Of Ignorance and Jenifa’s Diary

 

Uzoma Ihejirika

What happens when a young, uneducated but determined woman journeys to Lagos where she hopes to find her pot of gold?

jenifas-diary

Until recently I didn’t care about “Jenifa’s Diary”, the Nigerian TV comedy series.

I’m using the word care because I was aware the series existed. I read about it on blogs, heard it filter into conversations; all glowing comments. But I still didn’t care.

I felt the series was beneath me. In my head I conjured of the series the image of a banal and silly chick-lit: Girl and her pink diary which she fills regularly with sweet nothings: her crush on a boy, her dilemma on which bra size would suit her, the gist her friends told her about who was having a fifth abortion etc. Somehow, the image irked me and in turn I transferred the hate to “Jenifa’s Diary”. A series I was yet to watch!

Then one day, a gentle breeze called common sense blew upon my brain and whispered to me, What’s wrong with you? Why not give the show a try? If you don’t like it, then you can choose to hate it forever. It seemed to me a fair deal so I decided to watch it.

And my life changed after that.

“Jenifa’s Diary” did this to me: It approached me as an understanding mother would an ignorant child, and with delightful episode after delightful episode, it weaned me off my ignorance and prejudice and fed me understanding, enlightenment, and soon I was smiling and nodding. I was thrilled.

“Jenifa’s Diary” is the story a young, uneducated but determined woman who journeys to Lagos where she hopes to find her pot of gold. Armed with her horrendous grammar, quick wit and beloved diary, she battles her way through whatever obstacle the city hurls at her. With themes bordering on love, friendship, family and self-actualization, “Jenifa’s Diary” is indeed a viewer’s delight.

Humour is one of the strong points of the series. Many times I laughed out loud at Jenifa’s confident massacre of the English language, at Segun cooing to Jenifa about his eternal love for her, at bright-eyed Adaku always on the lookout for more food, at crafty John The Genius and his licentious ways. Another point worthy of note is the fact that the humour never totters toward exasperation.

“Jenifa’s Diary” is the story a young, uneducated but determined woman who journeys to Lagos where she hopes to find her pot of gold. Armed with her horrendous grammar, quick wit and beloved diary, she battles her way through whatever obstacle the city hurls at her.

There are several other characters in the series who deserve mention: the adorable Toyosi (whom I have a huge crush on), the ever kind and understanding Kiki, the seemingly harmless James. Even cantankerous Pelumi. All these characters have layers upon layers of humanness attached to them.

Currently in its fifth season, “Jenifa’s Diary”, early this year, won two awards (Best Actor in a Comedy and Best actress in a Comedy) at the 4th Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards held in Lagos, Nigeria.

In a report published by Vanguard  on its online platform, Nollywood actress Funke Akindele, who plays Jenifa, and also doubles as the series producer was quoted as saying she was getting tired of the series, because of the weight of writing, acting, “assisting the director and also supervising the whole project.” But after making such a saddening statement, she adds: “…but each time I want to put it (the series) to rest, people tell me that the last season was lovely and they keep asking  what would be happening in seasons to come.” Absolutely, Funke, we don’t want the series to come to an end. I do not want it to end. I have been highly entertained.

And I pray that gentle breeze now in my life doesn’t come to an end.

 

Uzoma Ihejirika is a staff writer at Bakwa magazine

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