Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Genevieve Nnaji’s co-produced movie premieres at TIFF 2023

Genevieve Nnaji’s co-produced movie premieres at TIFF 2023
September 25
15:14 2023

The news of the world premiere of I Do Not Come To You By Chance at the 48th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival, TIFF, was doubly, possibly triply exciting to me. Firstly, the film is an adaptation of the book of the same name title written by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani. The book itself I thoroughly enjoyed reading and remember it with fondness.

And even though adaptations can be tricky, like the case of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half Of A Yellow Sun (HOAYS) which was made into a film directed by the late Biyi Bandele. In the case of HOAYS, because the book was so highly acclaimed, I believe perhaps that raised people’s expectations, unreasonably.

We can only guess. There’s much more to Half Of A Yellow Sun, the film. Unfortunately, I never got around to finishing the film. But I digress. This is about I Do Not Come To You By Chance (after all) the film directed by Ishaya Bako.

TIFF 2023


Notwithstanding the fact that some book adaptations may not have gone well, there was cause to be expectant. One of the reasons for this excitement was that actress/director/producer Genevieve Nnaji was one of the producers of the film.

Genevieve is no stranger to TIFF though. She is a TIFF returnee. Her 2018 film Lionheart which she directed also premiered in Toronto.

Nonetheless, in the immediate past, Genevieve has been somewhat scarce…and for anyone who’s been following the news, the rumour mill has been working overtime…Her absence was then tied to her mental health issues.


So, when I heard about the premiere of I Do Not Come To You by Chance, I was looking forward to seeing Genevieve live in Toronto. Because I figured that there was no way she was going to miss the world premiere of a film she co-produced. And she didn’t miss it.

She was in attendance alongside her fellow producers Chinny Carter and Chioma Onyenwe. As were some other members of the cast and crew. It didn’t hurt to know that Ishaya Bako, director and co-writer of I Do Not Come…is also a TIFF alum. He directed The Royal Hibiscus Hotel which premiered at TIFF 2017.

I Do Not Come to You by Chance

Director: Ishaya Bako


Starring: Blossom Chukwujekwu, Jennifer Eliogu, Norbert Young, Paul Nnadiekwe, Emeka Nwagbaraocha, Beverly Osu, Funny Bone, Sambasa Nzeribe,

I Do Not Come To You By Chance is both funny and serious in parts. Hopefully, in the lead is Blossom Chukwujekwu (another reason to be expectant) alongside other tested Nollywood actors like Norbert Young, and Jennifer Eliogu…

The film tells the story of Kingsley (Paul Nnadiekwe), a jobless but brilliant fresh university graduate who navigates one financial hurdle after another, succumbs to the sheer weight of his responsibilities by accepting the offer to work for his uncle Boniface aka Cash Daddy (Blossom Chukwujekwu). Neither his father, (Norbert Young) nor his mother (Jennifer Eliogu) who’s Boniface’s sister, supports this.


Ordinarily, a young man as bright as Kingsley shouldn’t have trouble getting a job but that wasn’t to be. Family politics can sometimes make working for one’s maternal uncle the worst idea. However, it isn’t just because his father is a proud man, it’s mainly because Boniface always had a way of swindling unsuspecting people by pretending and saying whatever it takes to get what he wants.

As a young boy Kingsley was already a part of this ‘business,’ helped to craft and post the letters Boniface wrote to his different ‘marks.’ In fact, that was what led to Boniface being kicked out by his sister and brother-in-law for corrupting their little boy.


Now, fast track to many years later, his principled brother-in-law now chasing an unavailable pension, suffers a stroke which he never really recovers from. Kingsley as Okpara (first son), turns to his uncle who now prefers to be addressed as ‘Cash Daddy.’

Family responsibility aside, it doesn’t help that Kingsley’s girlfriend Olanna, is going to be married off to a richer man because he was being too slow.


In the tragedy that’s Nigeria, the story of I Do Not Come to You by Chance is now even more relevant than ever. Email scams, 419/Yahoo Yahoo, and other forms of cyber crimes are on the rise. Between 2009 when Nwaubani published the book and now, Nigeria has become the poverty capital of the world.

Pensioners aren’t being treated any better than Kingsley’s dad had it. I can relate to his experiences as my late father died chasing the 13-month pension he was being owed. He fell sick immediately after one trip/verification (too many) to government offices in the state capital and died barely a month later. Still being owed. Of course, poverty or joblessness doesn’t justify crime. But it’s a little complicated and in the case of I Do Not Come to You by Chance, each person must impute their own interpretation. Or not.


Blossom Chukwujekwu as Cash Daddy’s ‘ebullient’/full-bodied portrayal of the role helps to show that things are not stark black or white. Criminals can be charming, and can even do good (when they are not ‘criming’ which doesn’t cancel their crimes.

Jennifer Eliogu gives a well-rounded, contained yet believable performance as Kingsley’s mother. As doesPaul Nnadiekwe who’s believable as Kingsley…and so on. Even though I Do Not Come to You by Chance is in English Igbo, it’s noteworthy that its director Ishaya Bako is not Igbo. Its director of photography is Femi Awojide, who is not Igbo.

In fact, the actress who plays Olanna, Kingsley’s fair-weather girlfriend is from the northern part of Nigeria and doesn’t speak Igbo. We are at a point in Nigeria’s film industry where these kinds of observations are important to make.

All said… Although I’m not sure when I Do Not Come to You by Chance is going to come to a cinema theatre near you, it’s safe to say that you should make sure to watch it when it is.

  • Why was Blossom Chukwujekwu absent at TIFF?

As expected, many in the cast and crew of I Do Not Come to You by Chance attended the film’s premiere at TIFF 2023. On Saturday, September 9, when I watched I Do Not Come to You by Chance at the TIFF Lightbox 3, several of the stars were in the audience: Director, Ishaya Bako, producers Chinny Carter, Chioma Onyenwe, Genevieve Nnaji (although couldn’t see her from where I sat), Jennifer Eliogu, Beverly Osu, Paul Nnadiekwe, author of the book, Adaobi Tricia Nwabubani, among others. It’s unclear as to whether the producers of I Do Not Come to You by Chance were aware of how much of a draw Blossom Chukwujekwu was going to be as Cash Daddy. Or perhaps they had an idea but it was beyond their control for this year’s Toronto Film Festival. Whatever the case, Blossom’s absence was visible and many in the audience were asking for him.

  • Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani’s ‘jarring’ choice of words

It was a double pleasure to see at the premiere, Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, author of the book (I Do Not Come to You by Chance) which was the foundation for the film. For people like me who loved the book, her presence was a (kind of)stamp of approval for the film. At the end of the screening on that Saturday, the cast and crew were called on stage to answer a few questions. Someone from the audience asked Nwaubani if the actors lived up to her idea of them or words to that effect.

She responded by saying something like When she first saw the actors playing the characters, it was “jarring” to her. She repeated ‘jarring’ a couple of times more. As a writer who deals in words, I find it hard to believe that Nwaubani doesn’t know what jarring means. If anything, I found her use of the specific word jarring. Everyone knows that even book readers have an image of characters in their minds. Does it mean if someone else brings the characters to life in a film, in their own interpretation, that’ll constitute as ‘jarring’?

Lest you think I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, at the next showing of the film (Sunday, September 10, 2023), Nwaubani reportedly said something to the effect that she felt like her baby (the book) was being “butchered.”

Meanwhile, she had access to the film and its producers. I’m at a loss for Nwaubani’s choice of violent-sounding words. How can she think ‘jarring’ and ‘butchering’ are appropriate words on a world stage like TIFF? If one wants to be charitable, one will say Nwaubani isn’t media literate.

Onoshe Nwabuikwu, M.A (Film Studies), Ph.D. candidate, attended the 48th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival.

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