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Lion Heart: Rise of a phoenix

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NIGERIAN movie industry is the second largest film industry in the world following Hollywood as the first and Bollywood on third position. We simply refer to it as  Nollywood. It boasts of a maximum of productions numbering hundreds weekly and has become a source of labour, providing job opportunities to many youthful Nigerians.

The first major breakthrough of Nollywood came with the release of Kenneth Nnebue’s, ‘Living in Bondage’ in 1994. That gave courage to several others like late Amaka Igwe of blessed memory, Tade Ogidan, Kingsley Ogoro , Zeb Ejiro and many others worth mentioning.

Like a phoenix, Nollywood has risen from the planting stage to the ripening stage. when a fruit is ripe, then it is set for harvest. A time to enjoy the hard work of the past.

To further buttress my point, we would consider the latest work coming from one of Nigeria’s greatest actor cum director, Genevieve Nnaji. The movie is entitled, ‘Lionheart’. The moment you hear the word, Lionheart, it gives you a feeling of bravery, courage, strength and power. The writer(s) choice of words is simple and easy to understand.

As the film begins with the area boys (a local slang referring to street thugs) agitation, it would have demanded the presence of a rougher set of persons to calm the situation. But it was not so. Rather Adaeze Obiagu steps out gently and addresses the situation in a mature manner. That first scene broke the jinx and gives you a clearer picture of the reason behind the title.

As the story progresses, the CEO/MD of Lionheart Transport Company, Chief Obiagu institutes his younger brother, played by legendary comic character, Nkem Owoh, as the acting MD. As with the norm with everyday local content films, one would have thought that this introduction would unleash the strides of events. Fortunately, it didn’t happen that way. And that’s where the suspense begins. Instead of the struggle for power, both geniuses became great team players with one goal: to save the family’s company from bankruptcy. This is a good idea of teamwork bringing success.

On the other hand, the introduction of a wolf within the sheepfold was swiftly told by the scriptwriters. Kalu Ikeagwu killed the character. But most interesting is the dinning moments in the movie. It was natural and resembled an everyday setting of a typical Nigerian family. Though, a high percentage of families do not eat on a round dining table. Note that the dialogue at such moments is tranquil and simple to the point. That gives us a straight definition of peace and harmony existing in most families in spite of the challenges facing them. I strongly believe that the scene of the dining table is a metaphor representing the seat of the legislative arm of Nigerian politicking. How far do we deliberate and arrive at a good compromise considering the benefits of the masses. The nation will be great again if our lawmakers put the country first before their personal interests.

We cannot continue to elaborate on societal issues exemplified in the film without throwing light on themes like honesty and loyalty as seen in the scene where Nkem Owoh intervenes on behalf of an investor who was about to fall victim for a scam. That singular act would later become a saving grace for him and his niece in the long run. However, the villainous moments played by Igwe Pascal were momentarily based on intellect and power. You would have expected a shift to traditional view that would emanate into spiritual battle. But the new standard of filming in Nollywood sought to enthrone intellectual property and general knowledge in respective subjects.

Another interesting fact to note is the idea on unity in diversity. This is seen in the merger between Igbo –owned, Lionheart Transport Company and the Hausa-owned company. This is an example of love and unity of purpose as the two companies join hands together to defeat one enemy, IG Transport Ltd. owned by the villain, Igwe Pascal. Notably, the basic message the director sought to spread is the idea of togetherness irrespective of language, culture and class differences.

Considering this point, you would agree with me that the Nigerian movie industry, Nollywood, has risen to a respectable standard and has become a tool for social cum moral education. Unlike before, the stories are better reformed, instructive, and economical driven to attract huge local and foreign investors.

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