Netflix’s latest Nollywood epic, Aníkúlápó follows an aso-ofi weaver’s morally dubious chronicles involving an illicit affair, death, resurrection, and the subsequent arrogance that leads to his downfall again.
Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers
Saro is a skilled aso-ofi weaver who has traveled to Oyo in hopes of starting a new business with a local weaver. Instead, his overtly optimistic plans are given a reality check and he has to gradually climb his way to success.
His path of success comes to an abrupt and brutal halt when his affair with king Alaafin’s youngest wife Arolake is exposed. Saro is beaten to death for betraying the king and his kindness.
However, a mystical bird from the forgotten legends materializes beside Saro and wakes him up from death, asking the reason for his death.
However, before the Akala bird could pass any judgment, Arolake, who was witnessing the bizarre turn of events, steals Akala’s magical gourd, shooing it away in the process.
Saro is resurrected and together with Arolake, the two successfully flee to faraway lands and eventually stumble upon an old hunter.
The couple is taken to the village where the old hunter lives, where they learn that his son has just died. While the village and the hunter grieve, Arolake encourages a reluctant Saro to use Akala’s gourd and resurrect the dead.
Saro does just that and the whole village hails him as the Aníkúlápó — a Yoruba word for “one who has captured death and put it in his pouch.”
The king takes notice and soon Saro and Arolake’s lives improve drastically, with their social and material conditions turning from abysmal to opulent.
However, Saro, who defied death thanks to the love of his life, has grown arrogant now that he wields influence, prosperity, and a death-defying power. Saro has also become a slave to his lust.
Soon, Saro brought home two wives and has two children now, marginalizing Arolake to the lowest and poorest status in the family.
When she has had enough of oppression and familial discrimination, Arolake leaves Saro, emptying Akala’s gourd of the magical sand within it as well.
When the king’s son dies, Saro asks for the princess’s hand in marriage in exchange for the prince’s resurrection. The miffed and enraged king still agrees to Saro’s disrespectful and arrogant deal.
However, the mighty Aníkúlápó is unable to repeat the miracle he has survived and thrived on thus far. Realizing the grave mistake of arrogance and a wasted chance at a second life, Saro aka Aníkúlápó bears the punishment and dies at the hands of the king’s men.
Aníkúlápó ending explained in detail:
Does Saro die in the end?
Saro’s tragic arc concludes with him dying at the end of Aníkúlápó.
Even though the last shot of the film is him rising from the dead again, it’s just harkening back to the similar shot of him earlier in the film; etching out an obvious parallel and the contrast between Saro’s second death and his first one.
The first time, even though the Akala bird materializes before a dead Saro, it’s not to resurrect him but ask the reason for his death.
The Akala bird only grants resurrection to those who die an untimely death, but by the mystical bird’s judgment regarding Saro’s death, it’s evident that it was time for Saro to pass on to the passage of the afterlife.
At the end of Aníkúlápó, Saro bites more than he can chew and finally pays for his arrogance with his life, only this time there’s no Arolake to rescue him from staying dead.
What was the reason for Saro’s downfall?
Saro was a talented weaver and a hard worker, putting the laborious efforts to make ends meet.
He eventually sets up his aso-ofi weaving business thanks in large parts to Awarun, a rich woman who helps him get work for sexual favors in return sometimes.
During all this, it is clear that Saro isn’t exactly invincible over his sexual urges, something that largely contributes to his eventual downfall.
When he’s beaten to death by king Alaafin’s men, he’s resurrected by the Akala bird, whose magical gourd is stolen by Arolake. Together, Saro and Arolake elope and settle far away in the village of Ojumo.
The couple becomes prosperous and wealthy, with Saro being revered by the king’s council and the villagers for his powers to resurrect people from the dead.
However, all this power and influence ends up going to Saro’s head and his arrogance seeps through him in the form of adultery, perversion, and betraying the one who saved him from the clutches of death.
All of this comes to bite him with the fatal teeth of death. Saro’s arrogance becomes his downfall and without the magical sand gourd, he’s Aníkúlápó no more.
What happens with Arolake?
Arolake was the youngest of Alaafin’s wives, and the most tortured and discriminated against as well.
Unable to bear children while also being the king’s favorite, Arolake suffers the fury of all the other jealous wives, who even try to poison her once.
Arolake eventually dares to escape the tragic circumstances that have oppressed her for so long. She elopes with Saro, witnesses his death, saves him from death, and finally migrate together to a village far away.
However, Saro gradually gives in to his lust and corrupted self, marrying other women for children. Arolake, who can’t bear children, sees herself suffering the tragic fate she previously did at the hands of Alaafin’s wives.
She finally decides to leave Saro and strips him of the power he so arrogantly wields and uses for his cravings.