Rapt (October, 2022) is a Kokoroko music film directed by Akinola Davies Jr. The film immerses the audience in the fascinating hustle and bustle of life in Makoko, Lagos: a water-front community considered one of the African continent’s most unique inner-city slums.

Rapt follows a pregnant woman on her journey home, by canoe, to give birth with the support and company of her loved ones. As we travel with this woman to her home-cum-birthing-sanctuary, we witness vignettes of the daily life of the people of Makoko, the many children that make up the community, and the mesmerising yet harsh environment they live in. In the world of Makoko, canoes are multifunctional tools: they are modes of transport, walkways, shopfronts, mediums for nourishment, and spaces to commune.
The film’s narrative is told through three songs from Kokoroko’s debut album, Could We Be More: Ewà Inú, Dide O and Age of Ascent. These songs exist as testaments to the joys of returning home, celebrating the beauty within, and choosing joy again and again and again – no matter the circumstances.
Rapt shows that a home, a community, a town, can never be measured by the number of schools or hospitals or by the ‘quality’ of its infrastructure. Whether made of corrugated steel, wood, or concrete: What are buildings but testaments to the impermanence of infrastructure? Sites that indicate that life was here, that homes were made here, that people chose to settle here? Infrastructure, whether brutal or beautiful, will inevitably disappear, crumble, or erode, yet the people who populated these spaces preserve and disseminate their cultural legacy through sheer perseverance and creating opportunities for life to thrive.
Rapt is a reminder, then, that a home, a community, a town is made up of the sum of its parts – of the traders who sell their wares, of the children who laugh, dance, and play, of the elders who protect the younger generations and keep the memories of old alive, of the women who welcome new life into the world and provide a safe space for that life to flourish, and of all the people who imbue their environments with meaning, simply through the everyday act of living. Rapt is a reminder that a home, a community, a town is nothing without a heartbeat, without the rhythmic step of the people who inhabit the space, without the everyday tango of intergenerational connection.
Home is nothing without the people who navigate the murky waters of life under constant threat. Home is nothing without the people who return to water and recognise her as the original source of life. Home is nothing without water, for water has perfect memory. In Rapt, home is defined by the water, built from the water, and to the water will return. We see the people of Makoko use the waters as a place to fish, to commute, to play, to cleanse, to swim, to be carried towards the arms of those that they love and – literally – as a space through which a new community can be birthed. We see the people of Makoko come together to build, to bond, to celebrate the sanctity of life.
Rapt is a music film that speaks to how people can create a sense of home no matter where that home is or how it is perceived by the outside world. It is a music film about holding on to community no matter the mechanisations of those who seek to destroy it and, amidst and despite ugliness, recognising the beauty within.

Rapt screened as part of Minute Shorts: Everyone Has a Story to Tell at LSFF 2024

Adwoa Owusu-Barnieh is an emerging artist who utilizes the written word, oral storytelling, research, creative facilitation and public programming as tools for cultural education. Some of their words have appeared in King Kong Magazine, GQ South Africa, GUAP Magazine and more. @adwoa_ob