BY IFE OLUJUYIGBE
Abejoye is a faith-based film about a Nigerian family living in Texas. Their first son, Gboyega, constantly experiences nightmares that seem so real they render him shaken and in pain. This occurrence is repetitive and has his parents, Laide and Dele worried and resorting to unending fasts and prayers. But Laide is worried about something more. Her husband’s father, Chief Olayiotan Abejoye, a king-maker from Ajibogun village in South-West Nigeria, is coming to spend four months with them. Because they are a Christian family and he is a traditionalist, she gets paranoid, that perhaps his coming is the harbinger of all the evils her family is experiencing. She is vocal about these thoughts too, and her husband thinks she is being silly. She shares with their church pastor, who tells her to pray and just leave it all to God.
The old man arrives and begins to experience attacks of his own, the type he resorts to incantations and charms to fight, charms misunderstood by the already paranoid family to mean an attack on them. They have no choice but to send him packing, but soon realize that their issues run deeper than an old kingmaker and his ways.
Abejoye enjoys a rich, simple storyline that marries two entirely different cultures together. While it is clearly a low-budget film, set in precisely three locations, it tells its story to perfection regardless. The acting performances, however, are a different story.
From the first scene, to perhaps the last, you cannot but cringe at how the main actors, Laide and Dele, played by Gloria Bamiloye and Wole Adeyi bring a far from believable performance to the table. It is surprising, especially when you consider how long the former has been in the business of acting. They both reel out their lines to eye-roll-worthiness, and you only get a consolation from the performances of the kid actors and Olayiotan himself, played by the capable Mike Bamiloye. Mike Bamiloye more than compensates, in fact, with a seamless, hilarious yet moving portrayal of an illiterate, vengeful and lonely man seeking the approval of his son. You hate him and love him, and he moves you to keep watching.
As expected with faith-based films, and especially from Mount Zion, Abejoye is extremely preachy and repetitive, till it drags for almost three hours. Many aspects are far from reality, such as the affair between Dedun (Bambo Adeyi) and Dele. Despite being a real-life couple, there is absolutely no chemistry between both actors, and they seem too platonic to be in an affair. Of course, we do not expect them to kiss or make out, it is a Christian film anyway, but for an affair, there is almost no touching, no romance, nothing that sells affair for even a kobo. Films like Blessed and Cursed, War Room, Courageous have shown that you can be just as real and still be Christian. After over thirty years in the business of filmmaking, it appears we shouldn’t be expecting a change from Mount Zion films anytime soon.
Abejoye follows a not-so-predictable path, which is laudable. When it delves into culture, you sense a depth of language and research that is hard to ignore, and if you are a type that gets high on things like that, like me, you’d be over the moon Preachy every time Olayiotan opens his mouth.
The original music scoring of the film by Joshua Mike-Bamiloye is fitting and conveys the mood nicely. Written and directed by Mike Bamiloye in a collaboration between Mount Zion Faith Ministries and Flaming Sword Ministries, Abejoye is laden with lessons on faith, forgiveness and fidelity. Its other inconsistencies, such as the inaccurate calculation of Olayiotan’s Texas stay and the general sound notwithstanding, Abejoye is a good story well told.