The Price of a Dream Peers into the Past

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By Yinka Olatunbosun

A sad news ravaged the nation’s maritime industry on August 7, 2012. A seasoned seaman, Captain Romeo Itima was reported dead at Escravos, Delta State. The death was quite mysterious as the autopsy report showed that the deceased did not drown as there was no water in his lungs. Six years after, questions are raised to seek justice for the Late Captain. In this new thought-provoking documentary movie titled, The Price of a Dream, his life story is recaptured through a mish-mash of interviews with his colleagues, family and friends.

Directed by Alberto Solalinde, the documentary was created to crystallise the details of Itima’s contribution to the maritime industry in Nigeria. The movie opens with a funeral footage of Late Captain Itima, revealing the pall bearers, mourners and his sons as they paid their last respect to a man of integrity.

The voice-over narration is executed by Kevin Itima, son of the late captain who, incidentally, is the producer of the movie. He recounts how his father immigrated to the US at 24; taking some courses in maritime to hone his skills while there. He was a seaman, who loved the sea. When Captain Itima arrived at the US, he enrolled and passed the exams that qualified him as a licensed captain at the Gulf of Mexico. The narrator didn’t think his father would pass the exams without a college degree but he did.

In episodic editing, the story is told through his children and wife, Helen who is based in US. Helen recalls how her husband decided to return to Nigeria to form a company that can help reform the maritime sector. His son, Adrian who had taken a course in deep diving also joined the maritime security company called Global West Vessel Specialists Limited (GWVSL), which was formed in 2009. On the tragic day, Captain Itima bade his son Adrian farewell and discouraged him from following him to the sea. He was said to have been on a boat, chasing after a vessel that was suspected to be sneaking into the Nigeria’s waterways. It was a gun boat. Shots were fired. The captain and his crew retreated. Suddenly, the captain’s boat was caught in the rocks and with the violent waves, he was thrown overboard. Moments later, the news of his death spread.

There was no coroner’s inquest into the death of the Captain. None of the captain’s children or even his wife has a stake in the company. The lack of proper criminal investigation and prosecution of suspects formed part of the reasons why the movie is necessary for public view.

At the recent press screening of the movie, Kevin Itima stated the inspiration behind the delicate documentary.

“Romeo dared to dream about a better Nigeria and worked towards it even though it cost him his life,” he said. “Anybody can dream although the price of a dream sometimes is greater than what people are willing to pay. The documentary is produced not only to eulogise my father but also to encourage people that can dare to dream.’’

The one-hour long documentary movie is a delicate material, depositing debris from a murky history on our collective conscience.