Tina Mba, Gregory Ojefua, Lucy Ameh, Halimat Olarewaju, Tunde Azeez, Blessing Samuel
Ese is a reclusive 8 year old girl living in Bariga Sugar - a ghetto brothel in Bariga, Lagos. Her mother Tina is one of Bariga Sugar's working women. 10 year old Jamil and his mother Hanatu move into the brothel, Ese and Jamil begin an unlikely friendship
Ifeoma Nkiruka Chukwuogo
Ifeoma Nkiruka Chukwuogo and Ikenna Edmund Okah.
Bariga Sugar is a lovely story about relationships. Not the kind that you think of when you hear the word ‘relationships’ but it’s the most simple kind.
Bariga Sugar is Madam Sugar’s version of a brothel staged in a face-me-I-face-you residential area in which each room is occupied by one of her ‘girls’. Being raised in this brothel is the young Ese whose mother has a ‘a lot of friends’ but she has none until Jamil and his mom move in opposite them.
The writer wins here in very simple ways that the unassuming eyes might not notice but yet can still appreciate because the feeling is there. Jamil and Ese are two different people but yet the same.
Jamil has exposure. He has seen a world outside Bariga Sugar. He knows how to read. He has dreams of becoming a doctor. Ese’s world is Bariga Sugar. Madam Sugar is her idea of a supreme queen. She thinks she can read but she only discovers that she’s actually limited when Jamil asks her too. It’s a theme that’s strong in their relationship. It shows up in the reading, it shows up in their trip to the ant-hill, it shows up in his thinking when juxtaposed against hers. She is unaware that she is limited. She is limited because the only world she knows is Bariga Sugar but Jamil is her brief exposure to the outside world and a world of more.
At the end of their relationship, she has grown and you see this when she says that “when she grows up she will build a big house and her mother will be in it and Jamila’s mum too”.
The charm of this is that all of this is laced with innocence. This otherwise filthy world, amidst is filth has an innocent and pure relationship blossoming. A relationship that leads to growth, growth that can’t be stagnated by the environment.
Bariga Sugar is a quick watch. It’s simple. It’s easy but it’s loaded! Don’t miss the loaded part.