Three weeks ago I embarked on a journey to Brussels. It was my first time in this metropolis, a city where different cultures merge creating a harmonious mosaic of life and activities. The beautiful weather and ease at which life flows contributed to the gleam of my experience. There I encountered beauty, variety, elegance and humour. When I introduced myself to one man that I came from Germany, his spontaneous reaction was “Ewo! NdiAusweis” – a kind of “Oh my God, these ID Card people!” Sure, in Germany we are Karte (card) people. I normally buy my Monartskarte(monthly ticket) for school business. Then it may shock you that presenting this card to the bus driver is not enough. The card is not valid until you produce the Schülerkundenkarte (another card given and signed by the transportation people). For this Schülerkundenkarte to be valid, it must be stamped by the office of the dean of your school and must correspond with your student ID Card.
This is just a tip off the iceberg. Everything you do in Germany, except breathing in and out, has its own card. One evening I used my wallet as an object of meditation – a spiritual exercise that lasted for more than thirty minutes. I was looking at all the cards in my wallet – 13 of them. Then I asked myself, “don’t you think one is missing?” It is surely the life card. The card that authorizes me to live. That means if that card gets lost then I should die. I have no right to live again. Or put it the other way round, I am living illegally. But only God can give us that card. God cares not. Life was his first gift to humanity. He is not a police figure. His laws are simply summarized to love of God and neighbor. I think that is enough.
Pardon me for this digress. Why not ask me what I went to do in Brussels? I went to Brussels because of the Choice – a movie written, produced and directed by Azubuike Erinugha, a kinsman of mine. Zubi, as he is popularly called, hails from Dikenafai, a small village in the South East of Nigeria. Educated in Nigeria, USA, Canada and Germany, Zubi is multi-talented who uses every means at his disposal to pass truth and knowledge across. A writer per excellence skilled in a witty way of communication, he knows what the audience needs at each point in time. Again he could be a serious guy not minding his unassuming self-presentation. I bet you “The Choice” is not a product of a clown. It is the brainchild of a serious minded man who knows what he wants and goes for it.
Perhaps another digress. It is all about “The Choice”, a film whose executive producers are Arinzechukwu Ehidonye and Sopuruchukwu Ehidonye of Abadaba Investments Limited, primarily set in Nigeria and partly somewhere in Europe is about a lady Adaoha whose beauty attracted six men unknowingly contesting for her hand in marriage. As the name implies she rightly belongs to all but the bid must go to one person. Who will be her choice? Who will win the contest? While she is faced with this problem of choice, the men are resolutely choosing her. At the end who will win the day? This is how the plot of the entire movie could be summarized. Is it the billionaire godfather whose affluence eloquently speaks through his limo, the piper and the acolytes and the bongo background music that announces his appearance on the stage? Is it the vociferous professor of grammar whose erudition has blatantly serrated him from the world of reality? Is it the unemployed lover boy who is ready to risk all for the sake of love? Will the restive Americana possibly destroyed by substance be the groom at last? What of the clown schooled and skilled in Igbo proverbs and semantics?
The quest for Adaoha’s hand in marriage is the business of the movie and each contestant must have miles to cover so as to emerge a winner. The meeting of the godfather and the professor in Adaoha’s mother’s house was a prelude to the main “wrestling” and the background music that serves as the wrestling drum will readily remind viewers of The Marriage of Anansewa– a drama set in Ghana dating back to 1975.
In a capitalistic world where money speaks and powers respect, godfather will surely carry the trophy. But reality is more than money. The clown’s recourse to African metaphysics has in a way created a new world order in a swift but it is one that runs out of control and turns a hunter to the hunt and a chooser to the chosen. This is a powerful turn in the entire narrative. The clown is about to win but he is at last in trouble when he finds himself chosen not only by Adaoha but also by 49 other women. How did it happen? The movie tells it all. At last the whole scene could be described as lovers on the run. What are they pursuing? What is pursuing them? It is something they do not know. Only the clown has the answer. Choice too has its own problems.
So, I went to Brussels for the red carpet and premiere of this movie at the CinémaAventure. The hall was filled with Africans of different nationalities and in addition European minority. Performed in English language and subtitled in French, the movie was without a hitch. From the beginning till the end (90 minutes in all) everyone was carried along. At the end of the movie someone asked a question about the genre to which the producer replied as a “crossover”. Crossover as a genre seems strange and new to me. However when it comes to perspectives and perceptions, anything can go. Crossover may be a mixture of categories and settings which I really find in the movie as if beautifully cast in a mosaic. I have some comments. One stems from the questioner on whether the movie is a comedy or is trying to teach us something. Here, crossover may answer the question. It addresses the wrong mindset that comedies are solely meant to amuse us and we have nothing to learn from them. It is not true fundamentally. Comedies too are didactic vehicles.
Then the second one is the role of a stutterer featured by the producer himself. I am a stutterer and I know that we don’t really stutter like that. It is too hyperbolic at the verge of sliding into a fable. Akin to this is the swift at which those women turned around to go for the man seeker. Here also lies the strength of the movie in that despite the African and European settings, both backgrounds never gave up what is theirs essentially. Also, important messages for believers, those who choose other gods increase their sorrows. The sorrows lie in being haunted by 50 women. Choice remains a severely contested philosophical concept. Choice implies the presence of alternatives and it is hence the bedrock of freedom. The ability to choose between or among alternatives is an index for freedom especially rational freedom. Choice can either make or mar us depending on how we choose.
Though the movie is humourous, it teaches us how to choose and choose rightly especially in a world where the good and the bad not only lie side by side but also look alike. Watch out for the “The Choice”.
Stanley Ekwugha, a Catholic priest, presently runs a licentiate programme in Exegesis in HochschuleVallendar, Germany.