Structural problems underlining excruciating economic disparity, corruption, financial scams, and the lack of political accountability are as dreadful as absurdly comical. In the feature-length adaptation of Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani’s novel, I Do Not Come to You by Chance, Nigerian film director Ishaya Bako foregrounds this comicality garbed in an underplayed critique.
The story follows Kingsley, a recent graduate who remains unemployed despite writing hundreds of job applications. Circumstances turn grave when his father suffers a stroke, leaving the family bankrupt. Driven by necessity, they reluctantly seek help from Kingsley’s relative, Uncle Boniface – the family’s black sheep – who runs a multi-million-dollar business of scamming people and other fraudulent transactions. Locally known as “Cash Daddy,” the bloated plutocrat does not simply help them but further recruits Kingsley in his scheming enterprises.
Principles of righteousness and honesty stand questioned against the impossibly obstinate socio-economic lawlessness in the country.
Ishaya Bako articulates the moral quandary in the narrative’s rags-to-riches trajectory with a well-honed comic lightness. Behind the extortion activities of Cash Daddy’s underground company – predominantly targeting wealthy Anglo-European individuals via emails – is also a sly critique of the neocolonial economy.
In one particular segment of the film, where Kingsley and his team meticulously scam the English business magnate, Mr. Winterbottom, conversations surrounding labour outsourcing, debt trapping via infrastructural development, or the hollowness of Western philanthropy are conspicuously voiced. An expectancy of dogmatic virtuousness hangs in the air, especially given how the plot initially tends to pan out. Yet, the film eventually resists absorption into a moralistic discourse and mounts a critique of any such overarching assumptions.