5 Nigerian Novels That Deserve Movie Adaptations

December 12, 2018

The teaser trailer for the 2D animated movie adaptation of Cyprian Ekwensi’s “The Passport Of Mallam Ilia” was recently released. After freaking out over how awesome it looks (SO GOOD, YOU GUYS!), I started thinking of other Nigerian novels that deserve a place on the big screen. I settled on these 5:

1. An African Night’s Entertainment

Written by Cyprian Ekwensi and released in 1962, this novel is set in Northern Nigeria and tells the story of a man named Abu Bakir. After having his betrothed, the beautiful Zainobe, stolen from him by a wealthy man named Mallam Sheru, Abu Bakir goes on a journey of vengeance.


Revenge, desire, and lost love are just some of the themes this novel explores, which, of course, means that it has the potential to become a kick-ass adventure/romance/tragedy movie with a bit of fantasy (magic) thrown in. It would be a period drama, so imagine all the beautiful costumes and set pieces!

2. Soza Boy: A Novel In Rotten English

Published in 1985 and written by Ken Saro Wiwa, Soza Boy tells the story of a young and naive military recruit during the civil war named Mene. Growing up in Dukana, a town in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, Mene sees joining the military as the ultimate status symbol. He thinks it will get him attention from the girl he likes, and the respect of everyone in his village. However, the horrifying realities of war quickly open Mene’s eyes and he realizes how wrong he was.


The novel can be a difficult read because it’s written in rotten English (a mixture of pidgin English, broken English, and idiomatic English) but in the right hands, would make a very compelling film.


3. The Secret Lives Of Baba Segi’s Wives

“For Baba Segi, his collection of wives and gaggle of children are a symbol of prosperity, success, and a validation of his manhood. All is well in this patriarchal home until Baba arrives with wife number four: a quiet, college-educated, young woman named Bolanle. Jealous and resentful of this interloper who is stealing their husband’s attention, Baba Segi’s three wives begin to plan her downfall. How dare she offer to teach them to read, they whisper. They vow to teach her a lesson instead. What they don’t know is that Bolanle hides a terrible secret – a secret that unwittingly exposes the deception and lies upon Baba Segi’s household rests.” 

– bookbrowse.com


Written by Lola Shoneyin and published in 2010, this novel offers an entertaining look into modern-day polygamous households, detailing the dynamics, struggles, intricate family politics, and conflicting personalities of the different characters. If that doesn’t scream comedy/drama gold, I don’t know what does.


4. Sugar Girl

Sugar Girl is about a little girl named Ralia who goes missing from home under mysterious circumstances (she gets carried away by a giant bird while on her way to the farm). After this, she proceeds to experience so much weird shit that Alice and Dorothy’s adventures in Wonderland and Oz respectively look like child’s play in comparison. She’s held captive by an evil witch, meets a creepy hunter, and even goes blind at one point (because every Nigerian children’s novel from the late 20th century was specially designed to damage their psyches).


Someone needs to make this into a fantasy movie and give that godawful Alice In Wonderland movie from 2010 a run for its money.

5. Purple Hibiscus

“Fifteen-year-old Kambili’s world is circumscribed by the high walls and frangipani trees of her family compound. Her wealthy Catholic father, under whose shadow Kambili lives, while generous and politically active in the community, is repressive and fanatically religious at home.

When Nigeria begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili’s father sends her and her brother away to stay with their aunt, a University professor, whose house is noisy and full of laughter. There, Kambili and her brother discover a life and love beyond the confines of their father’s authority.”

– chimamanda.com


Purple Hibiscus explores a unique mixture of themes (religion, domestic violence, nature etc) and would make a very solid coming of age drama if done right.

BONUS: The Trial Of Jimmy Johnson

Jimmy Johnson is a twenty-something-year-old guy who has just returned from America after schooling there. It’s clear, right from the get-go, that he is a less than reputable character because like 50% of his luggage (which he has a LOT of) is full of guns and drugs. Airport security catches him the moment he steps of the plane but he bribes his way out of trouble with thousands of dollars (IN CASH) and expensive fabrics. He goes to a hotel and spends the night with a prostitute he picks up at the bar. The next day, on his way to his parents’ house, he gets stopped at a police checkpoint comprised of incorruptible police officers who insist on searching his luggage. After they find all his contraband, Jimmy is detained, taken to court, and sentenced to death in a trial so short it’ll make your head spin.


The Trial Of Jimmy Johnson plays out like a 71-page long comedy skit. It was probably supposed to be a cautionary tale for children about the dangers of joining bad gangs or whatever, but the message gets lost in the hilarity of the batshit crazy series of events. Someone needs to buy the movie rights from the author, Sly Edaghese because this has mad dark comedy potential.



What other novels do you think deserve movie adaptations? Let us know in the comments.

Astor George

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

October 25, 2019

Zlatan — “Gbeku” ft. Burna Boy At the end of last year, Burna Boy and Zlatan teamed up for the astonishing “Killin Dem”, which deservedly won ‘Best Collaboration’ at this year’s Headies. Now, they are back with another banger, “Gbeku”. Produced by 2019’s most efficient hitmaker, Rexxie, “Gbeku” is a worthy follow-up to “Killin Dem”. On […]


Now on Zikoko

October 30, 2020

Yesterday, a series of videos surfaced online of how lawmakers in the Lagos State House of Assembly tore into Nigerian youths. From claims ranging from the fact that many Nigerian youths are into “hard drugs”, to claims of how “social media influencers” over-exaggerated the #LekkiMassacre, the lawmakers poured out their hearts at the legislative sitting […]

October 30, 2020

Polyamory has been explained as consensual, ethical non-monogamy. 6 Nigerian women tell us what it is like dating while polyamorous. Janet, 25 Men will swear that they understand what polyamory is until you turn down every single threesome they propose. I may like intimate relationships with multiple people, but I cannot sleep with more than […]

Recommended Quizzes

November 7, 2019

These days, everyone is always talking about how much sex they’re getting, or how little sex they’re getting, or how disgusting sex is etc. There’s just so much talk about sex, it’s almost impossible to know who’s lying and who’s telling the truth. In anticipation of our new series about the sex lives of young […]

February 26, 2020

Are you all set for marriage, or are you still figuring it out? Well, if you’re curious to know the answer, then this is the quiz for you. All you have to do is create your own ideal Nollywood wedding film, and we’ll tell you if you’re ready to say “I do”. Go ahead:

More from Pop

October 28, 2020

I never liked Vampire movies and series. They were always very cringy to me because why are the characters so white? And why do people drink blood? And why is the government not doing anything about it? So, so many questions. But I know that a lot of people watch them, so I’ve decided to […]

October 14, 2020

For the past seven days Nigeria has had it’s biggest national scale protest since 1993.  The #EndSARS protest is a peaceful but powerful movement against police brutality in Nigeria, both generally, and specifically by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigerian Police. In these marches, music is an important tool to keep the people going. This […]

October 7, 2020

Here’s a statement that you can’t disagree to: Nollywood movies are getting better every year. The growth in the quality of production, storytelling and general execution is noteworthy and must be celebrated. On Ranked today, I’ll go back to 2019, the gift that keeps giving, and rate some of the best movies released that year. […]

October 6, 2020

Picture this: It’s a Nollywood movie. There’s a rich man with a big house. One wife, one maid and family problems. He has a gateman. The gateman is… well you already know: funny, foolish, all the works. Here’s a list of all the stereotypes of Nollywood gatemen. 1. Unnecessary foolishness We get that the gatemen […]

October 3, 2020

When EbonyLife released the trailer for Oloture a few weeks ago, we were on the edge of our seats. The thriller about a young and naive investigative journalist who goes undercover as a Lagos prostitute to expose human traffickers premiered on Netflix on Friday, 2nd October 2020, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. There’s one thing […]


Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.
February 6, 2020
Who doesn't want to find love? In our bid to help, we paired up a bunch of single Nigerians, sending them on an all-expense paid date, and interviewing them before and after they met.
January 27, 2020
Nigerians Talk is what happened when a motley crew of young Nigerians were put in front of a camera and asked a bunch of apparently random questions about life, love, money and more.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.