KUNLE AFOLAYAN: A CULTURE AMBASSADOR NEXT DOOR

KUNLE AFOLAYAN: A CULTURE AMBASSADOR NEXT DOOR

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I spent so much time last night thinking about how astern culture and tourism in Nigeria has been, until my mind rested on the missing link, and this has so much to do with having the wrong people in the right places.

The journey to this narrative is a bit far, but let me state quickly that Nigeria has gone backward in promoting her tourism since the exit of Otunba Segun Runsewe as the Director General of the National Tourism Development Agency (NTDA) by the last administration.

The tenure of his successor, Sally Mbanefo, is similar to the slump that has happened to the film industry in the hands of Engineer Danjuma Dadu of the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC). It is indeed a shame how we play politics with our national heritage.

Now, there is a man known to many of us as a filmmaker, but I found he has offered much more than we could imagine, so much so that filmmaking seems to have succeeded in defining a small part of what he stands for.

This man; Kunle Afolayan, has merely used filmmaking to convey his several other callings. And like a fan who is usually carried away by the comics, we have not spared some moment to digest the message of this auteur.

I checked up the meaning of passion in the course of writing this piece and Wikipedia tells me it is from the Greek verb πασχω meaning to suffer: “… a very strong feeling about a person or thing. Passion is an intense emotion, a compelling enthusiasm or desire for something. This, to me, is cardinal in how Afolayan wants to be perceived; hence you can see a subtle but glaring promotion of Nigerian art, culture and tourism in all his films.

In Irapada, his first feature film, there was a conscious harnessing of the three major tribes in Nigeria. This remarkable opening of his film career took him round the country where he explored the rivers and forests of the North and South, using the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) objective to announce his interest for his country, its myths, languages and natural endowments.

If there was any doubt of Afolayan being a detribalised Nigerian, especially after the controversy that arose when on April 6, 2015, he posted a tweet which implied that Igbos are the majority group behind copyright infringement in Nigeria, the filmmaker merely followed the cue of his distributor, Gab Okoye, who made it clear that, that indeed was the case, when his film, October 1 was hugely pirated.

Enter his sophomore effort, The Figurine: not only was the NYSC scheme used once again to connect the different ethnic divides in Nigeria, Afolayan took us farther into the deep forest and rivers of Africa, and played up our ancestry, myths, culture, deities and art through our beliefs which he transported to the foreign land and back.

And by matching tradition and modernisation, not only were the educated who seem to have ‘missed it’ schooled about their roots, foreigners had the hint of what African traditional culture represents.

As modern as his third effort, Phone Swap was, we were taken to Owerri, a prominent town in South-East Nigeria and we saw how huge subsistence farming can be. We also saw local menu and the need for any Nigerian to learn to savour meals from other tribes.

This was despite the fact that Phone Swap was conceived as an advertising agency’s proposal for a movie that would cut across ages 15 to 45. His fourth work, October 1, again brought together, the three ethnic groups in Nigeria which he weaved round a fictitious incident on the eve of Nigeria’s independence of 1960. If this film didn’t evoke nostalgia, it makes you feel proud to be an African.

It demystifies some of the perceived selflessness of the colonial masters and celebrates our resilience to conservatism. Afolayan preaches against the danger of neo-colonialism which has brought so much confusion about sexual identity. The epic also played up our traditional attires, means of livelihood, communications, transportation, our trading system and royalty.

In his bid to harness Africa as a continent with similar culture and tradition, Afolayan’s latest film, The CEO, is another modern film that did not lost the flavour of nature and tradition. Not only is the musical chair game nostalgic, the Nigerian attire is made to fit elegantly, even on the white South African cast.

If you miss a river in any Afolayan’s film, there is a pool to substitute for this natural element. The Inagbe Beach Resort, the main location of the film provided almost everything to be cherished in nature. The sea, the raffia roof chalets, the beach, the horses and indeed, African music provided by Adekunle Gold.

…To be continued


Source : Thenationonline

Thenationonline

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