By Anote Ajeluorou
The culture community turned out in large numbers last Thursday at the special premiere of the film adaptation of Wole Soyinka’s Ake: The Years of Childhood at MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos. Directed by Dapo Adeniyi, Ake is the first film on a literary personage in the country, obvious reason many writers and other culture workers were in attendance.
The list was impressive: Mr. Odia Ofeimun, Profs. Femi Osofisan, Adenike Osofisan and Remi Raji-Oyelade, Mr. Chike Ofili, Mr. Kunle Ajibade, Mrs. Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, Ms Yinka Davies, Information Commissioner, Lagos State, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, Mr. Segun Oyekunle and Mr. Mahmoud Ali-Balogun among others. Dr. Olaokun Soyinka represented the family in the absence of the hero of the film.
According to Dr. Soyinka, “I’m excited to be here. I particularly thank Adeniyi who has pursued his dream of making this film doggedly. I’m very impressed by what he did; it’s a labour of love, a film that should be made. I thank Adeniyi for realising his dream”.
The director, Adeniyi said he was seeing the film for the first time on the big screen having only worked on it on a small screen during pre-production. So, “I was a bit nervous. I’m looking forward to seeing the film. It’s a delight”.
Although a transposition of the childhood memoir unto film format and lacking the expected gripping, cinematic thrill, its realisation among the rocky, rugged Abeokuta terrain turns out a delight of some sort. Particularly, viewers will find the precocious and daring young Soyinka a thrilling character that animates the film.
What is more, memorable characters like the famous, history-making Ransome-Kutis of Abeokuta resonate in the film. But some things seem out of sorts, particularly the costume. Some of it is too modern. Soyinka’s mother Eniola (Wild Christian) is so Anglicised in the film that she doesn’t wear iro and buba except during the protest period. Besides, viewers don’t get to know why her son nicknames her Wild Christian.
Nevertheless, viewers will generally enjoy the laidback style and some hilarious aspects of the film, particularly Rev. Ransome-Kuti’s school court session and how one of his students outwitted him in a case in his own court.