Layefa Malemi

Layefa star small
Day job:


23-year-old wannabe medical student Layefa Malemi wants "to live like an American" with "flashy cars and comfortable houses, drinking clean water and eating good food". But she lives in complete poverty in a tiny village in the Niger Delta, with no electricity, drinking water or toilets. About 20 people died in a recent cholera outbreak. She dreams of becoming a doctor to "save the lives of people who are poor or needy" and also "to become famous, to be like a hero". She starts going fishing every morning, saving up money for college fees, but the river is "not good" because of the pollution caused by the extraction of millions of dollars worth of oil from the area every month. With the whole region becoming "like living in hell", with violence, murder and kidnapping the daily reality, Layefa decides "if you can't beat them, it is best to join them".



"I’m not happy living this kind of life. At 23 I should be in a better place. I want our place to be like America. I want our people – at least me myself – to live that kind of life. It’s a beautiful life. If you were living that life you wouldn’t want to die. You’d want to stay on Earth forever.

"I think the death of my sister two years ago motivated me a lot to become a good medical doctor.
Not just a doctor – a good one."

"We can fight, not with guns, but with biros and with wisdom and understanding."


Have we walked into a trap?
The Protest



This is a short intro to Layefa from an early rough cut of the film.
The real thing will no doubt be very different, but this is the general idea.


Filming an interview with Layefa in her village