Wives on Strike (2016)

Wives on Strike
Director: Omoni Oboli
Writer: Omoni Oboli
Cast: Omoni Oboli, Uche Jombo, Chioma Akpotha, Ufuoma Mcdermott, Kehinde Bankole, Kalu Ikeagwu, Julius Agwu, Kenneth Okonkwo
Seen on: 5.4.2017

Mama Ngozi (Omoni Oboli), Madame 12:30 (Uche Jombo), Mama Amina (Ufuoma McDermott) and another woman (Chioma Akpotha) are market women, wives and friends. Their lives move in rather set ways, but when Amina’s husband decides to marry off their 13-year-old daughter, they are not prepared to let him get away with it. Together they hatch a plan: they will go on strike and stop fulfilling what’s expected of them as wives to make their husbands see their true value and act accordingly.

I stumbled on Wives on Strike by chance (it was one of the films the airline I flew with offered) and when I read the description, I knew I had to watch it even though there was a risk that it would be rather horrible – often especially the films that attempt to be feminist are particularly awful. But it turns out that Wives on Strike is an entertaining, proto-feminist comedy that I rather enjoyed.

Wives on Strike builds on the problem of marrying off children, particularly girls, but then expands to include a few inequalities that shape a patriarchal society with a very limited view of gender roles. Most of the criticism I could go along with without issue, though there were a couple of smaller things that I didn’t think that great. That being said, it’s certainly not a feminism that is particularly interested in questioning the gender order itself, but is rather content with shifting the power balance in the binary system at least a little bit towards women.

And it does so in a very enjoyable way in a story that moves along at a quick pace and with a lot of energy. Sometimes things get a little silly, but that’s par for the course in most comedies, so I didn’t really mind it.

It’s quite obvious that they didn’t have an awful lot of money to put into the film and the production values are low compared to Hollywood films (though not necessarily for a Nollywood film). It just goes to show that you can effectively tell a story without the glossy look of big studio productions.

In short, the film is neither a feminist nor a cinematic revelation, but we can do with more average films that are feminist at heart and just want to entertain. And that’s what Wives on Strike does.

Summarizing: Watch it.

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