Hidden Themes in ‘Living in Bondage’ – A Ramsey Nouah Film

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The second movie in our movie hut this year is the spooky ‘Living in Bondage (Breaking Free)’ by first time director and veteran actor, Ramsey Nouah. It was released on November 8th, 2019, the film’s prequel of the same title was released in the early 90’s, the prequel was a big time hit to the point that any Nigerian in their early 60’s would remember every scene and every character  (I’m saying this ‘cause both my parents remember most of the scenes of the movie and for them to remember, e get why! ).

   The movie started off with a man driving his car with his daughter singing the traditional rhyme, ‘Nwa n’eba akwa’, in the back seat. Never have I heard that nursery rhyme in such a spooky manner, it was horrific. I love the fact that Ramsey was wise enough to exclude flashbacks from the prequel, he brought back all the necessary details in the conversation between Andy Okeke (Kenneth Okonkwo) and Uzoma Adibe (the paranoid blogger)

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  There were no cliché scenes in the movie even though the storyline is overly conversant with the Nigerian screen, when I mean clichés, I mean all those ‘dancing to Phyno’s “Awele” in front of your mama’s house after you have made money’ or the ‘spraying of #500 notes on your family members with impunity while taking pride in a 1998 Jalopy Jeep’ Imagine having to sacrifice so much of your loved ones for an olden days Murano car, even though taking part in ritualism is a wrong thing to do, I am super glad that Ramsey added Ferraris in his opulence list.

 This takes me to the themes of the movie, I call them hidden themes because I had to see the movie three times on my own, once with my mother and once again before I got a full understanding of the themes (they’re spooky themes by the way).

  First I’ll start with my first theme;

  • The Mystery of the Rhythm of Time

I got this theme from the characters of Andy Okeke, Nnamdi Okeke, his son, Obinna Omego, and Richard Williams. Andy Okeke was the major character in the prequel, he was made to sacrifice his first wife to the god of the brotherhood before he got married to his second wife, Ego, who gave birth to Nnamdi Okeke. He did that because of his desperation for wealth and power, the same affluence that he later had to the fullest after he ran back to God to save him.

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  The truth is when you break the rhythm of time, you pay for it to continue in that aberration. Since time is continuous, whatever sacrifice it would take to maintain it would have to be on a steady, even passed down to generations yet unborn. Only God can restore back the order of time since it was He who created time in the first place ( Na God save Andy sef, if not….). This is what Richard should have said about the ‘order of things’ in his ‘balcony conversation’ with our main character, but as expected, he perverted the truth to his own advantage. This is why Obinna Omego and Nnamdi Okeke had to continue in their fathers’ bloody mistakes, sadly, our dear Obinna wasn’t lucky enough to break the chain.

  • The Power of Words

 If you watch the movie closely, you’ll understand that Nnamdi wasn’t initiated into the brotherhood without his consent. At first glance, it didn’t seem like he gave his consent at all, but he did that when he travelled to Durban with Richard to sign the ‘Vinoli deal’.

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Richard asked him a series of questions on the balcony of his huge mansion, my guy didn’t even think it through he was just opening his mouth ‘waaaaa’ without considering the depth of those questions. It was immediately after that that Richard was able to initiate him. It felt like his permission was all that was needed to call his spirit or his soul to the meeting, he didn’t even know, my guy thought it was a dream (lmaoooo). It’s scary but it taught me to pick my words just the same way I pick out stones from beans as should you too because this world that we see is so much more than what we think it is *sighs*.

   The same applies to the Word of God which carries the greatest weight in all of creation. It is the Word of God that saved Andy from untimely death, if not, the Baba for don die like chicken wey rain don beat *laughs*

  • Love
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After God, love is the next most potent force in the universe, in fact, it is the love that God has for us that makes Him forgive us consistently and still take all of our excesses. The greatest show of love in the movie was between Toby and his cousin Nnamdi, their love was so strong that Richard (The devil himself) had no control over it. Love only gathers so much power if it is honest and sincere.

 Toby was not Nnamdi’s biological brother, Nnamdi had every reason to hate him or put him at arm’s length but he loved him earnestly more than his own life. Mind you, Richard had to change from wanting Kelly to being desperate for Toby because he knew which love was stronger. Even the Bible also said it, ‘No one has greater love[no one has shown greater affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends’ (John 15:13)

  So before you say the words ‘I love you’ to anyone make sure you have truthfully answered the ‘Can I die for you?’ question first.

Then to my final theme;

  • The Strength of Intuition

Hmmm, intuition… the psychologists call this Conscience, others call it Guts while most pastors call it the Spirit or the Spirit Man. This is where I love Kelly’s character, she was sensitive to the core, first with Chuma and then with Nnamdi.

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   Kelly would’ve been dead meat if she ignored her guts. Who knows Nnamdi might have killed her. Nnamdi, on the other hand, refused to listen to his guts, he even went as far as ignoring his own dreams. He kept on cruising in ignorance until he went from his so called ‘modernized’ mentality to ‘I didn’t sign up for all this blood sacrifice, voodoo nonsense.’  Pay attention to your guts, because most times it ends up telling ya, ‘I told you so’ when things get rocky.

To my best characters, the top on my list is the one and only;

  • Nnamdi Okeke
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 This character was taken by Swanky J.K.A, who wore Nnamdi’s character efficiently, even when he was gracing my screen for the first time. Nnamdi is a dreamer who is not afraid of taking risks, even when the risks are insensitive. Imagine quitting a job you got after five years of fruitless search to start your own company just after a year of working. He’s hardworking, resilient, a wholehearted lover I must say. He’s full of energy, not just energy but pure vibes, a guy that does that much acrobatics in his bathroom has to have pure vibes * laughs*

   He’s intelligent and selfless to a fault, imagine taking the blame for your cousin that bashed his father’s Mercedes 190 padded, is that bravery or what??  Cause I don’t know what to call it myself  *in deep thought*

 Second on my list is Tobechukwu – ‘Toby’

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Shawn Faqua took this role and he murdered it! *screaming hysterically*. He’s a veteran actor who is also a method actor and he’s so gooooooooood *still screaming*.  Now to our dearest Toby, Toby loves his cousin with passion, they share that mutual love that is so strong, love never felt so good honestly. He has this humor the more sarcastic kind especially when he told Nnamdi that he was wiping the ass of another man because he saw his dream car ( a G-wagon for that matter!)

  He’s contented with his job and his life, this is a sharp contrast to Nnamdi who became overly desperate to get rich. I wasn’t too surprised when the first thing he told Nnamdi when things got rough was to leave all the wealth behind, wealth that he called ‘shit’ by the way.

 Lastly we have Kelechukwu – ‘Kelly’

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Muna Abii took this role, Kelly is Nnamdi’s girlfriend in the movie and they were so much in love right from her ‘broken heel’ incident. She is sincere and intentional about their love that she stood by him even when she knew that he was part of a secret cult.

In all Ramsey Nouah blew my mind with this movie, he was simply outstanding for a first-timer, in all, I give ‘Living in Bondage’ an 85%, it’s a must-watch and I promise that it is worth it.

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  This is where I draw my curtains *yaaay* I know that we have learned one or two lessons from this that I hope we would take home. Let me know other lessons that you learned from the movie in the comments section if you have seen it and if you haven’t, I hope I haven’t spoiled it too much, if I haven’t, you should see it and tell me what you think too.

  Before I finish drawing all my curtains *stares in mischief* it can’t be just me that eats food while the lecturer is sweating in class like this *coughs*

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Have a splendid day!

The Nostalgic Pen.

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