Movie review: Áfàméfùnà: An Nwa Boi Story’ – The Igbo apprenticeship system of capitalism

Movie review: Áfàméfùnà: An Nwa Boi Story’ – The Igbo apprenticeship system of capitalism

The movie, Áfàméfùnà dwells on the Igbo apprentice system otherwise known as ‘Igba-Odibo/Igba-Boi/Imu-Ahia/Imu-Oru’. It is a cinematic masterpiec

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The movie, Áfàméfùnà dwells on the Igbo apprentice system otherwise known as ‘Igba-Odibo/Igba-Boi/Imu-Ahia/Imu-Oru’.

It is a cinematic masterpiece that intricately weaves and transports viewers into a world brimming with positive energy and pride in Igbo heritage while offering a delightful experience of diverse themes and valuable lessons, with a rich blend of culture, entrepreneurship, greed, love, and growth.

Against the backdrop of the Nigerian Civil War, the film underlines the crucial role played by the Igbo apprenticeship system prevalent in the southeastern part of Nigeria, emphasizing values such as respect, hard work, and unity within the Igbo community.

Áfàméfùnà shows how the dynamics of the apprenticeship system helped to revitalize the fortunes of the Igbo tribe while highlighting the economic challenges faced by the Igbo community post-war.

The concept of ‘Nwa Boy’ aligns seamlessly with the longstanding culture of entrepreneurship, a tradition unique to nearly every Igbo family, this strategy involves the induction of young Igbo men into a specific entrepreneurial venture, by a business or vocation mentor be it a trade, skill, enterprise, or vocation.

After an extensive period of traditional business education and service, the mentor initiates the settlement process. This involves providing financial and other support to help the apprentice start their own business. Once settled, the apprentice gains independence from the mentor.

The war as earlier mentioned, spanning from July 6, 1967, to January 13, 1970, marked the end of the brutal two-year Nigeria-Biafra war which claimed an estimated one to three million lives, predominantly from the Igbo tribe in the eastern part of the country, and disrupted business activities in southeastern Nigeria.

The federal government’s policy of allotting a mere 20 pounds to Igbos with bank savings, regardless of their pre-war possessions, further exacerbated the post-war impoverishment.

Odogwu played by Kanayo O. Kanayo, a building material merchant in the movie, emerges as a symbolic figure representing the resurgence of the Igbo community. His character sheds light on the economic challenges faced by the Igbo people in the aftermath of the war.

Although majority of the dialogue is in Igbo language, it is also infused with elements of Yoruba and Hausa languages, beautifully capturing the unity and distinctiveness of Nigerian tribes.

The narrative unfolds the pursuit of economic freedom by Igbo boys navigating the world of apprenticeship. It sheds light on their aspirations, the sacrifices entwined with the journey to success, and the inevitable betrayals encountered in dealings with characters like Afam, Paulo, Obum, Chike and their peers within Odogwu’s business empire.

It tells the story of Áfàméfùnà (meaning ‘my name won’t get lost,’ signifying one living up to expectations) was played by Stan Nze, a billionaire business mogul, whose life takes a dramatic turn when he is accused of a crime he allegedly knew nothing about. This was during a remembrance celebration for his late father. The body of Áfàméfùnà’s former friend and co-apprentice, Paul played by Alex Ekubo, is discovered. Accused of Paul’s murder, Áfàméfùnà’s arrest sets the stage for a gripping narrative that delves into his past as an apprentice at Odogwu’s building materials shop in Lagos and the traditions that shape his fate.

Paul, the senior apprentice at Odogwu’s shop, assumes responsibility for managerial duties and ensuring the smooth operation of the business. He leads and directs the younger apprentices, who are expected to show him the respect he deserves as per the established rule.

Áfàméfùnà quickly noticed the master’s young and beautiful daughter, Amaka, whose beauty truly mirrors the significance of her Igbo name and immediately fell in love with her upon laying eyes on her. However, he couldn’t act on his feelings due to the strict rules and warnings from his master. On the contrary, Paul, a hardworking apprentice, prioritized his master’s business growth but was carefree and didn’t adhere to rules, leading to a trivial relationship with Amaka.

Áfàméfùnà also challenges stereotypes by portraying instances of existing good and incorruptible officers within the corridors of government.

Odogwu had faced a daunting challenge in clearing his goods from customs, which posed a significant threat to his business. Moved by loyalty and compassion, Áfàméfùnà took it upon himself to seek assistance from the Nigeria Customs to aid in clearing his master’s goods. Fortunately, he was in luck as a disciplined customs officer decided to help him. Without delay, he relayed the good news to his master, who was greatly relieved and happy.

The portrayal of the customs officer refusing to be bribed and help Odogwu clear out his goods the right way as opposed to the N10 million he was initially charged, offers a clear departure from the commonly held belief of the pervasive corruption within the Nigerian government.

Paul having served longer and was naturally expected to be the first to be settled and sent forth was asked by Odogwu to get kolanut and gin for the customary settlement and blessings. But the story takes a sharp detour when Odogwu chose to settle Afam instead of Paul. Odogwu gifted Afamefuna a shop and N6 million. That singular act turned Paul into a bitter man, set him on a collision course against Áfàméfùnà, thus setting off a chain reaction that ended up consuming Paul.

The movie ‘Afamefuna’ is rich with lessons, entertainment, and insights into Igbo business culture, offering a compelling narrative filled with some twists and turns.

The cast of the movie brought their A-game. From Stan Nze to Alex Ekubo to Atlanta Bridget Johnson who played Amaka to Kanayo O. Kanayo, to Segun Arinze who played detective and beautifully navigated between speaking Hausa and Igbo languages. Then there was Paul Nnadiekwe, Chuks Joseph and Chidera David

It was produced by Lawumi Fajemirokun and Kenechukwu Egbue and directed by Kayode Kasum.

Áfàméfùnà is the epitome of a well-rounded movie experience, incorporating all the essential elements of a compelling narrative. From the outstanding cast performances to the vibrant setting and captivating cinematography, Áfàméfùnà offers a perfect blend of richness that every great movie should possess. From start to finish, the talent on display is remarkable, captivating audiences and adding depth to the story. Whether portraying complex characters or bringing moments of levity to the screen, the cast’s chemistry and dedication are evident, making for an unforgettable viewing experience.