‘Swallow’ is sweet, bitter pill for Nigerian audience

Film title: ‘Swallow

Base on Sefi Atta’s novel of the exact same title

Running Time: 2several hours 8minutes

Directors: Kunle Afolayan

Writers: Sefi Atta and Kunle Afolayan

Producers: Netflix studios

Guide solid: Eniola Akinbo (Niyola), Ijeoma Grace Agu (as Rose), Deyemi Okanlanwon (as Sanwo), Eniola Badmus (as Mrs Durojaiye), Chioma Akpotha (as Mama Chidi), Kevin Ikeduba (as OC), Offiong Anthony Edet (as Johnny) and veteran Olusegun Remi (as Mr Salako).

Date of Release: Oct 1, 2021.

For greener pastures outside the house of Nigeria, the lead characters in Kunle Afolayan’s newest film, Swallow, are prepared to risk it all-basically, all the things, such as their life.

The motion picture, which is an adaptation of the monitor adaptation of Sefi Atta’s 3rd novel ‘Swallow’, was shot in the metropolis of rusty roofs, Ibadan in Oyo Point out, and Lagos.

It follows the tale of a naive lender secretary, Tolani Ajao, who, just after a sequence of profession woes, considers her roommate’s present to get the job done as a drug mule in mid-1980s Lagos.

Nevertheless, Tolani faces a crisis of conscience, and as she inquiries her personal morality in a repressive military services regime, she finds herself flung into a journey of self-discovery.

It is the initial screenwriting credit rating for the Nigerian novelist, who co-wrote the display screen adaptation with Afolayan.

Nollywood is quickly evolving from the period of predictable storylines to dynamic and thematic narrations which is an offshoot of the large techniques, know-how, and tendencies in filmmaking.

Excellent movie adaptations are generally tasking mainly because they go outside of just screenplay. It necessitates more attempts to coherently start the story (with its peculiarities) into a motion picture and produce relative psychological proximity in between the e book and the film. To this finish, Afolayan warrants some accolades.

Having said that, Afolayan, who is in the mind-set of casting non-actors in guide roles of his motion pictures, really should, from his wealth of knowledge, understand that these non-actors put up with specific shortfalls. Not many of them can, in actuality, deliver the ingredients that spice or if you like, make a great motion picture. Was swallow a sweet or bitter capsule for the Nigerian motion picture audience?


The unique tale, “Swallow” by Atta tells a straightforward and appealing narrative about the quest for survival by younger girls entangled by their unifying battle to endure in a patriarchal culture.

The plight of these ladies depicted in the people of Tolani Ajao and Rose, her obstinate pal and roommate, is relatable and this realisation is keenly in depth plenty of to retain the readers glued to the book.

The film, reminiscent of Lagos in the 1980s, takes into cognizance the customs, the currency price, the motor vehicles in use, the discourse, and the Nigerian football online games aired by using radio, all depicting a typical 80s lifestyle.

Established in the heart of the war versus indiscipline, a hallmark of Muhammadu Buhari’s 1983-1985 armed forces federal government, Tolani and her roommate Rose, two happy impartial ladies, go through injustice in a bid to endure the bureaucratic method of the bank where they perform as clerk and secretary respectively.

Apart from function, they live together in a small area, at an open up compound, among people today from various ethnic teams in Nigeria. A person can not forget the attention-grabbing characters of her neighbours like the stringent and chaotic nurse, Mrs Durojaiye, performed by Eniola Badmus and the smart Igbo housewife, Mama Chidi, played by Chioma Chukwuka.

Rose, fed up with the harassment from her out of date and corrupt boss, Mr Salako, resigns from her task, whilst Tolani replaces her as secretary. However, Rose seeks economical guidance from her relative who owns a salon but was turned down. This opens her to the reality of lifestyle and survival.

Tolani on the other hand is optimistic as she continued with her task, keeping in significant esteem the values her father instilled in her at a youthful age. Tolani unbending to the illicit innovations thrown to her by her manager and the controversial rumours remaining peddled all over the business office encounters comparable problems as Rose and is on the verge of offering up.

Turning place

Nonetheless, Rose satisfies OC, an acclaimed ‘big boy’ who showers her with items and quickly introduces her to his supply of livelihood-smuggling medicine with a stable of feminine drug mules. Rose, decides to be part of OC in his illegal company, to swallow medicine and travel overseas to evacuate them in the rest room for gross sales. Rose starts to follow and in no time gains mastery on how to swallow and retain the drugs in her abdomen

Rose before long introduces Tolani to the business enterprise. She agrees at first but clinging to her father’s directions and her mother’s suggestions again at Makoku (her hometown), “Protect your standing. Do not permit lifetime or any man take it away from you,” “be material with what you have.” Tolani refrains from becoming a member of Rose on the journey.

This is where by the plot thickens and the drama we signed up for, definitely starts.


The dominant languages in the film were being English, Yoruba, and pidgin English and they helped set the tone for the movie.

The conscious employ of indigenous languages in current Nollywood flicks like Igbo in ‘Lionheart’, Hausa in ‘Voiceless’, and Yoruba in ‘Citation’ and ‘Swallow’ is applaudable.

The producers paid extra focus to the tiny facts which are hitherto neglected in most Nollywood flicks. The set designers deserve accolades for the established and props. It is unquestionably no suggest feat shooting an 80s movie in the 21st-century modern Nigeria and bringing into fact some 1980s relics and props which gave the movie a prosperous taste of historical past.

Sweet bitter because it is not the standard motion picture we see where the hero or heroine constantly wins. Bitter mainly because it is a tragedy, sweet simply because there are lessons to study from it.


Singer Niyola, popularly known as Eniola Akinbo, struggled with the job. Acquiring showcased in audio videos that call for less motion, the acutely aware skill to impersonate and deliver the character ‘Tolani’ to lifetime was majorly lacking.

On the other hand, the supporting lead, Ijeoma Grace Agu, who performed the part of Rose, owned the highlight.

The direct character should really shine through the film, but Agu’s good portrayal of Rose gave the significantly-needed ‘action’ that we all longed for in the film. It is harmless to say Afolayan, and most likely his solid, played way too safe and sound in the movie

Plainly, the director focused too considerably interest on accomplishing a believable 80s location but unsuccessful at offering the much-needed punch exactly where it was wanted particularly at the climax of the film.

For instance, we have been expecting additional motion in direction of the conclude of the motion picture, particularly in the aircraft scene in which Rose died. We did not want to be explained to how she died, it would have manufactured much more sense if it was vividly portrayed.


‘Swallow’ is a sweet and bitter capsule for the Nigerian audience. It is a reminder of the travails of the regular Nigerian looking for greener pastures abroad from all odds and bitter mainly because it is a stark reminder of a time when factors really labored in Nigeria.

It is a good movie truly worth observing specially as a household. It is didactic and entertaining.

Ranking: 6/10

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