It’s hard to ignore the almost deplorable state of our movie industry in this very recent times. Earlier today, I had gone to our faculty coffee room to grab a very late breakfast, and even more, to work on one of those quickie assignments of ever busy lecturers.
Well, the good thing about our coffee room is, the telly is permanently tuned to African Magic, hence, you can be sure a movie will always be on. Truth is, I possibly won’t be able to count the number of times I had been to our coffee room with a movie showing on the African Magic, but this is about the first time I will ever stay back to see what’s playing across the screen, the reason is not farfetched, the classic play, Saworoide was on.
Sawaroide, by Tunde Kelani had been released when I was only about 10, and today, at the age of 20, looking at this movie, this classic, for the first time in a very long time, I was proud of the Nigerian movie industry. What’s in the market these days makes you scared of what the whole idea about creativity has become, with obviously script-less movies, incoherent plots, phony aesthetics and narratives, plus everything negative merging to create a masterpiece that is anything but a masterpiece.
Now I don’t know if most of us remember the movie; Sawaroide (though am kinda expecting we’ll do); it is what I love to call an evergreen national classic. For a movie that was produced when I was still in Junior High, it beats the aesthetic balance of the 21st century sham that is being offered us now. A very brilliant plot parodying the Nigerian journey to democracy, I was sentenced to perpetual moments of awe as I relished every scene of the movie.
The movie was set in the rustic Nigerian town of Jogbo. Lapite is the dubious King that has murdered his way to the throne and now he is ruling Jogbo with terror. The chieftains of the town don’t give too much damn themselves; they team with Lapite to jointly siphon the commonwealth of Jogbo which lies in sales of Timber.
Timber, the mainstay of Jogbo economy is being processed with the help of expatriates from abroad. The expatriates form the core of this cartel of thieves leading the economy of Jogbo down to the washers; they, just like Lapite do not care about the welfare of the town, focusing only on their profit margin rather than the welfare of the commons of Jogbo. The expatriates with help of Lapite are ruining the lands of Lapite, the once arable lands are being destroyed as Timbers are being cut down illegitimately without any form of replacement, leaving the posterity of Jogbo in jeopardy.
Now the youths of the town won’t have any of this BS, they are going all out to see to the end of this madness. Having presented their plight to Lapite; the King of Jogbo who met it with strong resistance, they resorted to fire power and hence ensured that the expatriates are frustrated from their lands. The daytime drama kept going back and forth until Lagata, the army official who had helped Lapite recover Adeide – the sacred crown of Jogbo – starts to lust for the kingship of Jogbo town.
In a classic standoff during the gala to mark the return of the sacred crown back to the palace, Lagata overthrew Lapite to become the first military head of the town. Lapite was killed along with some unfortunate chieftains.
That marked the start of another regime of terror in Jogbo as Lagata upped the ante of iron ruler-ship. However, deliverance came the way of the commons of Jogbo when Ayanniyi, the son of Ayangalu, the official custodian and player of the Saworoide; the spiritual drum played on kings’ coronations played the drum during Lagata’s coronation while he was donning the Adeide – the sacred crown of Jogbo. Were the drum to be played to the hearing of an illegitimate king while he was donning the Adeide, he is to die of enormous headache. And that was exactly what happened to Lagata on the night of his coronation when the drum was played.
My own very version of the story of Saworoide, but between the lines of that plot, you can see the story of Nigeria told through the comings and goings in the small town of Jogbo. I need not go on to tell you that the Timber of Jogbo is the crude oil of Nigeria, you all pretty much can do the math.
Now, that raises the question of where plots like this are currently hiding. The industry obviously now rakes in more money, but please, where exactly is the substance?