Shanty Town Turns The Spotlight On The Darker Side of Lagos

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The highly anticipated Nollywood series Shanty Town was released on Netflix on January 20th, and quickly rose to the number one spot for TV shows in Nigeria on the streaming platform. Produced by Chichi Nworah, the crime thriller delves into the darker side of Lagos city and follows the complex characters who navigate its challenges. Shanty Town opens with a community under attack by gunmen and the ensuing chaos. Twin sisters struggle to escape with their mother, but only one makes it out alive, or so it appears.

The story follows Amanda (Ini Edo), who takes on the persona of her twin sister, Inem. She ventures back into the gritty, underworld of Shanty Town to uncover the truth behind the questions her twin posed before passing away. Inem’s sense of injustice, coupled with her history, gives her the courage to stand up to the ruthless drug lord and pimp, Scar (Chidi Mokeme).

Scar, who doubles as the illegitimate son and henchman of a gubernatorial aspirant named Chief Fernandez, rules Shanty Town with an iron fist. He pimps out women as payment for debt and sells false hopes of freedom to the prostitutes in the area. Scar is loyal to Chief Fernandez until he tries to shut down Scar’s means of livelihood in a bid to secure his spot as Governor of Lagos state. This turns Scar against him, and when he sees a chance to get his revenge, he takes it.

In the end, Chief Fernandez is outed as the mastermind behind several crime rings through the joint effort of Inem and the girls of Shanty Town, while Scar is brutally murdered by the women he held hostage for a long time.

Shanty Town is Nollywood’s laudable attempt to break away from its typical tropes and explore the criminal elements that are suspected to be lurking in the underbelly of many Nigerian cities. The series holds a magnifying glass to the decaying fabric of Nigerian society, drawing parallels between Chief Fernandez and real-life Nigerian politicians. From drug dealing to the ruthless use of thugs, Shanty Town offers a riveting and thought-provoking look at the darker side of Nigeria.

Shanty Town boasts an impressive cast and a unique approach to a Nigerian action thriller, incorporating local languages such as Yoruba, Igbo and Ibibio, expertly delivered by actors like Ini Edo and Nse Ikpe-Etim, who plays Enewan, appointed by Scar to control the women of Shanty Town. Chidi Mokeme also delivers an outstanding performance as Scar, the criminal king of the streets, bringing the character to life in a convincing and realistic way. 

The cinematography in Shanty Town is a standout feature, showcasing a high level of expertise in every scene. One particularly noteworthy example is the opening scene, which introduces the Shangisha community. The camera angles and special effects in this scene keep the audience on the edge of their seats.

While the series boasts strong production and outstanding performances from the cast, it does have some shortcomings. The background story could have been fleshed out more and the timeline of events made clearer. The series leaves much to the audience’s interpretation, raising many unanswered questions as the story progresses.

In conclusion, Shanty Town tells a story that resonates with many Nigerians, tackling themes such as corruption, prostitution, drug dealing, and the suspected fetish tendencies of politicians. The series has made a significant impact in the Nollywood industry and it is hoped that this more experimental approach will continue in future productions.

 

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