Review: “Wura” Keys Into A Plotful Headstart (S01, EP1-5)

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Taking a cue from South African telenovela The River, the Showmax original series Wura explores the story of its titular character, the CEO of Frontline Gold Mine, who resorts to desperate measures to salvage the dwindling fortunes of her company. 

Set in Iperindo, Osun state, the lives of the opulent Adeleke family are navigated in parallel with the pathetic living conditions of the Kutis. At least, the first five episodes picture this. In the Adeleke household, a family of four, we find that the parents Wura Amoo-Adeleke (Scarlet Gomez) and Anthony Amoo-Adeleke (Yomi Fash-Lanso) are on opposite sides of the law. While Anthony appears to be the harmless state police commissioner, his wife Wura easily metamorphoses into a Machiavellian business mogul. Or, we could say Wura puts up a Janus-faced personality: motherly and caring at home, ruthless and unemotional in business.

In the opening flash-forward scene, Wura douses a tied-up lady, whose name we learn is Tumininu Kuti (Martha Ehinome), in gasoline before setting her ablaze. After, she returns home to her family. We move back ten years earlier in time, where the Kutis are seen in a celebratory mood. It is Tumininu’s birthday, and the family head Pa Olusegun Kuti (Ropo Ewenla), one of Wura’s workers who doubles as a peasant farmer, leaves for work hoping to continue the celebration with his daughter when he returns in the evening.

Frontline Gold Mine is going insolvent, and Wura is deeply worried about having to pay her investors their dues. She is not alone in her administrative duties over the company, as she is assisted by her nephew Jeje (Ray Adeka) and son Lolu Adeleke (Iremide Adeoye). It’s borderline pessimism for her; but being the arrowhead, she announces that she will lay off some employees. This doesn’t materialize, though, as Pa Kuti’s chance discovery of gold offers Wura and the entire company a lifeline.

Pa Kuti cashes in on this opportunity, offering to take Wura to the river where the gold was found if she rescinds the retrenchment policy. He also gets his boss to verbally agree to making the miners shareholders in the company and granting them all the benefits they have been promised in the past. It turns out Wura has given spurious consent, again. When Pa Kuti leads her to the river, Wura murders him in cold blood. Jeje witnesses the scene in horror but can do nothing to stop his aunt. According to Wura’s plan, Pa Kuti’s death would be discovered, but not as murder, so she can resuscitate her company without being at the mercy of a mere worker’s seemingly inexorable demands.

As fate would have it, contrary to her prediction, Wura’s situation becomes more complicated than just a one-off murder after one of her gold-plated earrings goes missing, believed to have been lost at the crime scene. Jeje’s efforts to find the earring are futile. Soon, the Kutis get to know about Pa Kuti’s death and are thrown into a state of mourning. Pa Kuti’s colleagues also mourn him, and while the family is in dire need of funds for the burial, Wura provides financial assistance. The first time Tumininu visits Wura, Wura feels wary of the younger lady. After Tumi leaves, Wura tells Jeje, “She has a fire. I can’t put my hands on it yet, but I have a feeling this isn’t the last we’ve seen of her”. Jeje’s countenance does not agree, as he seems rather enamored of Tumi’s beauty. There’s a mild sense of foreshadowing: first, Tumi and Wura will get into a conflict; secondly, an amorous relationship will develop between Jeje and Tumi.

Meanwhile, somewhere close to the river, the gold earring has been accidentally discovered by Femi (Oluwaseyi Akinsola), son of Aunty Labake (Aweodein Adeola) the Adeleke’s housemaid. Femi begins to keep tabs on the Adelekes and gathers tidbits here and there on Pa Kuti’s death. It also helps that the frivolous young man is Lolu’s lover. So, we are not really surprised when Femi takes to blackmailing Wura. What we cannot decide at the end of episode five is what becomes of the volatile interface between Femi and the Adelekes. While intoxicated with the thought of a better life, can Femi avoid taking any rash decision that would cost him his own life? What are his actual chances against the powerful Wura? Well, any act of indiscretion, and another murder may be around the corner.

Tilting to the genre of crime thriller, Wura has begun on the note of suspense and looks promising to deliver glorious twists in successive episodes. There’s the perceptive character of Mandy, Lolu’s girlfriend and an asset to the Adelekes who hope to get favored by her father, the unidentified Chairman of the Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee. When Wura returns home from the river-turned-slaughterhouse, it is Mandy who discovers that an earring is missing. After her boyfriend introduces her to Femi, Mandy rightly guesses there’s something queer about Femi. Neck-deep into this season, let’s see how Mandy takes shape, and see to what extent she will be involved in the ruffle. With the film hinting at the uncharacteristic nature of a queer relationship against the backdrop of the largely conservative Nigerian social reality, we cannot wait to find out what Lolu’s parents and Femi’s mother will make of the young men’s relationship when they eventually get to know.

Another issue is how Tony would receive the news of his wife’s heinous act and the underbelly of her business. Only time can unravel this.

Directed by Dimeji Ajibola, Adeola Osunkojo and Yemi Morafa, and starring a mix of renowned and rising actors, Wura is currently showing on Showmax.

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