Power Demystified in Tenants of the House Movie

A scene from the movie

With a premiere at the Ladi Kwali Hall, Sheraton Hotel, Abuja, conspiracy in power, dangerous romance, girl-child education and of course conflict resolution are some of the compelling themes of the movie, “Tenants of the House” produced by Dr. Wale Okediran and directed by Kunle Afolayan, Yinka Olatunbosun reports

Samuel Bakura (Yakubu Mohammed) is a young, charming and idea-driven first-term member of the House of Representatives from a constituency in Kaduna state called Kaduna South. He seems bent on using his position in the House to settle the long-standing crisis between the Fulani Herdsmen and Hausa farmers by sponsoring a bill in the Green Chamber.

That initiative was almost thwarted by his romance with Lizzie (Joslyn Dumas), an influential seductress member of the House of Representatives who tried to initiate him into the caucus of corruption. The caucus has only one agendum: to seek the impeachment of the Speaker of the House, Attah, who has an admirer in Bakura.

Conscience reined in on Bakura who also discovered a new flame, Batejo. Asides being a persuasive representative, Bakura certainly relishes dangerous affairs. Batejo has been betrothed to a Fulani Herdsman but Batejo is an ambitious lover. He cautiously worms his way into the young Fulani damsel’s heart but had to put his professed love to test by agreeing to fulfil the cultural requirement of Sharo. This practice of Sharo in a traditionally acceptable way of proving his bravery and manhood to the community and indeed his love interest but then it turned out as a means of settling the scores between the rival lovers.

What it simply means is that Bakura has to endure several strokes of cane without begging his aggressor to stop. Bakura agrees to go through this ritual to marry Batego until the unexpected happened.

Batego played a pivotal role in the conflict resolution of Hausa-Fulani crisis but constitutes other conflicts in the plot of the drama. Her character is a pointer to the daily reality of young Fulani girls who desire to be educated but are quickly made to marry under the pressure imposed by the prevalent culture.

The movie is inspired by the novel written by Dr. Wale Okediran with the same title and adapted into screenplay and tweaked to bring out the scenes of suspense, intrigues and thriller.

Quite fascinating is the establishing shot- a close shot of the Federal lawmaker’s vehicular plate number that helps situate the locale of the movie. Interestingly, the screening of the movie did not start until the arrival of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila at the hall. Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka was duly represented by his son, Dr. Olaokun Soyinka.

Sponsored by Ford Foundation, Premero Consulting Ltd, Bank of Industry, National Livestock Transformation Plan, the movie is an unusually blend of Nollywood and Kannywood stars that tells an incisive narrative from Northern Nigeria with a globally relevant thrust.

Okediran recalled some of the unforgettable moments at the location at the end of the movie premiere. He wrote the book to document parts of his experience as a former member of the House of Representatives. The book won the 2013 Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature.

“The Bank of Industry gave me the loan and advised me on the production of the movie. I stayed with them at the location for almost two weeks out of the six weeks they stayed. It was my first time of being at a film location and it was a wonderful experience for me to realise the rigour of film making,” he said.

Having done a detailed research in a Fulani village, he was able to deconstruct some of the negative stereotypes to tell an authentic African story.

“The next step is for us to go to the cinema and then tour the country. We hope to get to the grassroots and pass the message of conflict resolution and harmonious living among ethnic and religious groups in the country,” he added.

‘Tenants in the House’ is a visual political expose on Nigeria’s ruling class, the conflict between personal and national interest wrapped with a garb of emotions.