Today was a pretty amazing day because I got to hang out with great friends and partake in a certain Nigerian experience – a day at the movies!!!! Now, for most of us, the movies is where we go to catch up on the latest blockbusters, tearjerkers and all around be entertained on a wide screen with surround sound. So the question i’m guessing you are asking is this: why is going to the movies in Nigeria an experience? Why, thanks for asking. I hope that by the end of this post, I would have painted a good enough picture to answer your question.
Upon entering the mall where the theaters are located, there is an escalator which is swarming with activity and by activity I mean that there are over 20 secondary (high) school students parading the grounds as though they were waiting on something or someone. At the top of the escalator is a booth I imagine to be the ticketing counter. I however decide to walk around a little bit because I am waiting on my friends to show up. While i’m strutting my stuff and wondering why I decided to wear a cotton tee in the heat, I stumble upon a particular store which caught my attention. Most people have heard of the online movie streaming service, Netflix, which has been the sole cause of procrastination among the average person since its inception. Anyway, the store I sighted was an Irokotv store which is the Netflix’s counter part tin Nigeria. While away in the US, much of my home sickness was assuaged by subscribing to Irokotv.com. The subscription isn’t bad and I recommend that you at least pay for one month and experience pure Nollywood talent. Yes friends, it is indeed called Nollywood right after the likes of Hollywood and Bollywood. Before I digress too far, let’s reel it back in as my friends finally arrive and we head to the ticketing counter. The only problem at this time is that the ticketing booth is actually just a food stand. The actual counter is adjacent to where we are and right beside one of the theatre doors. Call it a faulty design layout, I call it 600 Naira for a movie which is about $3 (no complaints here.)
After much deliberation on where to seat, we finally got settled and the show began. There weren’t as many previews as your Regal or Carmike cinema would have, but it was long enough for people to make those really important business calls as you know, time is money especially down here. The movie San Andreas finally started and I knew that we were in for a good one. I quickly pulled out my phone to take notes on reactions and comments made during the course of the movie. So, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did and I will try my best not to put in any spoilers if you haven’t seen it and plan on doing so. Who am I kidding? It’s going to be hard not to spoil it, so I won’t go into too much detail.
Movie starts and it’s quiet for the most part, the characters are slowly being introduced and the “bad” guy is identified early. The moment my people pick up on this you begin to hear comments like ,
“Na him abi?” meaning it’s him, right
“Look at him”
If all else fails, a hiss (kissing one’s teeth) would do the trick
As we go along, a comment is made in the movie about kids and at this time, I should point out that I live in a place that is super sensitive about children. When one should have them, how one should have them, and ultimately how one should raise them. With this in mind, what do you think a Nigerian’s reaction would be to the following statement, “I have children and this is my latest one (pointing to a building) “ :’) :’) I burst out in laughter because people could not believe that a human would consider a building a child and yet be so serious about it. There were hisses left, right and center. It was almost as if someone said a curse word in a holy place. I mean the room erupted in some level of hysteria and I was loving it. When they had calmed down and the scene had moved on, I could see people inching further away from their seats fully captivated by the happenings when all of a sudden, a man speaking in Yoruba (a Nigerian language) answers his phone right in the middle of the movie. He definitely wasn’t trying to be discreet, forget that he was watching this movie with about 60 other people. He carried on with his conversation telling the there person on the other line where he was and what he was doing. An irritated man who couldn’t take it anymore yelled out “what the F***?” I was stunned, not because I hadn’t heard any one curse, but in Nigeria? in a pubic place? This experience was going better than I had imagined. It ended up being a trend as people’s phones kept going off (phone calls and texts.) No one really said anything after the first incident, but you could feel people turning around wanting to say or do something. Also, San Adreas is such a good movie, you don’t want to miss any scene and definitely not because of a person with bad movie etiquette.
All over the room from time to time, you could hear commentaries of what people would have done if they were in their shoes and the like. Now, let me not act as though I don’t talk during movies because i definitely do offer some commentary (maybe a lot) . This happens especially when i’m with my friend Sara who doesn’t mind engaging in conversations pertinent to the movie though. When the bad guy get a share of karma, the whole theatre erupted in joy. Some people clapped and cheered while some others enlighten us with proverbs and sayings such as you my all time favorite, reap what you sow. The best part is hearing the judgement that they would met out to the character had they written the script and I am no exception. Also, let’s not forget the actions you get as a romantic scene is happening. You can almost hear the discomfort wrapped in confident proclamations/narrations. I don’t believe Lagosians are PDA type of people, things might have changed since i left, but I doubt that. The fear of constantly being judged by people you don’t know keeps them at bay. At the end of the movie, the people applaud as if to say the script writer is standing right in front them and then they hustle out of the theater to ponder on the happenings. So, if you’re ever in Lagos and you decide to catch a movie get enough popcorn because you’ll probably enjoy the commentaries more than the actual movie.