AV Club: How “For Maria Ebun Pataki” Deftly Explores PostPartum Depression

honest, open storytelling

These days, Netflix is ensuring that we don’t miss new Nollywood releases after they go out of cinema, and the latest addition to their catalogue is Damilola Orimogunje’s 2020 ‘For Maria Ebun Pataki’ which arrived on Netflix Naija earlier this month. Taking a firm departure from Nollywood’s round-of-the-mill slapstick commentary, the 2020 release is a deep thought-provoking drama which explores a paramount topic in society — postpartum depression.

Starring Meg Otanwa and Gabriel Afolayan, the film deftly address the issue of postpartum depression in new mothers. Given the typical clandestine nature of approaching topics of mental health in Nigeria, Orimogunje’s film is a daring inclusion in the film industry, as it allows viewers witness the realities of mental health and motherhood. 


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In the film, new mum, Derin is battling with mental struggles following the birth of her child. While she’s emotionally supported by her husband (played by Afolayan) and joyous at their new born, the new mother finds herself detaching and dissociating from everyone around her as she grapples with her own complex wiring. In these parts, we are typically raised to see mothers as the bedrock of the nuclear family as they are there to provide, support and nourish the household. However, ‘For Maria Ebun Pataki,’ takes a step further to depict the realities of motherhood through the lens of one of its most common side-effects.

According to current statistics from the NHS, 1 in 8 mothers will experience postpartum psychosis following the birth of their child and can start anywhere between 1 week to 1 year. Given these facts, one would expect that this form of depression is spoken about in great detail to expecting mothers or adolescents of legal-age, however, it is rarely given the level of seriousness it deserves as women and mothers are expected to be maternal.

‘For Maria Ebun Pataki’ does a great job at addressing the fact that women don’t seem to have opinions right after childbirth which as a matter of fact is extremely wrong. Fola’s mum (played by Tina Mba) displays her affection in the most supercilious way possible as she doesn’t seem to understand what her daughter-in-law is going through. Being from a different generation, she believes that mothers should be emotionally and mentally in-check for their children, failing to take into account that motherhood is not monolithic.


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Derin’s situation is unique. Originally, she and her husband wished to have four children in their marriage but after several complications, Derin was only able to birth one child which eventually led to her losing her uterus due to further difficulties with her delivery. Meg Otanwa played the role expertly, bringing the character to life with her spot-on body language, dialogue and facial expressions. Her ability to express every single emotion without fuss or agitation but with clarity is exactly what the movie needed to pass its message across.

From her feelings of isolation, to the way she’s able to masterfully zone out during ongoing conversations, Otanwa brings her character to life, allowing viewers the room to see first-hand the effects of depression on the human psyche. The downside about sugarcoating depression is that it leads to loss of life. In ‘For Maria Ebun Pataki,’ Derin suffers the same fate, resulting to end her own life when the pressure got too much for her. 

Rather than delivering a happy ending for both mother and family, Orimogunje’s film aims to show viewers the real-side of postpartum depression by showing what happens when it is not treated with utmost importance. Speaking on the film, Orinmogunje himself explains that he wanted the film to be more than just another watch, he wanted it to go a step further a showcase the realities of depression in Nigerian society. 

“Mental health is real, postpartum is real. There’s no shame speaking up and seeking help. There’s no shame talking to medical experts or therapists. We are in 2022, there’s no sole standard on how to live, societal pressure must be addressed and this is why we’ve been advising the film to be watched with parents and family groups,” he shares with the NATIVE.

At the heart of it, ‘For Ebun Maria Pataki’ is a didactic film about the realities of mental health. It doesn’t always end with smiles and laughter all the time, for most people, grappling with mental struggles has real-life consequences such as suicide but it does not need to get to this level before it is taken seriously. ‘For Maria Ebun Pataki’ calls for us to question how seriously we take the struggles of those around us, particularly for mothers who are expected to be tough matriarchs in our lives. 

Featured image credits/IMDB

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Words by Wonu Osikoya and Tami Makinde