BY TONI KAN
Director: Abba Makama
Cast: Ifeanyi Dike Jr., Omoye Uzamere, Jamal Ibrahim, Crystabel Goddy
Release Date: September 2016
This is a film that seems to take its raison d’etre from a line within it, where Ifeanyi Dike’s character, Uzzie, says “Let’s make a movie about nothing.”
On the surface Green White Green is a coming of age film revolving around 4 teenagers, three guys and a girl, who seem on an interminably long wait for university.
In the hiatus, they get up to so many shenanigans as Uzzie, tries his hand on becoming an artist, his friend keeps a bag packed for an always impending trip to New York and the other one tries to make his father believe in and respect him.
Their ‘lounging and chilling’ sessions help us understand what drives the average young Nigerian; we see the American and hip hop influence, the Boko Haram issue, the hankering after ‘going abroad’ and the lack of direction that leads our young people down the wrong path.
A group of Ajegunle boys are described as ‘Future Thugs’ and one of them actually looks in the camera and says – ‘Make you look me o, I no well o’ which sort of sums up the mental state of many young Nigerians driven half-mad by disillusion and the mess their parents have made of the country.
Makama’s film which made its Nigerian debut on September 30, 2016 at the 6th edition of Lights. Camera. Africa. Film festival seems to deliver a laugh a minute. We are enthralled by the ‘madness’ of the professor whose book provides a frame for the plot but the biggest laugh comes from the ‘wording contest’ where Uzzie drops a bomb – You went to the library and said you want to borrow facebook.
It is both joke and indictment. Our kids are stuck on computers but know nothing about it because of their obsession with social media.
But the biggest whip is reserved for Nollywood which gets a good hiding. Abba Makama is clearly no fan of the world’s 3rd largest movie industry where the same man is director, producer, lead actor, cameraman and boom mike operator and no, his name is not Woody Allen.
But look closely and you find the almost subversive sub-plots as well as the political and religious faultlines that define Nigeria. The film, in that sense, with its characters drawn from the 3 biggest ethnic groups – Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba, become a modern day parable of what it means to be Nigerian and what Nigeria means to all of us.
Abba Makama’s genius lies in speaking hard truths and laying out stereotypes without causing offence.
Uzzie and his brother finally find a metaphor that seems uncannily fitting – Nigeria is a Frankenstein monster.
The film has a very western construct; think Waiting for Godot or The 7 Psychopaths. This is a film in which nothing happens but in which so many things happen.
Green White Green despite being shot on camera has the aspect of a play and it rides that conceit by providing us with a play within a play, a clear subversion.
Picture four young people working on a movie that has no clear script, no definable plot, just a series of plotlines that come and go until they decide to make it about Nigeria, about a war, and about a monster.
This film is, to borrow from Eedris Abdulkareem, a jagajaga film that manages to plumb the depths of our national malaise by throwing up a film and a film within a film that approximates the cluelessness that has defined our national psyche for 56 years.
This is a dodgy birthday present, one that compels us to ask ourselves very tough questions from that first coup to the Biafran war and now the Boko Haram insurgency.
But it is also a film that riffs on the therapeutic quality of art. Art represented here by their hastily cobbled movie becomes, in many ways, the saving grace, the very thing that helps all of them make sense of it all.
That is the triumph of this jagajaga movie by another Jos boy.