Oloture: The Journey: Kenneth Gyang’s Superficial Series Fails To Justify Its Existence. –  Seyi Lasisi

At the end of Kenneth Gyang’s Oloture ,  Ehi (Sharon Ooja), the undercover journalist, is trafficked outside Nigeria. Beauty (Bukola Oladipupo), through Ehi’s help, escaped the claws of their traffickers. Playing the masculine hero, Emeka (Blossom Chukwujekwu) confronted Sir Phillips (Patrick Doyle) —the politician who assaulted Ehi.

Fast forward five years later and still under Gyang’s directorial sway, a sequel has arrived, Oloture: The Journey, with familiar and unfamiliar faces as well as plot points.

A three-episode limited series, it was unclear what direction it would follow.

Fittingly, when Oloture: The Journey commences, Ehi, confused and scared, seeks to understand her new reality. Transported from one vague location to the other, she gradually loses self-confidence even as Peju (Beverly Osu), one of the trafficked girls, provides her with reassuring words.

Away from Ehi, Beauty returned home to something troubling only to return to Lagos shortly.  Although she has escaped trafficking, her naivette leads her back  to Chuks (Ikechukwu Onunaku), who deceitfully provides her shelter and protection only to pimp her out as a sex worker. Chuks, still striving to build his self-importance and relevance in the sex workers’ world, seeks assistance from Tony (Daniel Etim Effiong), a more successful trafficker. Alero (Omoni Oboli) who is now facing assassination threats from Sir Phillips and Tony, is desperately seeking alternatives.

Sex trafficking is a global epidemic that provides an endless stream of money to traffickers. Daily, under the guise of offering appealing alternatives to their troubling realities, vulnerable people are being trafficked into modern-day slavery and commercial sex labour. With this knowledge, one can’t deny the topicality of the subject matter the series attempts to spotlight. But, upon watching the series, whatever new insights and social messages it aims to spotlight or push are left gasping for breath.

Other than the graphic presentation of the traumatic nature of human trafficking, the series adds no layered exploration of its subject matter. Painfully, Oloture: The Journey plays out like poor imitation of Oloture, as a whimsical exploration of sex workers, illegal migration and human trafficking.

Oloture: The Journey is also weighed down by overt supposition and pretence. The series aims to use Sir. Phillip’s character in exposing the complicty of the political class and how steeped they are in human trafficking. But this political involvement is frustratingly vague all through the series.

Attempting to show the violent side of  human trafficking, the series introduces Ade (Bucci Franklin), another trafficker competing with Tony. Ade, who wants to monopolise the illegal migration route and business, kills Tony’s trafficked girls. But, beyond killing the girls in a seemingly well-orchestrated stunt, the series fails to expand on this subplot. Like a word marooned in a stutter, the series fails to articulate the relevance of its subplot with coherence.

It doesn’t also help that the actors’ performances are mired in inertia. Their acting is lacking in intensity and sensitivity to the subject matter. In reading and not performing their lines, the emotional response the series should have drawn from the audience is missing.

Jointly written by Heidi Uys, Craig Freimond, Mo Abudu and Yinka Ogun, the script might be culpable too in explaining the actors’ performance for many cooks can sometimes spoil the broth.

And let’s not get started on all the  head scratching continuity snafus that pop up.

Oloture: The Journey recalls the era of Old Nollywood when pioneering filmmakers randomly and somewhat obsessively churned out sequels, even when there was no new insight to be added to the subject being explored.

Oloture: The Journey; which explores the same  grandiose attempt at depicting the supposed realities of migrants and sex workers ends up as no more than a poorly realised sensational exploration of the traumatic realities of sex workers, smugglers and illegal migrants.

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