BY IFE OLUJUYIGBE
Love is found in the strangest circumstances, in hopeless places according to ‘We Found Love’ by the self-proclaimed bad girl singer, Rihanna, and even in times of sickness, aging or war according to the Gabriel Garcia Marquez 1988 novel, ‘Love In The Time Of Cholera’. So tricycles, aka Kekes, are not out of the list of places to find love, as Belinda Yanga shows us in her 2018 film, Love in a Time of Kekes.
Zikora is a Keke driver who witnesses a roadside robbery of a rich woman and tries to help. He gets a gunshot on the shoulder for his troubles, and the woman, Raziella, who works as an auditor in upmarket Lagos and makes a decent living, assumes the responsibility of restoring him to normal health, as well as helping him get a new Keke as his former one was misplaced during the incident. In the process of this, they grow fond of each other, but there is Duke, Raziella’s colleague and friend-with-benefits, and social class differences to contend with in order for their new-found love to stand the test of time.
While the poor-boy-rich-girl love story has dated back to the Titanic and several other such films before it, what makes Love in a Time of Kekes different is the relatable approach it takes with its typical Nigerian-ness, plus casting versatile Kelechi Udegbe and fearless Ijeoma Grace Agu together as lead turns out a not so bad idea. The creators do not force an ill-fitting love story down our throats; instead, they take the pain to build the friendship and eventual love brick upon brick until we are nearly sold. When Raziella farts in Zikora’s presence when he pays a visit to her house, it is hilarious how he jokes about it, how that singular event brings them much closer, leading up to even worse embarrassing moments between them, like having to defecate inside a bucket with his back turned to her. You grow particularly fond of Zikora who, in spite of his lowly status, knows how to make fun of himself and typically has no shame. His level of self-respect also comes into play when he walks out of her party because she introduces him as ‘that keke driver’.
But Love in a Time of Kekes isn’t flawless. We find that Raziella has deep-seated issues of commitment and mood swings, but we are never given an extra peek into her story or what is responsible for who she has become. We understand Zikora’s, and even see a bit of his family with his sister Kanto, but Raziella is left a mystery to us from start to finish, and even when a fraud is discovered in an account she mans at her place of work, we have no insight as to her innocence or guilt, or whatever it is that may be responsible. We can’t place her relationship with Duke either, whether they have had a falling out that is causing her to hang on loosely to him, or if they were never tight in the first place. Love in a Time of Kekes appears to suffer from an information dump with regards to Raziella that cuts short the joy of the journey.
The capable supporting cast features Sophie Alakija –who is nicely coming into her own as an actor, Efa Iwara and Samuel Perry, also known as Brother Shagi, who is natural with his sense of humor.
Because even a fair, predictable story flourishes better with a good ensemble, Love in a Time of Kekes entertains in a way that makes you love love, have a decent laugh and not feel like you have wasted ninety minutes of your life.
The romantic comedy film is written by Jennifer Nkem Eneanya, produced by Ijeoma Grace Agu and directed by Belinda Yanga.