A feminist critique of Kunle Afolayan’s film, Aníkúlápó



By Adesola Ayo-Aderele

American celebrity, Doyle Brunson, said: “A man with money is no match for a man on a mission. I rewrite it to say that a man with money is no match for a woman on a mission. This pretty much sums up the end result of Olori Arolake’s Janus-faced relationship. [Bimbo Ademoye] and the migrant gigolo Saro, skillfully played by Kunle Remi.

Saro wanders around Oyo town and immediately catches the eye of a wealthy local businesswoman, Awarun [Sola Sobowale] who does not take long to make him his maintained man.

Looking back, the way Saro effortlessly settles into the role of Awarun’s lover, and Awarun’s warning as he later goes on a rampage with Olori Arolake, are all evident of a man on the way to self-destruction. But I digress.

Saro has no chance of surviving in Oyo Town due to his relationship with the nymphomaniac Awarun, whose appetite for impressionable young men is notorious.

But she meets her match in Saro who quickly falls in love with Olori Arolake after Awarun helps him secure a lucrative business deal with the Palace.

To other oloris, Arolake is an evil co-wife, but the film’s audience is likely to be seduced by her fake innocence which immediately pities them; and even as it unfolds in full, its unassuming air easily renders its atrocities seemingly insignificant unless viewed critically and impartially.

Arolake is a child bride, but she soon learns to love sex. Ironically, she loves it when it’s mostly illicit. As Arolake pushes Kabiyesi away on nights when it’s her turn to be with Kabiyesi, she does everything imaginable to snatch Kabiyesi from the beds of other oloris at will. All she has to do is pretend to be suddenly ill, only for her to catch a bewildered Kabiyesi in a forceful embrace as she pulls him to his bed, leaving the woman whose turn it is to wait for Kabiyesi forever. Thus, her co-wives don’t hesitate to dress her up regularly and she doesn’t really have any friends among them.

Her love for illicit sex attracts her to Saro, regardless that she is her husband Kabiyesi’s favorite wife. As for Saro, he has grown bold and, in fact, suicidal, as he accepts Arolake’s offer of love, presumably to repay Awarun for his bride with other young men. He meets a violent end after the Palace discovers the heinous relationship and orders his summary execution.

But an equally daring Arolake, helplessly in love with the stunningly handsome and young Saro, risks everything, confronts the spirit of death as represented by Akalamagbo the bird, and not only defeats death in Saro’s name, she manages to secure the gourd containing death. Powerful! However, Saro does not know this.

The significance of the film’s title comes to the fore as Saro and Arolake escape to the town of Ojumo after weeks of murderously wandering the forest.

In Ojumo Town, their benefactor, a hunter, loses his son. After much persuasion and encouragement from Arolake, Saro gathers his courage and uses the power of Akala, given to him by Arolake, to raise their benefactor’s son from the dead.

The question is, what was Arolake thinking when she handed the canteen to Saro? Did she intend to buy his lifelong loyalty to her? Couldn’t she have used the gourd herself, with Saro playing the gentleman-husband while his wife makes waves with magical power?

To expect Saro to sit still while Arolake gets the accolades is to deliberately misunderstand Saro’s character portrayal and, more importantly, the patriarchal system that abounds. In a patriarchal society, the woman must be seen and not heard. Her role is to be a stay-at-home mother and raise the children, do the endless household chores, etc. The idea of ​​a working wife is that she works as a farm worker, preferably on her husband’s farm.

Awarun does not fit into this mould, hence its extreme independence, rather daring with regard to the chronology of the film. Awarun’s character is reminiscent of EfunsetanAniwura [though without the sex]the legendary Iyalode of Ibadan and one of Ibadan’s leading slave traders in the 19th century.

In any case, the resurrection of the hunter’s son from the dead is the beginning of Saro’s immense prosperity and, in the same vein, its ultimate end; however, without Arolake to finally save him!

Andy Stanley, a member of the American clergy, declares: “Greed is not a financial question. It’s a heart problem. As Saro uses the magic gourd to raise the dead from near and far, he grows rich and powerful and, as Greek tycoon Aristotle Onassis said in one of his biopics, whenever Saro sees a woman , he thinks only of bedding. their.

From raping his wife Arolake’s maid to marrying off other women, Saro does it all. Arolake, whom he affectionately calls his early-stage guardian, soon becomes insignificant in Saro’s polygamous setup, with young wives regularly taunting her about her infertility. Saro makes him a punching bag at one point. But Arolake is a patient dog.

As time goes by, Saro’s lustful eyes wander to Ojumo City’s delightful Princess Omowunmi. On one occasion, in his lust-induced reverie, he shamelessly licks his mouth in anticipation of what might happen as he casts his uncontrolled gaze on the beautiful princess.

His chance to ask for the princess’s hand in marriage comes when the heir apparent to Ojumo City suddenly dies. A desperate Oba from Ojumo calls on Saro to come and use his power to raise his son, with the promise to give him anything he could possibly desire.

A confident Saro looks the king in the eye and asks for Princess Omowunmi’s hand in marriage.

The overly surprised and angry murderous King of Ojumo agrees, but Saro’s day of reckoning has come. He tries several times to raise the King’s heir, but, like the biblical Samson, his power has failed him. It turns out that her former guardian, Arolake, is fed up with the mistreatment of a man she sacrificed everything for and took on Delilah’s costume.

In his 1697piece titled ‘The grieving bride‘, William Congreve, an English author of the late 17th and early 18th centuries, said, ‘Heaven has no rage, like love into hate, nor hell has rage like a woman despised. to discover the full significance of this evergreen statement!

Unbeknownst to Saro, Arolake has emptied the magic gourd of its contents, with an ignorant Saro still walking around with an empty and ineffective gourd!

An angry Oba demands that a failed Saro be beheaded. And, for the second time, Saro dies, but this time it’s final, without guardian angel Arolake to save him as is the case the first time…

Can we blame Arolake for Saro’s misfortunes? Maybe, maybe not, depending on what angle you look at it. To me, however, Arolake is no saint, although Saro would still have met his Waterloo at some point if not for Arolake’s instrumentality. His vanity and unbridled appetite for women would have assured him, as Awarun might not sit still while he shuttles from woman to woman in revenge for his infidelity.

I recommend the movie Aníkúlápó to men who think they might bother women once they hit gold. Akalamagbo is definitely hiding around!

Ayo-Aderele is a journalist, film analyst and communications strategist.

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