AN ADAPTATION OF FEMI OSOFISAN’S “YEEPA SOLARIN NBO”
GENRE: A FILMED PLAY
DIRECTED BY: NIJI AKANNI/ TUNDE KELANI
PRODUCER: TUNDE KELANI
YEAR OF PRODUCTION: 2014
SET IN: NIGERIA
NUMBER OF EPISODES: 14
LANGUAGE: YORUBA (SUBTITLED IN ENGLISH)
REVIEWER: MOF’OLUWAWO O MOJOLAOLUWA
Yeepa is a 2014 Nigerian comedy of errors/ comedy of manners by the illustrious Tunde Kelani. In Yeepa, an adaptation of Femi Osofisan’s book of the eponymous title, he tells of the corruption infested local government agencies and parastatals and how they are almost paralyzed with an initially rumoured but eventually true news of the Public Complaint’s Commissioner’s intended and inevitable visit. Rather than attempt to set the records straight and put things in their proper order, the heads of these government agencies and parastatals only try to cover up their mess through corrupt means resulting in their being swindled by the fake and pretended Public Complaints Commissioner and being taken by surprise nay shock by the real Public Complaints Commissioner.
Kelani who works with the BBC is a relentless promoter of the Yoruba culture and traditions. He has to his credit through his movie production outfit, Mainframe Productions several other award winning and timeless movies such as Ti Oluwa Ni Ile, O le ku, Thunderbolt Magun, Saworo Ide, Agogo Eewo, Arugba, Abeni, Narrow Path amongst others. Always pervading his movies are ethics and values such as religious tolerance, diligence, dignity of labour, Nigeria’s unity in diversity, peaceful and harmonious international relations, forgiveness and compromise, and above all love (cross cultural and interreligious love). He also showcases the rich cultural heritage of the Yorubas through dressing styles, song and dance, proverbs and wise sayings, food, entertainment, and social relations.
The plot of the movie is an adaptation of a book ‘Yeepa, Solarin N Bo’, a play written by the prolific Nigerian writer, Femi Osofisan also known as Okinba Launko. The book itself can be likened to a Nigerian adaptation or a Nigerian version of the book “The Government Inspector” written by the late Russian author Nikolas Gogol. It is interesting to note that while these authors belong to different generations, the message contained in their works remain the same. Perhaps it is apposite to say that corruption is not only a universal menace but a timeless one at that.
The film opens in the house of the local government chairman chief Gbonmiayelobiojo also referred to as JDG. In his sitting room are a number of government officials all engaged in one activity or the other. Madam Abeni Mailo, the Price Control Officer and Ayokanmi Olaitan, the district magistrate are busy playing Ayo Olopon( a board game). The Councilor for Cooperatives in charge of agricultural trades in the person of madam Kaokudi Animashaun and the Commissioner for Education chief Funsho Fowolu aka Force is Force are engrossed in a discussion over some files, Dr Bodunrin Alade Martins is smoking pipe, they are interrupted every now and then by Tolu, the chairman’s imbecilic wife’s trying to hawk her merchandise while Polycarp, his male servant snores away loudly behind the sofa. The chairman comes in and announces a receipt of bad news to them all. They at first mistake it for the news of the discontinuance of their car allowance by the government. He sends his still sleepy servant off to call Baba Fawomi the Ifa priest before announcing to them that the Public Complaints Commissioner will be paying them a visit to their dismay. He mandates them all to make a covenant not to betray one another to the Public Complaints Commissioner and is met by different reactions such as that of Abeni Mailo who objects on the basis of her religious sentiments. Baba Fawomi arrives and confirms their fears, albeit proffering a solution in form of a costly sacrifice. He accepts all their eager donations and desperate pledges and also a bottle of gin which he immediately gulps down on behalf of the Ifa oracle. Unknown to him, Polycarp had mistakenly brought a bottle of toilet wash. The furious Ifa priest proclaims doom on them for attempting to poison him and threatens revenge as he leaves assuring them of the inevitability of the Public Complaints Commissioner’s visit. Two talebearers, Lemomu and Lamidi arrive to confirm the arrival of the Public Complaints Commissioner and the government officials all resolve to go and destroy all evidence of their corrupt practices at once.
In another development, the district pastor tries to eject to no avail, Ishola Oriebora, a loafing vagrant who forced himself on him for some days and even wormed his way into the heart of his daughter. The chairman and Polycarp arrive at the pastor’s house and in a subsequent discussion with the pastor Nebuchadnezzar, mistake Ishola for the Public Complaints Commissioner travelling incognito. They all set about making their positions good with him.
In a twist of events, Ishola learns of the mistake and capitalizes on that to swindle them all of large amounts of money, even contracting a hoax of an engagement with Cecilia, the pastor’s daughter who is infatuated with him. Events climax into his escape with all the money and the chairman’s car after which they discover via his diary who he really is and begin to count their losses. Lamidi and Lemomu reappear with the news of the arrival of the real Public Complaints Commissioner and they all exclaim Yeepa!
The play’s title is derived from their exclamation of “Yeepa!” a Yoruba interjection expressing their shock and disbelief at the news of the real Public Complaints Commissioner. Spanning fourteen episodes of about 9 to 12 minutes each, Yeepa is a fine blend of satire and comedy with a focus on the corruption in government ministries and parastatals. The whole film is a recount (flashback) of Ishola Oriebora’s escapades as told by himself at a drinking joint amidst friends. He regales them with his exploits amongst the unsuspecting but corrupt government officials.
Dramatic irony is a principal device employed in the movie such as when the Ifa priest drinks up the toilet wash without knowing, Ishola’s pretence as the Public Complaints Commissioner and Polycarp’s betrayal all of which are known to the audience but hid from other members of the cast.
Aside is another device employed at various times by characters such as JDG, Pastor Nebuchadnezzar, even Ishola himself.
Dedicated to the memory of Dr Tai Solarin (1922-1994), the very first Public Complaints Commissioner in Nigeria, Yeepa boasts of veteran actors and actresses such as Ebun Oloyede who plays the role of the Pastor, Ayo Mogaji who stars as Madame Kudi the Councilor for Cooperatives in charge of agricultural trade , Toyin Oshinaike , the Commissioner for Education, Joke Muyiwa as Abeni Mailo, Kayode Olaiya as Lamidi and Bayo Bankole;Ishola Oriebora himself amongst others.
Tuned Kelani has broken new frontiers on the Nigerian make believe scene by giving us not only a filmed play but our own version of the famous Russian drama/play, The Government Inspector. This is a movie for the young and old, rich and poor alike as it has a message for all and sundry.
You can watch or download at TundeKelani.TV