Tiwa Savage’s Debut Film: “Water and Garri”

by Abigail Agbottah

Tiwa Savage, long hailed as the queen of Afrobeats, has expanded her repertoire, delving into film production with her debut film, “Water and Garri.” Premiered on May 10th, 2024, in Lagos, Nigeria, the film marks a significant milestone in Savage’s career. Directed by Meji Alabi, the film was originally conceptualized as a visual album but evolved organically into a full-length feature.

“Water and Garri” follows the journey of Aisha, played by Tiwa Savage, an ambitious fashion designer who returns to her native country after a decade in the U.S. As Aisha grapples with a family bereavement and confronts the realities of a changed homeland, she must navigate personal and societal challenges. The film explores themes of identity, resilience, and reconciliation, drawing from Savage’s own experiences.

Reflecting on her transition from music to acting, Savage explains that the film holds personal significance, echoing her own journey of rediscovery and growth.

“I was in drama class in high school, and I used to kill all my improv. Then I had a guy I had a crush on and he would hang around all the musicians. So, I was like acting sucks, and I shifted my focus to music. So, it’s like a full circle moment.”

Although the movie soundtrack bears the same title as her 2021 EP, it comprises of musical genres such as Afrobeat, Afropop, R&B, gospel, and traces of mainstream trap and pop. This soundtrack marks a slight deviation from her typical Afrobeats style, as it includes collaborations with a variety of artists. Some of the featured artists are Ayra Starr, Black Sherif, with highlight contributions from Olamide and rising Nigerian star Young Jonn.

During the premiere, key figures involved in the production of the film highlighted its significance and impact. Executive director Jimi Adesanya commended the cast for their commitment and praised Tiwa Savage for her investment in the project. Director Meji Alabi emphasized the film’s focus on storytelling and relatability, while Executive producer Vanessa Ogbonna lauded the portrayal of strong female characters.

The premiere received support from the office of the Vice President of Nigeria, underscoring the government’s commitment to the creative industry. In a statement, the Special Assistant to the President on Digital and Creative Economy affirmed the government’s endorsement of initiatives like “Water and Garri,” recognizing their contribution to Nigeria’s cultural landscape.

As “Water and Garri” makes its mark on the Nigerian film industry, it symbolizes Tiwa Savage’s evolution as a multifaceted artist and storyteller. With its compelling narrative, diverse soundtrack, and strong performances, the film promises to captivate audiences and leave a lasting impression on the African cinematic landscape.

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