I’ve told this story before – in magazine interviews, on radio, and on social media – but given something I just saw, it bears repeating.
In the summer after I completed my first year at uni, I met this individual who figured out that I could write. They wormed their way into my life, with the sole intent of stealing my writing from me. They faked a friendship with me for years, during which they had access to my work.
I met them in England, after which they went to the New York Film Academy to study Producing and Directing. But nobody can produce or direct something that doesn’t exist. And they couldn’t write to save any life – they still can’t – hence their decision to steal mine.
After their stint at NYFA, they returned to Nigeria (I was still in the UK) and they tried to produce some of my work. Yes, without my knowledge or permission. But they kept running into serious financial difficulty. I wished them well, not realising what they were doing. But the more I wished them well (in their career), the worse things became for them and their family. I only know because they came clean – just before claiming they wrote half of my work, and demanding that I sign over the rights of the other half.
Yep, some folk are brazen like that.
They said that my family was nothing; that if I attempted to say the work was mine, nobody would believe me because “Nigerians are too stupid to recognise the truth”; and that they’d make money from my work, then use the money to fight me.
Did I mention that the work consisted of:
– the original manuscript for what eventually became “Forever There For You”
– a stage production script
– a movie script
– two television pilot scripts
which I’d been working on, looooong before I met the thief?
Let’s not get into all the things I did to help the thief career-wise, because I was deluded enough to believe, “This is my friend”.
After a while (by now, they thought they were home free), I called a friend, shaking. My friend didn’t really understand the implication, but was p*ssed that a thief had nerve to threaten me as well. I’ve never seen anyone chase another person with the ferocity that my friend used on this thief. I received a message from the thief (who was very shaken) with an undertaking that they would not to use my work in any way, shape or form.
Weirdly enough, this launched my career. My boss, at the time, told me, “Chioma, if someone was willing to fake a friendship with you for years, then jet off to Nigeria with your work, you need to take a second look at your writing; it’s not a hobby.”
The thief? Well, from what I hear, she is still struggling and failing to make it in Nollywood – nearly six years after returning from New York. Apparently, her hustle has been lengthy, unproductive and ardous as she continues to make home videos that either sink without a trace, or are panned by the few people who have seen them. Ah well – Karma can be anyone’s favourite female dog …
When I see someone try to steal intellectual property, I have to shake my head. Some people actually think that just because someone doesn’t say anything, it means they (the thieves) are clever or invincible.
All Rights Reserved, Chioma Nnani