Igbo Excellence on Display as “Afamefuna- An Nwa Boy Story” Screens At Afriff 2023

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Newly minted millionaire Afamefuna Okoli is throwing his deceased father a lavish memorial somewhere in the heart of Nnewi, Anambra State, in the company of his radiant wife, Amaka, and some of his friends when police officers arrive and lead him to the station. His friend, Paul, has been murdered, and Afam is the prime suspect. 

Ahead of its cinema release and as part of the lineup of activities for this year’s Africa International Film Festival, Afamefuna -An Nwa Boy Story has positioned itself as one of the festival’s most anticipated entries. The audience eagerly gathered for a compelling cinematic experience that stole their hearts.  Directed by Kayode Kasum, this gripping narrative not only captivated audiences but also proved to be a perfect highlight of the film festival’s theme, “Indigenous 2.0 to Global.” 

Delving deep into the Igbo apprenticeship system, the film offers viewers an immersive experience into the cultural heritage, ambition, sacrifice, love, betrayal and redemption associated with this revered institution. It follows the journey of Afamefuna and his peers as they embark on the path to economic freedom through apprenticeship, while vividly portraying their ambitions, the sacrifices required to succeed, and the betrayals that accompany success. We see the boys try to outdo themselves to please and make money for Odogwu, their master.

The Nwa Boy system is a traditional system involving apprentices learning a trade of craft under the mentorship of a master, with focus on skill transfer, entrepreneurship, and community support. Under a trade master, an Igbo boy, typically in his teens, learns relevant skills for success in his chosen field. The film highlights how this system has contributed to economic development and social cohesion within the Igbo society. It showcases the resilience and adaptability of Igbo culture, emphasizing the importance of preserving traditional practices in a changing world.

In a riveting coming-of-age tale, Afamefuna meets Paul when his mother takes him to Odogwu’s store to learn how to sell building materials. Paul is instantly drawn to him and shows him around the market, striking an instant friendship. Within the close knit community of  ‘Nwa Boys,’ Afamefuna and Paul are the closest; they also stand out for their unwavering dedication to their boss and work. Where Paul is the sales genius, converting even the most disgruntled customers into loyalists, Afamefuna finds ways to make his boss more money. 

Things take a turn when Odogwu, “settles”  Afamefuna before Paul who started his apprenticeship before his friend. When an apprenticeship ends in the Nwa Boy system, a master is required to give his boy a lump sum, to serve as starting capital for his business venture. The two friends, remaining true to their dedication to Odogwu, separately did their boss favors to which warranted their being settled. However, owing to the weight of Afamefuna’s favor to his boss, he gets settled before his best friend, setting Paul on a path of jealousy, envy, and, ultimately, destruction. 

Produced by Omobayowa Alabi, the movie boasts a  cast of both seasoned  and emerging actors, all of whom put their heart into their respective roles, including Kanayo. O. Kanayo, Alexx Ekubo,  Stan Nze, Chuks Joseph, Atlanta Bridget Johnson, Jide Kene Achufusi, Segun Arinze, and Eso Dike. Paul Nnadiekwe, who plays the titular Afamefuna, expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to bring his compelling character to life.

The screening was met with an enthusiastic and emotional response from the audience. The film’s captivating storytelling, cinematography and heartfelt performances resonated deeply with the audience so much so that if Stan Nze’s Afamefuna was  found guilty of murdering his friend, he wouldn’t have lost their sympathy.

A brief but engaging Q&A session followed the screening, with Kayode Kasum and some cast members taking questions from the audience. They shared anecdotes and insights into the film’s process, shedding light on the challenges of bringing Afamefuna-An Nwa Boy Story to the screen.