IN the essay, “On Nigeria’s English medium movies,‘’ this writer levelled various allegations against the English-medium movie, popularly called Igbo film by many Nigerians because of the preponderance of Igbo artistes in the movies, concluding that they are tools for Nigeria’s underdevelopment. I affirm the conclusions contained in the essay without any apology to the blind and untutored critics who labelled my analysis an attack on the South-East.
Now, the Yoruba movie. If the English-medium movie sends human intelligence on holiday, the popular Yoruba movie puts it perpetually in chains. It is, in artistic and sociological terms, absolutely worse than worthless.
The first thing you notice is the attempt at translation from Yoruba to English. It is galling that despite its place as the most urbanised and educated ethnic grouping on the African continent, the Yoruba nation is producing films which naturally earn the prize for the worst form of English translation.
Now, in the sense of creative domestication—or even, in broad terms, in the sense of varieties 2 and 3 in Ayo Banjo’s typology, or even David Jowitt’s Popular Nigerian English, we might excuse the popular Yoruba movies’ Yoruba-to-English translations as logical corollaries of the fact of the English as a Second Language (ESL) context. In other words, we might console ourselves with the claim that, removed from its native soil, the English Language must wear a new garb (as Babatunde et al submit), or to put it in Achebe’s terms, that we are dealing with an English which is still in full communion with its ancestral home, but has been altered to suit its new African sorroundings. In any case, Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, wants us to unbundle English, stretching it, impacting, fragmenting and re-assembling it without apology (Soyinka, 1988).
Now, there is Zebrudaya English, or we can take a journey into Ken Saro Wiwa’s Soza Boy. Those are Englishes, if they can be so called, with a mission: To amuse, and deliberately so. The Yoruba movies’ Yoruba-English translation amuse innocently, by an overwhelming force of illiteracy, by crass incompetence/impotence. “When you does it him? My stomach is running,” etc. Are the film makers so stingy that they cannot employ competent hands? There are hundreds of English graduates desperate to earn an extra naira, perpetually caught in life’s poetry of want, competent graduates who would do a clean job if contracted. But we have I-go-edit-my-story directors and cast, heavy-duty actresses dressed to kill, but perpetually at war with English. They speak fluent Yoruba, and they overrate their familiarity with English.
Then, thematic content. It is either these film makers belong to the highest level of occultism or they are incapable of putting their brains to profitable use, for nearly every movie has an occult bent, whether you are thinking of an Ogogo and his irritating pseudo-piety, Adekola and his farce, or Adeolu and the shame of acting the bachelor part. One does not expect these vermin to have the decency not to cast grandfathers for the bachelor part, but one does at least expects them to provide rational explanations to at least one event out of ten.
The Yoruba movies glorify witchcraft, demonism and irrationality. They rejoice in visits to the burial ground, spiritual arrows at 3:00 a.m., yahoozee among the dead, and sundry lunacies. The pastors in the movies justify fornication by asking their god to protect whores and giving lunatic visions which ratify immorality. This is not limited to the white garment churches, which Nigerians prefer because of their closeness to African traditional religions, but even the coat-wearing, hypocritical churches of Lucifer. In this, the movies might be termed realistic and, indeed, shallow analysts would often retort that these film makers are merely reflecting reality. But an essential function of serious literature is to interrogate reality, deconstruct it, and lay bare the possibilities of existence. Tracing this view, you might begin from Aristotle’s definition of tragedy, before even considering the post-discourses (post-structuralism, etc).
The Yoruba movies promote the lunatic belief in akudaya, that is, dead people who go to another place to live because they died prematurely. This is one of the myths evolved by men to justify irresponsible sexual activity. It is stupid of anyone to think that dead people have sex. If any akudaya is reading this, I would like him/her to see me at the Tribune newsroom for an interview. The demons propagating this nonsense are heading for the lake of fire. How can women be so stupid! A man uses you, has a nice time, and you say he is a ghost! Do ghosts have sex organs? Anyway, there are political akudayas who flee their hometown, go to Lagos, smoke igbo, and then cry, “I must lead people by fire by thunder!” There are also thunder and fire churches imbued with the Sango spirit.
Mercifully, the traditional movies which Ayo Banjo carpets for consistently reflecting a by-gone age, and for being pernicious in their messages are disappearing, but their lunacies have been taken over by the contemporary movies. Without parents realising it, Nigerian children are being recruited into demonism, and being taught to depend on some malevolent spirit rather than adopting a scientific approach to events. Movies which project corel draw, pagemaker, or which proffer solutions to Nigeria’s perennial power problem, are no where near the horizon. Instead, we have defeatist nonsense where people are told such things as “sleep with your husband by 12:00 a.m. or you will never have children in this world,” “once you meet that spirit and laugh, you will never succeed in life,” etc. Do movies have to be patterned after the Ajileye model, where almost every human action is given a demonic explanation, where a local government executive who rules badly goes to hell rather than face the wrath of the people?
Even when the Yoruba movie has a scene with a laptop, the ferocity with which these beings punch the keyboard (pra-pa-pa-pra-pa-pa), when they are not using olympic typewriters, point to multi-media illiteracy.