Frank Rajah Arase’s film adaptation of Kogi’s legendary princess Inikpi is a deep seated misfire.
As a first time producer, Mercy Johnson’s ambition is understandably sky high. High enough to attempt to conquer the picky tastebuds of film consumers while depending solely on her fan base for support. It’s cute except that cute does not quite define what we ordered versus what we got. The Legend of Inikpi’s story primarily suffers through a lazy scriptwriter and an unambitious story.
The final cut leaves us with a film that’s flawed by an insufficient cast, inadequate props, uninspiring visual effects, and continuity errors.
The Legend of Inikpi opens to Queen Omele (Mercy Johnson) in the throes of childbirth. The dialogue between Omele and the midwives reveal that this birth is unlike any other and as such, is special. Omele is the beloved wife of the revered Ayegbu Oma Idoko, the Atta of Igala (Sam Dede). The film soon begins to mislead its audience by not detailing that Omele is not the King’s only wife but the king’s favourite. We are also left to second guess some characters that make brief appearances. At best, we can assume they are members of the royal family but the script makes no attempt to establish our assumptions.
Inikpi’s story as told by this film also leaves out very important details of the time trajectory beginning from the conflict to Inikpi’s death. It barely tells a convincing tale of the cause of the conflict. For one, the people of Idah were not on the verge of war but already in battle with the Benin people. A war that saw their farmlands burnt and their waters poisoned. With thousands of Benin soldiers hard on the heels of the Idah soldiers, it’s hard to believe that it took them seven or eight days (depending on the account), to reach Idah.
Say we place a bet in favour of Professor Emmy Idegu’s account, where does that leave the fact that in modern-day Nigeria, it’s only a one-hour boat trip from Edo state to Idah in Kogi state? The same means of transportation used in the film?
Away from the questionable story, The Legend of Inikpi deserves better than a handful of extras neither did it deserve the lacklustre performance of the American narrator.
Sam Dede, Paul Obazele, Saidi Balogun and Johnson’s performances, on the other hand, are the movie’s sole highlight.
New actor, Nancy Ameh, on the other hand, is a greenhorn who lets the wetness behind the ears seep through her performance. Her monologue eulogizing the Atta is evidence that she could use a little more guidance. Thankfully, she attempts to redeem herself in the final scenes.
A story like The Legend of Inikpi thrives when attention is paid to the tiniest detail. When the audience isn’t having a hard time connecting the story’s misappropriation of events and the obvious omission of key facts that give the true story its depth, we are forced to deal with the conspicuous absence of necessary props, a handful of extras when the film could have used dozens and the legendary continuity error that saw Obazele rocking his beautiful wedding band. A wedding band found its way to the set of an epic film.
Where’s my Shekere?