A magazine for Africans and friends of Africa...Our Voices, Our Vision, Our Culture

Agogo È Èwoo- The Gong of Taboo
By Moji Sonoiki
AGOGO È ÈWOO by award-winning Tunde Kelani,One of Nigeria's legendarycinematographers andfilmmakers, is an interestingallegory of contemporaryNigerian politics. The sequel tohis film Sawaroide (Brass Bell), AGOGO È ÈWÐ gives theviewer insight into the power dynamics involved in restoringa leadership that has the welfare of the masses at heart. Theopening shot presents a Yoruba man performing intricatepatterns of dance to rich tones of traditional Yoruba music,dressed in a traditional Yoruba outfit against a backdrop ofYoruba cultural motifs. This sets the tone for the film, anaesthetically vibrant and innovative Yoruba musical.

An elderly man, through recitals of proverbs, informsus of the current state of affairs in the kingdom of Jogbo.We next see an elderly women singing to a group of childrenabout the conditions of the kingdom. This style of conveyingcoded messages is sustained throughout the movie, withthese two characters our emissaries guiding us throughthe moral of the tale. Corrupt Chiefs pressure Adebosipo, afarmer and retired police officer, into becoming the new Kingof Jogbo. These Chiefs who served in the previous sovereigntyof Lagata (the military dictator from the film Sawaroide)spend heavily to support the installation of Adebosipo.

The Chiefs are concerned that if Arese, a young man representingthe youth, is elected he would bring back the goldenage of Jogbo, thus disrupting their plans of looting the treasury.

While hesitant, Adebosipo becomes King and makes itquite clear that he has no tolerance for the incompetent corruptofficials. He is determined to serve his people and helphis kingdom break free from its corrupt past. The Chiefs aredetermined to bring Adebosipo to his knees if he doesn't playalong with their game by instigating instability in the kingdom.

Adebosipo consults with his traditional Ifa priest foradvice on eradicating this corrupt leadership. They decideto reintroduce the gong of taboo oath. The Chiefs wouldhave to perform a ritual of drinking from the gong knowingthat if they lie about being corrupt, they will die.Upon announcing the King's decision to reintroduce thisoath, the corrupt Chiefs panic and all hell breaks loose.

The film inspires through its reminder that despite thesituation in post-colonial Nigeria, there is still hope. Whilethe issue of corruption in Nigeria is becoming a tedious topic, Mr Kelani keeps us entertained and informed by exploringthe rich culture of the Yorubas. The weak points of the filmare that some of the rich proverbial dialogues was either nottranslated or watered down which is unfortunate for the non-Yoruba speaking audiences.