Monthly Archives: April 2012
Script: Aremu Afolayan
Director: Aremu Afolayan
Cast: Saheed Balogun, Eniola Olaniyan, Olumide Bakare, Sunkanmi Omobolanle, Aremu Afolayan.
Reviewer: Ayodele Olofintuade
The Score is an action film.
The movie is about drug cartels and focuses on the story of two drug lords Mustapha (Aremu Folayan) and Kamoru(Saheed Balogun) and their long running battle for supremacy.
Mustapha is an American(?) returnee who runs a drug cartel but is always stepping on the toes of a rival drug lord, Kamoru. Part of Kamoru’s cartel were two brothers. One of them made a deal with the police to become an undercover agent in order to shorten his prison sentence, he exposed Mustapha’s deals to the police which led to the death of some members of Mustapha’s gang. His younger brother confronted him about being a snitch and it led to a break in their relationship.
Although it is an action movie the story of an actor who seems not to be able to keep his hands off women was also woven into the movie.
The Cinematography was really good, there were many shots that went a long way in making the story bearable. There was no blurring that distracted the eyes.
The screenwriter must be commended because the story was well tied together, leaving no dangling threads. However I cannot say the same of the director, there were too many loopholes.
There was too much shouting, too many people pointing guns at one another unnecessarily and awful sex scenes. Watching some of the actors kissing was a painful process, they left you wondering if it will be wise to kiss anybody because you’ll be afraid that the person might just suck your face off. The close shots of the ‘kissees’ did not help matters in the least.
Saheed Balogun was terrific in his role as the rival drug lord, making such a smooth transition whenever he switched languages that you wish he will just keep on talking and everybody else should simply disappear. One moment he is speaking impeccable English the next he is speaking beautiful criminal Yoruba.
Veteran actor, Olumide Bakare also performed very well in his role as a ‘Sinator’ of the federal republic. He delivered his part flawlessly in spite of the fact that he did not appear in too many scenes.
In a bid to sound Italian (or is it American ?) Aremu Afolayan ended up sounding like a Yoruba man forced to speak like a Hausa man. He totally mangled every scene he appeared in. I flinched each time he appeared in a scene.
It was not only him most of the actors behaved like they were in a badly produced gangster Hollywood film. Which actually it was except it was a Nollywood production. There were too many shots of too many people swaggering aimlessly up and down a street.
All the characters were flat. No reason was given for why they are where they are presently in their lives. In this day of well rounded characters, it was a total disappointment.
One other thing that bothered me about the movie is the way major characters disappear in the course of the movie. The first person to go was Sunkanmi Omobolanle, who played the part of Sean, Mustapha’s brother. After about three scenes the guy silently disappeared and you start wondering what happened to him. Not long afterwards the undercover policeman (played by Eniola Olaniyan) disappeared without any explanations.
In the true Nollywoodian spirit about three major characters appeared towards the end of the movie and you’re not sure exactly what the point of bringing them in was because they spoke a couple of lines and the film ended. I guess it’s a new ‘major movie star waka pass’ thing.
I must be frank that this film has a lot of potentials but did not fulfil any single one. With so many good actors that featured in the movie, a little tweaking here and there would have made it a blockbuster.
Now to the things I learnt from this movie
- It is not everybody that can act
- I am not allowed to groan out loud too many times while in a cinema except I want to be thrown out
The painting is actually an original by an old and late hand in the industry, Wassily Kandisky (1866- 1944). It consists of three rows and four columns of concentric circles beautifully done in a watercolour wash and pencil with a dimension of 28.3 by 31.5cm. It is aptly titled ‘Colour Study: Square and Concentric Circles’ 1913. The glass frame is almost two inches thick and makes the painting weighs about ten times its original lean weight. I had got my hands on it on one of my solicitous visits to Ibanga’s gallery in the Garden City of Port-Harcourt. Although I live in Lagos, Port-Harcourt is my second home because I had schooled there and had made a considerable amount of friends that would warrant me to still go back and check on from time to time. One of these friends is Ibanga. Ibanga is a painter as well as a collector of art.
Ibanga’s generosity was induced by my awe at the simplicity of the painting; that someone can actually do a study on circles and square; make a big show out of it and take time just to paint circles. Circles done and painted in watercolours in a manner a toddler would normally in art class. I had told him that the painting was too simple. He had replied that it was an abstract painting.
“What could be abstract about circles?” I had asked with an ‘I bet you don’t know’ look and a ‘got you this time cockiness in my stance.’
He had smiled back in reply. I have always wanted to impress this enigmatic friend of mine ever since we were introduced to each other. I want him to consider me worthy of his friendship for two obvious reasons. He is older than me by at least ten years and a master in what he does while I am a novice. I think I fall short of being called his friend, so I try to make an impression on him every time we are alone together. The best way to do that is by picking unnecessary arguments with him and nit-picking at every tiny detail in his works or collection of arts. And so I became an arm-chair critic of his works even though I know that he is a natural and am just a green-horn in art.
I had met Ibanga at his solo exhibition some two years back in Port-Harcourt. He had given four invitations to a bookshop I usually frequent and the owner of the bookshop, Mercy; a good friend of Ibanga gave me one invitation. Mercy and I had attended the exhibition together and she had introduced me to Ibanga. Ibanga is by far one of the best indigenous artists I have ever seen; both in character and in his works. He prides himself in the fact that he didn’t go to school to study art. He would tell anyone who cared to listen that his illiterate late grandfather taught him how to paint. He is a medical doctor by profession but his veins flow with the pure blood of a natural impressionist. He later told me that he had failed his final medical exams twice before finally making it the third time; only after he had taken a forced one-year break from medicine to take his final art exam with his dying grandfather. That art exam was more important to him, he had confided in me.
During the last years of his late tutor, Ibanga had learnt all he needed to know in art to convince himself that his hands were made to touch paints. Apart from his own works which totalled an impressive amount, he has in his collection an amount of artworks and paintings from renowned masters. Some of these paintings like ‘Colour Study: Squares and Concentric Circles’ are actually original prints. He refuses to tell me how he got his hands on them.
“It is because of its simplicity.” I remembered him telling me after he had finished smiling at me. “You can make anything out of it. That is why it is abstract. You find it simple because you think you can ascribe no serious meanings to it. Think of it like this. What could be going on in the mind of an artist when he painted this about ninety-five year ago? Do you think the same thing is going on now in your mind when you look at the painting?”
He had then showed me another painting. This one was made by him and it consisted only of a bunch of metallic keys with a very bright background.
“This titled ‘Keys to Manhood.’ one of my first paintings. To you, it is just a bunch of keys that anybody can paint. It is really. But look at it closely and count the number of keys.”
I did. They were three.
He continued his lecture. “When my father died, I became a man. I took stock of the few things I had in my life as a man. I had a job, a flat and a car. I represented these things with keys in this simple painting. “The bright background represents a bright future when a man has these keys. Yes the painting is simple. I couldn’t agree more. But what was going on in my mind then was anything but simplicity. I was scared. I had lost the closest person to me in life and in panic had asked myself if I could go on without him. You know I lost my parents at a very tender age and my grandfather had raised me. I was devastated when he died. But I had a job in what he taught me, I had a roof over my head which he willed to me and his car, which though he didn’t will to me, I took by right. With a firm resolve to forget him and move on and still remember him by what I had inherited from him, I painted ‘Keys to Manhood.’”
I understood then that his grandfather had given him all he needed to go on in life and achieve whatever it is he wanted to achieve. He was well equipped to face the future alone.
He had then told me I could have the ‘Colour Study: Squares and Concentric Circles.’ He asked for only one simple thing in return for the original painting. He set me the task of figuring out what was going on in the mind Wassily Kandisky at that time that he painted his circles. I had replied that it was not too much to ask for in return for an original painting. I had never owned a painting before, there was nearly nothing I wouldn’t have done to own this and this was another opportunity for me to prove my worthiness to him. We laughed over some bottles of beer and I had been just sober enough to take home my priceless ninety-five year old painting in one piece. It is the oldest thing I have ever owned.
I checked the glass for the hundredth time in my bus seat headed for Lagos, petrified of breaking it. As far as am concerned, the glass frame is an original too and changing it would somehow diminish the original thoughts of Kandinsky. A journey on our roads can be likened to mountaineering. The only difference is that while mountaineering can be defined with time, travelling on our roads cannot. With the pathetic state of the roads and the unreliability of the transport system, you dare not define your journey by time. You are lucky enough just to get to your destination. You will be greatly pushing your luck if you want to get there on time. A journey that started at seven in the morning ended at nine in the evening and we were lucky we- my painting and I- got there in one piece.
My mum had been ill for some weeks now and was beginning to lose grip on her zeal for life. A ounce feisty woman, she looked lean and pale when I got to the hospital a day after I got back from Port-Harcourt. She was a tireless woman. We would pick fights that centred on her restlessness when she was still healthy. She was concerned about her seven children who were all married with kids and one of her grand-daughter had already given her a great-grand son. When would she stop worrying about people who obviously don’t have much to worry about? Albeit she religiously ate only what her doctors had recommended for her, her condition nonetheless deteriorated mysteriously. High blood pressure, the doctors said. A devout Muslim, she would attend all of the prayer-meetings her numerous religious groups organised even when she was ill. I looked at my ounce feisty mother lying powerless on the hospital bed and cried. The doctor told us that she worried too much; her blood pressure was getting too high and that somehow her heart was failing.
My three elder sisters, Khadija, Hafiza and Maria with my two younger sisters, Kemi and Sumbo and my immediate elder brother, Jaffar and I gathered at her bedside. We had planned to meet there and discuss with the doctors whether we should take her to another hospital. Surely high blood pressure was not that hard to take care of, we had assured ourselves. She could barely recognise us as we all jostled for her attention to announce our presence in a bid to cheer her up. Of course, her current doctors had reassured us that we needn’t take her to another hospital. She kept looking at us with a weak knowing smile on her face. It was as if she knew something we didn’t know.
“Alhaja, emi ni, Tunde.” I announced my presence to her in our native language, Yoruba, meaning ‘It is me,Tunde.’ She turned her face with difficulty at me and tried to call my name in reply in what took her like eternity.
“Tunnndeeee…” She said at me. And I wept. I wept because at that point I could almost feel her slipping out of this world into the other unknown world. Her voice sounded way out of this life. She was slipping out of this world and there was nothing we could do to stop her. Each one of her children had a go at the name-calling trick but she responded like she was just then learning to talk. I told Jaffar later that night as we left the hospital that our mother was dying but he wouldn’t buy into it, denial written clear on his face. Being our mother’s first son after three daughters, he was clearly her favourite and the closest to her. To Jaffar, to accept that fact would mean betrayal.
She died in her sleep that very night and we returned to the hospital the next morning to claim her corpse. I hoped she died peacefully. She was buried that same day at about 2pm according to Islamic rites besides her husband. I prayed that Allah reunite them even in death and grant them paradise. I kept wondering what could have been her major concern in life. She worried too much, that was what the doctors said. All of her children were grown, married and had children. She had led a life of piety as much as she could, lived in peace with all and died at the tender age of 65.
After the burial, I asked the presiding Imam who had led the prayer we did for her as was customary in Islam what could have been her worry. He was the Chief Imam of the mosque she prayed at when she was alive and they had been good friends. He told me that it was normal for parents, especially mothers to worry about the ones they are leaving behind even if they are strong enough to look after themselves and are probably doing well.
“They are usually worried about the cycles of life. They are worried that the ones they are leaving behind might not be strong or wise enough to carry on without them. It is imperative that the cycle continues. That could have been her major worry. You know mothers never stop worrying about their children. To them, they will always be kids in their eyes even when these children are fully grown.” Thus the Chief Imam answered my question in a way that made have gone me realise why mum kept fretting over us even when it seemed there was no need. We were babies to her until she died and she had protected us like a mother hen would her chicks. She worried about us when we should have been the ones worried about her. She was a true mother.
When I went upstairs to my room that night after all our sympathisers have gone, my favourite niece, Mariam, was already there, waiting for me. She was barely three years old, and one look at her pretty face now crumpled in a mask of sadness told me she had done something wrong. I bent down and scooped her up into my arms. She and the other kids in the house had been forgotten since morning because of the burial.
“It fell from my hands. It fell from my hands.” She said twice in her tiny voice laced with fear. I looked down at what fell from her hands. Shattered on the floor was the thick glass that had housed Kandisky’s Colour Study. The painting itself had been carefully removed from the debris of shattered glass. My pretty niece had salvaged the only thing she could from the accident and had placed the bare painting on my reading table. I put her down gently on the table and picked up the painting. Then it came to me, I saw the cycles of life within it as clearly as if I was seeing the painting for the first time and the words of the Imam came back to me. I looked at my niece with a smile on my face and she opened her mouth in laughter.
“Do you know what these are?” I asked her with a smile, pointing at the painting and running my fingers over it.
“Circles!” She shouted in her tiny voice now laced with joy.
“Yes, you are right. They are cycles of life.” I kissed her on the cheeks, though I prayed she wouldn’t go about breaking glass frames of paintings thinking she would be kissed for it.
My favourite niece, Mariam, helped me find out what was going on in the mind of Kandinsky on the day we buried my mum.
I think I am now a man albeit my keys are not complete yet.
About Muyis Adepoju
Our Delta, Our Values, Our Governance
Imagine coming to Niger Delta as a tourist prior to oil years! You would have been so excited with the kind of people and things you would see. The young men and women, the children and their fathers, the old and their grandchildren sharing smiles and good times. It is a region with a rich story and diverse cultures. It was really a delight to meet people with good sense of reasoning, people who have respect for common values. They were times when songs of children and birds filled the air with delightful melodies. It was a melting pot of culture, languages, customs, foods and religions. Niger Deltans are generally friendly and hospitable which I assume that runs in their blood. There was so much beauty in Niger Delta that one could subscribe to naming it the ‘pearl of Nigeria’.
However the region is endowed with enormous natural resources. It has the world’s third largest mangrove forest with the most extensive freshwater swamp forests and tropical rain forests characterized by great biological diversity. Alongside the immense potential for agricultural revolution, the Niger Delta region also has vast reserves of non-renewable natural resources particularly hydrocarbon deposits in oil and gas. Fishing, farming, trading and forest product gathering remain the primary occupations and means of sustenance of the people and despite the emergence and subsequent dominance of the hydrocarbon industry, over 80% of the people are still dependant on the traditional agrarian trade. It has produced people of note and exceptional qualities in literature, Law, Politics, Engineering, Medicine, Economics and history. Its lush, tropical jungles are home to gorgon’s birds and fascinating animals. Here, you will find swamps, majestic level lands endorsed with towering palms and rivers.
As farmers and Fishermen, their lands were polluted and rendered useless. Poverty increased and with it, anger and frustrations increased. The essay gives a brief overview of Niger Delta, its values and governance. It also outlines its many challenges and recorded efforts by the government and individuals to set matters straight. It gives practical recommendations and captures on how problems of governance can be improved with stress on mind moralization and sensitization. The essay concludes with the way forward, if these recommendations and objectives are realized within the targeted time frame, for a hitch free Niger Delta affair.
An Overview of Niger Delta
The Niger Delta, as now defined officially by the Nigerian government, extends over about 70,000 km² and makes up 7.5% of Nigeria’s land mass the region in inhabited by an estimated population of 20 million Nigerians in 2000 communities. Historically and cartographically, it consists of present day Akwa Ibom State, Bayelsa State, Cross River State, Delta State, Edo State and Rivers State are among the inhabitants in the Niger Delta, speaking about 250 different dialects. The area is also home to the Ogonis, Ikwerres, Ekpeyes, Ogbas, Egbemas, Engennes and the Abuas of Ahoada division as well as the Obolos and the Opobians of Opobo division. In addition to the Ijaws of western delta are the Urhobos, Isokos, and the Itsekiris and part of Kwale.
Food – The regions varied cultures contribute to a deliciously diverse cuisine, Rice, beans, yam and cassava are traditional favorite foods varies and combinations are abundant and very popular.
Climate – Niger Delta has a hot, humid, subtropical climate which has been in the region. Sometimes they enjoy moderate climate and most areas have distinct dry and wet seasons. Wetlands and water bodies with creeks and rivers criss-crossing the entire southern parts characterize the Niger Delta region. Niger Delta is a home to coastal rainforest and mangrove habitats…a beautiful place it was, to live with nature.
Religion – while many still practice the traditional religion, others are Christians and few Muslims from Edo state part of the region.
Niger Delta’s shows great respect to man and God. They value ethics and traditional values which stands the test of time. These values have continued to keep them together as one. These values have pegged them together in their pursuit for a common goal – right to what belongs to them and fair hearing and treatment in the allocation and sharing of revenues. These values include inter-marriage, fishing, farming, celebrating their many festivals together in peace and harmony. These above mentioned activities which has stood the test of time survived under the seven great value’s which in extension are – Collective actions, courage and community spirit, hard work, love, friendship and brotherhood, Respect for elders, peace and harmony with the environment, knowledge and wisdom, culture of positive resistance. These values are progressive cultures which maintains moral or professional standard of behaviors or principle. These progressive cultures also embody the constant search for knowledge respect for ethics, values and community spirit, love, peace and restless quest for development that does not keep others in fear about them. They live in the believe that societal growth is delayed if not guided by the compass of creative wisdom and a well defined destination.
I believe strongly in the words of Thomas Hobbies who said that ‘the primary responsibility of government is the maintenance of law and order. He added that by nature, man is self-centered and lawless and that he will presume whatever line of action that will achieve his selfish objective to the exclusion of all other consideration if given the opportunity. A multiplicity of individuals subscribing to the above perspective to life in any given society will be a recipe for strife, violence, unpredictability and perpetual chaos, man in such an environment will remain, unable to develop and realize his innate potential. To avoid a situation where a man’s existence in society become, nasty, brutish and short, the individual surrender this unrestricted freedoms to a sovereign entity that shall thereafter have the responsibility of guaranteeing a minimal level of rights and freedoms for all. Two of such rights are the rights to life and property. Therefore, a government that cannot guarantee the safety of lives and properties has thus destroyed the justification for its continued existence.
The problems of the Niger Delta region have been well articulated over time, but successive governments in the country have not been bold enough to provide practical solutions. The problems of these regions are very visible and have come to the knowledge of everyone. The agitation is continuous and justified. In more recent years, it has taken more dangerous dimensions. Hostages have been taken; oil companies live in perpetual fear and some fleeing. Families of politicians are harassed and threatened, pipelines and communities have been bombed and it seems as though, no hope is to in sight.
This region, which has its part of river line/swamp topography, has historically been politically extremely fragmented and subject to violent disputes over land and family rights. The right of these communities to continue falls in the hand of the youths who tries not only to save their communities, but the elders. For this, there is an element of truth that traditional leaders have lost much credibility and respect as the have been corrupted by payments from the government and oil companies. Also, intense control for political office is another conflict linked to poor governance in this region by the elders struggling to put a seal on their choice of candidates. It is a region today which its leaders have compromised social justice.
In all sincerity, there can be no meaningful development in an atmosphere of chaos and restiveness. No significant difference can be made without stability and good governance. There have been frequent cases of invasion of communities by government forces, extra-judicial killing cases of kidnapping and of expatriate workers and invasion of oil facilities by local people. Destruction of pipelines and bombing incidents, clashes between government forces and militants which results to the death of many innocent persons.
In putting governance aright, Niger Delta survival depends largely on people of the area. This time, they are not going to be security chief’s over their own property, but they are to be involved fully in the making of policies and decisions.
Niger Delta remains pervasively poor and under developed, lacking virtually all forms of social amenities and infrastructure, including electricity, medical facilities, roads, shelter and so on. A life of living by the riverbank and using spittle to wash one’s face, a life of scarcity in the midst of plenty It is tragic that the Niger Delta area has come to be recognized in recent times as an enclave of social conflict. The political, economic and social dynamics of the region can only be understood in the context of the ongoing underdevelopment, which has oil exploitation and exploration as its principal signpost. The relentless exploitation of the natural resources of the area, without due compensation for the environmental hazard it has occasioned, has given rise to youth restiveness which is primarily aimed at seeking redress for over 45 years of neglect and deprivation.
Oil companies recklessly explored and exploit crude oil. High-pressured pipelines are laid in their numbers on the earth surface and at close proximity of human habitation. This resulted and still resulting to environmental hazards which includes but not limited to incessant oil spills from corrosive, outdated pipes exposed to sun and other natural agents. These spills run into rivers and creeks and poison protein-based seafood, fish and other resourceful contents. They also pollute the streams which happen to be the people’s only source of drinking water. Pollutions from gas flaring and oil spill which have been happening for more than 50 years cause birth defects, premature births, rashes; and prickly heat among others. They also result to deaths. This is to me an ecological warfare. Because in this war no guns are shot, no stone thrown but human beings continue to die due to suffocation from noxious gasses, polluted water, poisoned crops and other forms of environmental pollution.
As a result of these factors, coupled with the fact that oil companies, did and do make tempting offers, many aggrievedly youths in this region resorted to direct action to extract compensation for their perceived losses. They evade oil company properties; take employees hostage, and shut down facilities. Oil companies typically negotiate the release of captured personnel’s and properties with relative ease by paying modest ransoms. This payments strategy by the oil company’s moral hazards as it breeds more problems
There are many factors at the root of the instability in the Niger Delta – including unfulfilled aspirations for political recognition and influence, poverty and historical neglect, and criminality.
What Should be Done
The only challenges that Niger Delta face today is the challenges of repositioning and recreation. Bombing and kidnapping which at a point became the culture was regrettable considering the fact that these acts present their governances in a negative way. In the light of these I make these recommendations: My recommendation for better Niger Delta of tomorrow is zero tolerance to corruption, a stop to destructive thoughts, dialogue, transparency, accountability
The authority in all modesty and sincerity has the interest of solving the problems but they were mere intentions. For this reason, Niger Delta should adopt the time-tested slogans of intellectual militancy, which is a way to show civility.
More so, apart from assigning some roles to local government and traditional heads, representatives from this region should be made technically and effectively accountable to the people, they govern.
It is also time to face the problem of Niger Delta through disarmament and rehabilitation. This two ideas has to do with retraining and creating opportunities for all in that region
African values need only to be rekindled to accommodate contemporary issues surrounding the way conflict on ground. This can be achieved through a well planned, systematic, or properly conducted programmed of physical activities and education for all Niger Delta children and women, Education that is geared towards inculcating self respect and faith on Niger Delta as home and source of livelihood. It is time to build on the capacity of the youths, so that they can participate in the economic activities that are going around the region.
Also, human capital development is truly a giant step to thread on as it removes idleness from the mind. If economic and social activities go on, social vices are brought to rest and peace will reign. When people are taught and are invested on, they see value as a force for change, a force to reckon with. Anyone who wishes to see a change must have shown greater interestedness on value re-orientation.
The above recommendation for good governance is real tools available for resolving some sophisticated problems created from the pressures created by the government. The recommendations seeks to address many other things – improving relations between all region, creating network for the governed and governors and to the local and uniformed people a helping hand to fine hidden creativity while encouraging collective actions and against adverse challenges threatening our live and barriers separating us.
Naturally, everyone knows what is good, but our imperfect mind is a great force to doing what is good. Soon, the criminal neglect of the region, the insensitively of the oil companies, poor management and the resources allocated to the region and lack of good governance which has helped to fuel the agitations would be a thing of the pas
I therefore conclude that re-integrating the ex-militants into civil life through re-training and rehabilitation, as well as the speedy provision of the social and economic infrastructure required by the devastated Niger Delta region to develop with its natural resources should be a top priority. The people deserve a great deal of respect after more than 50 years of exploitation, environmental ruins and death. They are demanding to control and care for their environment which those who have become drunk in crude oil currently do not care for because they are not from the region and do know what it means to live with oil spills, polluted rivers, withered farm produce, and other inherent hazards. Or do they know what it means to starve in a day? The nation has what it takes to solve this problem, it should sum the courage; the political and moral will to do right by the people for peace and stability to come. In as much as we can, we build our Delta, our values and add credit to our governance. We work to transform the life of every individual that work through our door, through team work and conducted programs, through the spirit of team work and open handedness, leaving a lasting impression on their memories forever. By showing solidarity, and reciprocally, we join hand in support of one another. We improve lives; we build our values, a strong Niger Delta. Once we are through, we discourage illegal means of getting the solution to our many problem, we then encourage recipients of our selfless spirit and collective action. There is hope.
Emmanuel Ugokwe is a Nigerian writer, a trained film producer, a translator and a journalist. The last son of a retired local school teacher, Mr. Phinihas and school-teacher mother, Mrs. Rebecca Ugokwe. Emmanuel Ugokwe is the founder of Popular Age Youth Foundation of Nigeria, an NGO with a difference. Since the birth of the NGO he is working on integrating the youths and women in social change. He had also carved a niche in writing, having won many awards in different genre of writings and literature. In 2008 he got his first prize in Word inaction International Writing Competitions 2008 in England, for his drama ‘The Silence Within’. -2008 Association of Nigeria Authors/ Things Fall Apart at 50 Art Prize and wrapped the year up with Association of Nigeria Authors/Ken Nnamani Prize for Igbo Literature. Princess Hastrup Prize for The Best Researched Work was an award he won in 2009. And in 2010 won Preemptive International Essay Competition and Nigeria 50 Stars @ 50 Award. In 2010 he was a Nominee for Young Writers Achievers Award for Nigeria 50 Years Golden Jubilee by Commonwealth Club London. He was the 2011 Ebedi International Writers Resident, in Iseyin Oyo state. And 2011 Ugreen Essay Contests shortlist. He also won the 2011 Zahara Foundation essay writing contests and received training in film production by PIND foundation in 2011 and has facilitated training to youth in secondary schools and youth organizations.
Script: Kemi Adesoye
Director: Yinka Edwards and Afred Chai
Producer: Kunle Afolayan
Cast: Wale Ojo, Nse Etim Ikpe, Joke Silva and Lydia Forson
Reviewer : Ayodele Olofintuade
Phone swap is an unabashedly romantic comedy. From the first scene to the last you are either laughing out loud or chuckling into your pretty expensive crépe that you are managing to eat because the cinema does not make eba and ogbono soup available, it is not sophisticated enough.
Mary (Nse Etim Ikpe), a much used and abused, but talented tailor, was very happy when her boss decided to pay for her flight to Owerri where she had to attend to a family emergency. Akin (Wale Ojo) on the other hand plans to play another one of his ‘one-upmanship’ games on his colleagues who had never liked him because he was not a team player. They planned not to tell him about a retreat in Abuja where they were to meet the new major shareholder of the company. Unfortunately for them their plans failed because Akin had a major-domo who was also a wonderful spy on his side.
At the airport the Mary and Akin bumped into each other due to the fact that Mary was so excited by being in an airport for the first time in her life. In the process of gathering their stuff after the collision the two of them got their blackberry phones mixed up. That was the beginning of a life changing journey for both of them.
In what has become a hallmark of Kunle Afolayan’s movies the camera shots were beautiful and the transition from one scene to the next flawless. The producers did their homework and I say kudos. The movie was so well shot that it can proudly stand side by side with any film produced in other parts of the world.
The part that has stuck to me was the way the fight scene between Akin’s ex-girlfriend, a Ghananian fiend (played by Lydia Forson) and Mary, was interwoven with the fight scene between Mary’s ex-boyfriend and Akin. For that scene alone I totally forgive the cinema for not having eba and ogbono soup on their menu.
Wale Ojo was in character as a, prim and proper, slave driver. He did not slip up once, and so was Nsen Etim Ikpe, she played her role of a woman just realizing how powerful her talent could be perfectly. Joke Silva was no exception, a reformed drunk trying to obtain her son’s forgiveness for the way she neglected him when he was young. Although Lydia Forson had a few bumps in the scene she was introduced as Wale’s fiendish sot of a girlfriend, but she rallied in latter scenes and ended up making the audience love her character in spite of its flaws.
Every character in the movie was well rounded. You knew why they are where they are at every point in time. There was enough background information shown in the first few scenes by the filmmakers so that you won’t have to wonder why someone behaved in a certain way.
I must confess that there were one or two scenes in the film, when you get a feeling that something went wrong somewhere during post production but it was not enough to detract from the movie as a whole. The story was tightly woven together and the comedy was not too slapstick.
I enjoyed the way the way the changes that occurred in the characters were unfolded over the course of the movie, and particularly love the way women were portrayed. For a change Nigerian women were strong, smart and beautiful. Although the women in this film are flawed, like every other human being, they were also shown to be inherently good and beautiful.
A note of warning though, expect to watch advert placements by a major airline and a mobile service provider. The producers hit you smack on the head with it. No subtleties, just plain old hustling of a service.
Now to the lessons I learnt:
- How not to eat crépes.
- It is possible to show women as victors and not victims in a Nollywood movie and still get Nigerians to watch it.
And finally, don’t be in a hurry to leave the theatre once the credits starts rolling, you’ll miss out on a pleasant surprise at the end of the movie.
Ayodele Olofintuade is the author Of Eno’s Story published by Cassava Republic Press and shortlisted for the NLNG Prize for Literature 2012.