CLASSIC REEL: Mortal Inheritance
Cast: Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, Fred Amata, Kunle Bamtefa, Obiageli Molebe, Abiola Atanda and Ted Mukoro
Directed By: Andy Amenechi
Directed By: Andy Amenechi
Year of Release: 1996
Plot: A couple face two main obstacles in their relationship; family disapproval and the young lady's frail health.
Mortal Inheritance is one of Nollywood's most memorable classics; as it spread huge awareness of Sickle Anaemia in Nigeria and how it affects its sufferers. Versatile Nigerian actress, Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, played Kemi Johnson, inflicted with the disease yet does not wrap herself in self-pity; merely accepting it's a fact she can not change. This movie was her second film (the first being Venom of Justice), Omotola playing a vulnerable, frail young woman, yet able to stand up for herself when the need arose. She and her best friend's older brother Chike (Fred Amata) first meet in her hospital room and it's love at first sight. Chike is aware of her SS status but got to know just how bad it was after she had a very painful episode in his apartment.
Amata played a loving and loyal boyfriend to Kemi; his emotional scenes with her were very moving and one could see the chemistry between the two performers all through the film, yet there were some tense moments that left the viewers wondering if their relationship would survive. Kemi tried to be sensible for the both of them (especially Chike) but he angrily thought she didn't love him enough, fortunately she made him realise it was the exact opposite.
The other themes in the movie were Tribalism and to some extent, Class Difference. Obiageli Molebe, best known for her role as the hard hearted Mama Undoka in the rested soap Checkmate; played Chike's mother who was not pleased when she heard her son was dating a Yoruba girl, (Chike's family being Igbo); calling her a 'Lagos Girl' and 'Ngati Ngati Girl.' She was openly tribalistic and wasted no time telling Chike she didn't want him marrying a girl outside their tribe, though she admitted Kemi was a well brought up girl. And being a hospital nurse, she was far more informed about Chike about sickle cell anaemia and its consequences- as Chike's genotype was AS, he was a carrier, hence any offspring he and Kemi may have (if she's able to carry it to term) would be inflicted with her disease.
Fellow Checkmate alumni Kunle Bamtefa played Kemi's wealthy and stern father (and very brilliantly), who wasn't pleased at all with Kemi's relationship with Chike, though it was implied he wouldn't have objected to the 'Igbo boy' that much if Chike's family were in his upper class. He seemed to be a father who cared about his daughter but not of her feelings; which made him come off as a tyrant. Viewers would just want to scream at him at the way he continued to calmly sip his beer, even after his frail daughter almost collapsed in front of him and his sobbing wife angrily said, 'May God forgive you.'
Mrs Johnson was played by veteran actress Abimbola Atanda, known mostly to fans as 'Madam Kofo', her flamboyant head gear wearing character in Second Chance! (the Nigerian 1980's adaptation of Mind Your Language). Her acting showed she was not an actress to be typecast; she could only be described as amazing, playing Kemi's caring and protective mother and as it turned out her ally, despite her misgivings about Chike.
Veteran actor Ted Mukoro, best known as Justis Esiri's predecessor as the headmaster in The Village Headmaster had a supporting role as Chike's supportive father, who called his wife out over her tribalistic stance against Kemi. Being an actor of the old school, Mukoro had a presence in the movie, delivering his lines and performing with authoritative panache- it was a pity he didn't have scenes with Kunle Bamtefa in the movie, it would have been grand to see how their characters would interact; as they were complete opposites.
Mortal Inheritance was actually based on a true story and its message was seen and felt by viewers; and not a movie that can be forgotten.