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Movie Review: Kunle Afolayan’s “October 1” is a master stroke for Nollywood

On several occasions, it actually turns out that maladjustments are responsible for the offences.

“October 1” gets to the root of the matter just like the CI and ID documentaries. The film tells the story of Danladi Waziri (Sadiq Daba), a police officer, mandated to uncover a serial killer in Akote, a rural community, where he is serving. He is assisted by Sgt. Afonja (Kayode Olaiya), a native of Akote, who understands the traditions of the community. Incidentally, these events take place in the build-up to Nigeria’s independence on 1st October, 1960; which is where the film derives its name.

It is pleasant to see Sadiq Dada in a film long after he appeared in “Nightmare,” a 1995 Zik Zulu Okafor production that also starred Pete Edochie, Onyeka Onwenu, Sandra Achums and Charles Okafor. Daba is excellent as Danladi. The choice of Demola Adedoyin as Prince Aderopo is laudable and he commendably plays his role with a wily demeanour.

Miss Tawa (Kehinde Bankole) is admirable as the village belle, but Kayode Olaiya’s comic role as Sgt. Afonja is the icing on the cake called “October 1.” In fact, he steals the show literally and will, no doubt, win a couple of awards as Best Supporting Actor in upcoming award ceremonies.
Kunle Afolayan must be commended for the brilliant casting and directing. The location and props are fitting while the costumes remind one of pictures taken by our parents and grandparents in those days. Unlike many Nollywood films,”October 1″ is well subtitled.
The film aptly integrates several interesting subplots; smartly employing subtext and irony. Tawa believes she was not taken to the city for her secondary education because she is female. She says, ‘The two bright boys were taken to Lagos. I wasn’t because I am a lady.’ However, as the story unfolds, the viewers understand why Tawa was not one of the chosen ones. Yet in the end, she is the well-adjusted of the three as the two young men are scarred by their experiences in secondary school.

The tension between various Nigerian tribes even before independence is skillfully portrayed in the Kanayo O. Kanayo subplot. All hell is let loose when he loses his daughter and he believes that Danladi is shielding Usman Dangari, his kinsman, suspected of killing the young lady. Much as his loss was irreparable, Kanayo’s character fails to acknowledge that other young women had lost their lives in similar circumstances. Therefore, instead of pushing for an end to the killings, he misinterprets it as hatred for his tribe.
Tunde Babalola, the screenwriter, must also be extolled for conducting adequate research into goings-on around that period. For instance, there is a mention of Rosemary Anieze (Miss Nigeria 1960) during one of the chats between Tawa and Prince Ropo.

Agbekoya (Kunle Afolayan) should have spoken up sooner than later. He could have saved a number of the slaughtered girls from their neurotic assailant. One hopes the police charged him as an ‘accessory’ to the crimes. There is no significance to Deola Sagoe’s role as Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti in the film.
Rev. Dowling, the paedophile-priest, always walks into the boys’ hostel, calls one boy’s name, singling the person out and saying, ‘it’s time for night prayers’. Are night prayers meant for just one boy each night? That does not serve as a suitable expression in that circumstance.
Granted that “October 1” is not fast-paced, the action nonetheless unravels at a rate that keeps everyone in suspense. This 140-minute picture is another feat for Nollywood.

Reviewed by Amarachukwu Iwuala, this article was first published on October 18, 2017.

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