Directed by T.W. Pittman and Kelly Daniela Norris
Country: Ghana / USA
African cinema usually rekindles revealing stories tinged with quirky colors and enlivened by warm feelings in a pure intention to reflect the continent’s inhabitants’ lives. That’s exactly what you can expect from “Nakom”, a drama film centered on the inner conflict that arises in a man divided between keeping his cultural roots and traditions alive and following his personal dreams, which can only be fulfilled within a contemporary environment.
The dilemma dilates in Iddrissu (Jacob Ayanaba), a medicine student in Ghana’s metropolitan city of Kumasi, who is forced to pause his formation to go back to Nakom, the rural Northern village where he was born.
The sudden death of his father was the reason for his unplanned return. As the eldest son, both family and the village chief expect him to stay and become the new ‘master’ of the house. After all, he’s a valuable element since he knows the old and the new ways.
This is a real headache for Iddrissu who comes across with predicaments of a primitive culture he had almost forgotten.
His clever sister, Datama (Grace Ayariga) lives consumed by the frustration due to the impossibility to move out of the city in order to study. The motive is mainly financial but the mentality of the villagers doesn’t help. Her discontentment is mirrored in phrases like “things are always for men to decide” or “what's right or wrong is for men with education”.
Iddrissu also has to deal with his indolent young adult brother who got a 15-year-old cousin pregnant, the quarrel between his real mother and his ‘junior’ mother - the second wife of his polygamist father who left a debt, and the schemes of his little brothers who prefer to play all day instead of attending school. On top of this, he has concerns about tending the farm that will provide for all his family during the whole year. He had never given so much importance to the rain before and confesses: “in the city, nothing changes when it rains. Here, the earth breathes.”
The uncertainty of the future, translated into eat or not to eat, or the lack of medical help, mirrored in an agonizing situation lived by his cousin Fatima (Esther Issaka), induce panic in Iddrissu, a man of noble character who is not indifferent to his people. Will he give up his dreams to take care of them?
The team of directors, Kelly Daniela Norris and T.W. Pittman, who met at Columbia and now share a production company, serves up an interesting narrative packaged with authenticity and crisp focus.
Having the vast Ghanaian fields as the backdrop, cinematographer Robert Geile does a pretty nice job in capturing attractive frames while the original music by the Senegalese singer/guitarist Daby Balde infuses a gentle yet vivid ambiance that helps to maintain the African spirit well alive.
“Nakom” is no frivolous tale and comes bolstered by Ayanaba’s strong acting debut.