Jenifa on Lockdown educates its audience on the seriousness of covid-19. It shows how some take the virus too lightly, and how their response to the pandemic is harmful to citizens.

The series Jenifa on Lockdown, which premiered on YouTube on May 13, 2021, was inspired by the reality of the covid-19 pandemic gripping the world, and shows Nigeria’s response to it.  

Directed by JJC Skillz, the series features Funke Akindele Bello in the lead role, as Jenifa Adedeji. Four episodes have been released so far. The first follows Jenifa’s experience of lockdown and shows how seriously she takes covid-19: In one scene, she gives sanitiser as a birthday present to Laide, her helper (Motunrayo Olusoga). ‘‘Remember, covid-19 is real and everyone should protect themselves,’’ says Jenifa. ‘‘It is the best birthday gift.” 

The theme song, which has an afrobeats feel, was composed by Oluwabusayo Aina. It is quite fitting, as it explains that Jenifa is under lockdown and questions what she will do and how she will survive. 

One of the downsides of the series is that understanding what Jenifa says is difficult at times, for instance when she hurls an insult at Laide in Yoruba, one of the languages of Nigeria. Although there are English subtitles, none is shown when characters insult each other in Yoruba.  

A prominent theme in the series is that covid-19 is a real social issue for the world, and this is captured well. Throughout the show, Jenifa urges her salon employees and family members to observe covid-19 protective measures: Social distancing, wearing a mask and washing and sanitising hands after touching surfaces.  

The chairman and vice-chairman, played by Peter Ijagbemi and Khoemizona Babalola, appear in the second episode. They believe covid-19 provides them an opportunity to embezzle funds meant for citizens’ social welfare and building an isolation centre. The chairman says, “If you are affected by covid-19, you should stay in your house and treat yourself. Do not expect us to build an isolation centre. Those that can’t survive the pandemic, let them die in peace.”  

Jenifa is seen moving from her house in Amen Estate, Lagos, to her parents’ house in Aiyetoro Town in Ogun State, as she needs to make sure her family understand the seriousness of the virus. Her mother (Tola Oladokun) believes, however, that if Jenifa can just send her money for groceries, the family will be exempt from the virus. This scene made me ponder how uninformed some people in Nigeria may have been about the virus. 

In terms of production, the video quality is good. Transitions between scenes, however, consist of a drone’s aerial view of houses and vegetation, which is disappointing: More creativity could have gone into showing some Amen Estate or Aiyetoro landmarks. 

The show has some light-hearted scenes, but there are also scenes that emphasise the reality of covid-19 and its effects on Nigerian society. One takes place in a covid-19 emergency ward in Aiyetoro: The medical centre is overcrowded with patients and does not have enough ventilators. This dramatizes the severe impact the virus has on Nigeria’s health system. 

The unpredictability of the show’s plot, and its entertaining characters make me eager to find out what happens in future episodes. I watched the show because I have seen other Nollywood movies starring Funke Akindele Bello, and I found her characters endearing. Also, Yoruba is a language I want to know, and I use the show to learn it.  

Overall, the acting is satisfactory. Bello does an excellent job with the Jenifa character, and the supporting cast does fairly well. Jenifa’s character keeps the audience entertained, while also teaching it to take covid-19 seriously. 

Episodes of Jenifa on Lockdown are released every Thursday on SceneOneTv’s YouTube channel at 2pm, West African Time. 


FEATURED IMAGE: A cover of Jenifa on Lockdown’s first episode. Photo: Instagram

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