The Niger Coup: A Hollywood Film Treatment

In case you were looking for a microcosm of the history of half the entire world dating back, say, the last few hundred years, there’s one example playing out right now in the news over in Africa, in the Republic of Niger.

And by the way, it’s pronounced Nee-ZHAYR, not the other way you were thinking.

As the story’s so far unfolded—on the surface another coup attempt in Africa’s Sahel region—you’ll find everything the happens within a destabilized country; you’ll find why that country’s been destabilized; you’ll see that the destabilizers still think the country is theirs; you’ll see all the opportunists who want to sleaze in and make the country a proxy for their own geopolitical aims. 

It’s got it all, man. You just sit back with your popcorn and Junior Mints or whatever and enjoy the show.

Which is ruthlessly horrible and full of flagrantly shameful and unchallenged autocratic treachery, by the way. 

Which, of course, you won’t like for just that reason.  And because it’s not part of the MCU.  Or directed by Christopher Nolan.  As such, it’s not unlikely that you’re going to find it incredibly boring.

So, while trying to prevent myself from vomiting into my mouth the entire time, I’m going to turn the whole thing into a movie for you, to make it a little more exciting.  Better yet, a movie treatment.  Easier to follow than a screenplay, right?  Right? Here goes:


By: some a—hole (this one)

Treatment, August 2023

OVERVIEW: “THE NIGER COUP BLAH BLAH” is a gritty, real-life dramaturgical essay on the centuries-long give-and-take between the haves and haven’ts, of Industry and its resources, of the Western God and the unclean and unsaved, and what happens while the colonizers squat on someone else’s land, and then when they pack up and scram, virtually overnight, and leave the country to clean up after so many years of partying and treating the place like an unregulated homeless shelter. Not to mention the gaslighting, abuse and internal and political atrophy that almost always takes place in the meanwhile.

Tonally, the film should be monotonous, boring and difficult to stomach, because it’s real life and not actually a f—ing movie. And if it were, I wouldn’t actually be writing this, so take that Christopher Nolan and that silly movie he wrote about the implanted dreams that apparently no one else got but me that all it was was just four stupid dreams wrapped in one.

CHARACTER SET-UP: We meet our main character, President Mohamed Bazoum, after he’s been deposed at gunpoint by a mutinous insurgency of his own presidential guard, and shuffled off to a house someplace along with his family, and is now being monitored 24/7 by a rotation of armed soldiers.

NIAMEY, NIGER.   I’ll spare you the details of him and his family sitting on their butts, sweating their own execution, which, if history is any indicator, they could be called out to stand for at any moment.  Needless to say, they’re sweating it. 

THE STORY: We open with a group of Niger military leaders sitting at a big table, General Abdourahamane Tchiani at the head.  Beside him, air force Col. Major Amadou Abdramane speaks into a microphone, cameras flashing around him, discussing how the country’s internal security had been for months going to sh–, how Muslim jihadist violence had been increasing, how the current administration is corrupt, how the coup d’état was justified and the inevitable blah blah blah of the whole thing.  Leaving out, of course, that the military had been even more corrupt prior to Bazoum’s election in 2021, and that the overwhelming likelihood that military corruption is the actual cause of the coup is, well, overwhelming.  And a likelihood. 

And as everyone stands to leave, cameras flashing, Gen. Tchiani turns to one of his conspirators and mutters, “Let us see who is forced into retirement now.”

Meanwhile, the United States is freaking out because they had a proxy hold in the presently-unstable region, and now their tenuous grip on establishing a sense of hegemony in, and their ability to pave the way for U.S. business interests to dig for and exploit the natural resources of, one of the major geopolitical regions of the world is slipping.  Right right, sorry—inside the war room or wherever, members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and top administration officials and advisers are sitting around the big board, screaming at one another, trying to figure out if they should send in troops, covert operatives or just sit back and see how the whole thing plays out.  Off to the side, barely audible over someone shouting, “What about our airbase? We’ve got a g–damn airbase over there!” is a little guy in thick glasses and suit that seems too big for him, trying to point out how the Russian Federation stands to benefit from all this.  But no one seems to hear him.

And from there we’re transported to the Kremlin, led by that guy who played Gollum in Lord of the Rings, all CGI’d up again as Gollum only now in a candy-ass monkey suit playing the role of President Vladimir Putin (to a tee, we might add—we’ve already run him through several screen tests).  Taking time out of his supervillainish war against the much smaller and formerly subjugated nation of Ukraine, there he is, at the 2nd Russia-Africa Summit in St. Petersburg, shaking hands with African leaders—many of whom had only sent representatives in their stead—and later lying in his keynote address about Russia’s shipping grain to certain regions where people are suffering the most, and saying again for the 9,276th time that everything wrong with the world is America’s and Europe’s fault.  As he departs, surrounded by a half dozen seriously menacing bodyguards, he mutters something about that c—sucker Prigozhin and how he still hasn’t relinquished control of his mercenaries in Africa’s richest mineral regions. And how a fatal plane crash may be a part of his foreseeable future.

From an aerial view of the Niger capital—the overrun, smoking French embassy in the foreground—we see a plane leaving an airport runway across town, inside which are a few hundred of the thousand European evacuees who want the hell out, not only because the country is going to pot, but because, for some reason, they’ve suddenly got these great big targets on their backs for being Europeans now. And they have no idea why.

BIRNI N’KONNI, NIGER, 1899. Through the eyes of a small, frightened African child, French forces are in the middle of slaughtering an entire Nigerien village. Women, kids, livestock—you name it. Nothing is spared, not even the child. Months before, the French government had launched three separate expeditions into west Africa, from the Congo, Algeria and Timbuktu, to link and secure all of France’s stolen territory and possessions and whatnot on the continent, and this particular mission, known as the Voulet-Chanoine, had gotten out of hand. Not long after, following the back-and-forth assassinations of several French officers, stability finally emerges, and the French Military Territory of Niger is gloriously established for France, with many flags a-waving and much fanfare a-blaring, with France of course “claiming” “ownership” of everything in and around what would later be the Republic of Niger, which fell inside the massive, glorious African colony of French West Africa. Which, of course, no currently-living Nigerien to this day ever forgot about.

PARIS, FRANCE.  Back in the present, as that plane of evacuees touches down at Charles de Gaulle airport and the people of Niger are still storming Niamey’s streets with Russian flags and signs that read “Go Smoke a Turd, French Colonialist Parasites” or whatever, president Emmanuel Macron is on the phone, sweating and screaming he’ll personally kill any f—ing Nigerien who tries to touch any of France’s stuff, even though France officially claims they’d returned everything they’d stolen back to Niger after the country had become a self-governing nation in 1960. 

On the other end of the line is the recently sworn-in chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Bola Tinubu of Nigeria, assuring the French president that ECOWAS is going to do everything it can to stop the Niger junta’s drive to power, even though some of the bloc’s member-states (Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso) are led by juntas who not only did the same thing, but are telling everyone who wants to halt the coup that it would be an act of war to do so and to “come to their senses”. Because, of course, the whole thing makes perfect sense to a g–damn warlord.

Meanwhile in Russia, the almost improbably evil-looking Yevgeny Prigozhin (no need to CGI that face, am I right?) is communicating via Telegram with one of his Wagner lieutenants. In between texts, he fields a call from the leader of the Central African Republic, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, who’s calling to make sure Prigozhin’s mercenaries will still be available to function as counterinsurgents should any form of mass, civil protest erupt against Touadéra’s tenuous regime. After assuring the president, and getting a return guarantee that his (Prigozhin’s) shell companies will still have free reign to continue to exploit the country’s gold and other resources, he hangs up, finishing his Telegram chat, wherein he reminds his officer first and foremost to protect his millions of rubles in assets in the region. Because (dun dun DUNNNNNNNN) that’s the only reason he set foot in that god-forsaken f—ing malaria-hole in the first place.

And speaking of malaria-holes, we head back over one last time to the Bazoum family, still sweating under house arrest, only now they’re running out of basic supplies.  And it seems to be completely intentional on the part of their captors.

And, finally, to really hook the audience, we cut to a mother of 11 at home in her village, making a meager meal in the kitchen for her children. Her life had been made somewhat easier by the large French contingent that had remained after independence, and now its departure, and the looming likelihood of sanctions on the country, not just by ECOWAS but by the U.S., is going to make her life, and millions more like it who had nothing to do with any of this, an abject misery.

That’s about it.  And the actual end of the story?  I guess you’ll have to wait another year for part 2 to hit theaters.  Assuming this first part generates enough cash at the box office, domestically and overseas, to justify a second part.  No guarantees, though. 

I mean, it is pretty boring.