KELANI TAKES NARROW PATH ROUND CAMPUSES
FRONTLINE cin ematographer, Tunde Kelani, has begun the premiere of his new movie, Narrow Path, around some university campuses in the country.
Typical of Kelani taking his time, the movie had been completed for quite sometime back. It was the turn of University of Ibadan on Tuesday November 27, inside the Arts Theatre auditorium.
The auditorium, which was filled to the brim by 7.00 p.m, also witnessed the presence of some of the cast of the movie.
Narrow Path has as its major characters-Awero, (Sola Asadeko of Abeni fame), Ayo Badmus (also of Abeni) who acts as Lapade and Seyi Fasuyi (Odejimi).
Both Odejimi, who lives in Agbede village, and Lapade of Aku village are warriors.
Both of them fall in love with Awero and are at loggerheads to win her heart. During the struggle, Lapade is shot in one of his legs, which becomes badly damaged and so he can not marry Awero again, having become disabled (or so he seems in the eyes of Awero's mother who convinces her to forget him).
Odejimi now has the chance to become Awero's husband. So, he pays her bride price; but before the marriage is consumated, Dauda, a city boy, comes into the scene. He tricks Awero into the bush and rapes her.
Awero becomes desolate, moreso that her wedding day is fast approaching, and every village maiden is expected to remain chaste till her wedding night. Awero curses Dauda for what he did to her.
At last, the wedding day arrives and Odejimi wants sleep with his wife, but Awero tries to give one excuse or the other. At the end of the day, he has his way and discovers that his wife has been deflowered.
He becomes angry while Awero tries to explain what led to the situation. The whole village is now aware that Odejimi's bride is not a virgin, and the news spreads to Lapade, who comes to taunt Odejimi, his rival, who succeeded in winning Awero's heart.
The village is now close to a war. First, Odejimi's supporters go on the rampage destroying properties belonging to Awero's family, including a new school established by one of Awero's relations who had come from the city. This leads to massive evacuation by the villagers.
Realising that her situation has indirectly thrown her village into war, Awero pleads for peace and offers to be killed instead of the mayhem gradually overtaking the village. The two parties are surprised by this self-sacrificial decision of Awero and eventually drop their weapons to end the war.
Kelani in the movie goes back to precolonial African communities' chaste system, where young girls were expected to remain virgins until their wedding nights. But is the issue of virginity still relevant today?
This social code no longer holds water in most African societies; and even when it was still the norm, the scenario Kelani chose couldn't have been appropriate for the conflict – Awero was raped. Surely, that was beyond her control.
How will she cope with the situation and be able to convince her village people that she is not a wayward girl? These are the dialectics which Kelani presents concerning the issue of virginity.
Two families turn a village into a theatre of war as a result of a dispute over virginity, while the cause of the whole problem, Dauda, is hardly touched (though he suffers his own fate, ending up in prison due to drug abuse – probably a result of Awero's curse).
Nonetheless, Kelani's traditional African society setting is good; the picture could only have been produced by a professional that he is.