A disintegrated family is what we all pray against. We bind. We ‘cast. We tie. We fire. As a matter of fact, we do all sorts, yet it remains what it is, right where it is–the elephant at the centre of the room.
Remember those years when nothing mattered amongst siblings? No ego. No title. No money, and yes, no other home. We were just all we had! Perhaps the only real issues of concern in those days were who would do the dishes, who would clean the toilet, and if you lived in a communal compound, who would clear the gutter.
Then, 10, 20, or 30 years later, close-knitted souls become total strangers or almost strangers. What was once a big, formidable team becomes a fracas between factions. Abike and Alade. Ayinla and Abefe. And often, the alpha and omega, Akanke, stands apart. Or it could also be a case of every man for himself, as we see with the Kujus.
Introducing The Kujus is a movie that explores the big elephant we all don’t talk about often enough: the growing apart of siblings. The movie explores the lives of five siblings who have grown apart since the death of their mother and the efforts of one of them to correct the anomaly and make them one big family of love again.
Mautin was the leader of the pack. A no-nonsense lone ranger who wouldn’t tolerate what he considers the excesses of his siblings.
Maupe, the next in line, is a Titan with a capital T. A widowed mother of three. She is quite bitter about what life has thrust her way and is actively looking for ways to better her lot and that of her wards.
Mauyon, or Superstar Mayo as he prefers to be called, is an upcoming male model finding his feet in the busy Lagos world. He is intimidated by his siblings and seeks to prove his worth to them.
Mausi is the only person particular about retaining that strength of the family bond, even at the expense of her health. Not much was revealed about her career, but one thing we can see woven through the fabric of her being is sacrifice. She wouldn’t mind if getting the Kujus together as one again would be the last thing she did before kicking the bucket.
Then we have Maugbe or DJ MG, the baby of the house. The one caught in the middle of the whole brouhaha.
Of course, there are other amazing characters in the movie, but these 5 are the focal points of this discourse.
I could relate to the movie on many counts. I’m from a family of five siblings and have first-hand experience with the undercurrents that run in such settings. As beautiful as the Kujus’ individual and communal lives would have been, they allowed themselves to be swerved off course and inadvertently cut themselves short. They didn’t have to sweat to achieve this, though. All they had to do was spare the elephant in the room!
When Maupe got involved with Felix, their relationship was dented. That dent was left till it cracked and finally bloomed into a gully. Families are meant to be together in all circumstances, and once there’s a dent left unchecked, no matter how small it may seem, it becomes larger and makes it difficult to get everyone together in one piece.
The Kujus never got over Maupe’s union with Felix, and Maupe never got over the perceived nonchalance of her siblings, especially Mautin, towards her family, which she felt led to her husband’s death. If that front porch discussion were not held, they would still be breeding bad blood between them. If the memorial and being together as a family didn’t hold, they would still be in the shackles of assumption. Mautin assumes Maupe is ferocious towards him, and Maupe views Mautin as a wicked fellow for allowing Felix to die. Mauyon feels pressured to live up to expectations, and the cycle continues. And if the potato catfish pepper soup hadn’t gone bad, the elephant in the room wouldn’t have been addressed.
The moment we leave issues undiscussed, they have the capability to escalate far beyond our wildest dreams. In their escalation, assumptions come into play. And trust me, assumptions are the worst ideology a man can live by.
Assumptions take away your peace and make you edgy. You rake up lots of scenarios and end up frustrated. The only sure way of getting away from assumptions is by speaking up about them. When you address the elephant in the room, you may be shocked to discover it’s not an elephant. As Maupe would say, it’s not that deep! It could have been a beetle for all it’s worth. So, stop cutting yourself short! Enjoy love and family to the fullest.
This world will indeed be better if we can all be like Mausi. If we can all do our best to ensure our families’ bonds do not disintegrate before our very eyes, Our families can fully thrive if we can go against all odds and do away with conventions.
The first step to achieving this is discussing the elephant in the room. Of course, it wouldn’t be a walk in the park. Tempers will fray! Tears will fall! Death will seem to knock, but the calm comes at the end of every storm, and your generation will forever bless you for picking up that elephant in the room and stuffing life out of it.