View Full Version : Onyeka Nwelue on copious similarities between his book and ‘The Mirror Boy’ movie

12th September 2011, 12:38 AM
Nigerian film maker, Obi Emelonye has come under public scrutiny for his award-winning film, ‘The Mirror Boy’ which contains several striking similarities with the 2009 bestseller, ‘The Abyssinian Boy’ written by Onyeka Nwelue. Was it sheer coincidence or a matter of plagiarism as Emelonye admitted to Onyeka in an encounter that he had come across Onyeka’s book but didn’t read it?

‘The Abyssinian Boy’ is the simple story of a 9 year-old David, who, on his trip from India to Nigeria with his parents, travels in dreams with an albino dwarf, Nfanfa who keeps appearing only to him. ‘The Mirror Boy’ tells the story of Tijan, a London born teenage African boy who is taken by his mother, Teema to visit Gambia for the first time. At a crowded street market called Serekunda, he suddenly becomes separated from his mother and soon finds himself lost in the African wilderness. Bewildered and confused, he must find his way back. But to that, he must confront his deepest fears and embark on a journey of self-discovery, led by the enigmatic Mirror Boy; where the lines between reality and fantasy, physical and spiritual become forever blurred.

Onyeka Nwelue comments: “At the end of last year, I was having a meeting with comedian, Okey Bakassi in Lagos and he came across the synopsis of my book and said, ‘Ah, my friend’s film is just like this.’ He asked me to contact his friend and I did. Obi made me understand that he’s heard of my book, but that he hasn’t read the book. And that he was in India then for his brother’s surgery and so he would get back to me later when he was settled.”
He continues: “Obi was at AMAA in Bayelsa too and then during the premiere of Mirror Boy in Lagos. I saw the film and I hurriedly walked out of the hall when I realized I could tell what would happen in the next scene. It was revealing to me that the heart of the story was taken off from my book. Yes, the similarities don’t end there. Osita Iheme is completely modeled on Nfanfa, the dwarf in my book and they are supposed to be mischievous. I am not saying I am the harbinger of the most creative ideas about spirituality and mysticism, I actually built that story.”


The young writer and growing Nigerian youth ambassador, said he expects people to read the book, see the movie and find the truth for themselves. Onyeka believes that the incident doesn’t represent a lack of creativity in the Nigerian movie industry but a simple case cleverly abusing the lack of protection for intellectual property across Africa.
He adds, “Obi Emelonye hasn’t denied that knowledge of my book, but rather he has denied reading it; which I think is very interesting. There are so many stories with children and dwarfs. There are many stories like that. But my fear is that Danish filmmaker, Lasse Lau has a script that he’s going to shoot and it is the same way the adaptation has taken shape. The fear is that when people see ‘The Abyssinian Boy’ film, they would totally assume it is a remake of ‘ The Mirror Boy’.”
Onyeka Nwelue was born in Nigeria and left for India when he was 18, where he wrote his first novel in 3 months. Three months after the release of the book by DADA Books, Lagos, Danish filmmaker, Lasse Lau indicated interest to buy the film rights, to be produced by KRAN Film, Belgium. The Abyssinian Boy won the TM ALUKO Prize for First Book of Fiction, IBRAHIM TAHIR Prize for Fiction at the 2009 Abuja Writers’ Forum Literary Festival, nominated for the Creative Artist of the Year at the Future Awards 2010 and is being studied at universities and colleges across Nigeria, India and Hong Kong.

Emelonye, has been described as one of the new generation of Nigerian film directors taking the magic of Nollywood to the wider world. He was at the final stages of being enrolled as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales when he abandoned legal practice to pursue his first love: film. Emelonye’s debut, The Mirror Boy has grossed over N15million at Nigerian cinemas and is being published as a novel.

Fashion Yaa
22nd September 2011, 09:03 AM
Omg this makes one want to slit wrists.....oh helll naw!!! This is truely fucked up. ONYEKA should sue the hell outta Obi .... bur then again its a cautionary tale to writers in Africa not to sell the rights of their books to western producers cuz their own people are capable of producing quality films as well. Ive not seen mb but its heartbreaking cuz I know A listers are in it coupled with this Obi being a former solicitor in UK oh hellllll naw he plagirized

Pope Bitterz D'Alomo
22nd September 2011, 01:44 PM
I'm checking out both movies today for the weekend. I have to see what this is all about.

Fashion Yaa
22nd September 2011, 03:00 PM
I'm checking out both movies today for the weekend. I have to see what this is all about.i tried to find the book THE ABYSSINIAN BOY but hmmm if u have luck let me know...fyi the dutch/belgium producer who owns film rights to Onyeka's ABoy has not even gone into prodiction in Hollywood or Europe and Onyeka is scared ppl will think he rather copied mirror boy when the truth is in reverse its just this cheap nollywood which have no controls on intelectual property that has allowed for Obi's MBoy to be praised as a acclaimed flick

All around bad news and the funny part of the article is that the movie MBoy is set to be turned into a book this is like 419GONE WILD

Fashion Yaa
22nd September 2011, 03:22 PM
THE ICARUS GIRL by Helen Oyeyemi coinsidently it is rather this UK based writers book which is similar to Mirror Boy except the leads are a girl and a girl ghost......back in 2006 i remember buying The Icarus Girl at an airport but I never read it cuz i was forced to gift it to a cousin of mine who i felt would enjoy a book featuring a girl her age and if i remember Helen Oyeyemi was 18 years old when she wrote it in London............hehehe Onyeka Nwelue was 20 when he wrote the Abyssinian Boy while schooling in India
..Obi the director of Mirror Boy is a former solicitor nearing judge in the UK.....okay all i wanna know is what year did Onyeka publish Abyssinian Boy if it turns out to be after 2001 the i will say he took advantage of India's loose copyright laws .....and as for Obi hmmmm well maybe he is connected to Helen since both are based in UK

395400published 2006

396397published 2009

398399released 2011 writerProducerDirectorFormerSolicitor Obi Emonlonye