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.
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.
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.