October 1: Celebrating the Relevance of a Trailblazer

October 1 is a 2014 dark psychological thriller written by Tunde Babalola, produced and directed by Kunle Afolayan. Tunde Babalola and Afolayan did well to hide the history, glitches, and possible solutions of the Nigerian problems in one story and it didn’t fail at bringing entertainment to the table. This movie brings us to the Akute community whose trade relations bring all the major tribes together. Suddenly a serial killer raped, mutilated, and killed Akute women just a month before the Nigerian Independence. General Winterbottom, a British colonial officer, who didn’t want any heinous crime staining his record, calls on Inspector Danladi Waziri to solve the mystery before October 1st, 1960.

Kunle Afolayan has this unique way of telling stories, and for this one, he starts it straight out from the end, with Inspector Danladi Waziri as the narrator and skeptical-looking British colonialists as his audience. First, Nigeria is a conglomerate of hundreds of tribes with three major tribes as its central force. In the movie, we see that Akute, a pure Yoruba community, had minimal problems until the railway commissioned by the British general was constructed from the community down to Lokoja in the North. This way the trading routes expanded, fixating the three divergent cultures, traditions, and beliefs in one place.

 Most people the likes of Tawa and Mr. Olaitan saw this as a godly act of kindness but the undertone of that railway was to cart away food crops from the north and minerals from the south to Europe. Prince Aderopo and Agbekoya knew this but came up with opposite solutions to the problem. There’s no doubt that the colonialists were heartless in their carrot and stick method of colonialism, it’s like a rat eating your flesh but blows and licks the injury to keep you asleep until it has had its fill.

 In the same way, Reverend Father Dowling, a British missionary, built the first church which is obviously a good thing, he built the first primary school, of course, a perfect man who has the welfare of the people at heart. As if that was not enough, he took the two best students of Akute to King’s College in Lagos for their secondary school education, surely a man after God’s own heart.

That was exactly what the people thought only to find out that the son of the first citizen of the community, Prince Aderopo, and the son of a poor farmer, Agbekoya, were being brutally raped by the Reverend Father every Thursday night. The British used a few good deeds to cover up acrimonious and vicious wickedness. Inspector Danladi was not happy about most of the snakes that the British curled on his neck in the name of achievements, there’s no joy in solving a crime when the real culprit controls the outcome of his punishment.

Caked tribalism is one of the many plagues that we suffer, in recent times, we have an overwhelming number of blind men like Okafor who blamed the murder of his daughter on an innocent Hausa man. He felt that since Inspector Waziri and Usman are from the same tribe, his daughter won’t get the justice that she deserved. Recognizing the divergence of tribes and cultures is one thing while transferred resentments and anger makes it graduate to toxic tribalism, this is when it becomes fatal. Afolayan did well to point this out, most of the time our leaders commit a crime, then they fire up the resentment in the hearts of the people, thereby making it look like a tribal war instead of a war between good and evil and this technique works all the time, never gets old.

Now to the characters that I love, Prince Aderopo and Agbekoya. They are the brightest minds taken by Father Dowling to further their education, unknown to them the man had his horns covered in his priestly garments. He raped them every Thursday night, both the rich kid and the poor kid. This shows that colonialism was not just suffered by the poor people like most people want to believe, it was not all fun and games for the elites too. What amazed me was the shocking way that both characters took the violation. Agbekoya, knowing that he cannot survive such mutilation, decided to steal the Reverend Father’s money and go back to Akute. He tried to convince Aderopo to follow him, but the Prince valued education more than the evil cross that came with it.

   Agbekoya symbolizes the brilliant men and women who took the white man’s education and its benefits and then used it against them. We have the likes of Chinua Achebe, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, Flora Nwapa, and many others. Nothing hurts more than being stabbed by the same sword that you sharpened. On the other hand, Aderopo endured excruciating torture, every Thursday for six years while Koya had just five months of it and ran back home to the farm. He refused to speak the English language, refused to send his son to school, and grew his farm as he carried his pain in silence. Ropo furthered his education and came back home as the first graduate of the Akute community. Now, Ropo had gotten the education that he desired but at the expense of his sanity, he thought that the best way to make the pain go away was to make his own community suffer for giving him away. He began killing innocent Akute women, carving a cross on their chests after raping them, that was the only way to save his soul but the pain and rage he felt consumed him completely.

We admit that the white men sapped Nigeria dry for an entire century and it feels like it might take us two centuries to get over the injury but in this case, the Reverend Father didn’t kill the women, the Prince who was meant to protect his people from further harm did that to his own subjects. It is quite obvious that the colonialists passed on the chains and whips to the Nigerian leaders to continue their legacy. While Agbekoya came back to cultivate his land and indirectly brought economic growth to his community, the Prince who was meant to lead the people went about killing women in the name of rage and vengeance.

Afolayan made it clear that for Nigeria to move forward we have to reduce the resentment against one another to the barest minimum. This way we’re able to see the root of our problem and attack it with open minds, we need people like Inspector Danladi Waziri and Agbekoya who use their pain as fuel to advance the need for positive change. We never gain anything from talking at each other and stepping on the heads of others to attain our goals. In the same way, I believe that slashing Nigeria into whatever number of parts is not the solution, we have to get our priorities right, let go of resentments and fight this war against our horrible leaders.

This movie never gets old, it’s a fantastic work of art that has not lost its relevance even after over five years of its release, The acting was top-notch, the directors knew the heaviness of the message they were to pass across and they delivered accurately. It’s a 95% for me, I know this is my highest rating so far, you should see the movie ASAP if you haven’t. It’s a wrap for me, I’ll like to know how much you loved the movie in the comment section.

Happy Independence Nigeria and to all Nigerians.

Credit: BQs Models

P.S: You cannot fight this war efficiently without getting your Permanent Voters Card (PVC). If you’re like me and you haven’t gotten yours then you should, I would too.

The Nostalgic Pen.

6 thoughts on “October 1: Celebrating the Relevance of a Trailblazer”

  1. I saw the movie for the first time in January 2020 and I subsequently gave it a 9.1. That is the highest rating I have ever given a Nigerian movie and no Nigerian movie has impressed me like October 1. King Of Boys, 93 Days and Phone Swap are the movies that come the closest for me.

    The story was very compelling, coupled with the setting (1960, in a village), the themes, the directing and the acting. It is very rare to find period pieces in Nollywood, as well as movies that explore tribalism and sexual abuse—at least, the way October 1 did. It is a touchstone moment in Nollywood history and a modern Nollywood classic.

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