Vol. XI, Issue 2 (Spring 2004): The Nigerian Film Industry

   


EDITORIAL
BOARD:

Gloria Emeagwali
Chief Editor
emeagwali@ccsu.edu

Walton Brown-Foster
Copy Editor
brownw@ccsu.edu

Haines Brown
Adviser
brownh@hartford-hwp.com

REGIONAL EDITORS:

Olayemi Akinwumi
(Nigeria)

Zenebworke Bissrat
(Ethiopia)

Paulus Gerdes
(Mozambique)

Mosebjane Malatsi
(South Africa)

Alfred Zack-Williams
(Sierra Leone)

TECHNICAL ADVISORS:

Tennyson Darko
Asst. Dir. ITS, CCSU
darko@ccsu.edu

Peter K. LeMaire
Professor, CCSU
lemaire@ccsu.edu

Bernice A. LeMaire
Website Designer
lemaire_bea@ccsu.edu

For more information concerning AfricaUpdate
Contact:
Prof. Gloria Emeagwali
CCSU History Dept.
1615 Stanley Street
New Britian, CT 06050
Tel: 860-832-2815
emeagwali@ccsu.edu

 
 

Table of contents



Editorial: Nigerian Film Industry
by Dr. Gloria Emeagwali

The prolific output of Nigerian screen writers and producers is now legendary. Every day at least four or five videos are produced in Nigeria. We have the pleasure of focussing once more on Nigerian Cinema in this issue of Africa Update. Included are two papers by Femi Odugbemi and Tayo Aderinokun, delivered initially at the 50TH ART STAMPEDE SESSION OF THE COMMITTEE FOR RELEVANT ART (CORA) held at THE NATIONAL THEATRE, Iganmu, Surulere, Lagos, Nigeria on Sunday 7TH March 2004.The theme of the Workshop was“Film as our National Patrimony: What the President Said.”The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo made comments in his 2004 budget speech on issues related to film and apparently triggered various discussions on this subject.

The keynote Speaker, Tayo Aderinokun is Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank which he co-founded in 1990. He has been involved in the general management of the Bank's operations since inception with responsibility for asset management and liability generation. Tayo's professional working experience has seen him working with several financial institutions. Mr. Aderinokun reflected on the interrelationship between Banking and the Film industry and provided illuminating perspectives on the evolution of Nigerian Cinema in his address. We have also included the critical analysis of Femi Odugbemi, President of Independent Television Producers Association of Nigeria (ITPAN). We conclude with brief notes on the Nigerian Committee For Relevant Art (CORA).

This issue would not have been possible without the assistance of Jahman Anikulapo who made available the various articles published in this issue. Mr. Anikulapo studied Theatre Arts, has acted in some films and is very much part of the Nigerian video revolution. He has been involved in the organization of several Nigerian film festivals including the recent National Film Festival, The Movie Award and The Reel Award. As the Program Chair for the Committee for Relevant Art, CORA, he has supervised the annual Lagos Cinema Carnival. Mr Ankulapo was Asst. Director for the movie version of the play ASKARI written by Ben Tomoloju and produced by theInternational Committee for the Red Cross. He also edits the Sunday Edition of The Guardian Newspaper emanating from Lagos Nigeria. Mr Jahman is the Program Director of CORA.

We thank him for his valuable contribution to this issue.


Dr. Gloria Emeagwali
Chief Editor, AfricaUpdate


“The Economics of Nigerian Film, Art and Business.”
by Tayo Aderinokun, Managing Director,
Guaranty Trust Bank and Keynote Speaker


The world has continued to marvel at how Nigerians "manufacture" and "fabricate" scores of movies in a week. It is reported that but for India, Nigeria produces more movies in quantitative terms than any other country in the world. As joint stakeholders in the development of our motherland, I
hope that my presentation today on the "social economics" of the movie industry will provoke processes that could move the industry forward. In the course of this presentation, I will be inviting you to join me as we journey through the past, the present and the future of the Nigerian film industry. There is a saying that today is tomorrow’s yesterday, in other words, where we are today is a reflection of our past and a foreshadow of our future.

The size of our population and the diverse cultures within it combined with the raw talents that abound within Nigeria makes the phenomenal growth of the film industry inevitable.

It is heart-warming though to note that Nigerian movies already dominate TV screens all over West Africa and going even as far as Central and Southern Africa. There is also a Western dimension to this export market. According to the Filmmakers Cooperative of Nigeria, every film in Nigeria has a potential audience of 15 million people within the country and about 5 million outside. These statistics may be somewhat conservative considering that half of West Africa’s 250 million people are Nigerians and according to the World Bank, slightly over 7 million Nigerians are scattered around the world, most of them in the developed economies. There is a school of thought that talks about the rebirth of the film culture in Nigeria. They claim that like in a horror movie, the infant film market was gruesomely butchered at the altar of the oil boom together with other sectors of the economy. The Indigenization Decree of 1972, which sought to transfer ownership of about 300 cinema houses in the country from their foreign proprietors to Nigerians did little to help matters. Though this transfer resulted in the eruption of the latent ingenuity of Nigerian playwrights, screenwriters, poets, and film producers, the gradual dip in the value of the naira, combined with lack of finance, marketing support, quality studio and
production equipment as well as inexperience on the part of practitioners, hampered the growth of the local film industry.


At this juncture, I would like to go back a little in history. Film as a medium first arrived on our shores in the form of itinerant peephole hawkers of still
pictures. These were soon replaced with roving cinemas, which began feeding us with doses of American western films.

Edgar Rice Buroughs 1935 film "Sanders of the River" which was partly shot in Nigeria helped in putting Nigeria on the world film map through the participation of late Orlando Martins (1899 – 1985) who acted in the film alongside the American actor Paul Robeson. Orland Martins also featured in "Man from Morocco" and "Black Libel" – his first film, which was never finished but gave him the needed experience. It was however the part of Magole the witch doctor in "Men of Two Worlds" that put him in the public eye. Well before these films, Glover Memorial Hall is on record as having been the first venue to show a film in Nigeria in August 1903. Documentaries on the Queen’s visits to Nigeria, English football matches, Westminster Parliamentary debates, and government-sponsored films on health and education as well as legendary cowboy films soon began dominating our cinemas in the late ‘50s up to independence.

Most of us old enough to remember this era of the Nigeria society refer to it as the good old ‘50s and ‘60s and it was perfect timing for a love affair between Nigerian film and Nigerian music. Sadly, we had neither the technology nor the means to do our own films and had to be satisfied with mostly foreign fare. Soon vast acres of our urban surroundings became flooded with wall posters of alien culture in the form of American, Indian, Chinese, and Japanese films. Our kids caught on to the Kung-fu and Karate culture. Nigerians began to know more about Bruce Lee, James Bond, and the travails of the American Indians than they did about the Wole Soyinka-led Mbari Mbayo culturual group, Hubert Ogunde’s troupe or other socio-cultural history of Nigeria. Some significant successes were recorded after independence when for about ten years after the Nigeria civil war, Nigerian
literature and theatre got introduced to motion picture. Representative of this new wave were the works of Ogunde, a doyen of Nigerian art who understood that film and theatre were vehicles for promoting indigenous language, art and culture. The Nigerian nightlife scene subsequently came alive. Highlife music was the in-thing and the music of the Koola Lobitos, The Oriental Brothers, I. K. Dairo, Rex Jim Lawson, E. T. Mensah, and Victor Olaiya reigned. Ola Balogun’s post civil war flick, "Amadi" took us back to the pre-civil war days when Nigeria was one huge undivided house where Igbo musicians sang Yoruba highlife and Yorubas sang Hausa songs. "Amadi" was an Igbo film made by a Yoruba man and was clearly a glimpse from the future of the film industry in Nigeria. This early example of Nigerian art on celluloid using the best of Western film techniques, was a breath of fresh air even if it was a low technology, low budget experiment unable to impress the market against the dominance of imports which though exotic did little to promote Nigerian art. The film "Bisi – Daughter of the River" was another fair effort on celluloid, which captured Nigerian culture on film. "Dinner with the Devil" was another first generation Nigerian film by the duo of Sanya Dosunmu and Wole Amele. Eddie Ugbomah’s "The Great Attempt" was also another valiant film which was unfortunately censored by the authorities. Several decades later, the late Ogunde featured in Joyce Cary’s "Mister Johnson", a film that did little to elevate the sad perception of Blacks and Africans. Thankfully in the 1980’s, the TV serialization of Chinua Achebe’s "Things Fall Apart" became hugely successful. I also recall the small screen successes of the Adio Family, Village Headmaster, Cock Crow at Dawn, The Masquerade, Mirror in the Sun, Check Mate, Sura The Tailor, Awada Kerikeri and Second Chance on national television and how these productions were indeed instrumental to the revival of the local film industry and hence the birth of the home video culture in Nigeria. Later in time, the austerity measures of the early eighties and the Structural Adjustment Programme that succeeded it, helped in no small measure in increasing the level of poverty in the land. The Entertainment Industry was one of the worst victims and had to move indoors. The few cinema houses existing either had to close shop or were taken over by religious bodies. This accelerated the birth of home video entertainment. Credit must now be given to our second generation film industry pioneers – Amaka Igwe, Tunde Kelani, Zeb and Chico Ejiro, The Amata brothers, Femi Lasode, Olu Jacobs, Joke Jacobs (nee Silva), Liz Benson, Kenneth Nnebue, Richard Mofe Damijo, Zachee Orji, Pete Edochie, Sam Loco Efe, U.S. Galadima, Yinka Quadri, Genevieve Nnaji, Jide Kosoko, Omotola Ekehinde and others – who inherited, without hesitation, the commercial and artistic traditions of Nigerian film and theatre from the likes of Hubert Ogunde, Moses Olaiya, Duro Ladipo, Ola Balogun, Wole Amele, Eddie Ugbomah, just to name a few, and began to tell our stories using the video format. By 1993 when the National Film Festival was held for the first time our film industry score sheet was moderate – about 25 English films, five Hausa films, 50 Yoruba and One Igbo film.

In Western societies, a film’s commercial lifespan would normally begin with a box office or cinema release, then video release, then broadcast on fee-paying television, and finally on public television. Producers and Marketers would then generate the appropriate promotion and publicity to maximize profitability out of each phase. The Nigerian experience with the video culture so far has shown that without piracy, there are huge potentials for making money in the industry. In South Africa, I understand that video distribution usually doubles or triples a movie’s revenues. The video boom is therefore not just a Nigerian phenomenon. Video appears to be the home entertainment mainstay for the world’s developing countries.

From all indications, the future of the Nigerian movie industry is promising. I understand that every day, about three new low budget movies are released into the market. Each film is then replicated into about 200,000 video cassettes and distributed to markets, video clubs and eventually various homes. This process creates jobs and income for the people involved in the production, distribution and marketing of the movies. It is only when we change our paradigm and see film production as big business, that the film industry will take its rightful position in the economy.
The Indian film industry has been projecting India’s culture globally for over 50 years and has remained one of the most important foreign exchange earning sources for that country. Francophone West African films, which get showcased at FESPACO, the Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou, which holds in the Burkinabe capital every two years has helped in improving the quality and global appeal of Francophone films. As a result, these countries film industries have contributed significantly to their respective economies. The United States of America is the best example of a perfect union between the film and the financial services industries. Do you know that the American movie industry is the second largest export revenue earner for that country, after the aviation industry? Thanks to Hollywood and its spin offs, the state of California, with a gross domestic product of $1.4 trillion, is the fifth largest economy in the world, richer than the combined wealth of all the 54 countries in Africa. Today, underscoring the industry’s contribution to the rest of American society, the current Governor of California is Arnold Shwarzzenegger, an actor. Former President Ronald Reagan was also a Hollywood actor. These American examples show us what the Nigerian movie industry can become in terms of stature and relevance in society.

Let me say that the need for partnership between Nigerian banks and the film industry are obvious. We all now know from the American experience that film is big business. As financial intermediaries in the economy, banks have a key role to play in the development of the industry. Banks are interested in helping to build successful businesses out of ideas and if the film industry should open itself up to the same evaluation and analysis that banks subject all their borrowers to, banks would really want to lend to them. With the support of the financial sector, the film industry will certainly rise to prominence.

Before I conclude I have some questions for CORA. These are questions that banks would like to have answers to before supporting the Nigerian film industry:

  • How much is the film industry worth today?
  • How much does it cost to produce a good movie?
  • What is the annual turnover of an average movie producer?
  • Do firms in the movie industry have collateral to pledge for credit?
  • Do companies in the film industry have audited accounts?
  • Do companies in the film industry have formal structures?

Bankers usually do not start a banking relationship until after conducting due diligence on the institution of their interest. This usually involves an assessment of need and an analysis of the credit risks involved. This is because they want to be able to determine, to a large extent, the viability of the project they finance. So far, our film industry lacks the structure to provide positive answers to my questions. I am therefore suggesting that the Nigerian film industry become better organized, and start to maintain proper records and accounts, engage the services of auditors and have formal organizational structures. When this is done, banks will find the industry more amenable for support. The banks will also be able to:

  • Learn about the dynamics of the film industry
  • Know the people driving the film industry
  • Easily provide credit in the form of loans to the industry
  • Provide financial advisory services
  • Serve the industry’s domestic and international money transfer need
  • Help midwife this booming sector of the economy which has great potentials for growth and foreign exchange denominated earnings

One should also ask what the movie industry can do for the financial services industry and by extension, for the country.

* Already, beyond being a ready-made pipeline for the discovery of young artistic talent, its potential for generating direct and indirect employment is well known.

* The positive impact of the film industry on the image of Nigeria should also go a long way towards attracting foreign direct investments into the country.

We all know that Nigerian home videos are extremely popular with Africans especially Nigerians abroad. Our films have become ready substitutes for western productions. Through these movies Africans are experiencing a cultural connect worldwide, something which foreign movies cannot provide. Recently, South Africa’s satellite TV company Multichoice DSTV introduced its AfricaMagic channel which shows mostly Nigerian movies to its over 1.5 million subscribers in Africa, Europe and the Middle East. With time, this exposure of our film market can only serve to improve the quality of our movies. It can be said that this is another form of cross border trade, which will lead to positive interest in Nigeria, and all the things associated with our country.

So far, our film industry has evolved naturally, with almost no government involvement or influence. This is a good thing and I want to appeal to you all that it remains so. While Government participation is welcome, it should not be allowed to become a hinderance in any way. Government’s involvement in business enterprises has been known to generally hamper than assist its development.

My belief is that government should actually contribute in the area of fighting piracy which has become a plague afflicting several areas of the creative arts. The recent accord between the Filmmakers Cooperative of Nigeria (FCON) and the Filmmakers Association of Nigeria FAN, USA to bring an end to the piracy of Nigerian films in the United States is laudable and a good example of cross border, private sector led collaboration.

Closing Shot…..

In concluding, let me restate that banks need the film industry just as much as the film industry needs the banks. I believe that the film industry can be viable and has all the elements of being sustainable over the long term. Partnership between both sectors is therefore necessary if the movie industry is to achieve its full potentials. The future of this partnership abounds with several opportunities.

Return to Table of Contents


"FILM AS NATIONAL PATRIMONY: WHAT THE PRESIDENT SAID"
by Femi Odugbemi,President, Independent Television Producers
of Nigeria(ITPAN)

The focus of the stampede today, "Film as National Patrimony: What the President said" would suggest perhaps that my last question, at least as it concerns the movie industry, may no longer be necessary, which in turn frees one’s thinking in terms of suggesting ideas. Of course, in the light of the complexities of our politics, we are accepting that "what the President said" is EXACT to "what the President meant." That said, we must dearly thank Mr. President for at least recognizing that the movie industry in Nigeria, currently run only by private initiative and enterprise, is political valuable and has capacity to contribute strongly to our economic development.

Whatever follows now, the true value of "what the President said" in his 2004 budget speech really lies in our industry’s own ability to seize the moment and the political impetus of the President’s commitment to change the content of our conversation concerning our industry. We now must make the case for our industry in pure economic terms such that government and politicians understand. What the President said is our license to propagate the capacity of the motion picture industry in Nigeria as an engine of economic development. We must speak of its ability to generate employment. We must speak of its ability to foster investment. We must speak of itspotential to generate foreign exchange. We must speak of its capability to expand our technological skill and preserve our history and cultural heritage.The creative potential and economic viability of the motion picture industry in Nigeria is huge –In a country of 120 million people and with our diversity of culture and heritage, the industry has capacity to complement the oil sector in earnings. In pure economic terms, our industry, if well organized and properly encouraged can provide employment for thousands of people, generate earnings for small-scale businesses, earn foreign exchange, provide a platform for the positive promotion of the Values of the Nigerian Nation, its cultures and peoples. It can become our biggest megaphone to lift our voice in the comity of nations. The economic capacity of the motion picture industry in a market like Nigeria, and with a potential expanded audience of francophone West Africa, should bestow our profession and by extension its professionals a pride of place and a strong voice in the economic growth and social development of Nigeria.

Now, if "what the President said" is "what the President meant" I guess we can presume that he already now accepts this premise. So to the question what next? That I presume is the point of having this discussion at all. I thought this through with a bit of wishful thinking. I visualized myself with the President with him asking the very question "what shall I do?" Given Mr. President’s familiarity with the Holy Bible,I would say that the state of the Motion Picture Industry in Nigeria reminds one of Prophet Ezekiel’s spiritual flight into the "Valley of dry bones." I suggest that the dry bones spiritually represented not so much decline and desolation but a metaphor of missed opportunities. It was imagery, not of the end of what once was, but a lamentation of what could have been. When Eagles, equipped to fly in glorious altitudes, nestle happily with chickens and ducks, we have come spiritually to the valley of dry bones. When potential is huge and achievement is not, we live in the valley of dry bones. That is why the question that arose in context, from the Prophet’s spiritual understanding, was "will the bones rise again?"

Yes, the motion picture industry in Nigeria today lies curled up in the valley of dry bones. There is potential. There is huge potential given the evidence of the activity in the home-video industry and given the huge audience available, and given the rich history of filmmaking in this country, there is potential. Let me be clear: Filmmaking should not, and cannot, be a government activity. Creativity does not thrive in a civil service environment. Government cannot make movies, but government can create the atmosphere for movie-making to be fulfilling, rewarding, elevating and economically empowering both for the moviemaker and for "the rest of us." So, first point – for the President to mean what he said, Government must shift its paradigm from LEGISLATING the movie industry to PROMOTING the movie industry. To do that, Mr. President needs a true measure of sober assessment of the industry as it is. The metaphor of Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones works well here, because if you look around the industry, you will pick up dry bone after dry bone in our wasteland of missed opportunities.

There is the dry bone of poor content. Thanks to the Home-Video industry’s penchant for fecundity, we are now internationally recognized for our QUANTITY but not for quality. The spectacle of unprecedented international media attention lately received by the movie industry here just seems focused on sheer volume and the unfathomable speed with which our videos are churned out. Buried inside all the attention is the disturbing snicker and innuendos on the very poor quality and standards of these productions. Truth is, to find economic reward for this sector particularly in the international arena, we must refocus international attention by proving the fact that we have talented professionals with viable ideas and a winning creative vision. That is why I am cautious to celebrate the media barrage and various invitations to international film festivals many of our Producers are getting today. The recent Berlin Film Festival focused on Nigeria’s Home-Video industry. That is good news. But then it also convened workshops with subjects such as "How to make a movie in 10 days – the Nigerian experience." That, my friends, is bad news. We must critically examine content. Poor content of course is directly related to poor professionalism. Too many folks are wielding cameras like Saddam’s famed Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Government therefore must therefore encourage professionalism by encouraging training. Funding training should be government’s first and most important intervention in the industry. I will therefore suggest to Mr. President to seriously consider providing statutory budgetary funding for institutions that provide specialized skills for our movie-makers such as the Nigerian Film Institute in Jos and the ITPAN Training School in Gbagada, Lagos.

There is the dry bone of project funding. Movie-making is seriously capital intensive. It requires a lot of money to put a movie together and regardless of how powerful a creative idea may be, in film making, in the end money talks. That is why the home-video industry today is controlled by the marketers who function as the Executive Producers. I personally have no problem with marketers who function as Executive Producers. In fact we must be grateful because as it were they are the only ones willing to invest their money in the uncertain terrain of the movie business. Banks will not. Government has not. But they do. My worry however is that their investment is formularized in such a way as to provide no opportunity for emergent practitioners. Their intervention is controlled to recoup investment by only doing stories that are guaranteed to sell a predetermined number of copies if a certain so and so actor is used and a certain so and so Director produces.

In a capitalist economy, they have every right to do so. But that approach while economically rewarding, is short-sighted in terms of regenerating the industry with new ideas and new practitioners and breaking new markets in demography etc. I have problems with the fact that Emergent movie-makers have no structure to provide a financial springboard for them to work. So in my opinion, Mr. President needs to look at how we create a funding structure for movies particularly for emergent storytellers. If I may offer a thought in that direction: Can government not create a special release for the SMIE funds kept away by so many banks to be available to filmmakers?? Because a movie, if well made can be a lifetime property, the banks can along with their 30% ownership, also hold copyright until the money is made back. And given that SMIE rules offer a five-year break-even period, there’s ample time to recoup investment if the project is undertaken with boldness and vision for impact internationally.

Finally, there is the dry bone of poor distribution. Currently, traders and non-professionals dominate the informal distribution structures while exhibition theatres are practically non-existent. I don’t really worry about a lack of exhibition theatres because quite a lot of movies made in developed countries do now go straight to DVD and video. And in fact I realize even if government were to build theatres now, there are issues of re-energizing the theatre-going culture in Nigeria aside of course issues of personal security on our roads at night.

The distribution issue for me surround the absence of credible data or numbers on our industry. No one seems to have any hard numbers on how
many videos are actually produced, we only rely on how many were vetted
by Censors board. We don’t know how many are actually sold because the
appearance of video clubs renting home-video beclouds estimation. Without credible statistics and numbers, it is impossible for serious investment to come into the industry. I certainly know from experience that the SMIE Managers will not even break a smile at the thought of poor data.

So, can government begin by commissioning a full and thorough data on what we really have and where the opportunities lie? There is a need for the government to truly understand the dynamics of the home video industry. It is absolutely imperative that the government understands the industrial bases that require strategic input necessary for an economically empowered film industry. It may be wise to take a look at the model used in South Africa with the South African Film and Video Foundation. Instead of a Censors Board, can we have a Film and Video Promotions Board? Can that Board have departments that deal with providing funding information and opportunities to movie-makers? Can it have departments that collect hard data and provide export promotion support for filmmakers?

The creation of an effective export promotion facility for the industry will be the key to foreign exchange inflow into the economy. Now that the industry is experiencing international interest it is imperative that an effective promotion structure is put in place so are to further strengthen the profit index of the industry as it relates to the national economy.

Can it have departments that promote training and professionalism?

Can it have departments that focus on revenue generation? Governments of successful film industries like the United States of America have a revolving structure aimed at ensuring revenue generation from films. Part of these formulae is the creation of a pay per view system that ensures that viewers are billed for films they want to see on televisions, cables, etc. A truly professional formula will ultimately yield returns for government.

Can it have departments that enforce piracy laws so that our practitioners can be free of fear of losing the just economic reward of their creative property?

Please understand that I am not looking for government to create yet another bureaucratic hold on the industry. Such a commission or Board should not be a hindrance if, as I said when we started, a paradigm shift from legislation to promotion is the foundation of government’s intervention.

To end I must return to where my conversation with Mr. President began…the valley of dry bones. The biggest dry bone in our industry’s wasteland of opportunities now is one for which we all have shared a responsibility. It is the bone of a lack of vision. Without a vision the people perish… The word 'perish' in the original Hebrew does not actually mean physical death. It means that people go naked and are impoverished. But one does not need to understand Hebrew to see that this is exactly the state of our industry today. It is impoverished because our professionals are working but they are not making a living. It is impoverished because the profile of a Producer in Nigeria is no higher than that of the artisan at least in the corridors of economic and political influence.

We can round up the usual suspects if we desire to play the blame game. Government is not supportive, the banks won’t give us loans, the industry itself is fragmented by egomaniacs and politics…blah, blah, blah…

But it behooves us all to define a vision of a powerful and economically rewarding industry and draw a roadmap to it. Cooperative industry bodies and associations and regulatory organs like the Nigeria Film Corporation, Censors Board etc are bus-stops on that map. They should rightly be supported. In a democratic environment however, opportunity exists for us to elevate the platform of our agitation and take the vision to the seat of influence and power.

The true capacity to act boldly to actualize our vision lies in how seriously we push our agenda politically. We need the motion picture industry taken seriously in Aso Rock and in the Senate and the House of Assembly in Abuja. We need Ministers and Governors and Commissioners who will not only know our business and recognize its economic potential, we need industry professionals who will attain political office and make the case by influencing directly legislation and instruments that will spur the industry’s growth.

Our industry is important. We need to be taken seriously politically. We need to showcase motion picture professionals of quality intellectual depth and sagacity. To achieve the vision of a vibrant film industry, we must forge a new political consensus which agenda is the political and economic development of the film industry and its practitioners.

Return to Table of Contents


Notes on CORA (Committee For Relevant Art)
by Toyin Akinosho and Jahman Anikulapo
Secretary General and Program Director, CORA

CORA was formed in June 1991 to nurture discourse on the state and quality of our artistic and cultural productions. Since then it has held 49 editions of its quarterly Stampede, through which it has touched on virtually
all segments of the culture sector of the economy. The Stampede is designed as a cultural picnic for the art and culture community and it has over the years, earned the sobriquet; The ARTISTS" PARLIAMENT.

Programs of the CORA include:
o The yearly Lagos Book and Art Festival
o The yearly Lagos Cinema Carnival
o Publication of the quarterly Lagos The City Arts Guide
o The monthly Great Highlife Party (In collaboration with the management of O'JEZ Entertainment)

On Occasion of the 43rd edition of the Art Stampede, the CORA had focussed on the state of affairs in the film sector. Reports on the session is reproduced below:

The 43rd Art Stampede held on June 2, 2002 at the National Secretariat of the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners, 30a Ladoke
Akintola Street, GRA Ikeja had participation from a good cross section of stakeholders in the movie industry as well as friends of the sector. In attendance were representatives of the various guilds and associations the Central Working Committee (CWC) which presented a position paper; as well as members of Guilds of Scriptwriters; Directors; Actors; Producers as well as Marketers. Also in attendance were executive officers of the Association of Nigerian Theatre Practitioners, ANTP (representing the Yoruba Film Makers), especially acknowledged was the presence of the veteran Broadcaster, Music Impresario and elder artiste, Steve Rhodes (who gave a speech that was informally accepted as the Keynote Address); the Broadcaster and foremost Music Critic, Benson Idonije and the founder of the famous Jazz 38 Art Centre, Lekki, Tunde Kuboye among others. Notable stakeholders in attendance also included Gab Onyi Okoye aka Gabosky; Fred Amata; Mahmoud Ali-Balogun; Aina Kushoro; Bayo ShittaBey; Madu Chikwendu; Don Pedro Obaseki; Ebereonwu; Francis Onwuchei; Agatha Amata among others. There was a good presence of members of the Print and electronic media as well as other members of the
public:

OBSERVATIONS
It was observed that:

* Nigerian movie practitioners need to be mare cautious in their approach to their trade as of recent there has been a major increase in the attention of international media on the Nigerian media. Examples were made of two recent major articles by the Times magazine and New York Times both of which sent correspondents to Nigeria to study the situation of the local industry;

* That the seemingly intractable differences and constant conflicts and bickering among the various associations within the movie sector would not augur well for the proper harnessing of potentials of the industry. Hence the need to as a matter of urgency iron out the differences.

* That there is the urgent and imperative need to evolve a practitioners council in the movie/film sector in the fashion of for example the APCON, NIPR, COREN, NBA among other such professional bodies. The council it was said would ensure the proper structuring of the film sector and prevent the activities of quacks and charlatans who have invaded the industry.

* That honesty of purpose and sincerity in operation and comportment by practitioners are lacking thus creating rooms for frequent crisis among stakeholders.

* That potentials of the marketing and distribution prospects of he sector are being undermined by the reluctance of practitioners to stretch their dreams beyond the traditional means of distribution. This is undermining the potentials of the sector to assert itself as a credible alternative to oil as revenue earner for the practitioners and the nation.

*That the government has not been encouraged to take the movie practitioners serious because of the incessant intra- and inter association fighting which prevents the presentation of common front and positions and the strength to ask for the due policies, actions and respect for the sector by the government;

* That there is the need to devise a means of bridging the gaps between the various disciplines of the arts so that each of them could be of use to the other.

RESOLUTIONS
*That the CORA should facilitate the constitution of a neutral body of eminent artists of diverse disciplines to look into the various points of departure and disagreement among the various bodies towards a meaningful resolution of such identified crises. This it is hoped would create a convivial atmosphere for dialogue on how to tackle the pressing matter of evolving strategies to sanitize the sector.

*That the proposal for the emergence of a Film Practitioners Council is a laudable one therefore all efforts should be geared towards its realization. To do this the various conceptions, perceptions and positions of the various stakeholders should be harmonized to facilitate the emergence of the said council;

* That the proposed Council by the Nigerian Film Corporation should be thoroughly examined to ensure that interests of the practitioners are well catered for in the proposal and that the council does not become yet another governmental agency that would jeopardize interests of the stakeholders.

Other Resolutions:
* That film makers should desist from making negative statements about the sector as such are capable of fundermining the importance of the industry in the estimation of other members of the Nigerian economy and may thus negatively affect its attraction for investment.

* Filmmakers should be ready to accommodate the contentions of other stakeholders in matter affecting welfare of members of the sector as well as operation of the industry;

* Practitioners should take advantage of services of Training facilities available such as the Nigeria Film Institute, Jos; Independent Television Producers Association of Nigeria, ITPAN, Lagos; Nigeria Television Authority Training School, Jos; NANTAP Wole Soyinka Training School among others;

* Ensure that contents of films are sufficiently cleaned up to avoid themes and materials capable of projecting wrong impressions about the culture and people of Nigeria;

* Work harder at ensuring that only quality products are pushed into the market at all times. This will ensure that below standard works would be gradually phased out of the sector. That film makers should look at the possibility of adapting many of the literary works that have made marks internationally into the movie medium for wider dissemination of such works and as well for the economic benefits of the movie.

 

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In Memorian: Chancellor C.T. Keto, South Africa


Chancellor Keto was one of the pioneers of the concept of Africa-centered scholarship and movement. For over 25 years, he called for the validation and interpretation of African history through a theoretical framework interior to Africa. He persistently argued for locating the history of Africa in
its own place, the historical place, the there in which out of which, and for which history happens, as one philosopher puts it. He led the struggle to democratize the intellectual landscape by calling for equal paradigm time.

Chancellor Keto understood the historical significance of the African situation and used Africa-centered epistemology and methodology to document and interpret the histories and cultures of Africa. His now classic book The Africa-Centered Perspective of History: An Introduction provides a critical guide to the study of African history. His 1991 book has gone through many editions and reprints.

Chancellor Keto was a great humanist and “pluriversalist”. He abhorred all forms of hegemony and imperialism. He fought a valiant fight against them. And yet he deeply remained committed to the coexistence of all peoples fully aware of and in ownership of their respective time and place.

Chancellor Keto was a great teacher and storyteller in the tradition of the African halla or griot. His lectures were skillfully interwoven with proverbs and stories drawn from rich and long histories and cultures of Africa. Keto drew from the histories of the Mossis in West Africa or the Aksumites of the Horn of Africa or the Zulus of his beloved South Africa or the Taharkas of Ancient Nubia or the Ramses of Ancient Egypt. He always emphasized contexts and meanings, holistic approaches and sound interpretations of African realities.

Chancellor Keto was a gifted storyteller. His stories were sweet and remained in the ears even long after they were initially told. We all remember him for his story of the limping antelope that outsmarted its hunter. The hunter prematurely concluded that the limping antelope would succumb. He followed the antelope for miles only to discover that it regained its strength and managed to escape.

Chancellor Keto also told and retold the story of the lion that wanted to narrate its own story, for it was tired of being misrepresented or silenced by the hunter.

Chancellor Keto supervised my Ph.D. dissertation in the Department of African American Studies at Temple University in the early 1990s. I also had a chance to teach at the Department with him. He was an exemplary and student-centered advisor. He encouraged me to probe deeply in the ancient histories of Ethiopia. It was under his supervision that I was able to
write the history and principles of the Ethiopic writing system. My dissertation is cited and presented as a good example of Africa-centered scholarship to external reviewers. My book Ethiopic developed from my dissertation has also been selected as one of the 500 most influential books in Africa in the 20th century.

In April 2002, I traveled to Pretoria, South Africa to attend the inauguration of Dr. Keto as the Vice Chancellor of Vista University. There were several ceremonies and celebrations at his inauguration. The one that I cherished the most was the ceremony held in his beautiful home garden where we all sat in a circle. Chancellor Keto was sitting in the midst of us decked in his Xhosa's costume. His family relations and praise singers showered him with blessings and praise songs. He was quiet but very happy. I thought that was the most memorable moment. From his characteristic pleasant smile of approval, I read his sense of relief and the closing of the long and arduous chapter of struggle.

Chancellor Keto had several opportunities to change his citizenship when he was in exile in the United States. But he deeply loved his beloved South Africa, even in its darkest apartheid moments. He held onto his South African passport, fought for the rights of all South Africans and, eventually and triumphantly returned home.

Chancellor Keto is immortal, for he left us an intellectual legacy that will enlighten many generations to come. He will always be remembered for his seminal work Vision and Time: Historical Perspective of an Africa-Centered Paradigm. I am confident that his students will keep his memory alive.

'If you do not know where you are or where you have been, you cannot know where you are going...And, if you do not know where you are going, any road will take you there.' Dr. Keto's favorite saying from West Africa.

Ayele Bekerie, PhD
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Africana Studies and Research Center
310 Triphammer Rd
Ithaca, NY 14850

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The Regional Editors of AfricaUpdate

Olayemi Akinwumi
Olayemi Akinwumi is a professor at the University of Ilorin, Nigeria, West Africa. He just published a biography on the Aku Of Wukari, a descendant of Kwararafa Kingdom. He served as a Visiting Scholar at the Institut fur Ethnologie, Freie Universitat Berlin.
Zenebworke Bissrat
Zenebworke Bissrat served for several years as Senior Management Expert at the Ethiopian Management Institute, Addis Ababa. She is at present associated with the CMRS, Ethiopian Catholic Church, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Paulus Gerdes
Paulus Gerdes is the Rector of Mozambique's Universidade Pedagogoco Maputo, Mozambique. He has extensive publications on African mathematics and is the Chair of the Commission on the History of Mathematics in Africa.
Mosebjane Malatsi
Mosebjane Malatsi is a Senior Policy Analyst at the Development Bank of Southern Africa, based in Johannesburg. He is a leading member of the Pan-African Congress.
Alfred Zack-Williams
Alfred Zack-Williams is from Sierra Leone. He is a professor of Sociology and he teaches in the Department of Historical and Critical Studies at the University of Central Lancaster, UK. He is also a member of the Editorial Board of the Review of African Political Economy (ROAPE), United Kingdom.
 
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