Set in South-Eastern Nigeria, Ime Ego tells the story of Mercy’s hopes and dreams to join her groom. He lives in Dubai and the conversations between their two families as they navigate the terms of life to be spent together between Mercy and her prospective husband in their absence.
Mercy, a final year student at the Imo State University, Owerri, is thousands of kilometres away from her fiancé in Dubai, with whom she’s having a wedding in her ancestral village of Orlu, that he will be absent from. The day begins with the purchase of drinks, preparation of food, setting up the tents, and the arrival of family members on both sides. As she gets ready to meet her in-laws and partake in the ceremonies, the negotiation of her bride price begins in earnest. Mercy’s dream is to travel to start a new life with her husband, and this absentee wedding is a gateway to their fulfilment. In her fiancé’s absence, it is left to his family and hers to work out the terms of her bride price. A process that begins with a list of items that are negotiated back & forth is a tense balance between causing offence and reaching a satisfactory conclusion. The outcome of these negotiations could result in Mercy’s dreams being dashed.
Chioma Onyenwe is the founder of Raconteur Productions which has released over twenty films, documentaries, web series, podcasts and theatre plays. She has also collaborated with Ford Foundation, British Council, US Mission, UNDP, Lagos State Govt and European Union. With a background in Economics, an MSc in Management from Imperial College London, and film courses from Met Film School & Relativity Los Angeles, she draws on her interdisciplinary training to create art across different mediums that lie in the intersection of culture, history and identity. The 2016 Africa Movie Academy nominated her first feature 8 Bars & A Clef and she started the August Meeting Movement, which tells the story of the 1929 Aba Women’s War. She also created 23419, Nigeria’s first true-crime podcast. Chioma Onyenwe is a Creative Producer Indaba fellow and the Artistic Director of the Africa International Film Festival.
Migration is a natural human right. It’s as natural as breathing. Historically, the boundaries that have been put in place to prevent movement from the Global South to the North and yet encourage plunder the other way around is inhumane. The opportunity to tell our stories concerning this birthed this project. It’s been quite the journey to making Ime Ego. In 2018, when I received the call for application for Generation Africa, I was caught up in the viral TLC 90 days Fiance TV show. A Nigerian man called Michael was engaged to an American woman, Angela. On the show, he was quite the receptacle of abuse and degradation, I suppose, for the chance to one day migrate to America. I wondered how these imbalances set the stage for creating a family. A form of irregular migration in this part of Africa is absentee marriage. An absentee marriage is a marriage that has only one of the partners present for the ceremony and the marriage itself afterwards. In most instances, the husband. This marriage is purported to grant financial security and stability, which is the prime determining factor for those who allude to it. Not just for the woman but her family by extension. Listening to stories of couples who, years after their wedding, are still living apart, in the course of making Ime Ego, it was easy, though painful, to see how this has caused most of these families pain and despair. For some, the bride is promised security, stability and extended financial provision for her family. But more often than not, this is not the case. At the same time, I was keen to tell a story of a woman with agency, that chooses to explore this kind of marriage even as the odds are against her. Ime Ego tells the story of many a woman and many a family. It sheds light on how what was once the too-well-known familial and societal pressure on the woman to marry dissolves into the woman accepting that the only way to lift her family out of poverty is to marry. Ime Ego reveals how families are torn when, sometimes, these marriages either take-off and crash or don’t take off at all. Ime Ego is more than a project. It is an important story, one I’m grateful to tell as part of this collection.
Egar Ntanyi is a line producer at Raconteur Productions and has managed Family Court, August Meeting, Fortunately Ridiculous and This is Lagos. She has a diploma and a BSc in business administration and is currently working on her MBA Programme concentrating in operations management at the University of Lagos. Egar is a programme coordinator for the Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF), logistics/operations manager for Artdey Africa and also the owner of WC Fragrance.
Don Edkins is a South African documentary filmmaker and producer based in Cape
Town. He has produced documentary film projects that have been broadcast around
the world, such as Steps for the Future, Why Democracy? and Why Poverty? earning
multiple international awards, including an Oscar for Taxi to the Dark Side, and the
Special Teddy Award at the 63rd Berlinale for Steps for the Future. The Peabody
awarded Why Poverty? Project, with documentary films from 21 countries, was
screened globally by 70 broadcasters. He is Executive Producer of AfriDocs, a free-to-
view VOD platform and broadcast strand across Africa that screens the best African
and international documentary films. He is currently producing a new documentary film
project with African filmmakers across the continent, Generation Africa, around the
theme of migration. He is a mentor for the Berlinale Talents, Durban FilmMart, and
Docs by the Sea in Indonesia, and a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Tiny Mungwe is a documentary film and arts producer. She currently works at STEPS
(Social Transformation and Empowerment Projects) where she produces Generation
Africa, a pan-African anthology of 25 documentary films from 16 countries in Africa, on
the topic of migration. Mungwe’s films include Akekho uGogo, a 48 minute
documentary about urban youth culture, which screened at several festivals including
the Durban International Film Festival, Apollo Film Festival and DOKANEMA Festival.
Her short film script Evelyn was selected for the National Film and Video Foundation
(NFVF) Women Filmmaker Project and she directed another short film in the program,
Daddy’s Boy. She has written for some of the highest rating South African television
dramas such as Muvhango and Matatiele, and was one of the directors on the series
Uzalo. For several years she worked as a festival organizer and programmer for four
international festivals, namely Time of the Writer, the Durban International Film
Festival, Jomba! Contemporary Dance Festival and Poetry Africa. During that time she also worked on the program for Durban FilmMart (the co-production market of the festival) and Talents Durban (a career development program for emerging African filmmakers in partnership with Berlinale Talents). She continues to work as a program curation associate for the Durban FilmMart. She also programmed and curated the city of Durban’s inaugural book and art fair, ARTiculate Africa.