‘Battle on Buka Street’ Makes Light Its Igbo Element. It Could’ve Been Better
If you grew up watching Nollywood movies which modern-day cinephiles and Netflix lovers would refer to as Old Nollywood now, your mind may be nostalgic to remember a certain movie of yore with the same plot as Battle on Buka Street.
I am talking about My Baby, a movie directed by Charles Inojie featuring Nkem Owoh, Patience Ozokwo, and Florence Owanta. This film was produced in 2010 and revolves around the household of Ufele (Nkem Owoh).
Ufele married three wives from the three main ethnic groups in Nigeria: Igbo, Hausa, and Yoruba. He did this in a bid to find a son as the women were always giving birth to girls. In that kind of household, it is impossible for peace to reign because there is usually a clash of interests and a clash of cultures. Polygamy usually breeds conflict. “Ethnic polygamy” could do worse.
Battle on Buka Street is a refined representation of My Baby. Nkem Owoh, who plays Maduka in this movie, marries two wives, Sola Sobowale and Tina Mba. Both women are Yoruba and Igbo, respectively. The women have a daughter (Funke Akindele and Mercy Johnson) each of who gets married to have their own kids. The prevalent thing about this household is the constant conflict and intense strife therein. The conflict is passed down from the mothers to their children and even to the grandchildren. This continues until a certain secret is revealed which may or may not bring the conflict to an end.
Buka Street captures the life of street food sellers in an environment where there’s usually competition for dominance. This dominance is because of the most patronized seller which is based on the quality of their meals. This competition is what strengthens the animosity in Maduka’s family and hikes the intensity in the Battle on Buka Street.
One can easily notice the superior quality of the Yoruba language used in the movie. Sola Sobowale and Funky Akindele always deliver to that effect since both are well-bred Yoruba personages. On the other hand, the Igbo is whack. Mercy Johnson and Tina Mba are daughter and mother who play the Igbo characters in the film. Whilst Tina Mba is an Igbo woman in the real sense, Mercy Johnson is not but properly gives off the Igbo vibes and energy. To enable this, the scripting of the movie makes it imperative for her to only use simple and mild Igbo phrases and a unique Igbo way of saying “Idiot”. Johnson used that word on many occasions in the movie. Watching this made it look like the Igbo language has no serious sentence structure. If Johnson cannot get her Igbo lines right, finding a different person for the role is an option rather than making the language underused.
Akindele is used to comedy, and it seems to sell very well for her. Jenifa’s Diaries, her tv series is important for most people, and Omo Ghetto: The Saga was quite hilarious as well.
Battle on Buka Street is not left out. It came with its own humor but not too much. I like that there is an emotional appeal in the movie.
Network: Cinema release
Release Year: 2022
Run time: 2 hours 21 minutes.
Director: Funke Akindele, Tobi Makinde
Cast: Funke Akindele, Nkem Owoh, Mercy Johnson, Sola Sobowale, Tina Mba, Femi Jacobs