A Tribe Called Judah: A Tale of Family, Hope and Survival

Not every movie have begun with a mother of five grownup up children tearing open a sachet of dry gin right after praying with “holy water” and covering herself and her children with “the blood of Jesus.” A Tribe Called Judah: A Tale of Family, Hope and Survival That is one action that would shock the angels in heaven and the gods of the land, because a woman having to rinse her mouth early in the morning with dry gin is another level of craziness; something must be wrong somewhere and something really is. Even Colombian women no do reach like this.

Before proceeding with more information on Jedidah and her five children, I will take us back to Jedidah’s youthful years and how she had gotten disowned by her father, Reverend Simon Judah who could not face the congregation when they find out that his daughter is pregnant out of wedlock. It can be compared to a pastor’s wife giving birth to a Caucasian baby when the pastor and the wife are full blooded black Yoruba. The pastor go explain taya and evidence still no go dey. But Jedidah is a flippant woman who doesn’t know how to close her legs. Her legs come be like open-and-close Samsung phone and she had her first child, Emeka at 17 years after falling in love with Kalu. Now the question is: wetin konsain 17 year old girl with love? Girl wey still suppose to dey read past question papers mek she for pass WAEC. As she becomes pregnant, Kalu decides to relocate; shifting cultivation activated. Price of napkin and baby food too cost and Kalu no want mek high BP kíll am. As he dey run, his leg dey touch his head like Chioma Ajunwa going for the gold medal.

The second child is Adamu. Jedidah is seriously in love with his father and the man brings her with him to see his parents. But the parents have taken “no gree for anybody” to another level. They say she is Yoruba, so she can’t marry their son, and by the way she don born one pikin drop for house like exhibit. So, dem just pack am one side like sand, say mek she dey go somewhere else because there son sef don dey betrothed to one fine Amina for Kano State. Those people do her strong thing o; upon say their son give her belle, dem no still send am. What a wickèd world.

Pere is the third child. Pere’s father has married Jedidah legally but he died one year after Pere is born. Bad luck just dey follow Jedidah everywhere she go; she wear bad luck for neck like necklace. The highlight of it all is that while narrating her ordeals to the two women she’s invited to her home, she continues to sip the dry gin from the small container she had in her hand. Jedidah wan use alcohol wound herself, but her story sha no be wetin pesin go fit tell with clear eyes. The story dey touch pesin left ventricle.

Along the line, Shina the fourth child is born. His father, Lekan Isiaka is a fine man and is the lesson teacher to Jedidah’s children. Jedidah is looking for Father figure for his boys, so as Lekan is teaching her kids, he’s also teaching their mother in the other room. He even has a nickname, “Swanky” and every right thinking person should have seen the red flag in the name but Jedidah dey love without control. A year after Shina is born, Lekan runs away with every property Pere’s father left for Jedidah and starts a new life in Ibadan; he even has a family there. She just run Jedidah scam without laptop. As his name na Swanky, he just “swanked” all the property wey Jedidah get.

Jedidah should have learnt her lessons by now, but this woman is one of a kind; body too dey sweet am like virgin wey just get her first experience, nothing fit quench the desire. Ejiro the fifth child is born after she meets his father in a beer parlour. Jedidah and Ejiro’s father are depressed. Ejiro’s father has a wife who woke up one morning and packed her bags, and Jedidah is raising four boys alone; their combination come dey look like a match made in heaven. Jedidah doesn’t even go back to tell the man she’s pregnant when she finds out, because the man na useless man already and he no go fit do anything; man wey dey sleep for beer parlour on a normals na correct bastard. Jedidah sef need serious deliverance. Dem no suppose sprinkle holy water for her head, she suppose bathe with holy water.

A single mother with five kids from five different men is not an easy record to break, neither is it one to be proud of. Jedidah, regardless, is proud of her five boys who have all chosen different career paths and had ensured they bear her own surname, Judah, which is also the surname of the man that disowned her. The family of Judah holds their mother, Jedidah, to a high esteem and had unitedly descended on Michael’s daddy after he insulted their mother. How you wan take fight five grown up boys with big chests like Mike Tyson wey their blood dey hot like volcano? Even if you carry knife come, you go still collect and Michael’s daddy collect woto woto still collect change, and Pere a certified crook thief im phone join.

The trajectory of the Judah family would soon bring other people into their story. Emeka, the oldest son works as a sales rep in C and K Furniture under the harsh management of Collette and an indifferent chairman and CEO. The pay isn’t good but wetin man go do? Adamu, the second son has gone to meet the parents of his wife-to-be but the father of the lady isn’t impressed with Adamu who doesn’t know which part of Dala local government of Kano state his father is from. He works as a security in the same mall where C and K Furniture is located. Pere is a thief and a clever pickpocket. He is nearly set on fire by a mob for stealing a lady’s purse except for the intervention of Jedidah who happened to be at the scene. Shina is a hoodlum and moves with the local gang. Ejiro is mummy’s boy and an artiste madly in love with her girlfriend, Testimony. That girl’s voice na testimony indeed; her voice soft like Amartem Soft Gel; she fit use that voice collect your man. Life is about to take a new twist for the Judah family because life has never been “a matter of sorry,” as believed by the chairman of F and K Furniture, “it is a matter of refund.”

As events unfold, Jedidah is separating a fight between her sons when she collapses on the floor. The doctor confirms she’s had a kidney failure and must be placed on dialysis four times a week which would cost 400K. The total cost of the operation is 18 million Naira, but how dem wan find that kind money? People wey never chop better food sef. But desperate times, they say, call for desperate measures; Adamu the second son is ready to go to any length to get the money. Emeka the first son has gone to the chairman of C and K to ask for a loan of 200K but that man no get conscience. Instead of giving him the monèy, he promises to give his mother’s name to the wife who belongs to a prayer group so they can pray for her over there. Pere is a common thief and hasn’t gotten a big catch. Shina is a hoodlum and his gang hasn’t pulled off a lucrative heist. Ejiro is just an artist selling his paintings for peanuts, the boy no get shishi, his pocket too dry like Sahara desert. Even after his girlfriend, Testimony brings his brother’s car to be used as Uber, they barely could make enough for the dialysis. The matter come long like Ark of covenant; e come dey look like hope no dey, and true-true kwa, one Naira hope no dey.

Even where there is no way, there must be a way, but not before a major upset. To make matters worse, Emeka is sacked by Collette. Emeka narrates to his brothers how he once walked in on the chairman of C and K hiding bundles of dollar notes in his VVIP room. As Emeka exited the room to go pick his call, he dropped the key to the store on the table and his three brothers discussing with him begin moves on how to get the money from his chairman. Ejiro the last born is the only one not present. They communicate their plan with Emeka, but Emeka isn’t buying it. It was only after their grandma has asked Emeka as the oldest son to do whatever it takes to save his mother that he changes his mind. Motivation come enter his body like pesin wey smoke eighth wraps of colos. In fact, he come dey act like pesin wey dey on colos.

The plan is drawn and Adamu’s security colleagues who are also desperate for quick money are brought into the deal. There is a costume party at the mall and they’ll sneak into the store disguised in masks and move the money from the store after unlocking the door with the duplicate key. They meet Ejiro’s girlfriend at the party which they took as a misfortune and plead with her to leave the scene. It should be a simple in and out job as they have already drugged the two policemen on security duty, but as you dey reason life sometimes, life go dey for one corner dey reason you back.

The money is discovered and some have been taken to the trunk of the car parked outside with Ejiro on standby to drive away after the operation but as Ejiro continue waiting in the car, only few minutes after he’s spoken on the phone with Testimony who insisted she’ll keep waiting for Ejiro at the mall, another group arrives to steal the same monèy. The group is lead by Emeka’s former manager, Collette who has fired him and while Emeka’s group has come with no guns except for Shina who has against the rule sneaked in one, Collette’s group has come to the store armed to the teeth with ghost masks on. There is heavy shooting and Emeka’s group manages to evade the other group but not without Emeka catching a bullet on the back before Testimony drives off. She had not left the mall after all and had seen Ejiro in distress after one of the back tyres in his car has been deflated by a well aimed bullet. Emeka is dead before the unlicensed medical practitioner could operate on him. Na this part make me cry for the movie; I come dey clean my eyes with handkerchief; water come dey commot for my nose like pikin wey dem kollect his biscuit.

Collette is brought in by the gang sent by the chairman of C and K after one of the CCTV cameras in the store has captured her face. She vomits the name of all her accomplices after receiving a little beating and even mentions Emeka and his gang as having moved with the bigger portion of the money. Collette and her gang had collected 1.450 million dollàrs, but Emeka’s gang took way more than that amount. The thing just dey pain Collette like pesin wey soldier flog koboko for back. The chairman doesn’t believe her story at first.

Adamu gets into hiding but is soon picked up by Police for interrogation. The police boss is working for the chairman of C and K Furniture. Adamu is freed after he manages to tell the convincing lie that Emeka has travelled to Libya and he fell from a motorcycle and got himself wounded on the head. This Adamu sabi lie pass Naija girlfriends wey dey cheat with their bestie, but the chairman of C and K no wan bury the matter; he just dey track the Judah family like SARS dey track stolen phone and Yahoo boys.

Danger is around the corner and the Judah family knows it is time to flee from the town to somewhere safe. They decide to move to Aba, the same Aba where I’m living, but first contracts the ring leader of Shina’s gang to protect them with cover so they can escape on boat. As the boat is leaving, Testimony appears from nowhere, knocks out the police boss spying on the Judah family for the chairman with a huge tree branch she picked on the ground and joins the family on the boat; she just can’t survive without her boyfriend Ejiro. This kind love pass Romeo and Juliet own o, but single people like me go still dey alright; they cannot pepper us; we refuse to be intimidatèd.

Las las, the chairman of C and K is arrested for money laundering and whisked away by the police. The family of Judah are now with us in Aba chilling with the big boys in the city with their stolen dollàrs. Jedidah is now in London getting a kidney transplant, and Ejiro and Testimony don fix their wedding on the fourteenth of February. Men go mount that day, because plenty food and drinks go dey.

I don’t know much about Funke Akindele-Bello except that she starred in JENNIFER’S DIARY, but in A TRIBE CALLED JUDAH, she really ate. Seamless job in producing—the dialogues were lit with a mixture of English and Nigeria’s indigenous languages.

Clean casting of the characters who all brought life to the movie—I won’t fail to mention Testimony again, she was a caring girlfriend unlike the girls we see around, I hope these Gen Z ladies learn from her that love ain’t all about urgent 2k and “baby sub for me nau.”

Perfectly captured the Nigerian society—the general atmosphere and its many headaches. People would justify evil or make excuses when those related to them by blood is involved.

Aunty Funke slayed in her role as Jedidah; there isn’t a hint of doubt about her age although she played the role of a woman far advanced in age than she is. I’ll give the movie an 8 out of 10. It was worth the hype.

Ifeanyi Onwubu writes from Aba, Abia State, Nigeria.

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