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‘Aburo’: Beyond The Finish Line, But Not Quite

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Upon initial expectations for “Aburo,” one may anticipate a narrative centered around themes of running, motivation, and hope. The film suggests a story that delves into the world of athletics, promising a journey of perseverance and inspiration. However, upon closer inspection, “Aburo” offers a narrative that extends beyond mere physical prowess, touching upon deeper emotional and interpersonal dynamics. It, ironically fails to completely do so.


Directed by: Yemi Morafa
Produced by: Stephen Oluboyo
Genre: Drama
Released on: May 15, 2024 (Cinemas)
Language: English


The film follows Mide (played by Efa Iwara), a former professional athlete facing setbacks, and Aburo (portrayed by Maleek Sani), a street urchin under the employ of Pompei (Yomi Cregx), a local crime boss. Their paths intertwine when Aburo steals from Mide, leading to a surprising encounter where Mide discovers Aburo’s exceptional speed. As Aburo’s sister, Rofiat (Darasimi Nadi) falls ill, he seeks to improve her situation, teaming up with Mide to capitalize on his sprinting abilities. However, their alliance becomes strained as Aburo becomes a pawn in the power struggle between Mide and Pompei, both vying for control over his potential.


Aburo‘ is a tale of unlikely alliances and moral dilemmas set against the backdrop of a gritty urban environment. It follows the journey of Mide and Aburo as they navigate personal struggles and conflicting loyalties. The narrative explores themes of ambition, sacrifice, selfishness, and the complexities of human relationships, culminating in a narrative that challenges notions of right and wrong.

The Cinema Experience

During the film, there was a range of different reactions. But, there were noticeable instances, particularly where emotional intensity should have been at its peak. Those pivotal scenes didn’t quite hit the mark, as moments meant to evoke heightened tension and drama seemed to fall short of expectations, leaving viewers feeling somewhat disconnected from the characters’ experiences.

However, amidst these fluctuations in engagement, there were undeniable highlights, particularly in the comedic relief provided by the young actors’ performances (we’ll go into details in the performance segment). Their natural charm, wit, and smart comebacks elicited genuine laughter from the audience, injecting moments of levity into the narrative.

As the credits rolled and attendees exited the theater, the prevailing sentiment among them was that the film was solidly “good,” but not exceptional, as it may have lacked the profound impact or resonance that distinguishes a truly exceptional “cinema”.

Technical Aspects

The rain scene made quite an impression and was surprisingly believable and well-executed. Yet, despite the realistic raindrops, something felt slightly off. Aburo and Mide, appeared overly saturated, with water dripping excessively from their faces to the ground, which looked more like when you’re having a heavy shower in the bathroom.

Despite this minor observation, it’s evident that Nollywood is making significant strides in mastering its craft and refining its filming techniques, even compared to the esteemed standards set by Hollywood. The production team put in a commendable effort, resulting in an undeniably impactful scene. We owe the production team some flowers.

Advertising in the film was subtle yet noticeable. Rather than feeling intrusive, it was cleverly integrated into the story without disrupting the plot or narrative flow. By strategically placing advertisements in an unobtrusive location and context, the production team managed to strike a delicate balance between commercial interests and artistic integrity.

The brilliance of this approach lies in its ability to acknowledge the necessity of advertising without allowing it to overshadow the plot or character development. This approach allowed the advertisements to blend seamlessly into the background, without obstructing the viewer’s experience and overshadowing the film’s core themes. Better still, the scene moved the plot forward.

And for the cinematography, deliberate art of creativity! One standout scene featured Aunty Kaffy, portrayed by Wumi Toriola, expressing deep emotional pain. As she poured her heart out, the Director of Photography skillfully pulled the camera away from her, creating a sense of distance that paradoxically drew viewers even closer to her emotional turmoil. It created this dissonance: as our eyes were pulled out of her turmoil, our hearts were with her, pulling us back in. This technique heightened the tension of the scene, compelling audiences to empathize with Aunty Kaffy’s raw emotions.

Additionally, the crew unveiled a masterstroke of direction through its use of lighting. In a scene where Mide grapples with profound distress and discouragement, the director wields light as both a shield and a shroud, making a bold choice to shroud him in darkness, leaving his face and body unlit. Mide, consumed by the darkness of his inner turmoil, sat cloaked in shadows; his shadows. It was a visual poetry of despair, with Mide’s shadow whispering the echoes of his fractured and troubled spirit. The direction visually expresses this: Mide was as dark as his emotions were. (Note: we can only add meaning to appreciate this, LOL)

With good direction and creative expression, another thing stood out: knowing when to lock us into the characters. One standout moment was a scene where Aburo participated in a crucial race. To emphasize the high stakes and Aburo’s emotional state, the director used a crash zoom for a dramatic effect, signaling the scene’s importance to the audience.

However, when this technique resurfaced in another scene, its impact felt diminished, resembling more of a practical necessity than a deliberate artistic choice. It seemed reminiscent of one-take shot footage, where there was simply ample opportunity for additional takes.


First and foremost, Wumi Toriola’s portrayal of Aunty Kaffy was nothing short of phenomenal. She seamlessly blended seriousness and comedy in a way that felt authentic and never overdone. Through her performance, she took us on a captivating journey of emotions, while also delivering moments of genuine laughter with her animated facial expressions.

Similarly, Charles Inojie’s portrayal of Oduwa’s father was a delightful blend of comedy and nostalgia. With his signature comedic style, he effortlessly transported viewers back to cherished moments from our childhoods, evoking laughter and fond memories.

And to the child stars, kudos! Their performances were nothing short of brilliant, authentic, realistic, and natural. From Maleek Sani’s portrayal of Aburo to Darasimi Nadi’s role as Rofiat and Buchi Unigwe’s depiction of Oduwa, each actor delivered their lines with a natural ease that showcased their undeniable talent. Hats off to the casting director and team for their excellent selection of child actors who were perfectly suited for their respective roles.

Let’s not forget the stellar performance by veteran actress Peju Ogunmola, who brought the character of Iya Ijanla to life by portraying a powerful yet humble character on screen. Additionally, we can’t overlook Toni Tones’ portrayal of Dr. Edak, Mide’s love interest.

Final Thoughts

Edak and Mide’s romantic storyline left much to be desired. Throughout the film, Edak’s apathetic and devoid-of-empathy demeanor remained unchanged, offering little indication of personal growth, even within their relationship. Her consistently standoffish behavior created an air of disconnection, while their frequent “lovers’ quarrels” felt contrived and filled with unnecessary banter aimed at appearing clever and witty. As a result, their dynamic felt more forced than genuine, failing to resonate with viewers on an emotional level.

Edak’s character appeared to serve only two purposes: as an unlikely ally and as a catalyst for exposing Mide’s true nature. Despite this, her dialogue, “You’re only thinking of recreating yourself,” felt like a hollow attempt to inject depth into their interactions. It just wasn’t enough.

While both actors delivered commendable performances, the lack of character development hindered the believability of their relationship. Ultimately, Edak and Mide’s romance fell flat, leaving audiences craving a deeper connection and meaningful growth from both characters.

Pompei, portrayed by Yemi Cregx lacks depth. He is just brought in as a one-directional character to simply serve the role of a villain. He disappears as simply as he appears in the story.

“Aburo” presents itself as a film that requires interpretation to truly appreciate its nuances, yet this demand for audience engagement can be off-putting for many viewers. While the film exhibits considerable potential, it is hampered by a multitude of disjointed narratives that leave numerous questions unanswered. Did Mide genuinely learn from his experiences? Will Aburo continue to be ensnared by Mide’s ostensibly altruistic but ultimately self-serving motives? Will Aburo ever realize this? These unresolved plot threads contribute to a sense of frustration and dissatisfaction, detracting from the overall impact of the film.

Our Verdict

For a film all about running, “Aburo” struggles to maintain focus due to its excessive focus on the abundance of multiple storylines that lack depth and cohesion, particularly in its resolution. The film’s narrative feels cluttered and disjointed, detracting from the overall viewing experience. While there are glimpses of potential throughout, such as strong performances and compelling moments, the lack of a cohesive narrative arc ultimately undermines its ability to fully engage the audience. As a result, “Aburo” falls short of delivering the cohesive and immersive experience that it initially promised.

While the film hinted at a multifaceted storyline with layers of complexity, it ultimately falls short of fully delivering on these promises. It hints at themes of familial relationships, personal growth, and overcoming adversity, yet fails to fully explore or develop these aspects within the confines of the story. As a result, the audience may be left feeling somewhat unsatisfied, expecting a more nuanced and fully realized narrative that transcends the boundaries of the sports genre.

A moderate 3/5 suffices.

Rating: 3/5

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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