BY IFE OLUJUYIGBE
Everyone seems to be talking about Omoni Oboli’s Wives on Strike which premiered on the 8th of April. I go on one of the Whatsapp groups I belong to, and find it in the discussion yet again. And then I get home and my sister is talking about Wives on Strike. I decide to chat with a friend and she starts talking about Wives on Strike. I just want to scream ‘Shut up!’ at the world, but I can’t , so I lift my legs and visit the nearest cinema and get tickets and sit and see, over popcorn and coke. And then I understand what the fuss is about.
Wives on Strike is hilarious! Even with a foul mood and a headache, it would still crack you up. And because the world is hard enough as it is and we need more laughter, Wives on Strike is a hearty laugh on the world’s face. Uche Jombo who plays Jemima aka Madam 12:30 should take up a career in comedy already. Omoni Oboli and Kehinde Bankole should follow closely. When you add Julius Agwu to the mix, what you have is a comedy show. Let there be laughs!
The story is that of a neighbourhood of friendly women who defend one of their own when they find that her thirteen-year-old daughter Amina, is betrothed and will be given in marriage to an Alhaji. When the leader of the women, Mama Ngozi (Omoni Oboli) speaks to her husband Paul (Kenneth Okonkwo) about it, urging him to talk to Baba Amina (Udoka Oyeka) so he would change his mind, he declines and then all hell is let lose. The women decide that as long as their men and the government do nothing about the child-bride matter, they would deny men sex.
They get so committed to this cause that they go ahead to disrupt the marriage proceedings and are filmed by a set of journalists who air this on TV. Soon, the strike becomes widely spread and accepted, long enough till the change they seek comes.
I commend not only the originality of this story (in spite of its similarities to Hollywood’s Chiraq), but its message as well. It addresses a pressing national issue, and if my memory serves me correctly, this is one of the major functions of art, according to secondary school Social Studies. I like the creativity with which this message is passed too, and the blend of humor with which it is served makes it subtle yet poignant. Omoni has done a commendable job with the plot as producer and director.
Somewhere in the middle of the film, however, it gets tiring, like the story lacks continuity and cannot sustain its audience’s interest. There’s the incessant back-and-forth between the Senator, Aniete (Kalu Ikeagwu) and his wife (Chioma Akpotha) that almost gets you rolling your eyes. There’s also the matter with the husbands who keep trying all they can to get their wives to succumb to their pleas for sex to no avail. These are moments in the movie that have you asking ‘Ehen? What next? Is that all?’ Looks like our movie may have climaxed too early.
The newscasters make the movie lose some color too, especially the one that reads on a certain Star Rainbow Channel News. She looks tired, sounds tired and her poise lacks the slightest confidence. The channel called DNN, which I suspect is a parody of CNN and intended to be international, seems shoddily edited, the reader not fitting properly into the background.
Another major bummer is the inconsistency in language. Baba Amina and Mama Amina (Ufuoma McDermott), who are supposed to be uneducated people, speak English that could get the Queen jealous. It would seem like they both don’t know what pidgin is. Perhaps a little more research or adherence to the script (that’s assuming the script was written in pidgin) would have done the movie more justice.
The downers notwithstanding, Wives on Strike is engaging as it is entertaining. The group of women and the clique of men have a highly believable chemistry and the how they come together to assist one another in their time of need touches the soul, and rekindles hope in this nation. Wives on Strike is one that would linger in conversations, and with that epic Women-Power pose, it looks like it would stay a while.