RUNTIME: 93 Minutes
RATING: 4 out of 5
CAST: Omoni Oboli, Uche Jombo, Ufuoma McDermott, Kehinde Bankole Chioma Akpotha, Kenneth Okonkwo, Julius Agwu, Udoka Onyeka, Kalu Ikeagwu.
The sole aim of comedy is to make people laugh and when it comes to comedy there is no wrong or right approach. The idea of Wives On Strike is birthed from the very controversial event in Nigeria in 2013, where a bill was passed into law, allowing underage marriage in the country.
Ufuoma McDermott plays the role of Mama Amina, the flustered mother of a 13-year-old whose husband, Baba Amina played by Udoka Onyeka is bent on giving her away to a rich Alhaji in order to bring some financial relief to the family. Other wives in the neighborhood hear of this treachery and will not have him give away “their” daughter. Depriving their husbands of sex is the weapon wielded by the women in order to win their fight against child marriage.
Wives On Strike carries a very strong adult theme of sex as “jangolova” is often discussed among both the striking women and their deprived husbands. Even when a lady decides to imbibe the spirit of entrepreneurship with the intention of filling a gap in the neighborhood, she presents pomade (Vaseline) to the men to buy for masturbation purpose of course, since the women are unwilling to consent to sex.
There is a high use of synecdoche as just 4 women and 4 men were used to represent the large population of Nigeria and what we should be doing as a nation to curb child marriage. More so, the power of the media, no matter how “small” should not be undermined because the publicity the market women received started when a small local news reporter coincided with them when they stormed viciously to Amina’s house the day she was to be married off to chase her suitor away. From being reported as bizarre news, it garnered so much attention and went from Pan African to global.
Wives On Strike should have no trouble finding an audience because the dominant language was Pidgin English. When Cali’s wife (played by Julius Agwu and Uche Jombo) will not come through for him, he resorts to seeking comfort in a sex worker who dupes him by demanding a pre-service charge and then declaring she’s on strike as well. Mid-way through the hullabaloo, we’re introduced to Vera, (Chioma Akpotha) the wife of Senator Aniette (Kalu Ikeagwu) who is moved by the bizarre news reportage and declares “I am tired of being the wife that smiles and waves. I want my voice to be heard.” This is the start of a ripple effect as she lands the group of striking women an episode on a TV show and that is the genesis of global recognition of their cause. Desperate to put an end to their plight, the men begin to reason with their wives and join in the protest. This is portrayed by okada men demonstrating in the streets. The movie cuts across people from all walks of life.
Wives On Strike not only draws attention to the imminent evil of child marriage – Veisco-vaginal Fistula (VVF) it also highlights the importance of family planning and entrepreneurship – the other women eventually donated a sewing machine to Mama Amina so she’s gainfully engaged and can contribute to her family.
No free ads/promo aye? I could not help but notice in all the beer parlor scenes, the label of the beers being served had been peeled off and covert advertising was consciously avoided. Way to go guys. Also, Uche Jombo (Jemimah, aka Madam 12:30) was way too excited for the role she played as a striking wife compared to her counterparts. She looked too happy discussing a rather sensitive issue. In addition, the scroll bars in the news scenes were not necessary as they carried headlines that will not stand the test of time.
Given the title of the movie, all strikes must come to an end no matter how long. Eventually, the women won as the law enacted to prevent child marriage was enforced in all states and the men can now “jangolova” with their wives.
“I will not go through this life knowing I could have made a difference but did nothing” which Vera told her husband point blank (when he asked her to back down from her support for the striking women) is definitely a spur on for people to contribute the little or much they can to national development irrespective of impediments. Wives On Strike passes a clear message of standing up for what is right and doing everything we can to curb evil in our society.
Reviewed by Winifred Ononikpo