In Kunle Afolayan’s new film, Omugwo, Ayo Adesanya comes out as a vainly sophisticated woman while Patience Ozokwor, popularly called Mama Gee, is very modest. The first is a failure at taking care of a newborn and her mum, the latter is adept at it. Adesanya is the baby’s maternal grandmother while the latter is the paternal grandmum. Now, both have to share the same flat with the couple for three months, to undergo the omugwo rite, which is to take care of the child and mum.
This is the smart conflict around which the movie is built. The work on which Africa Magic partners Afolayan is a culturally educative movie delivered in a very comic way. If the primary aim of a film is to entertain, then Afolayan scores a high mark in Omugwo.
The choice of Adesanya and Ozokwor is near perfect as they are playmakers any day. In most of the scenes, they speak and act in a way that will keep viewers laughing out their hearts. There seems to be an avoidable ‘overdo’ in one or two areas – like when the two old women have to struggle to share a wrapper while sleeping on the same bed – but the drama in Omugwo is surely refreshing.
The lucky but thoroughly victimised mother of the baby, Omowumi Dada (Omotunde), is also on point in many parts of the movie. She is able to muster a lot of matrimonial ignorance and confusion, as provoked by the fierce rivalry between her mother and mother-in-law.
So also is Ken Erics (Raymond), her broadcaster-husband, who is set, on several occasions, at the Lagos Television station. What Afolayan does here reminds one of what Tunde Kelani does in Maami, which also features some broadcast scenes from the same station.
A huge success in Nigeria’s contemporary film story, Afolayan says Omugwo, which is now in the cinema started as a small television drama commissioned by the Africa Magic in partnership with his company, Golden Effects Productions.
“I am particularly excited about the film because it is a slight departure from my usual style of story-telling, going by its comic nature,” he says. “It’s a comedy and most people perceive most of my works as being serious. So, I had this watered down. It was originally supposed to be a TV series but I had to add my own money to make it into a full length Nollywood film.”