Saturday, June 06, 2009

Funke Akindele, you and I need to have a talk!!!!!!!!

As an aspiring filmmaker myself and seasoned storyteller, I have made it a point of duty to pay close attention to any person(s) whom I believe to be standouts within our craft and thus, you have been on my list of artistes to watch for quite some time now. However, I must say that I am becoming increasingly disappointed with the quality of material that you put out there.

Granted, compared to your colleagues in the industry, your work is above average and I am not going to make this open letter to be about technical issues like using techniques better suited to the theatrical stage in scenes,grammatical errors and misspellings in subtitles, excessive dialogue, improperly handled boom mics and poor scene blocking that results in crew shadows being visible to the audience. I am more interested in the content of your work and the fact that though I get excited when I hear you have come up with a new project, I am barely into the story five minutes and I am left deflated and disappointed.

I mean:
1. Representing your sisterhood: There are very few women writers, producers and directors and so far there is no one that is at this point really presenting any progressive thinking for women. Women are simply portrayed in stereotypes and misinformation. The only type of woman that is celebrated is one that does not challenge the traditional roles which place her as secondary to the man and define her solely by her marital status and reproductive abilities. As a member of the sorority, I always find very little that caters to the modern woman. And your stories don't.

In Jenifa, all the girls that were fashion conscious were promiscious. All the sexually active girls either ended up dead, diseased or with a reproductive defect. As someone who went to Unilag, you cannot tell me you don't know of females who keep up with trends without the sole purpose of securing an older and irresponsible man to financially support them. Also, you cannot tell me that all the sexually active girls that you know end up with the same results listed above. Do a bit of research and you will find thousands of females with stories to inspire and encourage and not endorse stereotypes that objectify or demean us.
In Aye Olomokan, all I hear from the beginning of the movie till the end, despite the supposed twist at the end is that, if a woman cannot cook and clean, this is reason enough for her man/husband to sleep with the maid or any other woman who figures that she knows how because she can mix pepper, locust beans and spinach into an edible concoction.
If you believe the stereotypes you portray, then you, Funke Akindele, are not an artist or complete as a woman. I mean, where is your husband and children, if that is all a woman is defined by? Your life and work are an antithesis to the embedded messages you present.
Are you then saying to your fellow sisters, that all we are to be are cooks, maids and breeding machines? Really? With a university degree under your belt?

2. Over exaggeration of humor at the expense of the plot: Exaggeration is a technique better suited to the stage because the person at the end of the room cannot clearly see the facial expression of the actor beneath the lights and thus the thespian has to employ over emphasised gestures and extended dialouges to explain what is going on.

It is only in Nigerian movies that one would find characters conducting a monologue with no one else in the scene. And yet, we are from a culture where such an action is considered a sign of lunacy. Gatemen/hired help will spend almost five minutes saying nothing important, even though it is funny. Characters have quirks that don't correlate with their image:I mean,in Aye Olomo kan, why would a woman in her twenties be watching Hannah Montana? Fifteen year old Americans don't watch Hannah Montana and for some reason, a character in your story does? Okayee. Humor must have a point or it is a waste of reel, editing and audience time.

3. Depth of characters: There is never depth to your characters. They are always one dimensional and have linear expressions within the plot. You have in Jenifa, a girl who seeks to define her identity within an environment that is superficial ending up with HIV (that one is even a post for another day) and you have your main character in Aye Olomokan loosing her husband because she can only boil water, make tea and custard.
I know that just because a woman is bad at one thing does not make her a bad person or a total write off. Maybe she cannot cook, but she is good with making money. Maybe she is not good with money but she had great people skills that come in handy with the relationship. Maybe she is lazy with housework but a gifter writer. Maybe she can sing and write songs. Maybe she is fashionable and that is a way for her to changer her life and the lives of others.
A woman is multi faceted. Have you not seen women athletes, braving it all. How about market women who have to rise before dawn to get to the depot to meet with trailers coming from the north; negotiating sales, customers with dreams and aspirations for themselves or for their kids?You are multi faceted. Why is that never expressed in your stories?

Also, the men in your stories are always old fashioned and playing by stoneage manuals: Man comes in and says to wife "Go into the kitchen and fix my food." I thought to myself, is she a maid or "bone of his bone". There are men who don't base their relationships with their wives on whether or not eba is hot, or if they ate pounded yam. I feel that constantly presenting men in that light sets low standards for them. A man, who will walk out on a marriage because of vegetable soup is not worth his oxygen. What will he do in the event of a huge test from God? Disappear?

I am not calling out anyone else on this because frankly speaking, I don't expect them to do any better that what they have and I am don't care about what they do. Most of the other producers are men, and frankly speaking, you think they are going to advocate for the woman? But you can. You are a woman too and you appear to be enlightened. I know that you are much better than what your work implies you to be. I sense it in your attempts and presentation but don't see it in the delivery of your subject matter.

I know that our styles of storytelling are different and you most likely will totally disagree with me; afterall, if I have all this to say, where is my own film portfolio? I guess without one at this point, you might give no credence to my observations. Still, as a soror of the arts, I expect more of a mind like yours because these are the standards we should be setting.

So, you and I need to have a talk.


juiceegal said...


juiceegal said...

Ha miss catwalq u have hit the friggin nail on the head with a sledge hammer........pardon my

juiceegal said...

First and foremost......i'm gonna commend funke akindele cuz as u rightly stated compared to the rest of them out there her films are about the only ones that make a little sense.
Have you seen "Ede mi"....that to me is just another stupid Yoruba movie that says that it is okay for your husband to cheat on you and send you packing just because:
1) You have just one child
2) You were brought up abroad and cannot speak Yoruba.
Anyway i digress,back to Funke Akindele.I thought i was the only one who noticed that most of her films usually had that archaic notion that women should come second while their husbands should come first.
While watching that "Aye olomo kan" movie i was constantly saying to my friend that i did not get the point of the movie.Seriously does it mean that cuz a woman cannot cook then she is automatically giving her husband a free pass to sleep with the maid.I'm not in any way supporting the fact that a woman should be useless in the kitchen,but then there is more to a woman than that,the movie made it seem like as a woman once u cannot cook then you are a complete failure.I could not stand the fact that everytime the husband came back from work the only thing that was on his mind was FOOD,as if her sole purpose in life was to cook for him...hissss.There are men like my father who are not fussy about food,why do they make it seem like all men are big on food.I really do not get it at all.

"Hannah Montana".......that to me was just a huge joke,i mean was she 13 or something.
And you are totally right about the comic relief bullshit,totally not needed,even tho most times they are so senseless that it makes it funny sef.
I'm totally feeling ur other point about the fashion conscious girls, Yoruba movies always paint this picture that being trendy and fashion conscious goes hand in hand with promiscuity.I say that is total bullshit.
I really enjoyed reading this, it would do Funke Akindele some good to read this too.Very well written.

chayoma said...


chayoma said...

we are waiting for "your"generation of filmmakers to take over!!


(seriously u said it all)


I watched jenifa. Yes, it was funny. However, I was unable to watch the entire movie, as in Parts 1 & 2.

Other than the fat that Funke's comedic timing was spot on, the main storyline seemed a rehash of other Nollywood films. But, maybe that was the goal - to focus on a formula that works. If that was the case, then I definitely cannot knock her hustle.

That being said, I wish Funke and others who work hard to be creative, the best of luck. It is not easy to be creative and yet innovative. The goal is always to find a healthy medium so as not to disappoint fans, but yet accumulate new ones.

And, best of luck to you on your journey to film making.

Nefertiti said...

Chai, see as u tear tear dis chic...

Interestingly, her 'Jenifa' movie is the only other naija film i've seen since '00 (Oleku & thunderbolt) I thoroughly enjoyed Jenifa though. It's sad to say, but I wasn't (and generally don't) expecting too much. I was just prepared to be entertained and I was. I have not seen any of her other works- as an actor or producer- so I cannot make any fair judgments on her work.

Anonymous said...

Preach it sister!

ibiluv said...

I'm with Nefertiti...all i'm interested in is entertainment-i dare say we dont need movies to teach us how to live our lives....

there are so many american movies that cant teach us squat which we still enjoy cos we wanna be entertained

and sweets if a man likes his food-he likes it-before you get mad over the fact that all he wanted was food-he made it clear whilst they were dating that he liked his food-she tricked him into believing she was a good cook-dont blame the guy if he came into the home screaming food-moreover what is a housewife expected to do-if not have good food ready for her man after he has had a hard day at work slaving for both of them

it dont matter how educated we get-we still need to be able to feed our men and eventually kids..........

Ms. Catwalq said...

@Ibiluv: feeding your man and children, is that all you are about? if Marie Curie had only been interested in feeding her husband and child would she have discovered penicilin?

As far as American movies are concerned, I am not sure what your preferred genre is but you must realise that for every Adam Sandler/Tyler Perry/Seth Rogen flick, there are the Martin Scorceses, Spike Lees, John Singletons, Steven Spielberg and Bruckheimers. What I mean is that there is diversity in their products. All western movies are not commercial fares. And even if it is a high-tech, man-candy flick like Wolverine, embeded in the tale is some message to educate you. If you missed it, you obviously were not paying attention.

No, you need no one to teach you how to lead your life but t is naive of you to think that movies don't educate. they paint a visual picture of a situation and depending onhow the story plays out, it also paints a stereotypical resolution. The same way, American movies showed you that their law enforcement battles crime or that domestic abuse is a serious offense gave you through entertainment, the standards of their society.
Entertainment without purpose is a waste of brain power, if you are content with stories that don't uplift you or your kind, that's fine by you. I am not and once I can, I will be soing something about that.

Anonymous said...

my dear shake me hand o!!!
u articulated my thoughts clearly and concisely.
damn...i hate those meaningless gatemen and housegirl WTF! The way the men just order the women "Lo mu ounje mi wa" no please nothing...the women in the movies dont work...they just sit their asses at home and wear boubou and lace!!Funke has tried o..and some of her movies are very entertaining....but damn, girl is educated and is a lawyer... i think she can do better than conforming to stereotypes jare!

ibiluv said...

marie curie had a husband and two daughters-she,husband,daughter and son-in-law all won nobel prizes which i'm sure they could not eat-she may have been able to cook up a storm....*wink*

KKL you may air your view but you may not shove it down my throat.........

thats why peeps down here say too much education changes us

we(most africans) tend to think the women who hide behind being the best in what they do are not comfortable being in the kitchen.......

there is a natural order of things-women feed their man and children

there are sooooooooo many women doing fantastic things in the world who CAN cook up a storm

It may be an overflogged story but there ARE girls sleeping around to make ends meet-and they ARE getting into the hands of ritualists,dieing,getting STD's

you cant be sure what kind of movies i watch-any intelligent person can grab the message in any movie they spend their money on-but sometimes we have our hopes up on a great movie and it does not do sqaut for us.....

and while i'm going to get to the top of my game-i'm sooooooooooo looking forward to feeding my man and my kids.....*wink*

Anonymous said...

@ Ibiluv i totally disagree with you especially when you said "thats why peeps down here say too much education changes us" i think thats the essence of is suppose to change you and make you a better person...its suppose to change the ills of the society.I am not saying a woman shouldnt cook for her family but that is not her major duty in life...It is not the natural order of things...i think its what society had told us it is.

While the task to change the way women are portrayed should not be on Funke alone, i'd expect her movies to feature all sorts of women; the hardworking woman, the professional woman, the single mother and the boli seller but no... it always has to be a woman who is eating off her husband, a prostitute, an aristo girl, a woman who has had 5 abortion ...the list is endless

H2O-works said...

Thank you very much for this post, I have said this over and over to my friends, some of them even want to chop my head off when I tell them I don't like that Jenifa movie. Yes it had it's funny moments, but besides that it was u rightly said the characters have linear expressions. As a guy, I have constantly found the portrayal of women in naija movies as absurd and even the portrayal of men too. They are modern fixtures in the movies, but nothing modern about the plot or characters. Im so glad to know that you are thinking these thoughts, because I have secretly said to myself that if and when Im gonna venture into the Nigerian movie industry, you wud be amongst the blogville writers I wud like to work with, because I love your stories...Im a believer that what you present to people on their TV sets goes a long way to shape their images of themselves and people around them hence we need to present better images for people to relate to. Kudos once again for such an eloquent expression of the state of our nollywood movies and the work of Funke Akindele.


gbemi said...

Dear Catwalq, I have read all 3 of your blogs and all of your posts. I mean ALL.
This is the first time im commenting though....
I watched the Olo mo kan movie with my family last week and I had just had the same conversation with my mother. I hated that there was no punishment for the husband who committed adultery. Heres a cyber hug! Im going to print out this post and give it to Funke myself.

Anonymous said...

Catwalk, thank you I shall now proceed to give said movie a wide berth. I loved Jenifa but couldn't believe the arrant medical nonsense and backward stereotypes.
Ibiluv, I'll give u a pass and say you probably meant 'generally taking care of' ur family. Cooking doesn't define a woman. My husband is the better cook but it doesn't make him any less grim of an enforcer, nor less of a financial provider. Which leads me to think Funke Akindele is also short-changing Nija men, not just the women. There are some spectacular Nija dudes out there who've outgrown this backwater mentality.

realitycheck said...

@Catwalq. How many nigerian women (or men) do you really think share your views?

Jenifa typifies the current expectations of our society. Cooking, bearing babies, the whole nine yards.The few women who differ are the exception, not the reality. And this society makes them pay a price by calling them sluts.
Read nigerian soft sell magazines and even society pages of newspapers like punch, the nation, tribune etc and tell me I am wrong.

This is a society that believes women's dressing should be regulated. We are not a liberal people, let us face that fact.

N.I.M.M.O said...

And there I was thinking just the opposite.

It appears that most Naija movies are targeted at the female folks with the intended 'lessons' for women to learn etc etc.

The male actors are just props most of the time.

Why does it have to be about women?

You would wonder: Why will someone as supposedly intelligent as Funke Akindele will be involved in the perpetuation of a stereotype in Nollywood?

Elementary, my dear Watson. Its called ECONOMICS.

Most of Funke's (and others) movies are funded by the movie marketers, the so called 'Ebinpejo Mafia' and most of the time, economics triumphs over creativity.

The Mafia needs a face or name that will sell movies.

She wants to make movies, so they come together and a synergy ensues.

She makes the movies that they sell.

End of story.

N.I.M.M.O said...

It may sound like sacrilege but I think we should be grateful to the Mafia for at least giving the actors a means of expressing their creativity and we see flashes of this creativity in some films - even though there are evidences of compromise.

Modupe Temi by Saidi Balogun & Doris Simeon is an example of what is possible when artistes try to set out on their own money.

The solution? Elementary. Let us put our money where our criticism is.

The average Yoruba flick will cost less than $50, 000 dollars to make -including cast, crew, props etc etc.

N.I.M.M.O said...

LOL @ you guys arguing about cooking.

Even in the days of Efunsetan Aniwura, there were women who could not boil water not to talk of making eba.

I think women who cannot cook should not marry men who like to eat food cooked by their wives. And vice versa.

You dont sell what you dont have. To do so will be 'marriage by false pretenses'.

Its 419. There are repercussions for everything.

I think that's the lesson in Ol'omo kan.

Ore said...

Great post, Catwalq. I agree with so many of your points.

While films serve as a form of entertainment for many of us, they also carry messages that can either challenge societal norms or reinforce them. The latter is typically the case and I'm sick to death of being told that women are expected to be put up with physical and verbal abuse from their husbands, accept infidelity as normal, be able to prepare sumptuous meals everyday while going to work for the same number of hours as her husband - in short be SUPERWOMAN!

There are definitely a lot of women who are tired and unable to cope with these expectations, but who don't know how to create a different type of life for themselves. That's where the media is such a powerful force for change, if only directed in a more progressive direction.

Anonymous said...

@Catwalq you are so right...i was in Unilag and the Aristo girls were a minority...they stood out so much that everyone knew who they were and then these yoruba movies potray almost every girl as an aristo chic..

@ realitycheck...many nigerian women and men share her view but lots of pple just dont have a platform to let the world know what they are thinking....Yes we are not a liberal people but that doesnt mean we should resign to our fate and not change things when we have the power too....One person senator Ekaette believed that womens dressing should be regulated and there a public outcry again the barbaric law.There are many MEN and women who differ and they are NOT the exception...
People will just be using society as excuse for everything...maybe if we used our common sense, then we could change our own mentality and know that women are not there to cook and bear babies!

@ Ibiluv pls it is not a natural order of things, if it were then every woman would naturally LOVE cooking and doing housekeeping stuff and no woman would ever complain.

Sugabelly said...

@Anonymous: I STRONGLY support and share Catwalq's view on this. There, and I'm Nigerian.

reality check said...

@ sugar belly

Follow this link to Naijablog find out that women need permission of their husband to apply for a passport(, Nigerian women do not confer citizenship on their husbands when they marry foriegners(though men do) and a nigerian women can not take her kids abroad without the husbands written permission. The latter rule is being implemented by even western embassies in the country.

Which Nigeria do you guys live in?

StandTall-The Activist said...

Well, I have since given up or Yoruba and all Nigerian movies with an exception to some directed by Tade Ogidan, Tunde Kelani and Amaka Igwe.

Funke is a law graduate and I expect her to know better but she just rush into given the nigerians or the majority of nigerians what they always prefer. He kind of story. She is a success which am happy for but then, I dont like Jenifa because of some of the stuff you analysed here.

When are we going to grow up in Nigeria? I have said it so many times that our artists need serious gender training.

Funmi Iyanda blog about how disastify she was with Jenifa film too...

TDVA said...

Some really intelligent opinions have been offered here, and i must admit that i'm impressed to find a people sick of the stereotyping of both male and female characters in Nigerian/Yoruba movies.

I started to watch Jenifa and was disgusted at the way it portrayed women. I must tell you that if you go to Unilag (and most universities), today there is a crop of women who aspire to be more than housewives and kept ladies. I was at Unilag with Funke Akindele, and I hate to say this; her only claim to fame was having appeared in some soaps but she wanted to be treated like a celebrity. She was quickly dismissed and treated as a wannabe as students are wont to do. She then watched girls dress well and date men that spent money on them, and obviously acquired the impression that that was what life was about. I am not surprised that her movies show her mindset.

I am one of the women who doesnt believe i need to cook and clean to keep a husband. My mother didnt do it before me and neither will I. She supervised the home and taught me to cook, but also didnt say it was a necessity. I know many Nigerian men today who employ cooks to save their wives the hassle, but they expect the wives to still supervise and run the home.

All this cooking business, how many of our mothers actually had to cook and clean daily? Maybe at the beginning of the marriage, but after nieces and sisters and cousins came to live with them, most of them, or when their daughters grew up they took up a supervisory role.

On the other hand, it is still treachery to say you are a great cook when you can't boil an egg to save your life, and with every other thing you need to be honest about in relationships, this is one.

My 2 cents.

TDVA said...

And Catwalk, as usual you have taken something i have only wandered about mildly and in passing and articulated it properly and concisely.

I can't wait for you to apply yourself and realise your full potential as an asset to strong minded women in this country.

SHE said...

@realitycheck: I agree that Nigerian society would really like women's dressing to be regulated, but the fact remains that it is NOT.

Let us also not kid ourselves that all the promiscuous girls get punished one way or the other. Far from it! Loads of ‘wayward’ girls DO NOT get diseases, have several abortions, and still manage to end up marrying responsible young men.
How about that?

Nigerian films, Funke’s inclusive, are just too shallow.
I believe the whole objective of film making in Nigeria is just to make profit (I agree with N I M M O). And that’s why you would be wasting your time looking for some sort of spectacular education that might have been put there just as an after thought…

Anonymous said...

@ realitycheck You are a good example of pple who know that society can be unfair towards a certain group of people but embrace it using the excuse "this is how it has always been".
Maybe if mary slessor had folded her arms and said well they have always been killing twins and that is the way things ,maybe myself and my twin will be dead now.
Growing up there were so many men i saw who cooked for their family and were not fussy, i know so many men who are so NOT like the men in yoruba/nollywood movies..My dad was the one that taught me how to cook many dishes i can cook all these nonsense in these movies is some peoples reality but not that of every nigerian man and woman.
Reality check...if you are a man pls treat your wife as a cook oh and if you are a woman pls let your sole duty be to bear children and cook..also pls tell your future/present children that they MUST not attempt to break out of useless stereotypes..let them know that stupid society norms must prevail ALWAYS

bello.fighting.ignorance said...

Loved the thrust of the debate her.
Loved the opening as well : "As an aspiring filmmaker myself and seasoned storyteller." There's a whole load of dross and dreck out there and it is refreshing to hear a shout out for more than we get at the moment.
we await your efforts and continue to commend TK, Tade Ogidan and those out to do more! or try to!!

Anonymous said...

Thank God for critics but then...make your words soft cause you might have to eat them.
I don't really watch Nigerian movies and this not due to 'class' or an unpatriotic act, I simply cannot stand shallow production 'cos that is what they are but then I may be wrong because there may be some movies out there that are on point.
Not until you start your production and make your first, second or maybe third movie... you may never know what movie making entails. So easy when 'talking' with this Funke of a lady.