Camera rolls for Wole Soyinka’s Ake

Posted: August 1, 2013 in general

taiwo ajai-lycett on set in the upcoming film; akeThe production of the feature film adaptation of Wole Soyinka’s childhood memoir titled, Ake: The Growing Up Years, has finally began at various locations in Abeokuta, the birth place of the Nobel Laureate. Penultimate Saturday July 13, which was also the 79th birthday of the world famous writer, the film crew started rolling the camera in what is set to be a ground- breaking movie production.

The film’s cast is already expressive of the seriousness and the epic dimension of the project. Initial scenes relating to the formation of the Egba women’s movement led by the late Mrs Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti who was also the mother of the deceased musical icon, Fela Kuti, was taken.

On the set at the first phase of the production’s schedule was Mrs Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, starring as Madam Amelia, also nicknamed as “Kemberi”, a prominent Egba women’s leader, Amelia is also a fire-breathing public speaker, who took the stage in her captivating rendition during the historical encounter with the Alake, at the wake of the Egba women’s riots.

The riot which temporarily deposed the powerful monarch took place in 1945 and ultimately earned Nigeria the abolition of the poll tax on women and the institution of The Universal Adult Suffrage (meaning that women could also vote at local and federal elections), laws still in force today.

The film is scheduled for an international premier in 2014. That will be in time for two outstanding events: the centenary celebration of the Nigeria Amalgamation of 1914 and the 80th birthday of Professor Soyinka.

Also on ground at the early stage of the shoot were such theatre and movie sensations as Ben Tomoloju, (who is playing the role of Essay, Soyinka’s father), Yinka Davies (playing Mrs Kuti) and Akin Sofoluwe (Soyinka’s grandfather).

The film’s Executive Producer Dapo Adeniyi said, “one of the things that was envisioned was to try and tackle a number of scenes at the inaugural phase of the shooting. There were a number of operational difficulties however which came up, which are not unusual at major production locations. A delivery vehicle suddenly developing a fault and holding things up, for example. We also had to face some unusual challenges that will face an equally unusual production of this size”.

The important thing is that, we have been able to face up to the work and now we are trying to build a realistic momentum.

The production is scheduled to last until December 2013 and the post-production until March 2014. One of the aspects of production that many had looked forward to was the revelation of who and who are cast for the all-too-important children’s roles. The part of Wole will be played by four different children from years 2½ to 11. We finally are able to meet and actually feel Wole at 11 in action. His identity? Oluwamayokun Olumoroti, a student of Maverick High School, Ibadan.

The Director of the production Yemi Akintokun revealed that: “Yes, it is obvious from the first day on set that we got the choice right. He is able to deliver his lines and is convincing in his role. His previous experiences in drama was on stage. Making the transition to electronic acting is what we have to help him achieve. The voice level, his pitch, but he is alright and will do just fine”.

There are many locations in Abeokuta, a number in Ibadan and one in Lagos.

The Ake parsonage is relocated from the original site in Ake to the old and disused parsonage in Iberekodo.

There is the iconic school hall of the original AGS (Abeokuta Grammar School) which was the original hub of the women’s movement formed by the Kuti’s. The place where the original riots began and spread out.

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