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The film adaptation of Wole Soyinka’s 1981 memoir Ake: The Years of Childhood is now available on Amazon. Set during the World War II years (1939-45), the feature, which we announced in 2013 and which lasts for 2 hours and 31 minutes, combines “a beautiful child-view narrative with resonances from the war as heard and imagined in Soyinka’s hometown in Ake, Abeokuta,” and “climaxes with the Egba women’s riot of 1945, led by Mrs Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, mother of the deceased musician Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.”

Directed by Dapo Adeniyi and produced by Back Page Productions, the film’s cast, numbering nearly 1,000, features some of Nigeria’s foremost film and theatre actors, including Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett, Yinka Davies, Yeni-Anikulapo-Kuti, Jimi Solanke, Lanike Onimisi-Bennet, Festus Adegboye Onigbinde, Alex Bratt, Gbenga Ajiboye, Hafiz Oyetoro, Yemi Solade, Wale Ramon, Wale Adebayo, Toyin Abiodun, Bose Oladele, Joke Muyiwa, Samsideen Adesiyan, and Bayo Bankole.

The three boys who played Wole Soyinka progressively—Oluwafunbi Oladele, Mofiyinfoluwa Oladele, and Jedidiah Ogunremi—with actor Jimi Solanke.

Shot at various locations in Abeokuta, Ibadan, Lagos and East Grinstead, UK, the film has been screened in Lagos and at film festivals in Cannes, France and the United States. The French subtitles were contributed by Alliance Francaise in Nigeria.

Director Dapo Adeniyi—a British Council Fellow at Downing College, University of Cambridge—has produced for radio and television in Nigeria as well as for the BBC. In an email to Brittle Paper, he states that:

Soyinka’s account is such an important historical script because it portrays a world in turmoil—the Second World War and colonial rule in Nigeria which was pressured by agitation for independence.

Echoes from the war were heard distinctly in Abeokuta by its enlightened communities on rediffusion radio, the headmaster of the local mission school inclusive, who was the writer’s father.

Egba women wait on Mrs Kuti at the outset of the Egba Women’s Demonstration.

The film, Adeniyi explains further, “is not an overt historical account but one which relays a crucial chapter in Nigerian history from the eyes of a child. The Egba women’s riot, directed by Mrs Kuti, Soyinka’s aunt, was conceived and hatched under his eyes. His mother, Eniola, participated as one of the closest collaborators with Kuti in the women’s movement.”

In June, Nollywood personality Mo Abudu announced that she would be adapting Soyinka’s play Death and the King’s Horseman.

Watch the trailer for Ake: The Years of Childhood below:

Buy the film on Amazon.

Visit the film’s website: soyinkasakefilm.org.

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Otosirieze is deputy editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize and the 2019 Miles Morland Writing Scholarships. He is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He combined English and History at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is completing a postgraduate degree in African Studies, and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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