Nigeria’s Ministry of Tourism has denounced Amazon Prime’s “Gangs of Lagos,” and its producers, citing a scathing cultural misrepresentation.
In a statement released via the Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Uzamat Akinbile-Yussuf, the government accuses gritty drama of making a mockery of the heritage of Lagos.
Earlier this month, Amazon Prime released a new movie, “Gangs of Lagos,” its first original African movie. Celebrated filmmaker Jáde Osiberu directs the film and stars Nigerian actors Tobi Bakare, Adesua Etomi-Wellington, Chike Osebuka, Chioma Chukwuka and Iyabo Ojo.
“We think that the production of the film ‘The Gang of Lagos’ is very unprofessional and misleading while its content is derogatory of our culture, to desecrate the revered heritage of the people of Lagos. It is an unjust profiling of a people and culture as being barbaric and nefarious. It depicts a gang of murderers rampaging across the State,” her statement read.
Here is the synopsis, per Amazon Prime:
“Best friends Obalola, Ify and Gift were born and raised in Isale Eko, where politically affiliated gangs rule the streets. When rival gangs paint the streets red with blood, Obalola, Ify and Gift get caught up in gang wars which lead to the uncovering of secrets that shake the very foundations of Isale Eko and, ultimately, bring them to the realization of their destiny.”
The commissioner expressed disappointment with Osiberu and Kemi Akindoju for depicting the Eyo Masquerade as a gun-toting miscreant while adorning the full traditional fineries.
The Eyo Festival, otherwise known as the Adamu Orisha Play, is a Yoruba festival presented by the people of Lagos as a tourist event. Eyos (the masquerades) celebrate an Oba’s (king) life. The Eyo Festival is a tribute to his death but is also commemorated following the death of a notable person or to celebrate a special occasion such as visits by heads of State.
The state government argued that “the Adamu Orisha, popularly known as the Eyo Festival, is rarely observed and only comes up as a traditional rite of passage for Obas, revered Chiefs and eminent Lagosians.”
Akinbile-Yussuf, added, “the Eyo Masquerade is equally used as a symbol of honor for remarkable historical events. It signifies a sweeping renewal, a purification ritual to usher in a new beginning, a beckoning of new light, acknowledging the blessings of the ancestors of Lagosians.”