Meta Narrative Hits the Big Screen in ‘Juju Stories’
“Any day you pick money that is not yours from the ground, you will turn into a yam.” I remember vividly getting this “advice” from my mum as a child. It was more like a threat embedded in an “advice.” I guess it was just her way of keeping me from being despicable. After that calculated effort designed to admonish the wayward me, she will say, too: “Then, anybody that sees the yam will cut it and eat it.” With this conclusion, I didn’t need a soothsayer to tell me that taking money that did not belong to me from the ground was my death warrant.
Were they mere myths meant to scare children or were they real? Juju Stories tells three different stories that x-ray myths of yore entitled Love Potion, Yam, and Suffer the Witch respectively.
Love Potion dramatizes the use of “jazz” to win a man’s heart. It is a process in which various ingredients are mixed to get a potion that is used to seduce a man. The second story, Yam, resonates with the meta-narrative told by my mother, “pick money from the ground and turn into a yam.” Suffer the Witch, which is the last story, revolves around a “witch” and how she causes mayhem. These stories are “juju stories” because they have superstitious foundations.
The best of the three stories is Suffer the Witch. This story is written by C.J “Fiery” Obasi. The story, according to him, was written between 2008 and 2009, and derives from a personal experience he had in the University. The characters in Suffer the Witch are more developed and interesting. Something about the storyline makes it so. Perhaps, maybe it is because this story is not thematically from the religious angle. However, the ending of Suffer the Witch is problematic because I didn’t get to see the witch “suffer.” After all the havoc, there’s got to be reward or something. Anything at all. The story is most likely to be developed further.
The “Yam” story comes next in being the best but has some scenes that leave one asking, “what in heaven’s name is going on here?” Some of the scenes are extremely irrelevant. Yam properly enacts the superstitious belief that a person could turn into a yam by picking money from the ground. I anticipated repercussions for picking money from the ground to beset the main character. Was I left high and dry? Dang! See the movie to figure it out. This much I will say, though: my mother’s threat as a piece of advice to a child on how to behave outside the house cautiously is a universal morality tale since, through this film, I came to understand that a good number of people were given the same threatened as me as a child.
I don’t understand why the main language in Love Potion pidgin English. It gives the story a “crazy” undertone. I honestly don’t see why two matured and working-class adults, one of them a novelist, would communicate in pidgin English throughout the story. Every other person in the story communicates in pidgin English and some of them do not flow properly with the Pidgin, which then gives the story some level of boredom. It gets interesting when the condiments for the potion are unveiled.
Juju Stories takes us back to some of the myths we heard while growing up. This makes the movie very relatable. At the same time, it was not a great attempt at bringing these myths to the big screen.
Network: Prime video
Run-time: 1 hour 24 minutes
Directors: C.J Obasi, Michael Omonua, Abba Makam
Cast: Nengi Adoki, Timini Egbuson, Adebukola Oladipupo, Paul Utomi, Seun Kentebe, Belinda Agedah.