BY IFE OLUJUYIGBE
2016 movie, Ghana Must Go, premiered on June 3, 2016 in Lagos. But for a friend who said she’d found it interesting, I wasn’t going to watch a movie with that kind of title. Then again, there’s a Confusion Na Wa, which turned out to be a good film, so titles are probably not the most reliable judges these days. Long story short, I went into the cinema, and came out a film older, if that’s even a thing.
Ghana Must Go is a romantic comedy film produced by Yvonne Okoro and directed by Frank Rajah Arase. It tells the story of Chuks (who is mostly called ‘Chuck’ in the movie because certain people have excess ear wax), played by Blossom Chukwujekwu, and Ama, his Ghanaian wife portrayed by Yvonne Okoro. Their wedding is done secretly at a registry in London, on Ama’s insistence, but they come home to Ama’s family in Accra for introductions that begin to go awry right from the airport where Kwabena, Ama’s spoilt younger brother (IK Ogbonna) comes to pick them. When he finds out Chuks is Nigerian, he is shocked, disgusted and calls his sister aside to have a word, a trend that would repeat itself a million more times with every other family member. It gets worse when the revelation of their marriage comes to light and has Ama’s mum and brother passing out on the floor.
When the dreaded father of the house, who is a no-nonsense retired brigadier (Kofi Adjorlolo), comes home and learns about the Nigerian husband, all hell breaks loose, and he bundles Chuks and his luggage to the airport and orders him to return to his people. In his dismay, Chuks calls his Nigerian father, begging him to come to Accra, in hope that when he comes, he would have a discourse with his in-laws and resolve their differences. His father, who turns out to be Nkem Owoh, comes with multiple Ghana-must-go bags full of marriage-rites foodstuff, animals and his two wives, one of which is Chuks’ mother (Ada Ameh) and a younger wife (Helen Paul). On their arrival, the hostilities take a complicated nosedive, but in the end love wins.
Okay, cool story. It would have been cooler if it had not been so unoriginal. The idea of the Ghana-must-go term and bags gives the story some spice. The ensemble of the characters also helps, although the movie is a tad too theatrical, and not in a good way. It starts with IK’s over the top acting, to Helen Paul’s repetitive one-man scene in the toilet that would neither crack us up nor come to an end. The ease with which the Brigadier’s anger and resentment towards Chuks melts over some small talk leaves plenty to be desired too, as one would have expected more fire and brimstone with all the fainting and oohs and ahhs that preceded his arrival.
For one, we would never really understand the scene with IK and an ugly-looking prostitute he wakes up to after his night out with Chuks at the club. The preceding scene shows him staggering home with Chuks. Then he wakes up next to the lady who says she was from ‘last night at the club’. Did they hide her in the car, or did he go back out to pick her in his state of drunkenness? Is she Karishika, disappearing and appearing at will? We will never know how that scene adds to the story or makes us laugh, when it really only makes one cringe.
There is also an issue with dates and days. Chuks and Ama arrive on a Saturday. Chuks is thrown out on a Sunday. Chuks tries to make up with his Father-in-law at the ranch on Monday, the same day his parents arrive. But when he tries to placate the Brigadier that evening, he says to him to please allow his parents stay just for that weekend, which means that they were supposed to have arrived on a Friday. It is just all muddled up and leaves the audience confused and asking questions. And with IK’s many blunders (statements like ‘Did you meet each other in the plane?’ or his accent that dances from British to Ibo), it doesn’t make matters any better. There’s also the scene of the phone mix-up, where Chuks’ folks arrive and call IK’s number saying they want to speak to Chuks. We recall that when Chuks called his father, he wasn’t even at home, but at the airport, about to return to Nigeria, with his own phone.
Ghana Must Go has its good moments, however. When the comedic trio hit the scene, they begin to crack you up from the airport. Nkem Owoh makes you laugh with just about everything he does and says, and Ada Ameh continues to shine. In that one scene where she goes out to ‘piss’, the whole cinema was roaring with laughter, especially with the way she kept holding on to her wrapper as she was being led away. Even the thought of it still makes me giggle. It’s quite dramatic when the Brigadier and Nkem fight, maybe unrealistic and a little too long, but it is funny and engaging. Interesting, as well, is the subtle humor in Ama’s mother’s psychedelics, and the way she won’t stop touching her weaves and adjusting her fitted clothes. Note-worthy, too, is Blossom’s acting, especially in the scene where he summons his father to Accra. The emotion is so palpable, it makes you want to reach into the screen and give him a handkerchief and a cupcake.
The resolution is rather predictable. Everyone suddenly becomes best of friends, chanting God-bless-Nigeria-and-bless-Ghana-too. It is hard to reconcile the man with years of pent up resentment and hatred for the people who allegedly killed the rest of his family and a man who changes in a space of a few days and begins to share free hugs.
All in all, Ghana Must Go is just fair, snatching its moments a few times, and letting you down a few times more. People would love it because it gets them laughing; people would hate it because it tries too hard, and the rest of the people, like me, would walk out of the cinema, thinking of it as just another movie that was part of their life’s list of movies watched.
I’ll give Ghana Must Go a 50.