Kasala: A story of happy, aspirational Nigerian youth

Ema Edosio titles her comedy, ‘Kasala’, a Pidgin English slang meaning trouble.

She takes a chance with a relatively unknown cast who deliver very interesting dialogue in Pidgin English and it pays-off.  The Pidgin is correctly spoken – not adulterated or exaggerated.  ‘Kasala’ is the untold story of happy people living in Nigeria’s slums.

Set in Surulere slums, ‘Kasala’ does not shy away from the grime and stench. The film follows the lives of four friends – Tunji (TJ), Chikodi, Effiong and Abraham.  Each of the boys have a kasala they are dealing with individually; Chikodi has to care for his 8/9 siblings and Effiong’s dad is very ill, but they’re not weighed down by these problems until they get entangled in one big kasala.

TJ is an apprentice with Taju who he also lives with. Taju loves his car. On a fateful day, TJ skips work to go party with his friends. He takes Taju’s car to show-off; he and his friends need to arrive the party in style. It’s a joyride gone bad as Abraham crashes the car. They must fix it before Taju returns but they have no money so they hustle the streets to raise cash for the car repairs.

What comes through very clearly in this movie is that those in the slum have aspirations too. Tunji’s dream is to become a recording artist and Wizkid must be he idol as he’s fondly called “Star Boy”. They’ve got swag. They also wear “designer clothes” –  although most likely knock-offs. Abraham wears a Jurassic World hoodie and Chikodi, a Marvel t-shirt. And whilst they may not serve cognac at their parties, they are happy. There’s also Efe, the neighbourhood bully, who would stop at nothing to make his little brother, Ochuko happy.

‘Kasala’ is a Nigerian reality. We face our troubles head-on knowing that tomorrow is another day. In end that’s TJ’s story. When the boys are unable to raise enough cash to fix the car, TJ goes home to face the music. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Las last, uncle TJ will send him packing.

‘Kasala’ is humourous with some mesmerizing camerawork that will leave you in stitches. The characterization and casting are also praiseworthy. The acting is very natural – TJ forgets his good looks and “designer clothes” and sits on the ground in frustration. How typical of the low-ranking?

There’s however a little disconnect when Taju discovers that TJ had wrecked his prized possession. Taju had spent his entire day trying to raise cash to settle his debt so as not to lose the car.  So one would have expected that he’d go after TJ immediately, instead Taju waits for him at home. Abraham also suddenly surfaces in a blue shirt after his shirt and jacket are stolen. Where did he get it?

Nonetheless, we celebrate Edosio for daring to be different. With ‘Kasala’, Edosio proves that micro-budget productions can be entertaining and of good quality. More importantly, she captures the true Nigerian spirit because as the great Fela Anikulapo-Kuti said, “everyday na the same thing, suffering and smiling”.

Kasala opens in cinemas on 12 October.


Produced and directed by: Ema Edosio

Cast:  Jide Kosoko, Sambasa Nzeribe, Gabriel Afolayan, Chimezie Imo, Kassim Abiodun, Emeka Nwagbaraocha, Tomiwa Tegbe, Mike Afolarin and Judith Audu-Fought.

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About the author

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