Ten Years After, Ab’obaku Movie Chimes at 2020 WSICE

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By Yinka Olatunbosun

Ab’obaku, produced in 2010 by Femi Odugbemi once again projected the theme of power play at the just-concluded Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange held on the virtual platform as against its traditional venue at the amphi-theatre inside the Ijegba forest home of the Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka in Abeokuta. The event coincided with the 86thbirthday of the legendary writer.

Directed by Niji Akanni, it is political themed-story woven with a romance sub-plot. Starring Adebayo Faleti, Kola Oyewo, Tunji Ojeyemi, a young man, Aremu runs away from his village to escape the mandatory sacrificial death that is looming and to please his lover, Prince Adenike. Adenike had threatened to commit suicide if Aremu should die the ritual death that is required of an ‘Abobaku’ that is one who dies along with the King. Aremu is torn between honouring tradition and pleasing his lover who is pregnant. He takes action.

While fleeing, he stumbles upon a discovery that explains why the King had been ill. As he flees the scene of the discovery, he is caught by the search team dispatched by the Chiefs to catch him dead or alive. Angered by his foiled attempt to run away, the squad beat him up before he could explain what he had just found out.

One of the Chiefs had been poisoning the king’s medicine to worsen his condition so that he can die. With Aremu’s accidental discovery of this truth, the King’s life was preserved. The short film ends with the scene of celebration of the King’s regained health. All those who hatched the plan to kill the King were banished from the village.

The theme of power play in this drama is still very relevant in today’s politics. Most governmental positions are threatened by a traitor in the system who wants to usurp power. The plot of Ab’obaku is a microcosm of the larger picture in most leadership systems.

One interesting part of the virtual screening of this movie is the interactive feature that allowed non-yoruba audience to ask others about the plot and Yoruba culture presented in the storyline. That was the whole idea of cultural exchange, that is to understand the culture of others.