To write about filmmaking especially in the Yoruba clime is to prepare a long note of history. Even if most of us were not yet born during the early era of Ogunde, Ade Love and every other pioneers, the story was preserved atleast to the best strength of the authentic storytellers during those times.
Nollywood has evolved – memorable is the almost comatose state of the industry where guardians discourage their wards from venturing into it because “filmmaking na corporate ashawo”, “filmmaking na corporate Almajiri system”.
Now, there is a more developed space where every young creative wants to get his or her head into and even the seemingly aged ones seems to be regretting not settling for, at a much younger age.
The filmmaker, just like every other creative, is faced with a duty – to replicate his or her society effectively in theatrical productions and serve as a voice of conscience especially for the misled ones to hearken and head back to their various homes.
Perhaps, addressing the Nollywood industry an edutainment sector instead of an entertainment sector would be solid enough to open the eyes of the wannabe activist and filmmaker, Yomi Fabiyi to his brazen display of insensitivity and consistent flops. But even at a second thought, his most recent production “Oko Iyabo” which is the bone of contention in this article cannot even pass as educative, edutaining nor entertaining. What exactly is entertaining about an hour long movie that glorifies pedophilia, child abuse, statutory rape and slut shaming?
Fourteen out of fifteen adults in present day Nigeria are bound to have one story of abuse or molestation from a close relation, family friend, neighbor or mentor during their childhood years. Most of these cases are usually swept under the carpet due to fear of being dealt with by oppressors afterwards, the silence culture which has infact been ingrained into some early teachings – the erroneous fact that you are not expected to slap an elder even if he is defiling you, in the name of nothing but respect.
Do I need to remind you of how we have numerous old men but few elders? Bumbling idiots gets to have grey hairs, aged folks are not exempted from harassment vices. Or what do we say about the veteran actor cum humorist, Olanrewaju Omiyinka, regarded by many as Baba Ijesha, of whom recent findings with a CCTV footage to prove has shown to be a no limit penis wielder? Or what other name do we address a father figure who thinks the most valid option for him is getting down in the pants of a fourteen year old?
But for the estranged filmmaker, Yomi Fabiyi, who choses to be the 21st century alterer of glaring narratives and a host of predatory old lots like Chief Aderemi Adedeji (Olofa Ina), Idowu Philips (Iya Rainbow), Bukky Black plus a sizeable Nollywood panel committee regarded as “Theatre Arts & Motion Picture Practitioners’ Association of Nigeria” (TAMPAN), all we would have initially had to battle with was the struggle behind this daring assault by Baba Ijesha and strive duly to get punishment meted out for him, legally.
But how exactly do we overlook the constant efforts of this cherry-butt shaped actor in bending the true course of justice and confidently promoting child molestation without any element of fear or remorse present in him? As if watching an epic scene of Tajudeen Oyewole (Abija) and Toyin Oladiran (Abeni Agbon) in one of those earliest scary movies by Late Alhaji Yekini Ajileye, Nigerians (on and off social media) has been keenly following the battle between Yomi, who has been flaunting his horns as the Oniduro for the embattled actor and the celebrity actress, Alice Iyabo Ojo Fespris who stood her grounds in support of the defiled minor and towards the quest of getting due punishment meted out to Omiyinka. I’m particularly certain that the Ifa religion, which serves as a prefix for Fabiyi, does not condone molestation or defilement in any degree, whatsoever. So, where exactly is this “roundheaded idiot” (in the words of acclaimed TV personality, Elsie Godwin) bringing his appalling stance from?
Yomi Fabiyi, asides from being a human replica of a failed country – where evil is flamboyantly shoved down the throats of people, while trampling upon the crawling righteous, decides to take his deranged acts to a bigger level and came up with the movie titled “Oko Iyabo” within the shortest period of time this saga began.
I do not want to write about how this film has served as a solid proof that most Nollywood filmmakers jumps into locations once a storyline hits without even a script in black and white to serve but merely disjointed outlines to shoot. I do not want to write about the wild adrenaline rush in most Nollywood filmmakers that gives room for production, post production, publicity and release in less than a month, little wonder we have movies with storylines that is capable of triggering high sugar intake, throbbing migraine, mental catastrophe from oppressive, zombie themes and suicidal subtitles like “two pants of blood”.
Yomi Fabiyi’s Oko Iyabo faced the threat of cancel culture, right from the choice of title – a not too subtle pass at celebrity actress, Iyabo Ojo. But there was quite some expectations of diplomacy from this guy. But alas, it turned out we were expecting a Bubu to stop travelling to London.
A movie so volatile, it isn’t suitable for viewerships from children nor applicable to watched by adults, either. Yomi didn’t stop at using Iyabo’s name, he decided to create a remake of Omiyinka’s ongoing court case et allegation, yet employing the exact names of everyone involved including the minor. As if that is not enough, he portrayed the character of Iyabo Ojo, now interpreted by Aishat Ajilogba (@iamayeeshaa), as a lady from a dysfunctional home with a prior childhood aspiration of being a prostitute which eventually metamorphosed into her sleeping around with movie directors and producers while hiding under the canopy of Celebrity Actress. Does Yomi Fabiyi in anyway understand the gravity of slut shaming? For an obviously patriarchal act that people; notably feminists are still clamoring for a lasting stop to, Fabiyi unapologetically steps out as an enabler of rape culture, pedophilia, sex for roles and slut shaming. Would it be wrong then when parents decides to pull away their female wards from venturing into the arts space, as Yomi already confirmed their worst nightmare in this kindergarten jagbajantis he tagged as a creative output? And just because someone counts that as invalid, the vulgar words oozing from the buccal cavity of Chief Aderemi Olofa Iná is still very clear and untainted in many minds. In his words, sleeping with one another is a norm in the industry and infact, no actress (young or old) has become established without having to moan under a number of actors. The aforementioned commentary is not to be doubted, as a leading BoT for TAMPAN, Prince Jide Kosoko, has equally made such remark in a previous interview.
With pre existing notions as this from elders who ought to know better, it is not surprising that this predatory content by Fabiyi got passed on by the movie censor board for such to have rapidly gained space on YouTube, safe for the ever gallant “children of anger” who wasted no time in flagging down the bullshit content as inappropriate and disturbing.
A number of celebrities have been known to feed from clout chasing, basically to garner likes, comments or amass followerships. Fabiyi is not just proving to be a clout chaser with his baseless movie. As audacious as it can be, he is trampling upon the emotions of the 14 year old who was defiled and her family, en masse. His mischief is so obvious in his attempt to rewrite the story of an actual molestation to suit his preferences and equally place the molester at a safer range.
Who makes a movie out of an ongoing court case, if not a daring orchestrator of anarchy presiding as an activist? Is your activism really for Nigerians or for your pocket, Fabiyi? For someone who countered your obviously awkward stance, is cyber bullying the most effective way of positioning a clapback? If not premeditated evil, why should you shut out every means of audience feedbacks on a newly released movie? On what concrete basis is this description of Iyabo as having to search for “a get rich quick” medium viz prostitution laid on? Or is this a case of a sexually starved Yomi suffering from prolonged bitterness after an outright rejection from Iyabo?
To judge a work of art, a syntactical and structural view is always advised. However, there is absolutely nothing creative about a pedophilia enabling story where every single cast jointly represents an already existing community of vile patriarchs. Troubling that we have pronounced actresses too as casts in this piece of crap? Oh, that is not supposed to come as a surprise. Yomi is a glinting metaphor for hypocrisy shaped as ally, the movie “Oko Iyabo” – a valid reference point in conversations about storytellers who can easily be swayed off the path of truth, in a bid to satisfy their ego and get more credit alerts.
Who are the authentic storytellers? Definitely not Yomi Fabiyi. Most appropriate response should be this fierce tribe of women – Alice Iyabo Ojo Fespris and Nkechi Blessing Sunday, who even in the face of sanctions, have refused to keep mute yet remained resilient even with unbecoming comments from closeted molesters. Everything gets to pass off eventually, this I know but I do hope that for the sake of posterity, the gallant actions by these women remain indelible in our hearts and we give them as much flowers, as possible while they are here. Giving them flowers readily encompasses rooting all out for their world class productions and patronising their art, at all times. Not all heroes wear capes.
On a final note, I hope TAMPAN starts living up to its name and cease to allow tampons be more relevant than they are. I hope when this whole saga is out to rest, a thorough refurbishing is considered fit in the Nollywood space to fish out the pests and the bad eggs. In so doing, peace may gradually return and atleast, we can be rest assured that the crisis we have to face for some donkey years is that of “I will use my tongue to arouse your hairy snail” and makeup effects that makes Ojuju a lesser terror.
With the fresh summons on Fabiyi, I hope truth prevails. Or maybe not. Perhaps, something goes wrong and a whole bag of cankerworm finally gets to be in open air. After all, pesin wey go dash someborry cloth, na the one wey him gum for body we go fes look.
Yusuf Alabi Balogun, regarded by many as Aremo Gemini, is a performance poet, cultural curator, social commentator and critic per excellence. He writes from Ibadan, Oyo State where he currently resides and can be reached via his social handles – @aremogemini