Afamefuna: An imperfect web of Igbo culture, secrets and lust

Netflix can be a treasure trove for hidden gems, and let me tell you, “Afamefuna” is definitely one of them. I recently settled in for a movie night, expecting a straightforward ‘whodunit.’ Instead, I got a captivating exploration of my Igbo tradition, with sweet-sounding and fluent Igbo dialect from the actors, laced with a powerful mystery and anchored by a performance that left me speechless.

The Beginning

From the opening scene, a vibrant burial ceremony throws us headfirst into Igbo culture. The air thrums with the rhythm of flutes and energetic dances before a sudden arrest plunges us into the captivating story of a young Nwa Boi named Afamefuna.

We meet Afamefuna (also called Afam) as his mother entrusts him to his Lagos-based uncle, Odogwu (played by the legendary Kanayo O. Kanayo), to learn the ropes of trade. Lagos becomes Afam’s new home, and Paul, a fellow apprentice, becomes his guide to the bustling streets and the art of customer service.

 Their friendship deepens, entwined with secrets, and then Amaka enters the picture.

A marriage and an unholy affair

It turns out that Paul is having a secret affair with Odogwu’s daughter, Amaka (played by Atlanta Bridget Johnson). Afam witnesses their connection, and though he harbours feelings for Amaka, he resigns to silent admiration. Paul’s clandestine activities with Amaka don’t bring him the best of luck, however, as he is steadily dropped by Odogwu for Afam when it comes to settlement.

As the apprentice slowly becomes the master, Afam transforms his silent admiration for Amaka into marriage, sparking a rivalry with Paul. Odogwu’s preference for Afam and the marriage intensifies their enmity. It makes us wonder—was this the catalyst for the funeral shown at the beginning? You would have to watch the movie to find out!


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A deep dive into Igbo apprenticeship and culture

“Afamefuna” delves into the Igbo apprenticeship system’s history, narrated by Odogwu. Born in the aftermath of the Biafran War, this system began with a 20-pound starting capital per household, growing into a robust business culture. Odogwu details how traders trained Nwa Bois, eventually providing them with capital and shops, emphasising loyalty and hard work. “The Igbo business empire is built on brotherhood and hard work,” Odogwu asserts.

The film excels at showcasing the Igbo way of life. We witness the daily grind of the Nwa Boi system and its cultural underpinnings. The movie clarifies why women are not traditionally part of the system and sheds light on Afam’s decision to raise Lotanna as his son, even after the truth about the child’s parentage comes to light. The director’s use of Afamefuna’s narration is a masterstroke, with cinematography that vividly captures the Nwa Boi experience.

An imperfectly perfect movie

While I can appreciate the Igbo cultural representation in Afamefuna, I couldn’t help but notice a few plot holes. Why does Afam succumb to blackmail over a child not his own? Is it brotherly love or societal pressure? Does Amaka truly not know Lotanna’s parentage? And what’s the significance of the police officer’s call during the investigation?

Despite these unanswered questions, “Afamefuna: An Nwa Boi Story” provides a captivating look into the Igbo apprenticeship system. The film’s soundtrack, proverb-rich dialogue, and authentic Igbo language use celebrate Igbo culture. Scoring 8/10, “Afamefuna” is a must-watch for those seeking a deeper understanding of this rich tradition.


  • ChiAmaka Dike

    Chiamaka is the Features Editor at Marie Claire Nigeria. She is a woman who is passionate about God, women, and top-notch storytelling in all formats. Send all feature pitches her way -

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