Confusion Na Wa (2013)


Streaming on Netflix

Pros: case, look

Cons: many loose ends

The 2013 “Confusion Na Wa,” written and directed by Kenneth Gyang, shot in Kaduna, is one African movie without any village-to-city dynamic, though it has self-righteous elders and amoral youth. There’s a lot going on in the movie, much of it connected to a cellphone picked up in the confusion at the start after someone was killed in the street. At the end, there are many loose ends, though the voiceover narrator declares (actually, repeats) that things don’t necessarily happen for a (good) reason: ““When I was a boy, they told me everything happens for a reason. But they were wrong. Some things don’t happen for a reason. They just happen.”

Even if drugging and raping a young woman (Fola [Lisa Pam-Tok]) is the basis for justifiable homicide on the part of her father (Adekunle [Toyin Alab]), he picks the wrong guy to execute.

Nearby, another patriarch, Babajide (Tony Goodman, who has made a fortune as publisher of Righteous Trumpet Newspape, has hired a prostitute for the son, Kola (Nathaniel Deme), who is not certain if he is gay, and an honest hard-working man, Bello (Ali Nuhu) whose wife, , Isabella (Tunde Aladese), has gotten pregnant by the owner of the lost/stolen phone (Emeka [Ramsey Nouah]) was leaves, believing he has found his cuckolder, though he hasn’t.

(Emeka getting an offer to buyback his business mobile phone)

(Chichi waiting for payoff)

In addition to sexual double standards, hypocrisy, infidelity, homophobia, bribery, and an extended analysis of “The Lion King” as a celebration of colonialism in what is now Zimbabwe (Simba being a covert image of Cecil Rhodes!), the movie dramatizes class differences, especially that between the young thieves, Chichi (Ikponmwosa Gold) and Charles (O. C. Ukeje), the latter being the sexual player, and the other characters, both the fathers and their young adult children. And there are ironies beyond the confusions fomented by the purloined mobile phone.

Gyang (whose feature debut, “Blood and Henna” [2012] was set around the infamous Pfizer meningitis clinical trials in Kano) has expressed his admiration for the films of Mexican auteur Alejandro González Iñárritu, and the happenstance interconnections of “Amores perrros” (2000) seem a a particular inspiration.

Although Kaduna is primarily Hausa, the verbal exchanges not in pidgin or standard English are in Igbo (according to the subtitles, “speaking in Igbo”), though Igbo that has been found strange by native Igbo speakers. “Confusion Na Wa” won both Best Film and Best Nigerian Film at the ninth Africa Movie Academy Awards. (Gyang was nominated for the best director award, and Ikponmwosa Gold (whom I think was the lead) was nominated for best supporting actor.

Many movies are produced in Nigeria: Nollywood is third, behind Bollywood and Hollywood. “Confusion” is the most sophisticated and best Nigerian movie I’ve seen. The production values of “Confusion Na Na,” were far superior to those of most Nollywood movies, comparable to those of (the turgid)  “Half a Yellow Sun.” Yinka Edward’s cinematography especially deserves praise.

Leave a Reply