Living in Bondage

As we countdown to the “Living in Bondage” sequel

“Living in Bondage” is what introduced most Nigerians to what is now referred to as Nollywood. The two-part drama was released by in 1992, an era referred to as the “Home Video Boom.” It was directed by Chris Obi Rapu while the Kenneth Nnebue and Okey Ogunjiofor developed the screenplay.

The picture was not great back then, and so were the visual effects. Some scenes were rushed and predictable. Yet, “Living in Bondage” was authentic, socially-relevant and compelling. Except for one conversation with a prostitute – which can be explained away – the dialogue was fully in Igbo but subtitled in English. It is more like what the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences expected Genevieve Nnaji’s “Lionheart” to be.

You know what they say, ‘Great stories are universal,’ so Nigerians watched “Living in Bondage,” irrespective of language barrier. “Living in Bondage” introduced us to Nollywood actors namely; Kenneth Okonkwo, Kanayo O. Kanayo – now fondly called K.O.K, and Bob-Manuel Udowku.

The story in a nutshell is about Andy Okeke portrayed by Okonkwo. He was lured into a cult by a friend to get rich quick. It meant paying a huge sacrifice. But he did not realise how much it would cost him until after he had taken the oath. At the time, morals were valuable and so was a bundle of twenty thousand Naira.

Consequently, Andy struggled with the decision. But members of the cult convinced him, that he would be able to replace everything he lost after making the sacrifice. Cars and women were among the perks. Who doesn’t want to drive a Mercedez Benz? So, Andy made the very costly sacrifice. But it backfired.

The extent to which the film’s plot is based on true events is unknown. But it is believed that it had a high probability of truth. At the time, cultism was believed to rife in the country. “Living in Bondage” was the film eye-opener. And Nigerians became cautious of “money rituals” – as Andy’s ordeal was thereafter called.

27-years later, Ramsey Nuoah is releasing a sequel titled, “Living in Bondage: Breaking Free.” Okonkwo, K.O.K and Udokuw all star in the sequel. So, we are taking a moment to celebrate Nollywood veterans and founding fathers. And maybe if the “Lionheart” disqualification by The Academy had happened sooner, we might have seen an-all Igbo sequel to “Living in Bondage.”

Nonetheless, we are anticipating “Living in Bondage: Breaking Free” and we hope that it will be just as great.

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About the author

A lover of the arts who sees film and television through the prism of the Nigerian viewer.