Kang Quintus’s 2023 film, Nganu, chronicles a man with very serious violent tendencies who often took out his frustration on his wife, Meukeuna. Nganu (Kang Quintus) beat Meukeuna daily in front of his son, and all she could do was beg him to stop. This had become Nganu’s daily routine; he drowns himself in alcohol and weed and then lashes out at his feeble wife, who, for the sake of herself and her son, Kum, shows no resistance. Nganu was also infamous for his violent episodes throughout the village, and he often heard people calling him a woman beater, cursed child, possessed soul, and devil worshipper. Nganu not only beat his wife but even forced her to have sex and threatened to kill her if she denied him sex ever again. Nganu’s father, like him, was also a violent man who beat his wife daily in front of Nganu, whom he deemed useless and a burden on his shoulders. Maybe this was why Nganu grew up to be like his father, as he never knew what love was. Nganu’s father never loved him or cared for him, and his mother was in no condition to move, let alone care for her son.
Why Did Nganu Join The Army?
When Nganu was bored with beating his wife, he got into petty fights with his neighbors. Whenever someone told Nganu that he was slowly becoming a shadow of his father, he threatened to shave them and smoke their beard. Nganu called them useless and warned them not to stick their noses in his business, or the fallout would be dire. One day, while listening to the radio and smoking weed, Nganu found that the president had issued an order for the recruitment of 1,000 soldiers to battle Boko Haram soldiers, who were randomly raiding small villages and killing civilians. The village people saw this as a chance to finally motivate Nganu to do something good. They told Nganu that if he liked fighting that much, he should join the army and fend off Boko Haram. Nganu gave it some thought and made up his mind to join the army. The next couple of days saw Nganu training, exercising, and polishing his fighting skills, and when he was ready, he left home.
What Happens To Nganu In The Military?
The life of a soldier is all about respect, discipline, and following orders, something Nganu hadn’t even heard of. His entire life, Nganu had beaten people for not talking kindly to him and asking him to be gentle with his family and more civil towards others. At the military camp, Nganu began his training but couldn’t help but get into fights. He was stripped naked and thrown into prison by his superior when he punched one of his fellow soldiers. Nganu was in there for days, without any food or water, until he was released. During his training, Nganu kept recalling the horrors he put Kum and Meukeuna through. Nganu used to hit Meukeuna with his hands and sticks until she was unconscious.
Nganu was having a hard time breaking free of his habits and used to sneak out to smoke weed and cigarettes. He made friends with Cabrel, one of the soldiers, who brought him cigarettes in return for a phone call. Cabrel had no interest in joining the army and facing Boko Haram; rather, he wanted to spend his time cooking and trying new dishes. Unfortunately, Cabrel’s father wasn’t fond of his hobby and made him enlist. Compared to others, Cabrel wasn’t athletic but overweight, and this was why he was having trouble completing his training. Nganu saw reason for the first time when one of his fellow trainees saved him from a severe punishment. In reality, the trainee had been keeping watch on Nganu from the day he arrived and figured that if he made one more mistake, he’d be thrown out of the camp.
Where Are Kum And Meukeuna?
Nganu’s training ended, and sadly, no one was there to congratulate him. His eyes kept looking for a familiar face in the crowd, but he was disappointed. Nganu returned to his village as a changed man, and this time, he was welcomed, not feared. The kids chased after Nganu, the elders gave him their blessing, and his friends showed him respect. However, Nganu’s eyes were still scanning the crowd for his wife and son. At his house, Nganu found his son, Kum, who had now turned into someone much like he used to be: a smoker and uncivil. Nganu tried talking some sense into him, but Kum slapped him instead and barged out of the house. As for Meukeuna, she’d left home and started living with Mbusi. Nganu begged Meukeuna to come back, asking forgiveness for everything he had done to her, but Meukeuna refused. Even though Nganu claimed to be a changed man, Meukeuna wasn’t ready to accept him. She couldn’t shake the horrors of the time when he beat her like a snake and raped her when she didn’t want to have sex. Nganu also asked Mbusi to set their differences aside and return Meukeuna to him, but he refused as well.
How Did Kum Die?
After Nganu left, his son got himself involved in some shady business and befriended the wrong people. Kum had all the wrong ideas—that he was the king of the street and everyone should surrender to him. He started stealing and made some enemies who often threatened to kill him. Kum wanted to be a tailor when he was a kid, but now he wanted to become a governor so he could lock up all those who threatened him. Kum stole Nganu’s gun and shot one of his attackers, only for them to return and set his house ablaze. Fortunately, Nganu found Kum before them and confronted him.
Kum was under the impression that he was the toughest man in the village and pulled the gun on Nganu, threatening to shoot him, but Nganu wrestled the gun away. Nganu understood that he was to blame for Kum’s bad decisions and his separation from Meukeuna. Nganu, now a changed man, made Kum realize that he was throwing away his life and slowly turning into his grandfather, who used to beat his wife till the day he died. If he didn’t stop now, Kum, too, would be condemning his family to the same fate as Meukeuna. Kum saw reason in Nganu’s words and swore to him that he would change and become a better man. But fate had some other plans, and the man that Kum shot earlier caught up to him and shot him. Nganu tried everything to save his son, but he had already departed.
A wise man once said that you cannot change your past but can write your future by bettering your present. Nganu’s past was marred with abuse; he grew up seeing his father abuse and rape his mother, and when Nganu couldn’t take it anymore, he killed him with a rock. The abuse Nganu suffered during his formative years made him a shadow of his father, and he, too, tortured Meukeuna, just like his father used to torture his mother. Eventually, Nganu acknowledged his mistake, but it was already too late. Nganu tried getting Meukeuna back, but she didn’t want him near her. He tried setting Kum on the right path, but he was murdered right in front of his eyes. Ngaunu managed to change himself, but his past actions caught up to him and claimed his son’s life as a bounty.
Nganu is a hauntingly beautiful movie that, despite its serious themes, keeps you engaged right up to the very end. The film deals with weighty themes such as domestic and sexual abuse, rape, and more and displays how a violent household can seriously affect a child’s future. While some people, like Nganu, manage to break free from their traumatic past, not everyone is as fortunate and can become victims. In contrast to some other African movies, Nganu doesn’t bore you to tears; it keeps you fed till the credits roll.