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The curse of African movies

I DON’T know whether I should be embarrassed to admit publicly that I did it.

Can you imagine someone convincing fat, old and very unsightly women to make fools of themselves in fong-kong bling?

And the gaudy jewellery includes dangling neck-chains with dollar-sign pendants, crystal-ball earrings and lionhead-buckle belts.

The ol’ mamas complete the swagger with an assortment of throwback jerseys and baseball caps worn sideways.

Were it not for Fat Joe’s Make it Rain, featuring Lil’ Wayne, thumping as the soundtrack, I would have, as usual, clicked on to other channels in a flash.

And I would have missed the spectacle — if that word is synonymous with crap.

Little did I know I was going to spend the following hour watching Akurasi Burger, which I later learnt, curiously, was produced by one Samuel Ofori.

I’m talking about an African movie here — the kind I had vowed to friends I would not watch in years.

I only did so because, one, I had pretty nothing else to do and, second, to try and understand MNet’s temerity to dedicate two channels to such films.

Akurasi Burger was running for three hours but I was so brave I did an hour watching the hip-swivelling American wannabes.

Yet even after that act of bravery I was not sure what the storyline was all about.

Instead, the drama left me convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that most African movies are appalling.

I know some — as do most brothers and sisters allergic to criticism — think I have a colonial mentality that sees any African progress as backward.

Granted there are so many fairly good productions — made under difficult conditions — that have come out of Nollywood and other African countries.

But if we allow ourselves to celebrate mediocrity in the name of progress Africa will always remain backward.

Wannabe producers on the continent must not be allowed to abuse the camera if they don’t have scripts suitable especially for pay TV.

It’s not about the image of Africa portrayed in the movies that worries me.

Africa is about the urban and rural clashes, polygamy, inheritance and the voodoo stories told by most of the movies.

By the way I was later to learn, after a Google search, that Akurasi Burger was about women fighting for the leadership of a village empowerment project.

That’s exactly my point.

The storylines in the movies are as pathetic as the belaboured acting.

I know poor funding bedevils the quality of Africa’s cinema.

But even shoe-string budgets should not give anyone an excuse to unleash dreadfully mediocre films on us.

A fortnight ago local students of film production were asked to submit their amateur works to be considered for short film festivals.

It’s encouraging.

And I am also pleased that a local entertainment company is working on a feature film whose premiere I believe is around the corner.

This is heartening and such initiatives deserve our full support.

But I hope they all watch out for the bug that seems to be biting film producers in Nollywood and elsewhere — that of churning out works that say more about their eagerness to make a quick buck than Africa’s progression.

Disclaimer: this article could be biased because I haven’t watched many African movies after my first samplings left me dead drunk!


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