BY CHRIS IHIDERO
Wherever he is now, pioneering filmmaker Ade Love Afolayan must be a happy man.
Yesterday, I attended the 20th-anniversary remembrance event of the legendary Ade Love at the National Theatre, organised by his children, including actor Gabriel Afolayan and respected filmmaker Kunle Afolayan. It was important to hold such an event not only for the children but also for the filmmaking community.
The highlight of my time there, before I had to rush off, was the documentary produced by Kunle Afolayan’s Golden Effects and screen at the event. Watching that documentary again brought to fore how much work we have left undone in our industry.
Many of today’s younger filmmakers will know of Ade Love perhaps in passing, at best. I grew in Lagos and his works were an integral part of my childhood. I never actually saw any of his films in the cinema but he was a conspicuous presence. I knew of his singing, of his tenacity as a filmmaker and his huge popularity.
I knew nothing of his influence on the great Hubert Ogunde. To find out, thanks to the documentary, that he was perhaps the major influence that made Hubert Ogunde switch from travelling theatre productions to film. This is major. Hubert Ogunde stands as the reference point in the travelling theatre to film movement in our film history. To learn that Ade Afolayan influenced that move is important.
And this is part of why I left the event sad. We still know too little about our own film history. Many of today’s filmmakers have never seen the works of the likes of Ola Balogun, Eddy Ugboma, Ade Afolayan, Moses Olaiya and of course, Hubert Ogunde. For decades Ade Afolayan’s family did not have access to his films. Thanks to the heavens for someone like Babatunde Raji Fashola. Through his intervention, three of Ade Love’s classics: Kadara, Taxi Driver 1 & 2, have now been digitised and will be screened in the cinemas this December.
If we were a serious country that understood the need for archiving cultural productions, this is a task to be treated with utmost importance.
The National Theatre depresses me. My roots are in the theatre, where I worked for ten years before moving to film. Every visit to the National Theatre depresses me because it is an edifice that symbolises this country’s huge potentials and continued failures.
Kudos to Kunle Afolayan and his siblings for making the effort to restore an integral part of our cultural history. You have not only done this for yourselves, you have done it for us all. I am looking forward to watching those films in the cinemas soon.
We all need to do better.