Chinua Achebe is responsible for the glossary of Igbo words I recognize. In recognition lies the route to understanding. Despite having read Chinua Achebe and his acolyte Ngozi Chimamanda Adichie, there still exists a paucity of Igbo words whose meaning I know. I wasn’t ready for an experience of linguistic impediment while getting set to watch Ebuka Njoku’s Yahoo+.
The movie has a dearth of English words, save for Kamso (Echelon Mbadiwe) and Ikolo’s( Ken Erics) occasional detour to English words. A desolate argument will be that Nollywood eschews Nigerian dialect in its production in the epoch of international reckoning it’s attracting. A subtle response will be that Nollywood has gone past the age of lumpy and cringy subtitling. If Ose’s ( Keezyto) words nudge chaos into your ear, for those who don’t understand Igbo, the subtitle is there as a berth — a hermitage of insight. Although Igbo didn’t monopolize the characters’ language, the movie could serve as a blueprint for producing blockbuster stories told in our local languages. Dare Olaitan‘s Oju kokoro (Greed) heavily experimented with Pidgin English.
A constant watchdog; the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB), constantly reminds the artist of their social function as vanguards of culture. With occasional censoring of movies for bland reasons – Half of a Yellow Sun was banned for having a Biafran movement undertone.
For purists, the title of the movie, Yahoo+ is enough motive for a ban. A question the existence of the NFVCB brings to the fore is this; “which comes first, the constitution or the art?” Should the creation of a movie, an artistic expression, be shrouded in fear of ‘breaking some imaginary laws’ because it doesn’t suit the nutritional diet of a sect? Not so fast.
Color, the ‘native doctor’ is here to dispel a myth. In a screen time distant from the horror it should permeate, Ikolo (Ken Erics) became not a doctor dissecting off organs from Pino Pino’s (Ifeoma Obinwa) cadaver but a lecturer. A summary of his lecture; Yahoo+ is a misnomer for organ harvesting.
In a few lump-filled sentences, the movie blandly established the shoddy trajectory of Ose (Keezyto) and Abacha (Somadina Adinma) as unsuccessful and frustrated youth whose chosen dreams lays fallow — carefully stuck in a cabin in their mind with no money to pursue them. With Ose, Abacha, and Kamso’s motive for engaging in prostitution and attempting a ritual killing, the storyline has an unsavoury job of telling and showing nothing. Ose and Abacha’s words lack conviction and reek of cliche justification for engaging in crime – “I( we) have to”. Kunle Afolayan (Mokalik) and Ema Edioso (Kasala!) are subtle pioneers of the directorial style adopted by the director of Yahoo+, Ebuka Njoku. A story spanning over a single day.
The loop of settings and movement which such stories don’t possess makes its move boring. Ose and Abacha (Romeo) need money. Mansa introduced a ‘level’ to them. Pino Pino, the prostitute, was the recipe for their success story. Pino Pino brought Kamso (Juliet), a naive girl, to do ‘runs’ — a metaphor for prostitution.
Romeo saw Juliet; as the palm wine cup crumbles from Abacha’s hand, the storyline too crumbles. Friends become foes. Trust needs to be earned. Betrayal lurks at the door post. The premonition of this suspense-filled movie has dissolved elements of boredom and monotony Kunle Afolayan’s Mokalik has.
Nollywood has received a severance package of criticism for encouraging ritual killings and fraudulent activities; it was tagged as a connoisseur for preaching social vices. Living in Bondage did a visual show of ritual killing. Yahoo+ has won the Best Narrative Feature award at the Eastern Nigeria International Film Festival. What it needs to win now, is a press statement from Lai Muhammed for demystifying ritual killing as a sham.
Yahoo+ is screening in a cinema near you.