‘Blood Rider’: Bikers Are the Real Heroes in the Nigerian Short Documentary
No Yahoo boys, no Boko Haram, no display of embezzlement, just pure heroism in the newly released Nigerian short documentary, Blood Rider. Excuse me while I shed a few tears of relief!
Unique in his approach, Director Jon Kasbe opts out of scripted storytelling and instead uses documentary-style rhetoric to pull from everyday people and their unfeigned stories. Released on YouTube in early June, the development of this highly cinematic doc began with Kasbe’s pursuit to uncover an often neglected occupation: A blood delivering motorcycle rider.
For thirty-plus days, Kasbe and his team (David Bolendp and Ben E. to name a few) travelled to Nigeria’s most populous city… why? Well… during a blood shortage catastrophe in Lagos, Nigeria, medical delivery aid substantially comes from individuals like our protagonist, Joseph. His antagonist is really just time, personified. Closed captions are used to inform us that blood-related medical transportations are often the difference between life and death for many patients. Traffic is alway heavy in Lagos, so time is more than of the essence.
The closed captions open the documentary but there is no audio to accompany the text. Honestly, for such fearless efforts, I felt no other choice but to appreciate this brief moment of silence. What’s even more interesting is that this strain of pressure seems to have a bipartite bearing on Joseph. At times, Joseph grazes the screen cool as a cucumber as he rides through the city of Lagos in his sleek attire. However, other times, Joseph can be seen slightly hiding his face from the camera as he vents to a loved one about regrets and past mistakes made at the forefront.
In the same month, Kasbe and his team followed the lives of 10 pregnant women, in hopes of capturing footage of a blood transfusion. A few of the women had successful births, others dealt with medical complications that simply did not require blood. However, one young lady in particular, while captivating in her Nubian essence, did indeed require a blood transfusion. Her name: Debra. I’m going to refer to her as Debbie, because upon awaiting her child’s birth she was full of poise and joy. Debbie’s life intertwines with that of Joseph’s when Debbie is rushed to have an emergency c-section. This is how the pair earned their debut as the two main characters.
A parallel narrative begins to unfold, and we are swiftly introduced to our second character, Debra. She and her husband are expecting a healthy baby boy. However, fast appearing complications leave Debra and her baby in harm’s way, until Joseph sets his motorcycle to turbo speed and saves the day…and in the most suave way. Let’s face it, not all heroes wear capes. Come to think of it, in a longer version of this documentary, I would love to witness an exploration that dives into the physical and mental grievance of these service workers.
As a Nigerian-American, I will gladly tip my hat to the entire team of curators! In a nutshell, Blood Rider is a present day, short anecdote that accurately and gorgeously depicts the hustle, ambition and readiness of Naijas (*Naijas: A pidgin-english/slang word for “Nigerians”). I #heart Joseph’s dire passion and ability to conquer a mission despite being one man, with minimal gear and a single bike. I also wonder what type of physical training is required? This profession is to be highly respected, plus it calls for a lot of running. Whew, cardio. My country’s people have inherited a resilience that spans from the border of the Niger river to Port Harcourt. At times, resources may be scarce but resourcefulness maintains. I’m glad to be reminded of this truth.
Blood Rider is now playing on YouTube now!