Archive for the ‘Communicating for Change’ Category

A Nigerian Endowment for the Arts could help fund film productions like Tunde Kelani's 'Ma'ami'. © Bic Leu and FindingNollywood.com, 2011.

With the recent announcement of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC) and the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) for film industry development, the question of access to funding in Nollywood is once again a hot topic in the entertainment sector.

SMEDAN Director General Alhaji Muhammad Nadada Umar stated that the MOU aimed to create opportunities for small businesses to grow in the film industry, especially in regards to youth employment, revenue generation, poverty reduction and social stability in the country. SMEDAN, he said, would support the NFC with funding windows available to Nigerian entrepreneurs such as the SME credit guarantee scheme introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the funding scheme of the National Economic Reconstruction Fund (NERFUND).

This topic was reiterated during the Silverbird premiere last Wednesday of Communicating for Change’s documentary on Nigerian artists, RedHot Nigerian Creativity, and then again during a recent conversation I had with The Guardian on Sunday editor Jahman Anikulapo.  Anikulapo suggested that instead of transient initiatives like the SMEDAN/NFC MOU or the current $USD 200 million Special Entertainment Fund that is administered by the Bank of Industry, the Federal Government should set up a permanent institution dedicated to creative industries development like the US National Endowment of the Arts (NEA).

The NEA is an American independent federal agency that receives annual appropriations from the US Congress to award grants and fellowships to creative industry professionals and organizations in such areas as Arts Education, Dance, Literature, Museums, Music, Theater, and Visual Arts. At present, the NEA awards more than 2,500 grants and cooperative agreements exceeding $USD 130 million. Since its establishment in 1965, the NEA has awarded over $USD 4 billion in grants to develop and sustain the American creative industries.

Anikulapo further proposed that setting aside 1% of the annual Companies Income Tax paid to the Federal Government could fund the Nigerian NEA and that a government-appointed committee of art experts could be tasked with evaluating each grant proposal.

What do you think of Anikulapo’s idea to counter the neglect of the creative industries in Nigeria by setting up a sustainable grant-making agency? What can be adapted from this American model to work within the Nigerian context? What type of framework needs to put in place to ensure that the grant-dispersal is free and fair?


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Sandra Obiago (Founder/Director, CFC); John Momoh (Chairman, Channels Television); Prof. Ralph Akinfeleye (Head of the Department of Mass Communications, University of Lagos); Olufemi Ayeni (Zonal Director, National Broadcasting Commission); Ngozi Iwere (Executive Director, Community Life Project). Photo © 2011 Bic Leu

Over 60 national broadcasters gathered at Terra Kulture yesterday for Communicating for Change’s (CFC) Broadcasters ’ Forum on the Role of Media in Successful Election. With support from the Ford Foundation, CFC premiered two short films–Game Over and One Voice is A Majority– that address such electoral issues as voter apathy and election poll violence.  (Click here for my on-location coverage of the filming of Game Over).  CFC created the storylines to address what its contracted professional research company uncovered about people’s views of the electoral process after conducting research groups and interviews in Kano, Enugu, and Lagos.

Sandra Obiago (Founder/Director, CFC) Photo © 2011 Bic Leu

Sandra Obiago (CFC Founder/ Director) presented the two films to the broadcasters in attendance with a challenge:

…unless you continue to rise up and create strong platforms for these kinds of messages to guide Nigerians in the right direction–empower them to choose democracy and good governance over bribery, corruption, and dirty politics –unless you work in partnership with us–your VERY OWN survival is not guaranteed. We are in this struggle together and as the saying goes, ‘one hand washes the other’.

Obiago also stressed that the media that supports the education of the electorate ensures that they can continue to operate properly and fulfill their role in a democratic system that protects freedom of speech.

John Momoh (Chairman, Channels Television) and Prof. Ralph Akinfeleye (Head of the Department of Mass Communications, University of Lagos). Photo © 2011 Bic Leu

The event continued with a panel moderated by John Momoh (Chairman, Channels Television) and included Prof. Ralph Akinfeleye (Head of the Department of Mass Communications, University of Lagos); Olufemi Ayeni (Zonal Director, National Broadcasting Commission); as well as Ngozi Iwere (Executive Director, Community Life Project).

After demonstrating that only one person in attendance had read the federal voting law, Prof. Akinfeleye emphasized the media’s role in the interpretation and education of electoral legislation for the general public. Iwere highlighted the difference between “public relations journalism” and “investigative journalism” by encouraging journalists to “scrutinize the candidates”. Ayeni referenced the National Broadcasting Code in his entreaty for the media to pay attention to their generated content and to “avoid praise-singing and denying access to contrary political views.”

The CFC production team. Photo © 2011 Bic Leu

CFC plans to hold similar Broadcasters’ Forums to screen the films in Port Harcourt, Kano, and Abuja in the coming weeks.

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Prof. Manthia Diawara (NYU) gives the keynote address at iREP 2011. Photo © 2011 Bic Leu

Today, I attended the first day of iREP 2011, the iREPRESENT International Documentary Film Festival at Terra Kulture and Freedom Park. The theme for this year’s edition is: Africa in Self-Conversation. The Documentary Film Intervention. Femi Odugbemi (iREP 2011 Executive Director) explains: “For Africa, the global information order presents a narrative of wars, death, corruption and diseases. Who is telling the story of Africa and its realities from what perspective? Can African filmmakers bring better understanding within and outside the continent with documentaries that give a more rounded definition of the African experience?”

Prof. Manthia Diawara (NYU) addressed this issue of ownership and representation in his keynote address: “The documentary has become the most important area for us in Africa today to make interventions that could go beyond the nation-state. Documentary is archival material that you can still go through…and define your own history.”

Afolabi Adesanya (MD, Nigerian Film Corporation) introduces Prof. Diawara's book, 'African Film (New Forms of Aesthetics & Politics)'. Photo © 2011 Bic Leu

Jahman Anikulapo (Executive Director, iREP 2011), Segun Olusola, Brendan Shehu, Afolabi Adesanya. Photo © 2011 Bic Leu

After the keynote, the audience explored the concept of home-coming in Who’s Afraid of Ngugi? (2006), in which Prof. Diawara documents the author Ngugi wa Thiong’o and his wife Njeeri‘s return to Kenya after 22 years in exile.

Freedom Park, iREP 2011. Photo © 2011 Bic Leu


The Terra Kulture portion of the program ended with Jihan El-Tahri‘s look at the history of South Africa’s ANC party, Behind the Rainbow (2008). The Festival then moved to Freedom Park, where Remi Vaughan-Richards premiered Scent of the Street (2010)–in which she follows three “area girls” as they go about their daily lives in Ajegunle.

iREP 2011 will continue in Lagos until Sunday, January 23. Click here for the full schedule of screenings and events.

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Ikechukwu Omenaye (Continuity), Leonard Nformi (Director of Photography), Mellamby Iloegben (Director), Solomon Emmanuel (Sound)

Yesterday, I took a break from The Return of Jenifa shoot to see a different side of film making in Nigeria. Sandra Obiago, Founder/Director of Communicating for Change (CFC), invited me to observe the production of a short educational film that CFC is producing to deal with electoral issues.

Leonard Nformi (Director of Photography) sets up the shot

Per Obiago, the concept for Game Over was generated by results from nationwide focus groups and interviews: “The films were created to respond to the knowledge, attitudes and perceptions of ordinary citizens regarding the upcoming elections. They are meant to entertain and at the same time challenge Nigerians to get involved in the elections and political process.”

Young men alert villagers of the chairman's arrival

Mellamby Iloegben (Director) directs the extras in the village square scene

Game Over addresses voter apathy by showing viewers that the power to create change lies with the electorate. Directed by popular director Mellamby Iloegben, the film uses the characteristics of a Nollywood-style drama to champion a social cause. The film unfolds in a fictional village during the reelection campaign of the negligent local government chairman.

Set-up for the village square scene

Along with Game Over, CFC is producing One Voice Makes a Majority– which will be shot over the weekend–to address election violence. Both movies are funded by the Ford Foundation. CFC plans to air the movies with all broadcasters nationwide from January to the elections in April. The organization is also partnering with three bus companies to screen the movies as on-board entertainment during the Christmas and Easter seasons.

Bolaji Fati (Production Manager), Chidiogo Uzuegbu (Production Assistant), and Odega Shawa (Location Manager)

According to Bolaji Fati (CFC’s General Manager), “Through strategic communications, we try to convince Nigerians that we must do our part and vote in order to bring about positive change. These movies show that the voice and the will of the people make all the difference.”

Sunset in Eriyo Amute at wrap time

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