This is the second documentary film in Aljazeera’s My Nigeria series and features one of Nollywood’s most enduring thespians, Kate Henshaw, who first appeared in When the Sun Sets, produced in the early or mid-1990s.
Kate’s capability to reinvent herself confers an evergreen status on this Microbiologist-turned-actress. For instance, shortly after she had her daughter in 2001 or thereabouts, she appeared in two films by Chico Ejiro, looking matronly. Less than one year after, all the weight was gone; but in the past six years or so, she has maintained a trim figure that makes her look twenty years younger.
Playing a Part is a documentary on Henshaw’s quest to represent her people in the Calabar South/Akpabuyo/Bakassi Federal Constituency of Cross River State. Unlike Basketmouth Trash Talking, which unsuccessfully tries to capture Basketmouth’s life in 25 minutes, Brian Tilley wisely focuses on Kate’s political ambition, taking the viewer through her hunt for the PDP ticket to the House of Reps and some of the intrigues of politics in Nigeria where, more often than not, the highest bidder wins the day.
There is an urgent need to reform the electoral process in Nigeria, outlawing the politics of money; which, indeed, is bribery and corruption. Money politics sees to the emergence of people, who may lack the wherewithal to perform the duties for which they are elected. Again, when politicians spend outrageous amounts of money, they device means to recoup their investments at the expense of service delivery to the people.
Therefore, laws should be made to disqualify candidates who induce the electorate whilst sanctioning delegates who receive money and give votes in exchange. Henshaw pays the delegates for their votes after speaking about the importance of doing the right thing earlier in the film. As it turns out, she performs abysmally at the primaries. Her honesty must be applauded because some other people would have hidden the ‘bribe-giving’ part of the documentary.
The suffering of the Bakassi people is brought to the fore once more and it is disappointing that both the Cross River State and Federal Governments have not earmarked funds in their budgets to resettle these troubled people and now that there are more than two million displaced people, resulting from Boko Haram; there is the need to provide funds (in housing budgets) for resettling displaced persons.
Tilley speaks with Kate’s mother, Theresa Henshaw through whom we learn that Kate is also known as Makamba. This kind of revelation is one of the reasons documentary film-makers should never neglect to speak with a subject’s kith and kin in telling the subject’s story, a chance Tilley missed in Basketmouth Trash Talking.
One of the two women interviewed in the salon and people who share her views ought to realize that the role an actor plays does not define the person’s real life behaviour though it is wrong to become pigeon-holed since versatility takes an actor to greater heights.
It is commendable that Henshaw still has the VHS of the old films, in which she starred: When the Sun Sets, Love in Vendetta, Halima, Closed Chapter and Broken Chord.
Kate Henshaw Playing a Part achieves its purpose, which is presenting the good looking actor/published author as a politician, who aspires, but fails to clinch a seat at the House of Reps. Yet, the audience should have been told if she will give another shot at contesting an election in future. Having said that, a comprehensive documentary on Offiong Kate Henshaw has become necessary.