NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire Volume 16.2: Fall 2016 - Page 130

A C R ITICAL R EADI NG OF SAWOROIDE ( 1999 )
TITLE OF MOVIE
Saworoide ( Brass Bells ) – 1999 .
PRODUCER / DIRECTOR
Tunde Kelani
STARRING
Kola Oyewo ,
Lere Paimo , Bukky Wright , Kayode Olaiya , Kunle Bamtefa , Ayantunji Amoo , and Kunle Afolayan .
RUNNING TIME
105 minutes
SCRIPT
Akinwunmi
Ishola
MARKETER
Mainframe
Productions q
Graphic Poster for Saworoide © MainFrame
Saworoide — Brass Bell ( 1999 ) is a classic Yoruba Nollywood movie by Mainframe movies . It was written by Akinwunmi Ishola and directed by Tunde Kelani . It was released in 1999 with a duration of 105minutes . It tells the story of Lapite the King of Jogbo , who decides to enrich himself on ascending the throne instead of serving the people , as the culture demands . Lapite eliminates all oppositions by assassination and sending them into exile . His rival Adebomi and wife are gruesomely murdered in front of their little boy , and Ayangalu , the drummer , escapes with the real Saworo Ide and goes into a long exile , taking with him the little boy . Lapite takes a new wife and embarks on a massive exploitation of the enormous resources in the Jogbo forest trees . The people revolt , and the conflict escalates , but he rather changes exorbitant cars . Journalists are imprisoned , and Lagata plots a military coup .
His chiefs and cohorts are not left out of the splendor , as they also buy new cars and hide their ill gotten wealth in foreign accounts . This is an allegory of what post-independence Nigeria is experiencing . But its role as a tool for political commentary has a far reaching effect on the audience . The issue of political avarice is intertwined with that of cultural heritage and the traditional implications of the people ’ s culture . There is a connection between the Saworo Ide ( Brass Bell ) and the Ade Ide ( Brass Crown ) such that whenever the Saworo Ide is being played , the Ade Ide must be on the rightful owner or the wearer dies of headache . There is a ritual to be carried out that binds the throne , the King and the Ade Ide together in unison . This ritual involves a customary oath and incisions , which Lapite refuses to undertake . The oath is administered to bring a sort of checks and balance to the leadership of the people , since the King is the second to the Almighty God , and he cannot be queried as long as he remains the Kabiyesi . Kabiyesi literally translates as one whose authority is not subject to questioning by anyone . A person who carries the incision can wear the Ade Ide without fear of the Saworo Ide being played but swearing this oath makes the King of Jogbo the servant of the people . Since Lapite wanted to enrich himself , he now has to deal with the repercussion of having a rival for the throne and fear of the Saworo Ide being played .
The obvious use of cultural symbols in all of Tunde Kelani ’ s films comes to the fore in Saworoide . The talking drum is a symbolic medium of communication among the Yorubas . Tunde Kelani employs the use of cultural symbols to make major political commentaries in the film , as it examines the extent of damage which can be done , if political avarice is given a leeway . Oral tradition takes a new twist as Baba Apana ( Adebayo Faleti ) continually sings in parables , as the traditional Greek Chorus does . He had worked with several other Kings before Lapite , so he knows the history and culture of Jogbo more than anybody else in the clan . He foretells of an impending doomsday in form of warnings to the ‘ deaf ’ King and his council of chiefs . Baba Apana represents the voice of reasoning in the film through the singing of folk songs and idiomatic expressions . He is used as a kind of foreshadowing and the omniscient narrator who rather stays quiet , until the situation calls for his commentaries . The very existence of the oath and the Saworo Ide is evident in the abandonment of the rule of law in our government . All mediums of checks and balances have been boycotted , and lawlessness is the order of the day , as it is in Jogbo . Hubris took over , and like they say : a dog destined to be lost does not hear the hunter ’ s whistle . Lapite ’ s doomsday does come , and he is overthrown by Lagata . The Saworo Ide , which is peculiarly Yoruba , is attached to the talking drum , and when the drum speaks , the Saworo Ide sounds .
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