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King of the Boys 2: Essentializing Igbo Language

By Chi Ngo

 

 

Powerful, even more powerful than its first season, this film (both seasons) seems to be one of the greatest film productions of the New Nollywood since the beginning of this century and in the league of, say, ’76, directed by my friend, Izu Ojukwu.

I can’t say more than others have already said on this film. Just want to make a point that many are not talking about.

I am totally caught by the director’s unprecedented ingenuity in essentializing Ìgbò language in what has been normalized as a historically cosmopolitan setting of Lagos where the Ìgbò language (not the people) remains an underdog or the shy girl overwhelmed or intimidated by a trendy urge to speak Yoruba or Pidgin English. Surprisingly, this director is a Yoruba lady—Kemi Adetiba! I had thought it was just one of those moves to draw Ìgbò viewers to the film in the first season (even if it was), but it presented me another deeper meaning while I viewed the second season. I bet that if it were to be an Ìgbò that directed the same film, s/he would have been too “conscious” about not making it “too Igbotic” — that is if the individual even cares about the Ìgbò language that is his/her mother tongue at all! (A crying shame and irredeemable inferiority complex!)

I cannot remember any film set in Lagos where Ìgbò children are seen expressing themselves in Ìgbò language or their parents communicating to them in Ìgbò language, but I saw it in this film and it made a strong impression on me. Don’t forget that the capital of raising Ìgbò children VIOLENTLY AWAY FROM THEIR ÌGBÒ HERITAGE AND WITH APATHY AND DISDAIN TOWARDS ÌGBÒ LANGUAGE anywhere in the world is that same Lagos. It’s indeed instructive that a Yoruba director made a film to make a statement that touches on correcting our very remarkable cultural stupidity that had grown in leaps and bounds since the 2000s. Imagine many more films set in highbrow areas of Lagos Island that would normalize and essentialize the use of Ìgbò language by those Ìgbò children born and raised there. Imagine that.

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Tags : FilmHollywoodKing of BoysNigeriaNollywood
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