Living in Bondage is a 1992/93 Nigerian two-part drama thriller film directed by Chris Obi Rapu, written by Kenneth Nnebue and Okechukwu Ogunjiofor,[1] produced by Ogunjiofor, and sponsored by Jafac Wine. The film was shot straight-to-video,[2] and starred Kenneth Okonkwo and Nnenna Nwabueze in their breakout roles. It is regarded as the first Nigerian home video which achieved blockbuster success.[3]

Living in Bondage
Directed byChris Obi Rapu
Written byKenneth Nnebue
Okechukwu Ogunjiofor
Produced byKen Nnebue
StarringKenneth Okonkwo
Nnenna Nwabueze
Okechukwu Ogunjiofor
Francis Agu
Bob-Manuel Udokwu
Release dates
  • 1992 (1992) (Part 1)
  • 1993 (1993) (Part 2)
Running time
163 minutes

In August 2015, Charles Okpaleke acquired the rights to Living in Bondage for a period of ten years under his production company Play Entertainment Network.[4] On November 2, 2019, the highly anticipated sequel, Living in Bondage: Breaking Free,[5][6] premiered in Lagos.[7]

Plot edit

Andy Okeke (Kenneth Okonkwo) and his wife Merit (Nnenna Nwabueze) face several obstacles – redundancy, infidelity, bankruptcy, and indecent proposals from lecherous admirers, including Merit's boss Ichie Million (Francis Agu) and Chief Omego (Kanayo O. Kanayo). Andy constantly compares his lack of fortune to the success of his peers, especially his old friend Paul (Okechukwu Ogunjiofor). Despite Merit's support and patience, Andy is driven to near-depression, determined to obtain wealth by any means possible, and the slick-talking Paul reveals his secret – a satanic cult where members pledge their loyalty to Lucifer and kill their loved ones in ritualised sacrifices, gaining enormous wealth in return. After much hesitation, Andy reluctantly agrees to sacrifice the one person he loves the most – Merit. She dies in hospital days after the ritual, but not before she curses her husband's betrayal.

Andy's sudden affluence and subsequent remarriage three months after Merit's death raise suspicion from his former in-laws, who accuse him of murdering their daughter. He also encounters new problems – the paparazzi's constant interference in his life, his new wife Ego (Ngozi Nwosu) fleeing with his money after he collapses at their traditional wedding, and Merit's ghost haunting and terrorising him when he least expects. Andy would later enter a common-law union with Chinyere (Jennifer Okere), another woman introduced to him by Merit's former friend Caro (Ngozi Nwaneto), but she meets her untimely death after Caro poisons her friend and attempts to escape abroad with the cash Chinyere steals from her husband. Caro is also killed by a hit-and-run driver on her way to the airport, and Paul is murdered by hitmen after Andy holds him partially responsible for his involvement with the cult.

A now frustrated Andy asks the satanic cult for help, but when the Chief Priest (Daniel Oluigbo) insists he can only pacify his late wife's spirit by blinding and castrating himself, he refuses. Andy soon becomes mentally deranged, living as a vagrant under a Lagos flyover until Tina (Rita Nzelu) – a former prostitute Andy had previously presented to the cult as a decoy before his deceit was exposed – takes him to her church. He finally confesses to Merit's murder, and Andy's mother (Grace Ayozie) weeps at her late daughter-in-law's grave, pleading for her forgiveness.

In the film's final scene Andy, now cured of his insanity, worships with the evangelical Christians who have assured him his sins are forgiven.[8][9][10]

Cast edit

  • Kenneth Okonkwo as Andy Okeke[11]
  • Nnenna Nwabueze as Merit, Andy's wife
  • Kanayo O. Kanayo as Chief Omego, cult member
  • Francis Agu as Ichie Million, cult member and Merit's boss
  • Okechukwu Ogunjiofor as Paul, Andy's friend and cult member[12]
  • Ngozi Nwaneto as Caro, Merit's friend and Paul's girlfriend
  • Ngozi Nwosu as Ego, Andy's mistress
  • Felicia Mayford as Obidia
  • Clement Offiaji as Robert, fraudster
  • Chizoba Bosah as Merit's aunt
  • Bob-Manuel Udokwu as Mike, cult member
  • Chukwudi Onu as Joseph, cult member
  • Sydney Diala as cult member/initiator
  • Daniel Oluigbo as cult chief priest
  • Obiageli Molugbe as cult mother
  • Rita Nzelu as Tina, local prostitute
  • Jennifer Okere as Chinyere, Caro's friend
  • Ruth Osu as Andy and Merit's neighbour
  • Grace Ayozie as Andy's mother
  • Benjamin Nwosu as Andy's father

Actors Kanayo, Agu, Udokwu, Molugbe, Onu, and Osu were already established actors from the soap opera Checkmate, and Okere had a regular role in rival soap Ripples; their appearance helped generate publicity for the movie. Nwabueze, Nwosu, and Ogunjiofor were the only main actors not to reprise their roles for the second part of the movie. Nwabueze's character Merit appears in a flashback scene, but a body double plays her ghost. Paul's name is mentioned numerous times in part two but he never appears on-screen; his death scene is also filled in by a body double.

Sequel edit

In 2015, veteran actor Ramsey Nouah and Charles Okpaleke acquired the rights to Living In Bondage from Kenneth Nnebue for a possible remake to be filmed in Europe and America as well as Nigeria.[13] The news was later confirmed on Instagram, but the project languished in development hell for three years.[14]

In 2018, Nouah announced his remake had transitioned into a sequel now titled Living in Bondage: Breaking Free, and was released on November 8, 2019, becoming the 11th highest-grossing Nigerian movie. Nouah, who plays the cult's new chief priest, makes his directorial debut, with original actors Okonkwo, Kanayo, and Udokwu, also involved (Udokwu's character was reduced to a single cameo).[15] The story centres on Andy's son Nnamdi, and his vaunting quest for wealth like his father before him. Former MBGN Muna Abii makes her acting debut alongside Swanky JKA in his breakout role.

Following its cinematic release, the film premiered on Netflix in May 2020.[16]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Jagoe, Rebecca. "From Living in Bondage to the Global Stage: The Growing Success of Nollywood". The Culture Trip. Retrieved 2016-05-12.
  2. ^ Tucker, Neely (5 February 2005). "Nollywood, In a Starring Role". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C., USA. Retrieved 7 August 2010.
  3. ^ Igwe, Amaka; Kelani, Tunde; Nnebue, Kenneth; Esonwanne, Uzoma (2008). "Interviews with Amaka Igwe, Tunde Kelani, and Kenneth Nnebue". Research in African Literatures. 39 (4): 24–39. doi:10.2979/RAL.2008.39.4.24. ISSN 0034-5210. JSTOR 30131177. S2CID 143437639.
  4. ^ (2019-10-28). "We Had an Exclusive Chat with Charles Okpaleke, Executive Producer of "Living In Bondage: Breaking Free"". BellaNaija. Retrieved 2019-11-03.
  5. ^ Living in Bondage: Breaking Free
  6. ^ "'Living in Bondage: Breaking Free' is perfect for Ramsey Nouah's directorial debut (Review)". 2019-10-31. Retrieved 2019-11-03.
  7. ^ "Charles Okpaleke's 'Living in Bondage the Sequel' Premieres". 2019-11-08. Retrieved 2019-11-09.
  8. ^ "Nollywood dreams". Melbourne, Australia: The Age Company Ltd. 31 July 2004. Retrieved 7 August 2010.
  9. ^ Adebajo, Adekeye. "SA and Nigeria must throw culture into foreign policy mix". Johannesburg, South Africa: Times LIVE. Retrieved 7 August 2010.
  10. ^ "Nollywood turns out 2,000 films a year". Port of Spain, Trinidad: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday. 25 October 2006. Retrieved 7 August 2010.
  11. ^ "Andy has overtaken my real name, Kenneth Okonkwo cries out - Vanguard News". Vanguard News. 2014-10-25. Retrieved 2016-05-12.
  12. ^ "Okechukwu Ogunjiofor". IMDb. Retrieved 2016-05-12.
  13. ^ Ramsey Nouah reportedly set to remake first successful Nollywood movie, ‘Living in Bondage’
  14. ^ "A sequel to the 1992 classic is being made". Pulse Nigeria. 2015-10-27. Retrieved 2021-08-23.
  15. ^ Awaiting Second Coming Of Living In Bondage
  16. ^ "'Living in Bondage: Breaking Free' to begin streaming on Netflix from May 22". Pulse Nigeria. 2020-05-15. Retrieved 2021-08-23.

External links edit