Metumaribe Onuigbo – Metu – (Okey Bakassi) journeys from Nigeria to London to join his wife, Mkpurunma (Ngozi Thompson Igwebike); a woman he has never met because he has been denied a British visa for a number of years. In London, Metu discovers that all that glitters is not gold.
It is always fascinating to watch artistes perform in languages, in which they are at home and whose culture they understand very well. Metu, Mkpurunma, Chike and Adaugo speak Igbo impressively as traditional users of the language to the delight of the audience; they are indeed sons and daughters of the soil. Besides, the dialogue is witty and leaves the viewer laughing from time to time.
In fact, given the way the conversations flow, it is very likely that the screenplay was written in the Igbo language because this is probably the first time in a Nollywood movie where the actors do not at any point in time speak what is colloquially known as ‘Engli-Igbo’ – the intermittent use of English words or phrases in sentences meant to be made in the Igbo language.
Metu, Mkpurunma and Ogbenyealu are not everyday Igbo names, making it difficult for the audience to forget the names long after watching the film. More importantly, their characters are well developed such that they leave abiding impressions on the audience. Ogbenyealu (Chinny Okemuo) and Osita’s (D’kachy Obi-Emelonye’s) spoken Igbo is a reminder that the first language to which an individual is exposed affects other languages he learns later on unless the child learns the language(s) side by side as a young child. It is also proof that socialization determines the accent with which an individual speaks a language.
The attempts by TJ (Steve Moriaty) and the other Caucasians to speak Igbo, which leaves them blushing each time, are also indicative of the fact that it is difficult, like Igbo people say, to become left-handed in old age. It also shows as stated earlier that one’s first language has a strong influence on subsequent languages that one learns, especially when the other languages are learnt later in life.
Obi Emelonye must be applauded for undertaking this project, which promotes the Igbo language and culture. He is particularly acknowledged for not towing the ‘Engli-Igbo’ path, the common style, in which Igbo language films are made.
A few questions arise from the movie. If the Caucasians had met Metu in his dreams, then it would not have been difficult to believe that they actually spoke Igbo since anything can happen in the dream. However, it is just for the fun of it that they speak Igbo, hampering verisimilitude.
Onye Ozi falls into the same trap as many Nollywood films: ensuring that the protagonist succeeds by all means, including supernatural interventions. That may not have mattered in a comedy like this, but for the fact that it happens in countless films. Be that as it may, the film has many funny moments. So, see it.