I know I should not be taking Nigerian movies seriously. However last week I had the pleasure of watching a movie that I felt I should blog about. This movie is called White Hunters and when I first saw the DVD cover I was a bit confused about the film’s title but all confusion vanished when I got into the film and realised after a few minutes that it had more foreign men in it that the average Nollywood movie. Yes the movie is about Nigerian women who are just so desperate for ‘white’ men that they’d do anything (including kidnapping a 3 month old baby to take to the ‘spiritual scientist’ so that he could make a charm that attracted only white men). Quick note; to most Nigerians as long as you don’t have brown/black skin, you are white. So Chinese, Arabs, Indians, Indonesians, basically everyone else who is black African is white. In addition, I really believe most of the ‘white’ men in this movie are actually Nigerians, I mean listen to their accents.
Here’s a quick summary of the ‘plot’*, Tabitha (Ini Edo) is a woman who has several ‘white’ men wrapped around her finger. She is not interested in Nigerian men because she wants easy access to (her husband’s) money and to travel abroad. In order to achieve this Tabitha first marries one white man and travels to Paris with him and after four years returns to Nigeria with another man as her husband (her second husband) who just happens to be white as well. Pamela (Mercy Johnson) is Tabitha’s best friend, at least she was until Tabitha got married and left for Europe. Pamela is the true embodiment of a woman desperate for a white man. After having her heart broken by a Nigerian man who deceived her telling her that he was going to marry her when he actually had another fiancée Pamela she concludes that all black men are useless and that to be truly happy she must marry a white man. However Pamela is having difficulties attracting a white man and relies on Tabitha to hook her up with one of her many white male friends, when Tabitha doesn’t do this and instead openly mocks and embarrasses Pamela with her crew of friends (all married to ‘white’ men), Pamela resorts to extreme measures to get a white man. Elsie (Halima Abubakar) was Pamela and Tabitha’s mate in secondary school but had to go to the village to take care of an ailing parent after school. Because of this, she is very ‘bush’ or unrefined in her ways and is brought to the city by Pamela who makes it her mission to ‘refine’ her and introduce her into the world of ‘white’ men. Elsie is the ONLY woman in this film that made sense, she was the only person who said things like ‘I don’t see what’s so special about the white men you are chasing’ and so of course, she was the only one who actually got a white man in the end. The most hilarious character is Peggy (Funke Akindele) who is a secondary school drop out, an illiterate who believes that it is better for her to be with a white man who doesn’t understand English as her previous relationships with upper class Nigerian men have gone sour because she lacks an education and can’t read. Peggy comes to live with Pamela and Elsie when her boyfriend kicks her out of the house after she walks out on him during a party to sleep with a white man (it is actually more complicated than this).
Anyhoo, we follow the women (mostly Peggy and Pamela) as they traverse the (Nigerian upper class) world looking for ‘white’ men to marry them. Like I mentioned above Elsie is the only sensible one in the movie, on the other hand Pamela and Peggy are the most desperate, they were the ones on the prowl for a ‘whitey’. It was especially hilarious watching Peggy with her ‘white’ men. She goes on a date with an Indian man but ends up leaving him because he is ‘dirty’ and smells. On her date with a Chinese man, she is embarrassed because he only pays his half of the bill and leaves her alone in the restaurant. Pamela was also funny in her own way, making it her mission to marry a white man because she felt Tabitha was out to embarrass her. She ended up going online and finding a white British man interested in her only to discover that he was 72 years old. Pamela and Peggy frequently fight over men.
One of my initial reactions to the movie was that it was trying to say that oyibo (white) men are emasculated. This is something I’ve heard from the mouths of people I know so it was not really a surprise. First of all, Tabitha had two husbands and not only that, she made her husband carry her shopping basket on his head when they went to the open air market. If you’re Nigerian or African, you’ll know why this may be viewed as demeaning. As I am me, I must say that the way both the Indian and Chinese man were presented can be viewed as offensive. First the whole ‘Indian people smell’ meme is something I’ve heard before, according to the movie Indian men apparently eat so much garlic that they smell and are dirty as they spit on the floor while with the Chinese man, Peggy kept on calling him ‘chinko’. It was watching this movie that made me realise that Nigerians actually don’t view that word as offensive (which it is btw). Also, there was the inclusion of the perverted white man who wanted to make a video of Pamela ‘sleeping’ with a dog an act which Elsie described as ‘demonic’.
The movie shines a bad light on interracial relationships featuring black women and oyibo men. It portrays them as something filled with desperation and lust for money. Simply put, it mocks interracial relationships. According to the movie, Nigerian women are all desperate and that is why they go after rich foreign men and proceed to flaunt their marriages about as something others should envy. Furthermore, the only woman, Elsie who presumably got into a good relationship with a white man only got it because she was charmed.
Now I personally don’t mind that it doesn’t show relationships with black women and foreign men in a positive light (that is not the movie’s job) however I find it interesting that the first movie I’ve watched (and possibly the first Nollywood movie made) that talks about interracial relationships decides to cast them in a negative light. The reason I actually feel this way is because I remember just a few months ago a friend of mine alerted me to a conversation on Twitter that was centred on interracial relationships. I don’t remember the details but I recall a questions been asked on what people think when they see a Nigerian woman with a white man and if they think she must be a prostitute or a desperate woman. With a movie like this, you can only guess what most people had to say in reply. On the somewhat good side, this movie was a bit diverse! There were Indian men, Chinese men, Indian men acting as Caucasian men, Arab men and biracial men. It was quite interesting to me as I mentioned above, the first Nigerian film I watch that focuses on interracial relationships paints Nigerian women involved in them as desperate women and the men as either perverted, dirty or stingy.
Regardless, White Hunters and its follow up Return of the White Hunters** were very funny to me. I have my criticisms but if I leave everything at the door, I admit that I actually liked the movie. I watched it twice then made my mother watch it. White Hunters is not a good movie but it is funny and that was enough for me It is not something to be taken seriously and I can’t help but add that I enjoy watching Funke Akindele on the screen (hands up if you’ve watched JENIFA!). I also liked Mercy Johnson’s acting and the way she frequently insulted Elsie, Halima Abubakar’s village girl character.
For your viewing pleasure, I’ve embedded part of the party scene which drags but has its funny parts.
*If you watch Nollywood movies, you’ll know that there is hardly any plot to speak of.
**If you watch Nigerian movies, you’ll also know that most movies come out with two or more parts.