We are not yams, we are people

There’s a story I’ve told nearly all my friends and I have had the pleasure of hearing them repeat it to their friends, albeit with a ‘bit of salt’.

Let me tell it to you. The title of this story is “We are not yams, We are people” and it’s a snippet from a movie I happened to watch some time back. It goes like this: a man was stopped by police at a road-block and when they opened his car’s boot there were two yams in it. The man said he had gotten them at the market, but when the officer was trying to shut his boot, the yams cried out “We are not yams, we are people”!

The man was whisked to the police station where he was asked to state what the yams really were. But as he was about to reveal their identity, one yam shouted “Remember your promise!” So he kept quiet. An infuriated policeman then proceeded to slash one of the yams on the side with a knife to put pressure on the ‘suspect’ to spill.

The moment I saw blood gush out of the yam I knew I needed to turn off the television and go back to sleep.

Needless to say, this movie was shot, produced and packaged in Nigeria, and there are many more where that came from. Many many more. I’m not saying that all of them are that bad, but I speak for at least 70 percent?

These strange films dominate our local television channels and if they’re not Naija, then films from Malaysia, or Singapore or even Mexico will do.

But as we watch all these old releases and enrich the pockets of people who’ve made money in their own country for years before venturing out, Riverwood is struggling to build the industry.

TV stations say they are too expensive to buy. The going rate is $1,000 for six months exclusivity and perhaps four screenings. La Tormenta or Oga offer unlimited access at about $100 dollars a piece.

But could cheap be expensive? The industry is not growing locally and is instead getting recognition outside the country in the form of film festivals and what not. The movie Soul Boy won a Kalasha Award, but how many people have seen it? How many know the names of the actors in Soul Boy? Will the potential in the film industry ever be anything more?

Nobody will buy Kenyan movies and yet a majority of them are more quality than commercial. What is going on? If you jivunia kuwa Mkenya I challenge you today to try and watch one Kenyan movie every month. You’ll find you might like it.

And by the way, someone who had watched “We are not yams, we are people” till the end, says the yams were actually kids. Have a good week.

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