A Naija Christmas – The Making
Christmas is a time of celebration, and it sets the backdrop for Kunle Afolayan’s “A Naija Christmas”. It is a Netflix Original, the first Christmas Movie in Nigeria.
The story is about 3 brothers who fall over themselves to fulfill the wish of their aged mother after she declares that the first one to get married will inherit her house in Ikoyi. Like the classic Nigerian mother, Madam Agatha is desperate for her sons to get married and give her grandkids. The only trouble is all three men are single to stupor.
The film is light-hearted with lots of humor and romance, a trope that was relatively new to Kunle Afolayan. But always up for a challenge, he read the story, accepted it, and delivered.
The three brothers have contrasting personalities that cause them to clash constantly, much to the chagrin of their mother Madam Agnes. But what is a familial story without a dose of sibling rivalry? Madam Agnes who loves to wear Ankara kaftans with sneakers is very fond of her sons as they are of her, so she tries to manipulate them.
The character is played by the late Racheal Oniga. It is the last movie before her passing. But what’s a familial story without sibling rivalry?
The first brother Ugo is a philanderer who becomes intent on finding the one; Obi is a fidgety nerd, while Chikean the last brother is seemingly indifferent about everything. The battle for the grand prize is between Ugo and Obi who set out to achieve this amidst a cocktail of chaotic events and comic relief.
A lot of thought was put into finding the right location for A Naija Christmas. After an intense search around Lagos and her environs, the stage was set, and production began in earnest.
Some of the scenes were shot in KAP Hub and KAP studio, and some of the set was built from scratch by veteran Art Director Pat Nebo
Kunle Afolayan expresses that as a filmmaker, if you can, building your own set is preferable as it allows for full control and flexibility.
The cinematographer on set was award-winning Jonathan Kovel
The film takes a look at the politics in the church among Christian mothers. “Ladies of Destiny”. There is an unspoken rivalry, competition; whose son has done this, whose daughter has done that, and this makes Madam Agnes apply pressure on her sons. She is in dire need of bragging rights ASAP!
One thing was prevalent on the set of A Naija Christmas, all the actors were excited to be working with the director and brought their A-game, making the production a smooth run.
Then suddenly, with 7 scenes left to be shot, Racheal Oniga passed away. Everyone was distraught, and the set was shut down temporarily. Coming back to set without her was nerve-wracking, her absence was felt intensely by everyone.
A body double was cast to stand in for her, and with the use of VFX, ADR, and AI, the editors were able to work their way around. The film “A Naija Christmas” is dedicated to her
As with every good movie, someone must chop breakfast and we really should have warned Obi before he proposed to Vera (Linda Osifo) and got humiliated in public. To be fair, I don’t know which was more embarrassing, the matching superhero costume or Obi getting a resounding NO. At one point Vera asked him “Did I tell you I want to get married? Ouch! Talk about not being on the same page.
Ugo falls in love with Ajike, played by Segilola Ogidan, a church chorister who is different from the girls he usually dates. The amazing thing about Segi is she really sings all the songs in A Naija Christmas herself, with no miming. She has a beautiful voice.
Lateef Adedimeji embodied his role as Tony Torpedo a loan shark and the perfect villain, who not only loses his money but also his girl.
The major highlight of the A Naija Christmas is the “ghetto concert” hosted by the Ladies of destiny for the kids in Mushin. The party scene was well attended in the heart of Mushin. Plus, there was a live performance by the legendary fuji maestro Wasiu Alabi Pasuma who performed an original song for the movie. 12 days of Christmas but make it fuji. Listen here
Time was taken to teach the children the song so they could chorus along. It was a free concert. Everyone came together and settled their differences. At the end of the movie, we see why Chike is indifferent to his mother’s quest.
To watch the full video of A Naija Christmas, click HERE