FILM ARTICLES

FILM AND NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT IN NNAJI’S “LIONHEART” by Dika Ofoma

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  1. Film like any other art form has functions other than entertainment. Over the years, film has become a powerful vehicle for culture, education, leisure, propaganda and has served therapeutic purposes.

Film plays important roles in the development of any groups of people, ethnicity, and race as a nation or country. It is a veritable tool of national development. One of the key areas in which it performs this duty is in the realm of culture. Culture is the totality of the ways of life of a group of people or nation including their food, costumes, dressing, music, marriage and burial practices etc, and it is the bedrock of the essence of being of a people. Film is a purveyor of culture.

And this is what the film “Lionheart” does. By portraying the Nigerian culture vividly in the film, Lionheart makes bold statements about the Nigerian people.

 

Lionheart captures the challenges and travails of a female in a male-dominated industry. It tells the story of Adaeze who steps into her father’s shoes when health issues force him to take a step back from his company.

The use of the Nigerian Languages, Igbo and Hausa in the film serves as a reminder that these languages should be preserved as it is through a language you can get to know and get involved with the culture.

We also see a deliberateness in the costuming in Lionheart, we see characters wearing Nigerian attires and the women wearing Nigerian Hairstyles as opposed to straight hair weavons and wigs. Our clothing indicates who we are as individuals in any society.

The beautiful shots of Enugu brings her alive, presenting to the world the beauty and aesthetics of the Coal City and Nigeria at large.

 

Lionheart does more than depict the Nigerian culture in its contribution to national development. Before the opening credits roll, Nnaji’s character is introduced trying to manage a group of touts protesting at the premises of Lionheart (the eponymous transport company) for some money they’re entitled to for simply being touts. If we forgive the awkwardness of that scene (who plays diplomacy with a group of touts in pristine English?), we’d see that the intentions of that scene goes far beyond introducing Adaeze as efficient and competent. Many may have missed this, but there’s a clip at the end of the film, after the end credits have rolled (credit cookie) where we see some of the touts from the opening scene manning Lionheart’s gate as gatemen and security guards. The film’s message is, that for vices such as thuggery to be curbed, there’s a dire need for the youths of Nigeria to be empowered and employed.

However Lionheart’s biggest contribution to national development comes with exploring ethnicism as a theme in the film. Ethnicism is arguably the bedrock of many of Nigeria’s problems and woes and I admire the thoughtfulness in making it one of the film’s subthemes. When Adaeze and Uncle Godswill propose a merger between Lionheart and Maikano in a bid to save the Lionheart company from bankruptcy to Chief Ernest, he expresses his reservations “Ndi Hausa?”. As simple as this expression is, it exposed his doubts in having business dealings with a Hausa man for the simple reason of him being from another ethnic group. The paradox is found in the scene where Ernest and Maikano meet and he reveals in fluent Hausa that he was actually born and raised in the north. This is where they find confluence and thus, their prejudice and distrusts are tossed out of the window.

 

The portrayal of Igbo and Hausa culture in the contemporary Nigerian setting does not only  preach unity in diversity, it also redefined stereotypes of the Igbo as money-loving and Hausa-hating. What this movie tries to say is that there are bad eggs or rotten apples be it Igbo, Hausa or Yoruba.

Lionheart draws a conclusion that only when we set our differences aside and find unity amidst our diversity can we progress and move forward not only as individuals but in a larger sense as a country

 

 

Contributor: Dika Ofoma is a graduate of History and International Studies. He is a _nollyphile_ and is interested in film discussions. He also produces a show on radio and writes short fiction sometimes.

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