The Neccesary messages behind Kunle Afolayan’s ‘October 1st’

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Kunle Afolayan is a Nigerian award winning filmmaker. He is popularly known for his movie called Figurine (Araromire). His film October 1st was released in 2014. It tells a tale about a series of events that took place in a village leading up to Nigerias independence in 1960.

I had heard about the movie and I had also seen the poster. Normally when you see a poster of a film, you’re pulled in to watch by a cast filled with your favourite actors and actresses. I wasn’t familiar with any of the actors apart from one. Later on in the movie I did realise I had seen some of the actors before. Most importantly, I did know Kunle Afolayan is known as one of the most talented filmmakers in Nigeria today.

Before actually watching the film, it looked a bit too serious. One of the reasons I thoroughly enjoy Nollywood is because it can be very unserious and light hearted. You’re guaranteed a good laugh. A lot of the movies don’t require a lot of concentration to follow the storyline, which is perfect for me, as I have an incredibly low attention span. I enjoy watching love stories and comedy, so was I really willing to sit down for 2 and a half hours to watch a movie on how Nigeria gained independence? That was the real question, but honestly…I am glad I did.

Contrary to the name, the movie isn’t solely focused on Nigeria gaining independence but concentrates specifically on tragedies that were taking place in a particular town during the time leading up to Independence Day. The movie was great, the storyline, acting, cinematography was all amazing. Movies like these remind us why the Nigerian film industry has come so far. That goes without saying, but I wasn’t compelled to write this review simply because I watched a movie that I was impressed by. I feel like there were so many issues highlighted in this movie that are left unspoken about, especially in African culture as a whole.

I’m happy that filmmakers all over the world including Nigeria, are taking the initative to spread necessary messages and highlight issues that others may not want to speak about. I don’t want to ruin the movie for you and I do suggest you watch it, so what I go on to say below will make more sense to you.

Rape and Child Molestation
Our young ones and women are being abused, defiled and sometimes even killed. Keeping quiet about it doesn’t change the reality of it or make it go away. Rape will always be an extremely touchy subject. As sensitive it is, we will not learn if we don’t discuss. As a young girl I knew nothing about rape culture or consent, as I’ve grown older and had these discussions, I have a clearer understanding. I continue to learn and become more informed. We need to continue having such discussions, educating those around us and be willing to learn from others. We have to teach our brothers and sons the true meaning of consent. No is no. Sexual abuse of children in the African community, is so rampant but no one wants to talk. Those in positions of power are abusing it and exploiting children in unspeakable ways. I also believe when we discuss rape and molestation we tend focus on women and girls, which is completely understandable, as a lot of the time they are the victims. But then what ends up happening is that men and young boys are often forgetten. I feel like there is a stigma attached to boys who have been sexually abused. Men and boys who go through this are also valid and deserve to be heard. Having touched on these things in this movie, Maybe it will open people’s eyes, make parents more vigilant, cause them to have conversations with their children and be a lot more cautious and weary of where they leave them, all in the name of ‘opportunity’.

I believe the first step to healing is by speaking up. I don’t underestimate how difficult that is, but moving forward I believe this film may spark up conversation that many are probably afraid to have. It all starts from there.

Tribalism ( & Cultural stereotypes)
I’ve never lived in Nigeria. Tribalism was almost a foreign concept to me, being from more than one tribe myself. I can say it’s almost naive to assume the various tribes in Nigeria are living in complete peace and harmony. I’ve read a little and asked a few people about the Biafran war. We have seen the effects of what happened years ago, in today’s Nigeria. What was interesting to see in this movie is how the three main tribes in Nigeria were referenced. It was also interesting to see certain stereotypes I had heard about each tribe being played out, for example ‘Igbos are always willing to fight for justice’.

Even though the movie was set way back in 1960, we can still see the tension between Igbos and Hausas today and how that Portrayal is still relevant almost 6 decades later. It’s easy for us who weren’t directly affected by the war to tell other tribes to ‘move on’ or ‘get over it’ if we didn’t lose loved ones all in the name of ethnic differences. For someone who had very little knowledge on it, this movie gave me a little insight and has honestly urged me to want to dig deeper to gain more understanding.

Corruption
This is one of the most interesting parts for me. Corruption is a global issue. I’ve always known this, however seeing it in film brought it alive for me. At one point I know Nigeria was ranked the 3rd most corrupt country in the world. We often complain about the poor leadership of our country and our corrupt leaders. Other countries often make jokes at how corrupt Nigeria is. David Cameron even called our country fantastically corrupt, but when Nigeria was colonised by Britain what makes us think it was any less corrupt. Because they did a better job at hiding it? There was a scene in the movie where someone else was put down on file for crimes committed, by the British people in charge, simply because the accused was a ‘nobody’. October 1st is a fictional movie, so think about how many larger scale crimes were swept under the carpet in reality. Think about how many atrocities committed against us that we wouldn’t have known about. It just goes to show you corruption is not solely a Nigerian issue but a worldwide issue.

I loved the important messages this film highlighted and I congratulate Kunle Afolayan on this production. I strongly urge everyone to watch it. October 1st is available to watch on Netflix or Iroko TV. Do enjoy and thank you for checking out this post and your continued support of this blog!