Normally treatments for film ideas are dry and functional. I didn't like that idea so I decided to novelise my opening scene.
|Lagos, Nigeria. Click on the photo for a great travelogue about Nigeria and the Ghanaian dish Fufu|
My bleak future scenario starts in Africa's largest metropolis Lagos, Nigeria. Lagos is a heaving, unforgiving city whose most historically significant figures testify to its violence and its explosive creative output. It was the home to afro beat originator Fela Kuti and the battle ground for the Ogoni writer and environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa.
A big thanks to Greg, Jules, and Dave for their ideas and support.
A big thanks to Greg, Jules, and Dave for their ideas and support.
Characters: Frances Onibino and Albert Onibino
Location: Lagos, Nigeria. Africa's largest metropolis. December 13, 2014
Frances Abimbola Onibino could see the lights of his once beloved IBI towers through the front windscreen of his limousine. On this night the lights were brighter than usual, for earlier that day the IBI Corporation had successfully launched AFRISAT, a powerful geo-positional satellite intended to revolutionise communications across all of Africa. Tonight Frances and his nephew Albert were travelling together to attend the official countdown to operation. AFRISAT had taken 10 years to bring to fruition, and in that time Frances had watched the uptake of wireless and mobile technology all across the continent. He knew from long experience that Africa could not afford hard communications infrastructure like Europe, America, and China. AFRISAT would help Africa surpass the rest of the world through use of wireless communications.
“You seem a lot calmer these days uncle” said his nephew Albert who sat beside him. “Well I'm glad I handed the reigns over to you. It's better for my health” said Frances, barely changing expression. Albert looked at Frances, a little perplexed “Thank you Uncle, I expect the sea air is doing you a world of good” he said as he looked back at his tablet and began typing. After a few key strokes he stopped suddenly, closed the tablet, looked intently at his uncle and said “I've hardly seen you in the last two years and have been meaning to ask you, but, fishing trawlers?...With fish stocks so low? How is this securely diversifying our interests?” Frances chuckled, as a wry smile shot across his face. He looked intently at Albert who glanced uncomfortably out the window then back with a half shy half questioning gesture. Frances continued observing his nephew who, in that moment noticed a vaguely familiar affection in his uncle's eyes. “When you get older and wiser” said Frances, “you will truly know when a risk is worth taking.”
The limousine arrived at IBI plaza in down-town Lagos to a media throng. A white-gloved valet opened the limo door as a volley of camera flashes bounced around. Frances exited first and acknowledged the crowd with a thin smile and a nod. “Mr Onibino, what do you have to say about today's successful launch?” asked a voice cutting through the media huddle. “I'm happy of course,” said Frances with a slightly wider and warmer smile “but you should talk to my nephew”. Frances gestured to his nephew to come and talk to the assembled media. Albert finished shaking hands with the Nigerian communications minister, walked over to the reporters and camera people who were shouting questions, raised his hand for them to stop and said “There'll be time for questions later, but right now let me just say this...this is a great day for Africa! With AFRISAT we will leap frog the rest of the world. Wealth for Naija, wealth for Africa.” he pointed a finger upward and shook it for emphasis “Look to the sky!”
Frances and Albert made their way up the red carpet, shaking hands with African and international dignitaries, business leaders, and celebrities. As Frances entered the expansive plaza atrium he looked up to see the AFRISAT replica that had been installed five years earlier. It was suspended from cables to give it the appearance of floating in air. He stood for a moment, transfixed, focussed on the image of a Yoruban orisha projected onto its side panel. Frances and Albert made their way to the stage and took their seats in view of the giant count down screen. As the background music faded away Frances leaned over to Albert and whispered “Before you give your speech I just want to say a few words.” Somewhat surprised, Albert replied “certainly uncle”.
As the MC, a Nigerian TV personality was winding up his introduction he looked over at Albert who gestured to his uncle. The MC announced Frances who walked up to the lectern, looked up at the replica and called to the crowd “10 years! 10 years ago I had a vision of Africa competing with the world and bringing our unique approach to innovation. So much has changed in that time! We need this technology more than ever.” He gestured again at the replica “Do you see on the side? It is the Yoruban orisha, Eshu.” He looked at the crowd intently “Many of you who are Yoruba will know that Eshu is the first orisha to be acknowledged, Eshu is in our doorways and our ceremonies, Eshu is the messenger who talks to Obatala and Olorun on our behalf, Eshu is also a trickster, both forgiving and cruel, a lot like life.” Frances looked around to catch the MC's eye and gestured him over. “Anyway, enough from me, my nephew is the man of the moment.” He shook hands with the MC and gave a little smile to Albert who was approaching the lectern then walked straight off the back of the stage and through the security cordon as Albert was starting his speech. Frances found his driver playing cards with a plaza security guard backstage. They were surprised to see him and quickly abandoned their game. Frances raised his hand “Relax boys” he turned to his driver and said “When you've finished your game I want you to drive me to Apapa. I need a new hat.”
The driver excused himself and moments latter had the limousine waiting at the private entrance. He drove Francis across the Eko Bridge and along the Ijora Cause Way to Apapa Road. In Apapa Frances told the driver to stop outside a traditional menswear store and asked him to park nearby rather than directly out front to avoid drawing attention. Inside the menswear store he browsed briefly then selected a green Buba (shirt/top) with a matching Sokoto (trousers), matching Toms (shoes) and a cotton Fila (hat).” I'd like to wear these away” he said to the shop owner who offered him a bag for his suit “Don't bother,” he said to the smiling man “you keep it...and please...take my shoes”. Frances paid in cash, then looked at his watch. On the way out of the store he stopped to look in the mirror, chuckled to himself, and walked out the front door just as a bright golden light filled the street, showering the sea of roofs in the neighbouring Ajegunle ghetto. Blue rings appeared in the sky around a fading golden ball and began radiating outward growing larger till they disappeared on the horizon. Traffic came to a stand still. People stopped and got out of their cars. And while all were engrossed in the light show, Frances walked into a side street and disappeared.