scenes do not appear in the placebo film, which is otherwise identical. In both versions of the film, an information banner echoing the content of the mass text message appears on the screen four times: “See corruption? Let us hear from you! SMS 50500 to report corruption to Integrity Nigeria. Tell us your story. Text for FREE. Your number kept secret.”