Review Of Nollywood Agricultural Movie

'Yellow Cassava' is a movie aimed at entertaining and informing Nigerians on how they can improve their diets and health.

The movies premiered on September 24, 2014 during the11th Abuja International Film Festival.

'Yellow Cassava' stars Nigeria’s top actors  Segun Arinze, Monalisa Chinda, Chidi Mokeme and Emeka Ossai, among others is aimed at informing and entertaining Nigerians on how they can improve their diets and health.

Vero (Monalisa Chinda) is an Agricultural Extension worker, who has been sent to a rural area to sensitize the populace on the bountiful yield of yellow cassava as well as its health benefits.  Her fiancé, Dan (Chidi Mokeme), will have none of that; but this is a no-brainer for the young lady, leading to untold conflicts in their relationship.  In Amuro, the village where she is working, she also faces a lot of opposition from Chief Blacki (Segun Arinze) and Chief Dr. Okpu (Emeka ‘Torino’ Ojukwu).

Topical issues like the need for a male-child in many African societies, office politics, blackmail and physical-cum-psychological attack are subtly visited in this film.  For instance, a woman with grown-up children continues to conceive solely because she is searching for a male child, the only way she can be assured of her place in her husband’s house!

The truck full of cassava heightens believability.  The film’s location is well chosen.  In fact, the movie reminds one of visiting the hinterland.

The Yellow Cassava brilliantly advocates urban-rural migration rather than the opposite.  The screenwriter must be commended for creating Dr. Zack (played by Emeka Ossai), the character who gives Vero the moral support that helps her to live in Amuro.  It would have been difficult for Vero to cope with the attacks by the agents of her adversaries save for Zack, a medical doctor, who chooses to ply his trade in his community of origin.

It is not difficult to see why people, especially the youth, scorn the idea of living in rural areas: the roads are very muddy or dusty, depending on the season of the year; the houses are very unattractive; there is no potable water, etc.  So, one expects the government, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, to look into the problems that rural dwellers contend with.

It is unusual to see a movie that employs intrigues and irony in telling a story built around cassava, of all subjects.  Zeb Ejiro returns with this didactic project, which is a big leap for him/his team in particular and Nollywood in general: a business concern (Harvest Plus) believes that films; of which The Yellow Cassava is one; are veritable tools in educating the public on the benefits of their products.  Refreshing.

Then, one also sees government involvement in the project as the President’s name is mentioned along with his programme in Agriculture; a good Public-Private Partnership (PPP) for Nollywood and the concerned film-makers.

A number of awkward matters arise in The Yellow Cassava.  There is too much emphasis on cassava, which is haranguing. One had expected to hear other sources of Vitamin A; but because products made from cassava are staple foods; emphases would then have been laid on these cassava products.

Why didn’t the viewers see the high yield yellow cassava?  People have seen bigger yields from cassava than Vero shows the villagers during her workshops.  After she mentions the President’s promise to supply the rural farmers with machines, we expected to see her demonstrate this practically.  Instead, she goes back to drudgery, using farm implements in her farm.

Vero repeatedly says ‘the yellow specie of cassava’.  Species is both the singular and plural form of the word.  Again, one also hopes that the reason Vero settles for the guy she finally marries will be evident when one sees the whole film.

One is awaiting the release of the full version of The Yellow Cassava as the producers stated that the 83-minute picture shown at the premiere is an abridged version.  One is also expecting the indigenous language films from the Smile Africa and Harvest Plus Partnership namely: Sakani, Akpu Ebiyebi and Dada Oni Paki.

Reviewed by Amarachukwu Iwuala.


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