3 Nigerian books adapted into films available on Netflix

This July 17, 2017, photo shows a Netflix logo on an iPhone in Philadelphia.
This July 17, 2017, photo shows a Netflix logo on an iPhone in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

In the ever-evolving world of filmmaking, the journey from page to screen has proven to be a treasure with many stories yet to be discovered.

In Ghana for instance the book “The Gods Are Not to Blame” by Ola Rotimi was recently adapted for a stage play which was widely patronised according to local media reports.

The story is no different in Nigeria, where literature has gained firm ground with its rich tapestry of narratives, it has provided fertile ground for filmmakers to explore and adapt, bringing these captivating tales to a wider audience.

From the riveting drama of Kola Akinlade’s “Owo Eje” to the cultural resonance of Akinwunmi Ishola’s “Saworoide,” Nigerian authors have woven intricate narratives that now leap from the pages of books to the screens of cinemas and living rooms worldwide.

Now, thanks to platforms like Netflix, these literary gems are more accessible. Here are three outstanding Nigerian novels and plays that have made successful transitions to the screen.

1. God’s Waiting Room

Written by Yewande Zaccheus as a four-part novel, the book explores her experience with infertility. It was then written for the screen by Tomi Adesina and titled The Wait with a cinematic release nationwide on April 30, 2021.

Directed by Fiyin Gambo and Yemi Morafa, the movie follows the story of two couples, waiting desperately for a baby and a devoted doctor who tries to help.

The Wait commenced streaming on Netflix in January 2023 and stars Nse Ikpe-EtimDeyemi OkanlawonIni Dima-Okojie, Kate HenshawJoke Silva, Chimezie ImoJimmy Odukoya and Meg Otanwa.

2. Swallow

Written by Sefi Atta, a Nigerian-American novelist in 2012, it tells the story of Tolani, a middle-class young woman introduced to drug smuggling in the bid to survive like everyone else in the corrupt city of Lagos. Swallow was adapted into a movie by Netflix in 2021 and was directed by award-winning filmmaker Kunle Afolayan.

The cast includes Niyola, Deyemi OkanlawonChioma Chukwuka Akpotha and Ijeoma Grace Agu.

3. Death and the King’s Horseman

Written by renowned playwright Wole Soyinka, based on a historical incident, the story follows Elesin, a Yoruba King’s horseman, who is prevented from committing ritual suicide by the British colonial authorities after the king dies.

In 2020, an adaptation was announced as one of EbonyLife’s projects with Netflix, retitled Elesin Oba: The King’s Horseman. Directed by the late Biyi Bandele, the movie features, Odunlade Adekola, Shaffy Bello, Deyemi Okanlawon, Omowunmi Dada, Jide Kosoko, Kevin Ushi and Brymo.