I am yet to find another movie that has done justice to the rich ancient culture of the Hausa and Igala people of Nigeria like ‘Amina’, a 2021 Nollywood movie streaming on Netflix and the only one I have seen to be sponsored by Nigeria’s Bank of Industry. I wonder what makes it this special.
The movie, ‘Amina’ explored the themes of inordinate hunger for power and women and how it makes one to scheme and plot against other people bringing harm to many including oneself.
This is a story cast in 16th century Zazzau kingdom (now Zaria in Nigeria) and it revolves around Princess Amina (played by Lucy Ameh) daughter of the king (the sarki)of Zazzau and the seven kingdoms. She is repulsed by the injustice meted out against women and slaves in the kingdom and got consumed with the desire to make things right and this was from an early age.
She goes against the grain to insist she must learn to fight like men and is trained by a one eyed former warrior of Zazzau kingdom.
One who was presented as the second in command in Zazzau kingdom known as the ‘Madaki’ is ruled by an inordinate quest for absolute power and more women and he stops at nothing to scheme and plot against everyone and anyone including his benefactor, the Sarki, to wrestle the throne from him. He schemes with the regent of Igala land, uncle to the true heir to the throne, Danjuma (played by Ali Nuhu) who is slave in Zazzau, alongside his sister.
During a set up by Madaki and Danjuma’s uncle, the regent to the Igala throne, Zaria, Princess Amina’s younger sister is killed, while Amina escapes with Danjuma, the heir to the Igala throne and Amina’s beloved.
There is also a priestess named Zumbura (played by Clarion Chukwurah), mother of the one eyed champion of Zazzau, who lives in isolation and seems to know the destiny of everyone especially that of Princess Amina. She presents herself as the one who has been guiding and protecting Amina as she grows into her destiny, namely, salvaging the deplorable state of things in the kingdom and bringing back justice and fairness in the seven kingdoms.
The themes of love and friendship are also explored in the movie. The love between Amina and Danjuma, which put them in the vulnerable state that got Danjuma killed. The friendship between Princess Amina and Danjuma’s cousin, Aladi Ameh (played by Asabe Madaki) which goes sour after Danjuma is killed.
The Sarki is poisoned by one of his wives, in connivance with Madaki, the chief antagonist in the movie. This is as the war goes on between Zazzau and Igala. It seems the antagonists have their way as Madaki installs himself as the new Sarki of Zazzau Kingdom while the regent of Igala burns the corpse of the heir to the throne he usurped.
However, Aladi learns the true state of things and returns the goodwill Princess Amina extended to her as a child slave in Zazzau. She takes an army to help Amina reclaim the throne. She however leaves without exchanging pleasantries with Amina.
Again the Priestess appears to guide the new Queen Amina on what to do; forget what high cost you pay to regain your destined position, focus on the future and what is expected of you in your destined role. Quite a life lesson that is.
However, I am of the opinion that with the amount of money that must have been lavished on the production and given that the story is about a historical figure, Queen Amina of Zaria, one of the few female leaders in black ancient history, I had expected a more professional story line and a more deeply researched script. Rather, the story unfolded mechanically and the conversational lines were lackluster. In all, there was nothing about Amina that would make one want to see the movie a second time.
Now, this is not to say that the producer of the movie did not check off all that is required to make a great movie; using known screen faces, sourcing for adequate funding, getting a good story. But, sometimes, there is a level of creativity and genius as well as a stroke of luck required to strike that encore cord in a work of art. These can only come to play when the production is done with some degree of passion and it was this passion that I found lacking in the more. This was probably why it did not move me like other good epic movies usually do.
Amina is quite a decent depiction of the historical figure, Queen Amina. However, the quality of acting in the movie leaves much to be desired. It was too mechanical and I believe a Kunle Afolayan or an Adebayo Tijani would have done a better job with the movie than Izu Ojukwu did.
In all, I believe people from Northern Nigeria would watch this movie with a lot of nostalgia as it told the story of one of their female historical heroes. I wish Nollywood would show more stories like this about our ancestors that did noble.