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REVIEW: ‘A Tribe Called Judah’ and Dynamics of Funke Akindele’s Storytelling Prowess

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By Basheer Luqman Olarewaju

 

Introduction

I have seen ‘A Tribe Called Judah’ and it left a lasting impression! The dramatic storyline, added with stellar performances from the cast, made for an emotionally entertaining cinematic experience. The cinematography was visually stunning, capturing the essence of each scene exceptionally. The soundtrack complemented the mood perfectly, enhancing the overall emotional impact. While the plot had unexpected twists, the pacing kept me hooked from the beginning to the end. They all delivered a standout performance, bringing depth and authenticity to their character. Whether you’re a fan of comedy or simply enjoy a well-crafted film, A Tribe Called Judah is definitely worth seeing. A cinematic gem that lingers in your thoughts long after the credits roll!

The Movie:

“A Tribe Called Judah” is a powerful family drama that captures the complexities and intricacies of the Nigerian modern family. The story follows a single mother raising five sons, each with a different father, highlighting the good, bad, and ugly that comes with family life. The film showcases the realities of low-to-middle-income families, and the challenges they face. With its compelling characters and nuanced story, the film resonates deeply with its audience, offering a raw and honest look at family dynamics.

In the opening scene of “A Tribe Called Judah,” the audience is introduced to Funke Akindele, Jedidah, a devoted single mother of five sons. She begins her day with prayer, anointing her sons’ pictures and asking for God’s protection with a funny touch of teeth-tearing sachet dry gin as morning dose. The next scene reveals more about Jedidah: she’s not only a woman of faith, but also a pillar of strength in her community. She’s known for her hard work, her supportive nature, and her dedication to her family. The movie has set the stage for a powerful and emotional story of family, faith, and resilience. The story explains more about the challenges and triumphs of Jedidah and her sons. Their lives may be complicated, but their love and faith in each other will ultimately prevail.

As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that Jedidah’s acts of kindness are not always met with gratitude. In fact, when she tries to help Linda start a pepper business, it only leads to more trouble. Papa Micheal, Linda’s husband, is furious at the idea of his wife working and lashes out at both Jedidah and Linda. He had thought his wife had been wayward. In a fit of rage, he slaps Jedidah, and Ejiro, her youngest son, can’t stand by and watch. Ejiro wasted no time and immediately called up his brothers, the tribe called Judah.

Emeka is the first son, was a fair-looking tall guy and a sales representative at a mini-mall. His father was Kalu, who put Jedidah in the family way and relocated. His grandmother raised Emeka. Adamu, her second son, was dark, huge guy and a security guard at the mall. His father, Bako, was from Kano, Bako. While he dated Jedidah, his family rejected her because she was not Muslim, and he left and remarried in Kano.

Emeka and Adamu are very different, but they both share a strong bond with their mother. Emeka, the sales representative, is outgoing and gregarious, while Adamu, the security guard, is more reserved and quiet. But when it comes to protecting their mother, they are united. It’s clear that despite their different personalities, they both love and respect their mother deeply. And when they hear about what happened with Papa Micheal, they’re ready to fight for her honor.

The third child, Shina, was a medium sized seaming chubby guy and a notoriously hoodlum. His father, Lekan, was a lesson teacher to his elder siblings when he fell in love with Jedidah, only to elope after Shina was born. Pere, the fourth child, was a cute, fairly looking chap with a blended green hair and a petty thief; his father, Boma, had married Jedidah but died. And then the last son, Ejiro, a naive painter and a lover-boy, was born through a bar romance and a one-night stand during the moment when depression was the ally of Jedidah’s life.

So it seems like Jedidah’s life has been full of ups and downs, and her children are a reflection of that. Hers is a good example of a family that houses everything; while the first two children are wired to be well-behaved, the middle two are essentially problem children. Pere is a chronic pickpocket, Shina is a community thug, and last child, Ejiro, is a naughty lover-boy child with his girlfriend, Testimony.

But despite the the childrens’ flaws, their love for the mother is second to none. She was everything to them until her health failed due to intake of unhealthy sachet-packed spirit drinks. She was diagnosed of ‘hypertensive Chronic Kidney Disease’, and her children must find a way to raise N18 million to fund her operation and N400,000 weekly for her drugs and dialysis. Emeka who is the first child had lost his job while attending to his mother’s health despite his efforts and hard work. The family’s hopes for saving Jedidah’s life were running thin, and tension was mounting in the household. Emeka, Pere and Shina even got into a physical altercation, and the neighborhood was getting concerned. In the midst of this chaos, Adamu remained the peacemaker, and Ejiro took on menial jobs to raise funds for his mother’s treatment. Testimony, Ejiro’s girlfriend, was also working tirelessly to raise funds. After front-and-back arguments and considerations, they agreed to rub a mall where dollars are kept at the VVIP room.

Characterization:

Behold, at the heart of the movie lies the captivating story of a single mother grappling with troublesome children. This theme resonates with the audience and the actors portraying each role in A Tribe Called Judah.

The film diligently assembles a diverse cast of Nollywood performers from various ethnic backgrounds to embody the unified family of the Judah tribe. The children, from eldest to youngest, are Emeka (Jide Kene Achufusi), Adamu (Uzee Usman), Shina (Tobi Makinde), Pere (Timini Egbuson), and Ejiro (Olumide Oworu).

Achufusi organically brings his Igbo identity, adding authenticity to his portrayal of Emeka. Similarly, Uzee Usman, who takes on the role of Adamu, exemplifies his character as a fearless Muslim Hausa young man.

Yet, the standout performances come from Tobi Makinde, Timini Egbuson, and Olumide Oworu. Makinde, portraying Shina, a hoodlum with a comedic touch, brings a nuanced delivery to his character. Egbuson, stepping away from his usual lover-boy persona, delivers a captivating performance. Oworu, in his portrayal of Ejiro, the mischievous lastborn and lover boy, exhibits impeccable acting skills.

The undeniable queen of the Judah family is Funke Akindele, the Jeddiah Judah herself. Pragmatic, decisive and intelligent in delivering her roles.

Beyond the Judah family, a noteworthy performance comes from Uzor Arukwe, who portrays the callous rich-Igbo antagonist, Chidokie, the Chairman of C and K Furniture. As Emeka’s boss involving in money laundering, Arukwe adds humour and authenticity to the character, avoiding the trap of overplaying the comedic aspects often associated with stereotypical roles. His portrayal of the loud semi-literate Igbo businessman with struggling English and a perpetually effervescent personality is truthful and unpredictable. Arukwe’s ability to inject humour into serious situations underscores the complexity of his character, making him simultaneously entertaining and formidable.

Fatiha Balogun’s character was a typical old sage. Her ingenuity and careful handling of her roles were top notch. However, the action packed movie at the tail end wouldn’t have been exciting enough if not Ibrahim Itele who played the “good boys gang leader” role. He was very strategic and actionable. He was the savior for Judahs to reach promised land.

Criticism:

A Tribe Called Judah journeys its audience on a destination through the intricate dynamics of a Nigerian family, skillfully blending elements of drama, comedy, and a beautiful touch of suspense.

The movie’s strength lies in its storytelling, efficiently introducing the central characters and themes in the first act. The painful story of a single mother and her problematic yet relatable children adds a touch of universal values, especially that of a mother’s care and love.

As the storyline develops, the plot is propelled by the looming adversity of Jedidah’s illness, which catalyses the family’s unity. Despite occasional melodrama, the story’s ability to create and resolve conflicts, introducing more complex challenges, keeps the plot engaging.

The oneness among the diverse ensemble cast contributes significantly to the film’s authenticity. The brotherhood and unity in diversity resonate with Nigerian society; perhaps the movie portrays Nigerian multiethnic structure and the need for unity.

The film boasts impressive visuals that capture the essence of Nigerian landscapes and settings, depicting the condition of the life of the characters. Also, the soundtrack subtly enhances the viewing experience, though it could have been more prominently featured to heighten emotional moments.

The subplots, particularly those involving Ejiro, his girlfriend, Shinene, and his gang, add layers to the narrative. Some extended scenes could have benefited from brevity to maintain undivided viewer attention. An example is the mall robbery scene, at some point, I wish I could skip to the result of the robbery as well as the confession scene of Nse Ikpe-Etim. The moment Adamu’s phone was immediately shown to have been fallen had intimidated the suspecting audience the ending clue.

The blend of humour, emotion, and suspense ensures that viewers embark on a genuinely transformative journey with the characters, making this movie stand out. In this movie, there are moments of laughter, sadness and action. The movie offers a sense of justification for the character from the audience: the feeling that each character deserved what he or she got. You might think you could predict the following action in the movie, but ‘A Tribe Called Judiah’ would be a palatable surprise.

Importantly, does the movie advised until we get illegal ways to solve our mundane issues, we might not get headways?

 

Rating:

8/10

 

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