Why Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti’s Biopic is Much Talked About

Ferdinand  Ekechukwu

Barely a week after it opened in cinemas nationwide on May 17, 2024, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, a new biopic on the life of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s mother, has by far been adjudged one of the best biopics out of Nollywood in recent times. Not faultless, online reviews and comments complement loud rounds of media buzz orchestrated by the producers.

Having its lead female cast members like Omowunmi Dada, Joke Silva, Kehinde Bankole on social media to deliberately drive the buzz around the film.  Directed by Bolanle Austen-Peters, and Ibrahim Taofik, the biopic also stars Adunni Ade, Adebayo Salami,  Jide Kosoko, Dele Odule, Ibrahim Suleiman, Bikiya Graham-Douglas, Yewande Osamein, and Iyimide Ayo-Olumoko.

The biopic was screened to an exclusive audience on Sunday, May 12, shortly before its second release at the cinemas and was attended by its cast and the crew who came out to celebrate the film. With a befitting support from the guests including the governors of Lagos and Ogun state, Babajide Sanwo–Olu and Dapo Abiodun, who graced the occasion.

The film follows the life of Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, a revered Nigerian educator, activist, and mother of Afrobeat legend Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.  It chronicles her journey from her days at Abeokuta Grammar School to her marriage with Isreal Ransome-Kuti, culminating in her revolutionary fight  against colonialism and patriarchy through the Abeokuta Women’s Union she founded with her husband.

This led to a bloody conflict with traditional and colonial leaders who stood in the way of justice and fairness. A critic noted reasons Bolanle Austen-Peters’ biopic on the late Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, based on the life of the activist, is as relevant today as it would have been in the early 20th century when it is set; unfair, unexplainable taxes, a government that oppresses its people, a people too used to oppression are all familiar tropes.

“But above all, the film, which hit cinemas last weekend, offers fresh perspectives on the life of the famous educator, activist, wife, mother, and giver of good trouble than any Social Studies class ever would. How is it that a woman so resplendent and noble could have been reduced simply to the first woman to drive a car in Nigeria?

“Austen-Peters could not have sought to answer this question at a better time. The parallels between Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti and modern-day Nigeria are stark, or maybe nothing has changed all these years since British colonial rule was brought to its knees.”

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