Home / Featured / THE APRIL FOOL PRANK CALLED ‘NWANYI OMA’ AND WHY IT BROKE THE INTERNET

THE APRIL FOOL PRANK CALLED ‘NWANYI OMA’ AND WHY IT BROKE THE INTERNET

When my friend, Onuora, decided to let the devil use him into creating a film poster that had Genevieve Nnaji, Robert Downey Jr., Chiwetel Ejiofor and Jason Statham jostling for space on the cover, an accomplishment which he unveiled in a Facebook group we both belong to, I had a very good laugh at his mischief.

And then, because I have a bit of the devil’s calling, I decided to take the picture away from the privacy of the group and splash it outside on both my Facebook and Instagram timelines. Honestly, I thought my followers would get it instantly. I thought people would get the joke. After all, how is it possible that four of the biggest stars in this planet came together to do a movie and no one heard a peep until the month the alleged movie is getting premiered?

However, to my shocked amusement and delighted astonishment, a huge percentage of commenters on the posts actually believed the story the poster was telling. There were breathless OMG exclamations of the movie premiere and rapturous cheers of congratulations to Genevieve Nnaji. The Nigerians on my timelines had happened on yet another accomplishment on Ms. Nnaji’s resume, and they were all determined to glory in her success.

What I’d intended to be a tongue-in-cheek update quickly spiraled into one of the most hilarious days I’d ever had in 2017. I simply sat where I was with my phone, flicking back and forth from Facebook to instagram, having a good laugh over the charming gullibility of some of my followers. (My apologies, guys, but y’all were hilarious AF!)

In time though, many people began to catch on, and amid the faux angry protestations, I made my second mistake of thinking this was it. The game was up. Everyone had wised up. Life could now go on.

Again I was wrong.

It wasn’t long before I started getting random mentions and tags on updates of other Facebookers, some of them who aren’t even in my friend list. Apparently, the Nwanyi Oma post had been shared across the social media globe, and apparently, not everyone had wised up. The narrative had even taken on a life of its own, with speculations abounding beyond the social media, apparently beyond Nigeria too, and news sites (Nairaland, I’m looking at you) discussing it, with most of these strangers bandying information on the ‘movie’ with such confidence that I almost began to doubt my prank. For a split second, as I read an exchange where a poster and a commenter were talking about how one of them had seen the teaser trailer and how they couldn’t wait to see the film, I wondered if perhaps I was the one who the joke was on.

Then that split second passed and I was back to chuckling at our amazing unawareness in this country.

But then, I got to thinking: in a way, for a society filled with a people too lazy to do the work on the acquisition of information (Heck, our media is well known for their copy-and-paste journalism), it is not very surprising that this Nwanyi Oma prank gained such traction the way it did.

In my opinion, there are three main factors that contributed to its believability:

1. THE STAR OF GENEVIEVE NNAJI

Say what you will about Genevieve Nnaji, but she is a bona fide superstar – a brand to be reckoned with. This is a woman who has managed to stay relevant without doing much, in spite of featuring in a movie last in 2015 (Road to Yesterday) and two years before that (Half of a Yellow Sun). She’s been called the Julia Roberts of Africa, and this is apt, partly because she wields the kind of star power where she can afford to stay away from the movie screen for as long as she wants and still keep the world anticipating her next move instead of dismissing her into forgetfulness.

Most of the Nigerians who were enthralled by the Nwanyi Oma poster weren’t even focused on the Hollywood stars on it. Not really. Attention on Ejiofor, Downey Jr. and Statham came secondary to the mesmerizing participation of Ms. Nnaji in the ‘movie’.

Just imagine if some other actress (or actor in fact) like Uche Jombo-Rodriguez, Ramsey Nouah or even perhaps Omotola had been on that poster instead of Genevieve… If we are being honest, you’d admit that that poster wouldn’t be the big trend it is now. Heck, it’s just a poster and it’s generating more buzz than Omoni Oboli’s Okafor’s Law, which is an actual movie in the cinemas.

2. THE IMAGE POSTER ITSELF

We live in a world where packaging is everything. You may be peddling a mediocre service, but if you’ve done a good job of giving the service an excellent front, you’d probably have more business than he who has a shabby packaging but quality service.

In this country, we have become jaded by the gaudy, loud and garish film posters that Nollywood often churns out as part of its film productions. Oftentimes, these posters elicit an eye-roll from the observer; other times, a dismissive stare.

And then comes along a poster with sleek, blue-and-black highlights and simple but elegant Hollywood-esque mystique – and voila! You have people stumbling over themselves to spread the good news of the movie. Never mind that it’s titled ‘Nwanyi Oma’. Of course, Jason Statham would agree to do a Nigerian movie bearing such an indigenous name.

3. THE DREAM OF NOLLYWOOD AND HOLLYWOOD

It is every Nigerian moviegoer’s deep, down desire to see our entertainment industry shine. And one of the ways to achieve that ultimate pride and joy is when we collaborate with them. That is why we cheered when Wizkid began making music with Drake, and gasped with pleasure when Half of a Yellow Sun brought Thandie Newton to Nigeria. We want to see our leading ladies swoon in the arms of their leading men. We want to watch our ‘actor’ swing a right hook at their ‘boss’.

So when a movie poster comes along with all the accoutrements of a collaboration between two of the world’s biggest film industries, of course you’re going to clap a hand over your mouth, widen your eyes in disbelief, gasp ‘Oh my God’, and quickly click to share, while mentally checking your wallet for the N1500 you’ll spend to see the movie at Silverbird cinema.

Personally, while I’m busy chuckling at all this misplaced brouhaha over Nwanyi Oma, I’d give anything to hear what Genevieve had to say about this.


About shakespeareanwalter

Walt Shakes(@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter.

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19 comments

  1. This is how they spoil people’s political career. Look at this guy lying I made the poster. When? Where? How? Bring conclusive evidence of this accusation or hear from my lawyers. What opprobrious opprobrium!

  2. Ooooooohhh!!! There is no hysterical laughing sticker.

    But,why do people not read?!

  3. ??????
    This is just fantastic. I can’t believe… I mean, beyond Naija too?! Oh my god!

  4. Genevieve should really get to meet you.

  5. Oh Wow! This ‘staggering’ bit of news absolutely sent me reeling, as in; its a total ribcracker! ?

    I’d chuck this whole ‘gullibility’ business to packaging! I mean, who subjects themselves to this much ‘trouble’, by going to great lengths in creating a winner of a poster featuring an unbelievable line up of stars that’d make for a stellar cast in a Blockbuster titled ‘Nwanyi Oma?! Its pretty unfathomable and would definitely be the last thing on the minds of those who gets a first look at it. Plus, it’d sell like hot cakes and folks woulda not only bought into it; they’d also have sunken their gums and eaten deep into it….before catching on!?

    Great feat this, and did I mention believable??? Blame it on packaging and yeah, nothing’s almost always as it seems and as far as April Fools Day goes….noone’s ever best prepared….I know! ? Must be something ’bout that day! LOL

    • shakespeareanwalter

      LOL! Did you know about the poster, Yemie? 😀

      • Nah! Was much too engrossed in the happenings in the Big Brother Naija House at the time but I did fall victim of something entirely different and it wasn’t cute, especially given that I’d been issued with a stern warning at the break’a’dawn in a news story I’d read in the Punch Dailies ’bout being cautious and ensuring not to believe whatever anyone tries to peddle or sell during the course of the day. Alas, I still got had! *smh ?LOL

        • shakespeareanwalter

          ??????
          I was a victim too. A cruel April Foolery played on me by none other than my (former best) friend, Anyibaba. Yes. I’m reconsidering the terms of our best-friendship ever since he swindled me on April 1st.

          • You signed an iron clad agreement, nothing is releasing you from this friendship agreement. You’re Leonard, I’m Sheldon?

          • shakespeareanwalter

            LOL! Even if I have to go to the Fires of Mordor to melt the iron of the agreement, I will. Nonsense and April Fool.

          • Hmmm….spoken like a true friend rocking a big heart….a ‘lethally affectionate’ type-friend and the stuff of nightmares!??Get ready to be super-smothered Walter…Anyi’s pretty set to killing you with plenty love and affections! ???

            And its on that note that I thee wish thou and all of thy ‘adorables’ a very Happy Holiday Anyibaba. Many Happy Cheers! ??

          • Wake up and smell the freshly brewing coffee Walter, you scored yourself a BFF the moment you opted to ‘get into bed’ with Anyi and you do not get to will him away just like that! The pair of you are joined at the hips… ’tis a forever type-thing! He’s that thorn on your side abi shall I say ‘fishbone’ dangling in your ‘jugular?! ? LMAO!

            You best start dealing….forever’s a very very long time! LOL

            Happy Holidays to you and all of yours Walter…enjoy every bit of this super-magical season! ?

          • shakespeareanwalter

            Happy Easter to you too, Yemie. May you and your family reap and enjoy all the goodness that this season brings. ????

  6. I have a feeling this seemingly harmless prank might just get you a date with mhiz Nnaji….. Amen?

  7. I’ve got to confess, I fell for it. Hook, line and sinker. A movie freak friend shared the poster to me on whatsapp two days ago and I was ecstatic. I just decided to google the movie just now in order to get more info and boom, my mind snaps in two!

  8. I started having doubts when I saw the title lol

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