With ‘Battle on Buka Street’, Funke Akindele Retreats from Nollywood Limelight 

Vanessa Obioha

Nollywood film premieres in recent times have sort of become an exotic affair.  From the costumes to the ambience, organisers and guests go the extra mile to showcase the beauty of our creativity and culture. For the award-winning actress,  film producer and politician Funke Akindele, there was no better way to pass the baton to the younger generation as she pursues her political ambition than throwing a festival for her latest film ‘Battle on Buka Street’.

FilmHouse Cinema, Oniru, Lagos where the premiere took place was transformed into a courtyard of some sort.  Barred from unwanted guests, invitees were ushered into a yard that had the red carpet on one side, and a stage, a seating area, and a food court on the other. 

Given the cultural theme, the red carpet was a spectacular display of traditional attire. One need no soothsayer to be told that the guests from the film and music industry paid extra attention to the theme of the event. From the flowing Agbadas and aso-okes of the Yorubas, the Fulanis’ Mudukares, the beaded costumes of the Edo people to the Isiagus of the Igbos, guests wore their culture with pride and like a peacock, displayed it beautifully.

Not to be outdone by her guests, Akindele arrived in a green striped dashiki top paired with patterned pants and bright red headgear and white sneakers. The actress was ushered in with pulsating drums and accompanied by veteran actress Sola Sobowale and otters as she danced to the red carpet while the cameramen thronged her, taking shots rapidly so as not to miss any moment. Akindele basked in it all. Spreading smiles like a slice of watermelon and blowing kisses as if teasing the camera for more.

Akindele was joyous at the film premiere. It was very conspicuous. Of course, a filmmaker always takes pride in seeing his/her films going to the cinema. But for Akindele, there was a special ring to her bubbly mien.

“I’m going to be the next Deputy Governor of Lagos State,” she said confidently to a group of journalists.

Alas, the secret to her buoyancy. As she further revealed, the Buka soiree was a farewell to the silver screen. This explained the large crowd the event pooled. Some of the faces at the event included Peter Okoye of P-Square, Funso Adeolu, Nkem Owoh and Mercy Johnson-Okojie among others. 

“I have passed the baton of production to the younger people now because I have moved into politics. This is like a farewell to the industry,” she stated.

Akindele embarked on a political ambition a few months ago when she was unveiled as the running mate for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Lagos governorship candidate, Olajide Adediran (Jandor). Her emergence fetched criticisms and not a few frowned at her capacity to run the office if elected. To some, it was a mismatch. But Akindele has a thick skin and as she stated, “nothing good comes easy.”

She continued: “My mother has always told me that you have to work hard, pray harder and learn patience to get to the top. So moving into politics, there are lots of backlash and nos. But don’t forget, I got a lot of nos before I got to where I am today.  

“Everybody can’t support you. If they all support you that means you are not doing anything good. You must let people criticise you constructively. You sieve it, pick out the constructive ones and be better. I have learnt to be better, calmer, more dedicated and not to give up.”

‘Battle on Buka Street’ is special to Akindele as it provided her opportunity to work with young talents.

“A young boy called Jack owns the original story. He is a newbie. The talent he showcased on ‘Battle on Buka Street’ makes me so excited. I adore fresh talents. Nollywood should get ready for the new faces. Working with young people has really touched my life so anytime I hear about their new projects, I jump on it.”

‘Battle on Buka Street’ which heads to cinemas today according to Akindele is family-centred. It captures the hustles and frictions within the family while celebrating Nigerian culture, particularly food.

“It is also to celebrate oneness and unity in the family, in the state and the country.”

Akindele started production on the film when she was down emotionally.

“Rather than sitting down crying and brooding, I have to brace up. A lot of people look up to me in the entertainment industry so I just passed all that into the film.”

Although Akindele has seemingly taken a back seat, she would still be playing advisory to the younger team.

“I will need to supervise but let them be the face. Are you not tired of seeing old faces?”

Perhaps her fans are not tired.

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