Apart from the clips of the film used in Segun Akinlolu’s classic song, Ikoko Akufo, I never had any encounter with the much touted culturally enriching movie until I saw it some weeks ago. Being a lover of cultural literary works, I decided to take more than a passing entertainment interest in it. This brought about the review you are about to read. Please, come along: (More so, when Nollywood has become what it is: a centre for trash)
The entire story revolves round a beautiful village damsel, Awero, who is admired by Lapade, desired by Odejimi and raped by Dauda. Eventually betrothed to Odejimi, hell is almost let loose when it is discovered that Awero is not a virgin on her wedding night. Two communities are set against each other but with the intervention of the woman at the centre of the storm, the men allow reason to prevail.
The film is geographically located in two rural, agrarian communities, Orita and Agbede. Temporally, the period points to either the time of pre-independence period when many villages and small towns lack basic infrastructures that are taken for granted today, even though dilapidated.
The Narrow Path is a film with so many messages packed in it. First, it is a judgment on the moral issues of premarital sex and its consequence. Second, it is a look at the age long tradition of virginity test in local communities. Third, it frowns at unnecessary rivalry that may arise as a result of competition between men. Fourth, it brings the issue of rape to front burner, looking at it from the view of the victim and what such victim goes through psychologically and physically. Fifth, it is a spotlight on the role of women in ensuring communal peace in their societies. Sixth, it examines the role of education in the development of any society. The film leads the viewers down the memory lane to show its corruption on the part of government officers in the course of discharging their duties among the largely illiterate people and how ignorance can give room for exploitation.
However, and much more importantly, it is a repertoire of Yoruba culture, philosophy and beliefs. It shows the Yorubas, like every other African culture, as a tribe that thrives on communalism and enjoys being their brothers’ keepers. Shot on high quality film technology and with a beautifully crafted script, the Narrow Path shows the role of understanding rather than rage in settling issues. It assents that jaw-jaw is better than war-war. In short, the film emphasizes the important roles of women, though marginalized, in bringing about communal peace. Perhaps, this is why the makers dedicate the film to all African women, who often marginalized, play peace keeping roles in traditional communities…