When Google graced its search page with an illustration of Amaka Igwe on the 2nd of January, what I saw was more than an acknowledgement of Amaka Igwe herself; it seemed to me that this was a sign of all the attention that has finally come to Nollywood. The industry has, of course, been thriving for some time in its own unique way; but the flurry of activity in recent years: buy-outs, screenings, awards and productions, all show that the world may finally be considering Nollywood as a serious contender in the global film industry. The Amaka Igwe Doodle was a nod to one giant in a nation of many.
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As naturally industrious people, Nigerians have not missed the signs. Film productions are more meticulous, scripts are more intelligent, more thorough, and Nigerian creatives are flocking into the entertainment industry, looking for the space that will allow them to become a part of the great strides we are making. In all of this excitement, Mercy Johnson has lifted a torch of restitution; while others create stories to capture the spirit of what seems like a New Nigeria, Mercy Johnson is turning to the past to resurrect the stories that made us who we are. Yesterday, she released the trailer for her first feature-length production, a film based on the mythical tale of Princess Inikpi of Igala land. The film, aptly titled The Legend of Inikpi, will begin screening in cinemas across Nigeria and Ghana from the 24th of January 2020.
Commenting on her motivations in bringing this film to life, Mercy Johnson explained;
“I believe I’ve been called to tell Nigerian stories. From the feedback we have so far, people are ready to know more about our culture and our past. It’s an honor to be the vessel to tell these stories.”-Mercy Johnson
Inikpi’s story is an ancient one among the Igala people of Kogi State. According to the legend, Inikpi was the beloved daughter of the Atta, the traditional paramount king of Igala kingdom. Relations were strained between the Benin and Igala kingdoms. War was looming. The Atta consulted the Oracle and was told he would have to sacrifice his daughter to escape destruction and save his people. The Atta was distraught, but Princess Inikpi, discovering the Oracle’s decree put the life of her people over her own. Over the years, the story has taken many forms, as traditional legends often do, but the story goes that Princess Inikpi allowed herself to be buried alive with 9 slaves. After her sacrifice, the Benin warriors approached for war and saw an Igala kingdom on fire. They retreated, thinking they had already won, and the Igala people were saved. Today, a statue of the princess stands in Idah town, Kogi State.
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The story has been told many times. Two Igala playwrights, Emmy Unuja Idegu and Nath McAbraham-Inajoh wrote two plays that documented Inikpi’s tragedy: The Legendary Inikpi and Inipki: The Warrior Princess. Perhaps Mercy Johnson’s production will give the story an angle that audiences have not already come across. The film features Mercy Johnson Okojie, Sam Dede, Paul Obazele, Odunlade Adekola, and Saidi Balogun. A relatively new face, Nancy Ameh, appears as Princess Inikpi. The Mercy Johnson production was directed by Frank Rajah.
Watch the trailer below:
Igala Association USA
Featured Image Source: Bella Naija
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