The choice of renowned Nigerian actor Hakeem Kae-Kazim to play former President Robert Mugabe in a forthcoming movie, The Hero, has torched a storm among local film-makers and among social media users who believe the actor was not the best choice for this role.
Image: Hakeem Kae-Kazim
Following the release of the trailer to the movie, which has been circulating on social media, the local thespians said a local actor could have played the role better.
Co-line producer of the movie, Taurai Kawara declined to entertain questions from NewsDay Life & Style and referred this paper to the movie’s United States-based producer, Ofime Rodgers, who was, however, not reachable.
Names that came up, as debate raged online, included top-billed actor Tongayi Arnold Chirisa and Tendai Maduwa, who recently produced his debut film after featuring in a string of local productions.
The latter played the role of Mugabe effectively in a short film titled GOAP by Charles Mawungwa.
Questions have been raised concerning eloquence, accent and English fluency synonymous with Mugabe which are glaringly missing in the movie.
The producer of the war movie Chinhoyi 7, Moses Matanda, told NewsDay Life & Style that Hakeem’s choice was probably to sell the movie as he had an international reputation.
“Trust me, not everyone in the world knows how Mugabe talks, walks or eats. Billions of people will start believing in what they see from that movie. Mugabe is now Nigerian to those in North and South America,” he said.
Maduwa said he felt the role should have been given to a suitable local actor with similar features to Mugabe.
“We need to have someone who can do justice to this character than a Nigerian fighting to speak with British accent and Shona accents like we do,” he said. “I have played it once and I know I can pull it.”
Local actor, Ngoni Vere, however, said he saw no problem with the use of Kae-Kazim because no one would be able to fit in Mugabe’s shoes.
“It would be hard for anyone to portray him, especially to an audience that grew up hearing his voice and watching him almost every day. But to an audience who believe all Africans sound the same, it likely won’t matter,” he said.