Director : Roye Okupe
Producer(s) : Niyi Akinmolayan
Voice Characters : Adesuwa Etomi, Femi Branch, Sambasa Nzeribe
Genre : Animation/Drama
Awesome-O-Metre : 5.1/10
Revue of MALIKA - WARRIOR QUEEN
Malika – Warrior Queen tells the story of the warrior queen Malika (voiced by Adesuwa Etomi) who battles to keep her kingdom intact in the face of treachery and mutiny.
The animated pilot of this film premiered at Lagos Comicon to an ovation by the attendees and this is in no small part to the fantastic animation of the film. Nigerians have been longing for our own animated feature film and Malika gave us a glimpse of what we can achieve when we out energy and resources into a project. I was amazed by the quality of the work and the output despite the challenges faced and the audience acknowledged this by clapping with glee when the pilot showed at Comicon.
The highlight of Malika is the plot which is relevant today with the feminist movement sweeping the land. The plot isn’t so farfetched especially with Nigerian history littered with strong warrior women like Queen Amina of Zaria, Queens Idia and Emotan of Benin, etc. Also, the voice characters were absolutely astounding because they were able to convey emotions through their voices.
However, even though the voice characters are one of the highlights of this film, they were also one of my biggest discontents. I recall when Black Panther was released and my biggest grouse was the “African accents” employed by all the characters and sadly this same geberic accent has surfaced in Malika. I am not sure why the characters in Malika had the weird accent and I noticed that Adesuwa exaggerated her “Rs” which isn’t the way Africans talk. Yes Africans can be very strong in their pronunciation but why the generic accent? What’s wrong with going with an igbo, Hausa or Yoruba accent? Its our story and we can tell it the way we want, so why are we towing the line set by the west?
Furthermore, the architecture and the attire of the characters were very un-African and more oriental than anything – even the fight sequence and the score were anything but African. In fact, the story could have been set in Tibet rather than Africa! Are we saying we don’t know what it means to for our work to sound and feel African? Is this down to ignorance of our people and culture? Or does it show a lack of pride in our own?
Look, we are trying to tell our own stories but if we join the west to encourage African stereotypes then we have already started failing. The producers of this film should know that they are one of the pioneers in this genre and are setting the pace for future projects but if this is how they intend to proceed, the foundation is already faulty. Admittedly the animation is really good but let’s be honest – we have been exposed to even better animation from the west and the only way to stand out is by creating our own path and telling our own story in our own way. I am not here to see our animators creating manga like productions and just branding it African.
My review may seem harsh, but it is coming from a place of love because animated stories are very dear to me and I don’t want us to mess up this opportunity.
Have an awesome day!