Absence of ‘ Sugar ‘ makes Tiwa Savage’s Water & Garri go sour



In a way, one could aptly describe the movie “Water & Garri” as ‘Water don pass Garri’, signifying the depressing disappointing result of an over-hype movie, where a weak script collides with mediocre acting. The movie officially released on 10 May 2024 was directed by Meiji Alabi.

The cast includes: Tiwa Savage, Mike Afolarin, Andrew Bunting, and Jemima Osunde.

The inspiration for the movie was Tiwa Savage’s 2021 EP of the same name, but, theatrically speaking, it falls short of delivering the ‘sweetness’ audiences anticipated, as it fails to live up to its hype.

It’s a sort of anticlimactic sequel in another genre of her EP, which itself and the subsequent album were a musical masterpiece. Although the album achieved a high note as a success, the same cannot be said about the movie, as it fails to capture the essence that made it special.

Central to any successful film is the nature and tenor of its story, and unfortunately, for this Savage’s filmic outing, “Water and Garri” is a faltering exercise.

Despite the hype and the hoopla, the movie barely struggles to translate the EP’s brilliance onto the screen. It not only shows weakness in narrative structure, depth and fidelity to typification of characters, it’s also very low in emotional resonance needed to capture the attention of viewers.

As a result, what follows is a succession of tedious, jejune screen experience lacking in substance.

Her bold experimentation as a musician is beyond question but her filmic debut is artistically amateurish.


Water & Garri narrates the story of Ashia, a young girl on a path to finding her destiny in life. The movie opens with a scene, where a young man is being chased around in the night in a slummy area, and after running in through the nooks and crannies of the streets, he ends up being shot. The narrator, Ashia, tells us not to pity him, because he has met his karma for killing her brother.

Ashia has a successful career as a fashion designer in Los Angeles, but she received a sceptical call from her cousin, Stephannie, who broke the news that she lost her brother Niyi.

Three months later, Ashia has to return to the Eastside, where she was raised by her grandmother, Yemi, alongside her brother, Ayomide. Returning to Eastside wasn’t easy for Ashia, as almost everything seems to have changed since she departed ten years ago.

Upon returning to Eastside with all her childhood memories: the loss of her grandmother, the childhood of growing up with her brother Mide, and her love journey with Kay as a teenage girl.

She reunites with Kay, her teenage lover, who is now the head of the gang terrorising the entire Eastside. Their love sparkles again, and he shows her the whole city, riding her downtown on his bike.

Unfortunately, their supposed reunion flickers as Kay encounters and challenges a young man, whom he perceives to be an opposition or a threat. The night did not end well for the lovebird. But as she grapples with her love affair with Kay, would her return to Eastside make any difference in her life?

Character Analysis


“Water & Garri” features Tiwa in the lead role as Aisha, a thriving fashion designer, supported by actors, such as Mike Afolarin from “Far From Home,” Andrew Bunting of “Dynamite” fame, and Jemima Osunde, known for her role in “New Money.”

Directed by Meji Alabi, the film boasts a soundtrack enriched by the musical talents of Ayra Starr, Black Sherif, Olamide, and Young Jonn.

Tiwa’s talent is undeniable, and her voice captivates hearts worldwide. However, her foray into acting in “Water & Garri” left much to be desired. While her inherent charm is evident in music, it didn’t quite hit the mark in acting. Despite her lovable charm, her portrayal of Aisha lacked the depth and finesse the character demanded.

On the other hand, Andrew Bunty’s performance didn’t favour the film. He stumbled over his lines and couldn’t quite muster the charisma needed for his character, Kay, leaving his acting flat.
Bunty’s performance felt stagnant, failing to inject the necessary energy and charisma into his role. Consequently, the overall impact of his acting left viewers wanting, unable to engage with the character’s journey fully.

Movie Analysis

Tiwa embarked on producing the movie to unveil the inspiration behind her album title, “Water & Garri.” However, after 80 minutes of vivid visuals, lacklustre storytelling, a predictable soundtrack, and flat acting, I scratched my head, unable to grasp the movie’s essence.

The very first scene of Kay running from an unseen chaser, but later being shot, had some intrigues that could keep the audience longing for more, but five minutes into the movie or less, the audience loses appetite in the movie because the film lacks the necessary element to keep anyone spell bent.
While Water & Garri may be a generic phrase in Nigeria, the movie’s concept, theme, and values seem far-fetched.

Although, there are no laid down rules to filmmaking, there are sins to filmmaking, and the cardinal sin is for a film to be boring; in this movie, Garri and Water, as generic as it may be, loses its taste.

The movie suffered several unforgivable sins; for instance, there is no connection between the first scene and the last scene, despite both scenes narrating the same thing.

In the first scene, we get the idea that Kay was chased and after so much hide and seek, he was later shot. But in the last scene, he had just ridden down from his bike when he was unprecedentedly shot.

Despite the intentions behind the consistent flashbacks to enhance narrative clarity, they inadvertently disrupted the movie’s flow, causing a discordance in its sequence. Rather than offering answers, they left viewers with more questions, ultimately muddling the storytelling experience.

The premises for Aisha’s return to Eastside centred around her cousin Stephanie’s loss of her brother, Niyi lacked substantial depth. Additionally, the narrative discrepancy regarding Kay’s role in Niyi’s death, coupled with Aisha’s initial conviction that Kay deserved punishment, only to reveal her ignorance about Kay’s involvement later, created a sense of confusion.

Furthermore, the rationale behind Kay’s demise felt disjointed and inconsistent with the plot.

The director can also not be spared for his lack of directorial vision in the movie. Although Mr. Alabi, the movie director, has worked more on music video directing, his efforts in Water & Garri’ could more or less be described as amateur and without needed depth l.

However, if one thing truly shines in this film, it would be the cinematography.
The movie, set against the backdrop of Ghana’s Cape Coast, was a visual treat. With its cinematic flair, it captured the essence of the location impeccably. Despite much of the action in the slums, the imagery was vibrant, boasting a rich palette that beautifully showcased the communities portrayed in the movie.

Tiwa Savage made her acting debut as Sade on MTV Shuga Naija in 2013. The stunning singer was later cast in Funke Akindele’s popular sitcom “Jenifa’s Diary” in 2016. Her role as a club owner in Shuga required more than just a scene, showcasing her amazing acting abilities.


One could aptly interpret the movie in Nigerian colloquial terms as ‘Water don pass Garri’, signifying the disappointing outcome when a weak script collides with mediocre acting.

Before Savage’s foray, there has been a long history of musicians dabbling into theatre.

Changing roles

Horizontal movement within the entertainment industry is pretty common these days. There are actors, who become directors, directors, who get in front of the camera, actors, who pick up instruments, musicians, who decide to act and more.

African music has a long and rich history, with many of its most famous artistes having made their mark globally with their music. However, there are some African musicians, who have explored their other God-given talents and made the jump to acting in movies.

Angelique Kidjo played the role of Dr. Amet Zimmerman in Kunle Afolayan’s 2016 movie ‘The CEO’. South African rapper, Nasty C, made his acting debut in 2020 with a cameo role in the six-part Netflix African original young adult series Blood & Water.

In the popular 2023 series ‘Shanty Town‘, Peter Okoye, also known as Mr. P, played Femi Fernandez, the naive son of Chief Fernandez. Veteran actor Richard Mofe-Damijo played the role of Chief Fernandez. Other actors in the series include Chidi Mokeme, Ini Edo, and Nancy Isime. There are others like Reminisce, Seyi Shay, Yemi Alade,
Banky W etc.

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