BY ‘SEGUN ODEJIMI
In a storytelling phase when almost everyone is trying to tell a story of affluence and the few haves, Nollywood‘s Funke Akindele is continuing with her “go local to go global” mission with her new YouTube series – Aiyetoro Town. Within two days of the release of the first episode, almost one hundred and twenty thousand times (118k at my last count). And it is not difficult to see why the numbers are rivalling what some music star get with their music videos.
Apart from the pull her name brings for her works, this new series has almost enough to ensure that the numbers will be huge.
The Baale of Aiyetoro village, who, having lived in Edinburgh, takes it upon himself to improve the town and its occupants without uttering its traditional heritage, customs and traditions. That is the story this new work tells.
Aiyetoro Town is a spinoff of Funke Akindele’s critical and commercial hit web series Jenifa’s Diary. If you followed the Jenifa character from its inception in 2008, you will have heard the phrase “Sulia kan, Aiyetoro kan”. That is the community the character is from and Akindele has found a way to create a story Jenifa isn’t heavy in, but still a part of nonetheless.
This work is genuinely funny. The story world is funny. The actors are funny. Of course, there are instances of overacting but who says Nigerians (Yoruba people in the villages especially) are not melodramatic? What gives this show a flavour is its relatability to the mass audience. Unlike stories of high rises and elevators and bourgeois parties which is an appeal for a section of the cinema-attending audience, Aiyetoro Town hits base.
Those – people like me – who have grown weary of Akindele’s lead in Jenifa’s Diary, can find some joy and inner peace with this one. She has just one scene in the first episode, and it can be argued that those cuts to her were one of the very few parts of that episode that didn’t provide the same entertainment value as the other scenes in it.
In Aiyetoro Town, Akindele retains the language struggle that undoubtedly made the Jenifa character popular. And while Jenifa’s lingua struggles have become like a gum you’ve been chewing for more than six hours, the struggle to speak the English language by natives of this town are fresh and hilarious.
Femi Branch does a good job in his role as the ‘Edinburgh baalẹ’. Adekunle Ayanfe and Samuel Perry (Broda Shaggy) are my picks from this 27-minute episode. The writing cautions itself from becoming the kind of cheesy that most Yoruba language comedies perish in.
Funke Akindele-Bello has perfected the potion for a mass appeal and one wonders what the numbers on this first episode of Aiyetoro Town would have been with, say, EbonyLife-style marketing.