The film, Eyimofe (This is My Desire), has enjoyed rave reviews from leading media organizations in the world, including the influential New York Times, and has won awards and commendations globally.
You will not know why until you watch the movie that is made in Nigeria, by Nigerian Directors (twin bothers – Arie and Chuko Esiri) and was funded fully by Nigerian financiers.
A film that every Nigerian and friend of Nigeria must watch, wherever they are in the world, Eyimofe (This is My Desire), has the effect of shocking its viewers, especially those who have escaped the harsh conditions of life in the country, back to the real, bitter world as it still exists in Lagos where the film was shot.
But it is not just the shocking picture of the harsh realities of daily living in Lagos that comes across. The truth of the near state of nature existence in most cities of Africa and other third world nations can also be seen from the picture painted by Eyimofe (This is My Desire).
The film is, indeed, a startling revelation of the virtually impossible living conditions that drive young men and women to plan or actually undertake the suicidal trips across the Sahara desert and the far worse voyages by sea in overcrowded and poorly maintained ships and boats, many of which sink and drown their ill-fated passengers making their way, at all costs to, often literally, little better than subhuman existence in Europe and the Americas.
A brutally frank socio-economic and political commentary, the film not only paints the picture of life in the slums but of the seemingly endless and often fruitless struggle to break out of the vicious cycle of poverty and destitution.
The main characters in the film, Mofe (Jude Akuwudike) and Rosa ( Temi Ami-Williams) seem born for their roles. Mofe, who is said to have left Nigeria at the age of six and only returned to the country to play the role of a struggling self-taught “engineer” with the dream of migrating to Europe, played the role so well that anyone would believe that he had been a slum dweller, living in the hovel that passed as his accommodation for ever.
The political class took well deserved bashing for receiving fat pay and doing little work (it was said, in passing that Nigerian senators receive more pay than the President of America). The hospitals were lampooned for what they are in most parts of Lagos and Nigeria generally – filthy, ill-equipped, badly manned, with little or no laboratory facilities and no ambulances(a tricycle and a dilapidated bus were used in place of ambulances.
The tangled maze of cables in the antiquated printing facility where Mofe worked epitomizes the obsolete and dysfunctional state of the industrial sector in a country that lacks basic infrastructure such as electricity.
Generators, especially the tiny types that are derisively called “I better pass my neighbor,” one of which caused the death of Mofe’s sister and her children through overnight inhalation of its fumes, are evidence that public power supply is virtually non-existent in Lagos, Nigeria’s mega-city.
The language of the film, most of the time pidgin English, is also largely the language of the down and nearly out.
Some people argue that the picture painted by the film is not that of Lagos or Abuja or any other city in Africa, insisting that places like Lekki, Victoria Island or Banana Island exist in Lagos and are not properly captured to cancel out the dreary, depressing reality of Obalende, Ajegunle, Mushin, Agege, Maroko and such other places, but the harsh fact is that the world of Mofe and Rosa is the reality for 90 per cent or thereabouts of the people in the Lagos and elsewhere in Nigeria and, indeed, Africa.
The courage to paint this vivid and overwhelmingly sad picture that leaves a sour taste in the mouth should qualify the script writer, the directors and the producers for more international laurels.
Some have said that the fact that the two main characters did not succeed in making their way to their desired destinations abroad, Spain and Italy, before the end of the film and were still managing to make ends meet is a message to the youths undertaking or desiring to undertake the arduous, deadly and often illegal trips to Europe to rethink.
This may well be so, but the real message of the film should be to the political leaders and the elite, both in Nigeria and abroad to wake up to the reality that there is a social, political and economic time bomb that is ticking, in the form of disenchanted, frustrated and angry young people.
The recent EndSARS protests in Nigeria, the separatist agitations and other forms of criminality in most parts of the country could be evidence that this ticking time bomb could still explode if urgent steps are not taken to remedy the appalling situations in the country.
Eyimofe (This is My Desire) has painted the depressing picture in glowing colors for all to see. It has exposed the bitterness, the rage that is thinly veiled and the hope is that with this firm real change will begin.
The film has started showing in the United States of America courtesy of Janus Films that acquired the North American distribution rights.
Those that have watched it come out stunned, not knowing what hit them, till they recognize that it was reality that jolted them back face to face with the conditions they escaped from that are still there waiting to be remedied.
From the opening showing of the film on Friday, July 23, 2021, at the Film Forum in New York, the audiences have not been disappointed. The showings in New York, by popular demand, are being extended to August 5, 2021. The film is to also show in other US cities such as Washington DC, Los Angeles, Maryland and Atlanta.
As it hits the big screens in these cities, the message must continue to sink in that there is work to be done by all to fix a country that is clearly not what it should be; that there is need to fix the country such that youths, in droves, would not desire to flee from it and would not be going through the indignities and, indeed, horrors, of trying to escape what they see as a hell hole.
The starting point of this sensitization is to ensure that you see this startling film, which shuns stereotypes, breaks new grounds and has, indeed, blazed a trail that has left an indelible mark on the world map of movies made in Africa.