Originally uploaded by NollywoodForever
I Belong ~ 2003
Story, Screenplay & Director – Tchidi Chikere
Omotola Jalade Ekeinde – Imperial/ Agbonmah
Lilian Bach – Bridgiditta
Ada Ameh – Bessey
JT Tom West – Stan
Tom Njemanze – Nkwo
Offia Afuluagu Mbaka – Dan
Dan Nkoloagu – David
America as the promised Land
My Rating – 92%
Agbonmah is the daughter of a palm wine tapper. She is in a hurry to escape her impoverished background and goes to live in the city her dream life. This is a life where she tells people that she has just returned from the USA, has rich parents that send her money all the time and has nowhere to live at the moment because she is living at top hotels not able to find a house that meet her standards. Of course this imaginary life that she has created needs a name to go with it and so she names herself an Anglicised and rather pompous Imperial, deeming her old name too local.
The film opens with Imperial being thrown out of her house for always quarrelling with people. The landlord is not even interested in the rent simply finding her troublesome and wanting her gone. As she is thrown out she is boasting about just returning from America, and having never ridden an okada before, despite the fact that she has no option but to go on one. Despite having never set foot in America she looks down on Nigerians with her background screaming at the onlookers,
“Is this how you people do it in this country?”
After being thrown out of her accommodation she returns home and clearly her parents are used to her behaviour because her father warns her,
“Beware before you get into trouble with this your fake life.”
“Why should I mix with bush people? Are we the same class?”
She goes to her parents for money but being poor they do not have any more than 2000 Naira to give her which of course she is incensed by. Where does she even expect them to get the money from? She acts like it grows on trees!
Imperial meets Bridgiditta at a hairdressers and spins her the line about just returning form America and not finding anything to suit her tastes only for Bridgiditta to invite her to stay in her home. Despite her humble background Imperial finds everything wrong with Bridgiditta’s home, even complaining about the soap, claiming that everything she normally has is better. It is hilarious that she thinks that her bush behaviour of bragging and putting down everything “local” makes her look superior, when in fact it is the total opposite.
There are many times when the things that imperial says are questionable and I think that at a point Bridgiditta becomes aware that perhaps Imperial isn’t quite who she says she is but still she puts up with her. One time Imperial is boasting about visiting the beach in Washington only to be told that there is no beach there, for her quickly to change the location of Miami. Another time she is talking about Justin Timberlake the actor. Bridgiditta even tries to give her some friendly advice in private that if she doesn’t know certain things, she should be quiet and stop embarrassing herself, but still Imperial continues with her never ending stories!
I would recommend this movie. It is a must watch! One of Tchidi’s earlier films and one of his best in my opinion. It was concise and very funny all the way through. I have heard people criticise it by saying that it didn’t end well on the contrary I think the ending was very fitting. There is no need for a continuation. Although it was comedy we all can think of someone we know of that is like Agbonmah/ Imperial and it is being able to relate to the character that makes the movie all that more funny. Great cast (even Lillian fit her role perfectly) and outstanding performance from Omotola as the petulant and delusional Agbonmah!