7 Books By Nigerian Authors That Should Definitely Be Made Into Movies

In the past five years, we’ve only had two notable movies adapted from books by Nigerian authors: Cary Fukunaga’s Beasts of No Nation, adapted from Uzodinma Iweala’s debut novel of the same name; and Biyi Bandele’s Half of a Yellow Sun, adapted from Chimamanda's second novel of the same name.

John Boyega and Chiwetel Ejiofor in 'Half Of A Yellow Sun' (Photo: Shareman Media)


While more Nigerian authors are celebrating their books getting picked up to be adapted for the big and small screen — from Tomi Adeyemi's Fox 2000 deal to Nnnedi Okorafor's HBO deal — it’s not happening as fast or as much as we’d like.

So, from Chinelo Okparanta's lesbian drama, Under the Udala Tree, to Lola Shoneyin's compulsively entertaining character study, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives, we've picked seven books by Nigerian authors that need to be adapted for the big screen.

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

While Half of a Yellow Sun has already been adapted for the big screen and Americanah is set to be made into a miniseries, it’s a little shocking that we haven’t heard rumblings of an adaptation of Chimamanda’s best book till date, Purple Hibiscus.


Set in post-colonial Nigeria and centred around a precocious 15-year-old girl, Kambili Achike, as she struggles to assert her autonomy in a patriarchal culture, Purple Hibiscus is the stuff great coming-of-age movies are made of.

(Photo: Wamboi Kay)

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

With her novel, Who Fears Death, set to be turned into a George R.R. Martin-produced HBO series, it’s only a matter of time before Nnedi Okorafor’s beloved novel, Akata Witch, becomes a young adult movie that deservedly spurns a franchise.


Following Sunny, a 12-year-old girl with albinism who discovers she has magical powers, an Akata Witch movie adaptation honestly feels like a no-brainer. Plus it could finally fill the massive void the Harry Potter film franchise left seven years ago.

(Photo: Penguin Teen)

Under the Udala Tree by Chinelo Okparanta

The best movies of 2016 and 2017 were adaptations centred around LGBT leads: Barry Jenkin’s Oscar-winning Moonlight and Luca Guadiningo’s Oscar-nominated Call Me By Your Name. Well, we think an adaptation of Chinelo Okparanta’s debut novel could be just as powerful.


Following a young Igbo girl’s sexual awakening during the height of the Biafra civil war, Under the Udala Tree could birth the kind of movie that, if thoughtfully handled, changes a lot of lives and (closed) minds.

(Photo: Patabah Books)

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin

One of the most enjoyable and thoughtful books on this list, it only makes sense that Lola Shoneyin’s acclaimed debut novel, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, makes for an equally enjoyable and thoughtful movie.

As the title implies, the book follows the inner lives of four Nigerian women in a polygamous marriage. It would make for the rare character study that actually revolves around four complex, impeccably written women.

(Photo: Ladie Bee) 

The Famished Road by Ben Okri

Ben Okri's acclaimed 1991 novel, The Famished Road, famously inspired one of Grammy-winning rock band, Radiohead's most popular songs, "Street Spirit (Fade Out)". It's about time the book inspired an equally iconic movie as well. 

Set in an unnamed Nigerian city, the story follows Azaro, a spirit child who is constantly harassed by his sibling spirits from another world, who want him to leave this mortal life and return to the world of spirits. It would make for a really trippy, cerebral movie.

(Photo: Emma Young Writes)

Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo

It's not hard to see why Ayobami Adebayo's debut novel, Stay With Me, scored her the honour of becoming the fourth African woman to be nominated for the Bailey Women's Prize for Fiction — an award Chimamanda won in 2007 for Half of a Yellow Sun.

The ridiculously entertaining novel is practically begging to be made into a campy drama. It follows a woman's increasingly desperate attempts to get pregnant — at a point, she breastfeeds a goat — and the resulting cost of her actions.

(Photo: Srishti and Yomna)

Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe

While Things Fall Apart is Chinua Achebe's most beloved novel, we think his third novel, Arrow of God, might actually be his best. A movie adaptation of the book would make for a refreshing change of pace from the period pieces that focus on white people.

The book follows Ezeulu, the chief priest of several Igbo villages in colonial Nigeria, who confronts colonial powers and Christian missionaries in the 1920s. The whole thing is solid enough to make a really gripping, award-worthy drama.

(Photo: Literary Yard)

By Daniel Orubo, published on 30/01/2018


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