Kunle Afolayan’s much acclaimed movie, October 1 is a time travel into the pivotal past of Nigeria. The movie is set at the incipience of Nigeria’s independence and offers an interesting view of the onset of the country’s troubling politics. It’s brilliant performance and cinematography pulls you back to the most celebrated time in Nigeria’s history. However, there certain themes in the movie that resonate strongly in Nigeria today and explores how we are still living in the past
- The Clash of Cultures: This recurring theme can be seen in several occasions where an innocent Hausa man is blamed for the death of an Igbo girl, who was actually killed by a Yoruba man. Clash ensues. Or the hardworking Sergeant Sunday Afonja who is suspended because it was against his cultural belief to arrest Baba Ifa, the high priest in the community, “Better lose job, than to commit taboo” he says. This was an issue then and still is an issue now; culture clash, religious beliefs over ethical or moral judgment, distrust and tribalism. All stemming from the 1914 amalgamation to form Nigeria which brought together different cultures that were expected to function as one unit.
- The Politics of Language: October 1 uses language as a tool to highlight the power or lack thereof of several different tongues its insinuation. Inspector Dalandi Waziri, the main character is a learned man who speaks his native tongue and can also communicate to the colonials in Queens English, which many could not do then; therefore not many could communicate or understand the implications of what was being said. Translation is lost; meanings are beaten in and out of context. Sergeant Afonja and his wife ridicule Inspector Waziri in Yoruba language, while he smiles unknowingly when he is told he is only being complimented. A suspect is questioned in the only language he knows and translator is requested, but are some words overlooked and others expressed in the original context?
- The Cost of Education: The insidious price of education is shown in the lives of two characters, Agbekoya and Prince Aderopo, who left their homes at a young age to further their education in a western system. The trend is still on, English boarding schools, American Universities, children sent to live with distant relatives, nearly strangers.
- The Fragility of Nigeria’s Independence: In the desperate need to give the country her independence, so many things were overlooked and passed under the rug. Such is the fragility depicted in this movie. The Acote village rape-murder investigation has its suspect in custody. However a known dangerous prowler remains on the loose but cannot be further investigated because it could disgrace the Crown and more importantly, hinder the much anticipated Independence.
The (non) Discourse of Child Abuse: The physical, mental and most abhorred sexual abuse of children, is a topic not nearly discussed enough. October 1 delves into the issue of sexual abuse which if spoken of, brings grown men to tears, incite upheaval in families and crown a permanent stain placed upon by society.