Thanks to our friends at Nollywood Mindspace, I’ve learned that a feature film based on the 1989 memoir of Wole Soyinka – the internationally-renowned prolific Nigerian playwright, poet, novelist, and critic, who was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature,
Titled Ake: The Years of Childhood, the memoir is described as a lyrical account of one boy’s attempt to grasp the often irrational and hypocritical world of adults that equally repels and seduces him. It is told from the POV of Soyinka’s 11-year-old self.
Here’s a longer breakdown:
Soyinka elevates brief anecdotes into history lessons, conversations into morality plays, memories into awakenings. Various cultures, religions, and languages mingled freely in the Aké of his youth, fostering endless contradictions and personalized hybrids, particularly when it comes to religion. Christian teachings, the wisdom of the ogboni, or ruling elders, and the power of ancestral spirits–who alternately terrify and inspire him–all carried equal metaphysical weight. Surrounded by such a collage, he notes that “God had a habit of either not answering one’s prayers at all, or answering them in a way that was not straightforward.” In writing from a child’s perspective, Soyinka expresses youthful idealism and unfiltered honesty while escaping the adult snares of cynicism and intolerance. His stinging indictment of colonialism takes on added power owing to the elegance of his attack. He also spears Nigeria’s increasing Westernization, its movement toward modernity and materialism, as he describes his beloved village markets deteriorating from a “procession of magicians” to rows of “fantasy stores lit by neon and batteries of coloured bulbs” where the “blare of motor-horns compete with a high-decibel outpouring of rock and funk and punk and other thunk-thunk from lands of instant-culture heroes.”
The film adaptation will be directed by Yemi Akintokun, and according to the filmmaker, the project has been in development for many years, and was initially pushed as a TV series.
Production is expected to begin this month, for six months in Abeokuta and Ibadan.
It promises to be the biggest film project contemplated yet in Nigeria, and apparently has Soyinka’s blessing and involvement – he’ll provide voice-over narration.
The project is currently in pre-production, as casting is finalized, support from government delivered, locations secured (some will be restored to reflect the time in which the film takes place), etc.
The projected film budget is N350 million ($2.5 million).
The goal is to have the film completed by Soyinka’s 80th birthday, which will be July 13, 2014.
It’s now officially on my watchlist, so as progress is made, we’ll update you here as well.