Maami tells the story of a Premiere League football player Kashimawo (Adewole Ojo ) who returns to Nigeria from the UK at the moment when World Cup fever is hotting up. Whereas his Nigerian fans believe that he has come back to join the national team, Kashi has other things on his mind, and his indecisiveness keeps the nation hanging on tenterhooks.
As the story unfolds, the audience is taken back to key episodes of Kashi’s childhood. We discover the volatile character of Kashi’s mother who is the centre of his world. A single mother who struggles to provide for her son, Maami (Funke Akindele )shows her son a number of methods to acquire money from the unsuspecting public. Her frequent change of moods and inconsistency as a parent seem to leave Kashi feeling confused and unsafe. However, she remains the centre of his world and he takes each of the lessons she gives him to heart. Dream sequences and flashbacks reveal his biggest fears, and the newcomer Ayomide Abatti who plays the young Kashi gives a commendable performance.
Any film that starts with a cacophony of vuvuzelas is unlikely to hold subtlety as a core value, and Maami certainly lives up to the reputation of bold filmmaking that Kelani is celebrated for. The plot is engaging and at points disturbing, fraught with theft, emotional blackmail and trickery. Kashi’s adoration for his mother holds the diverse elements of the film together, and forms the basis for his character’s motivation. While the Nigerian public wills him to focus on his footballing career to bring glory to the nation, Kashi must put his professional obligations aside to revisit the painful memories of his past.
The screening of this film was followed by a Q&A session, a rare chance to hear from the director Tunde Kelani himself.
This film is part of the BFI’s African Odyssey’s programme and the Film Africa 2012 festival.