Film

Coming 2 America: New Yorkers in Zamunda

Coming 2 America: If one can sit through cringey "African accents" and take the elephants as hyperbole, they could score some laughs for nostalgia's sake.

Coming to America, originally released in 1988, is a cringeworthy watch in 2021. The cult classic opens with the song "Imbube" performed by Ladysmith Black Mambazo and shows the royal family of Zamunda living alongside elephants and zebras. Throughout the film, Africans are portrayed as savages who don't understand basketball, marvel at discarded glass and can't use mop buckets.

With its recently released sequel, Coming 2 America, which comes 32 years later, the film's original writers and director Craig Bowler had an opportunity to place the franchise on the right side of history. They try, but, for the most part, they fail.

Whereas Coming to America followed Africans as they navigate The Big Apple, in Coming 2 America, it's Americans who find themselves in Zamunda. They are the outliers whose slang, mannerisms and casual dress deem them the savages in a royal house of great mannerisms and dignified language.

Now the new king of Zamunda after the death of his father King Jaffe Joffer, still played by James Earl Jones, Akeem (reprised by Eddie Murphy 32 years later) finds himself in many similar situations that his father also faced in the original film. He gets to navigate outdated traditions he struggled against in his youth. Much like King Jaffe did when he used his power to allow his son to marry Lisa McDowell (still played by Shari Headley from the original movie) more than 30 years ago, Akeem has to exercise discretion while adjusting the royal rules that aren't aligned with the modern world.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Image by Molly Albright.

In Conversation with Nomzamo Mbatha on the Role of Her Life in 'Coming 2 America'

South African actress Nomzamo Mbatha speaks on her role as Mirembe in 'Coming 2 America', the power of comedy and experiencing pure joy with the entire cast being dressed in South African luxury brand, Maxhosa.

Coming 2 America premiered last Friday on Amazon Prime, and several cinemas on the continent including South Africa and Nigeria, and there was much excitement around the highly-anticipated sequel. Starring Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones, Jennifer Sears—members of the original cast—the film also had a cameo appearance from Davido and saw the only South African actress on set, Nomzamo Mbatha, in her breakout international role.

While it had all the excitement and fanfare of Black Panther, there have admittedly been some mixed reviews from South Africans on social media since the premiere. Chief among the skepticism were the dated "African accents" used by the characters in the film and more especially with regards to Mbatha, in her portrayal of Mirembe, the royal groomer. Times have certainly changed in the three decades since the first film premiered and social media didn't exist either. However, to be fair, these accents have not actually changed from the first film—just the awareness around them.

Nonetheless, this is Mbatha's first international role alongside a multitude of acting veterans. The South African actress has previously starred in local films including Tell Me Sweet Something (2015), All About Love (2017) and The Jakes are Missing (2015) and is an active humanitarian with her work with the Nomzamo Lighthouse Foundation in addition to being a Goodwill Ambassador for the UNHCR as from 2019.

Ahead of the premiere of Coming 2 America, we caught up with her from Los Angeles to speak about her breakout international role, what this opportunity means for her professionally, having famed costume designer Ruth Carter dress the entire cast in South African luxury brand Maxhosa, and the power of comedy in society.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

The ‘Coming 2 America’ Original Motion Picture Soundtrack & ‘The Rhythm Of Zamunda’ Are Out Now

Featuring Tiwa Savage, Tekno, Larry Gaaga, Alpha P, Davido and many more.

South African Fashion Label Maxhosa Stands Out in Upcoming Movie 'Coming 2 America'

South African designer, Laduma Ngxokolo's Maxhosa knitwear has been spotlighted in the exciting upcoming film 'Coming 2 America'.

Def Jam Africa Releases Tracklist for 'Coming 2 America' Album

'Rhythms of Zamunda: Music Inspired By Coming 2 America' is the upcoming 16-track album featuring Nasty C, Tiwa Savage, Prince Kaybee, Diamond Platnumz and more.

The Trailer for ‘Coming 2 America’ Is Here and It Looks As Iconic As the First

The highly-anticipated and long-awaited Coming to America sequel will be available March 5 on Amazon Prime.

popular.

In Conversation: Davido Speaks on Nigerian and South African Unity, The Grammys and His 'Secret' Film Project (Hint: It's a Sequel)

While in South Africa, we met with Davido to talk about his album, ‘A Good Time’, Burna Boy's awards snub, and on 'trolling' fans