Thank you, Ynaija.
It’s a superbly good film. This is not a review, per se, so I won’t dwell on the plot but will talk about a few things that impressed me — and ones that I find unforgivable.
When a film presumably parade “random” stars for the heck it, it usually signals a red flag. I say “random” because when a cast list shows names that aren’t usually associated with film (or theatre), one suspects that a producer is betting on the sensational to pull some numbers, or maybe just using cameos for effect. It was my initial feeling when the movie poster for “King of Boys” parades rappers Reminisce and Illbliss — and — after I saw it, fuji legend Kwam 1. I was like, well, it’s fashionably a good marketing idea to use known faces — from culture — to add to a film’s stature.
The film follows the blueprint of a gangster story. A lead character is introduced and the audience must decide, based on their moral compass, whether the character is deserving of condemnation or commendation. And being at the mercy of the director, the audience would struggle to reconcile empathy with indignation. Spoiler: The ending feels like a prank on an overly critical, overly cynical, moralist. (At one point, the film reminded me of “Third Word Cop,” except that the grunge and grime of that Jamaican story are replaced with some gloss and a nice colour-coding from an editor that probably knows how to use filter to enhance “dark” story). But Eniola (Sola Sobowale) isn’t Ratty. She’s a ruthless politician and kingpin of a clever network of gangsters who run things at the highest level of Naija organized crime. And since we’re talking Nigerian crime, all the components are here — politics, dollars, the diabolical, sleaze, family business, and NCCC (Of course, you know where that came from).
The main lure of the movie is its authentic handling of its twists and turns. (But I promise not to dwell on the plot).
See this woman called Sola Sobowale, ehn! I don’t even know what to say. She’s a God! (Ok, let’s not offend the offendables. She’s a Gosh)! One watches her and anticipates when she’s going to launch into her signature theatrics — that no-nonsense, no-frapapa identity that makes her a delight to watch. And there’s plenty of it in this film. As the King of Boys, she carries herself with measured charm, staring enemies down to submission, throwing the Sobowalesque bluster around and making it hard for one to assume that she may indeed be different in life from the character she portrays. Some scenes are forever etched in my head — how she suddenly mellowed after yapping at a deceitful politician, how she mesmerized a customer at her fabric shop, the hilarious one-second of a mogbe-mokun-modaran moment of staring at a bouncer after her son and daughter turned against each other. And that scene, of what looked like her impending death — the dialogue with arch-rival, Makanaki (Reminisce), and the confrontation with the American. Gosh, Sobowale is a God! (Unnecessary disclosure — in my line of job, I tend to be on set with Nigerian celebrities. But me and my brand of Ogunlowo-ego rarely get celebrity-struck to take selfies with them. But now, I regret never stealing a moment to take a picture with Sola when I was taking her through a script. This is how ego ruins opportunities!)
That guy, Reminisce. The guy is ipata-raised-to-power-100. Excellent Mafioso actor.
But, people of Gosh, I cannot forgive or forget the scenes where a ram is killed and a chicken is dismembered!!!! I can’t unsee those scenes!!! Just when I was already rooting for some foreign nods, then I saw those. Where’s PETA?
And then, the representations of white garment church by the seaside, alongside traditionalist are uncharitable. Aren’t we tired of mocking these people’s ritual forms? May Gosh forgive all of you storytellers — including Wole Soyinka and his famous prophet character and the silly memes.
(That’s a lovely trailer poster destined to be iconic. If the bloody red and arrogant fonts don’t register on memory, Sola Sobowale’s mean mugging against a noir will do the trick).
This is such a good (and almost-balanced) appraisal of the Nigerian creative scene. I say almost-balanced because, while extolling the elements that a foreign and high-culture audience can relate with, it ignores two critical components of the Nigerian creative space - the unbridled creativity stemming from the “streets” and the dynamics of business. So far, the street culture - with the exception of traditionally upper-class-upper-upper-middle-class creative domains (Galleries/exhibitions, high-class fashion etc.,) feeds the high culture. It makes for a beautiful Nigerian phenomenon. The high culture, only with capital, network and distribution resources, have always “win” in controlling the overall narrative, to the foreign audience especially.
Beautiful article that didn’t do much to explore how the business value-chain is being managed and sustained, and who enjoys the returns the most.
The writer didn’t mention my current favourite Nigerian creatives - Terry Apala, Qdot, Lil’ Kesh, those genius Instagram painters, those Instagram storytellers - Maraji, Lasisi, SLKcomedy, Alutaemir, Lekan_kingkong, not even those advertising guys doing cool stuff. I’m suing somebody! 😝
“...the assertive Nigerian global influence today cannot be denied, whether it’s in literature, music, fashion, or art, with new talents appearing at a relentless pace..... But all of them feed off the scene in Nigeria itself—and in its megacity, Lagos, a frenetic engine of creativity.”
We set to create a Mother’s Day campaign that celebrates mothers and motherhood in a way that resonates with our African audience.
Our idea - "Mother's Secret Weapons”
Traditionally, African mothers play a key disciplinarian role in the family. It’s a role that they sometimes played with firm hands and, where stern looks and raised voices didn’t deliver results, it wasn’t uncommon for harder measures to be employed.
We decided to whip up nostalgic emotions and trigger conversations around this role – especially as many grownups in African communities look back fondly on these corrective episodes with loving mothers.
Each ad humorously profiles the common tools used during a mother and child squabble, and use them to remind ourselves about the love that came in form of discipline.
In essence, here’s to the mothers who made us – and the tough love that forged us.
The Campaign has since gone viral especially in some African countries and I'd like to thank my team members - Abraham Cole (Art Director), and Adebayo Arisilejoye (Copywriter) for coming through on this.
Thanks for creating beauty. Thanks for your works that fed my soul - "Love in the Time of Cholera," "The General in His Labyrinth," "One Hundred Years of Solitude". Thanks for the quotes I return to when I need to be reminded about the futility and illusions of life, and the silliness of the human condition. I didn't like magical realism until I read your works. Continue to rest in peace as the world celebrates your birthday, today!
The muscle and the abs, well, remain rumours :)