Saturday, May 5, 2012

Foundation plans Avoidable Blunder to save sight

Mission To Save Sight Africa Foundation, a non-governmental organisation has planned a movie project titled Avoidable Blunder as a tool to reach out to Africans on certain major causes of avoidable blindness and visual impairments, namely cataract glaucoma, childhood blindness, trachoma, onchocerchissis and refractive errors.
  The movie, which will be premiered across Africa with actors and actresses from across cultural backgrounds, will focus on corrective reformation since blindness as a health issue has been with humanity for a long time.
  Speaking on the project in Lagos, the founder of the organisation, Dr (Mrs.) Oluwafunmike Ani, said with this educational-must watch movie, the right to Sight Initiative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness have taken a giant leap.
  According to her, since blindness is often not a direct cause of death, generations have down-played its significance hence it has been successfully pushed to the back burner of disease control for such a long time.
  Dr. Ani, who expressed worries over the high rate of blindness in the African continent, said the multi-million naira film project, which comes on stream in three months’ time, will remove ignorance, promote, educate and inform the African masses about blindness as well as encourage industry, creativity and research activities on blindness.
  To ensure the realisation of the film’s objective, she said the foundation has enlisted Meljenstin Nigeria Limited, a renowned Public Relations Consultants, to help recruit a reputable film producer, director, and A-rated African artists, as well as strategic communication and attract brand values for the project.
  The director of the movie project, Mr Okechukwu Ifeanyi, who has more than 50 films to his credit remarked the film will be subtitled in different African languages to engender greater appeal as well as feature some notable African actors and actresses. He said the film would be produced by one of the nation’s experienced producers, Mr. Steve Eboh.
  Managing Director and CEO of Meljenstin, Mrs. Chibuzor Patrick, called on corporate bodies to utilise the opportunity of the film to brand themselves with the project and expose the careless ways Africans treat their eyes, the consequences and solutions.
  She assured that corporate bodies would certainly benefit with the highest level of branding visibility for participating on the laudable project.

Nigeria International Book Fair… boosting the book trade, improving reading culture

There is something about the atmosphere when you enter into a bookshop
that encourages you to want to buy and read books, but today the
reverse is the case. Some parents spend lots of money buying movies
than buying books.Once they hear about the latest movie in town, they
will rush to get that movie. Such attention is not being focused on
books. The only books these children see are the textbooks they use in
school. So, how are they going to improve their reading habits?"

EMPOWERING the people through promotion of reading culture and
providing books and other instructional materials for better education
and self-improvement have been at the core of activities of the
Nigeria Book Fair Trust, organiser sof the yearly Nigeria
International Book Fair (NIBF).
Theme of this year’s edition of the fair, The State of
Infrastructural Development in Africa And the Future of the Book
Trade, is designed to further achieve the fair’s objectives.
  At a press briefing recently to announce this year’s fair usually
held at the Multi-purpose Hall of the University of Lagos, Akoka,
Lagos, organisers announced Monday, May 7 through 12, as date for the
weeklong book trade. Apart from providing an exciting opportunity for
tapping from the large Nigerian market, past editions of the fair show
that it is the best venue to find the latest releases in all subjects,
ranging from literature to business and economics, education, and many
   Chairman of NIBF and Managing Director of Ibadan-based University
Press Plc, Mr. Samuel Kolawole, stated that the number of both
exhibitors and visitors has gradually increased over the years, and
tasked book dealers not to miss out on the opportunity to gain
competitive edge. Kolawole added that a lot of programmes has been
lined up during the fair to make it truly stimulating.
  On the yearly international conference to brainstorm on issues in
the book trade, Kolawole stated that stakeholders in the book industry
would be brought together to rub minds on topical issues that bother
on the stability of the industry. “Other crucial issues that threaten
the growth of book industry in Africa will also be discussed during
the fair,” he said.
  The book fair, which is the 11th in the series, will have
participants from countries such as United States of America, United
Kingdom, Turkey, United Arab Emirate, India, Senegal, Cameroon,
Zimbabwe, Botswana, Ghana, among others, said  Kolawole. He reiterated
that there would be buyers and sellers meeting to provide opportunity
for people in the book trade from within and outside the country to
network and do business.
   This year’s fair is in conjunction with African Publishers Network.
Another feature of the fair will be a media workshop to be organised
by Afro-Asian Book Council, together with the sponsorship of
children’s programme, which has also increased.

THE focus of the fair is on the level of infrastructure that Africa
has and how it affects the book trade in the country, especially given
that the world is now a global village, as it relates to books going
into digital format, and even online publishing.
  He argued, “If you want to take advantage of that which you have,
you must look at your infrastructure; what access do we have in
Nigeria? What of the issue of electricity? We are not only looking at
Nigeria, but Africa in particular and see what the state of
infrastructure is so that we can see how to benefit from developments
in the developed world in terms of book trade itself.
  “People would say you cannot look at America and follow them, but
whatever happens there happens in Nigeria. The only way we can move
forward is by accessing the facilities that are on ground in the
country so that we can determine how government can come in and
improve and move the book trade in Africa forward”
  According to Kolawole, NIBF also prides itself as a cultural event
serving to project the country’s literary culture to the wider world
and helping to generate foreign direct investments. The numerous
visitors and participants at the book fair are all considered
potential tourists and investors, but Kolawole said in as much as the
fair attracts foreigners into the country, it was yet to rub off on
local publishers and publishing.
  He noted, “There are a lot of things government can do. They should
have policy on education just like what NIBF is doing; nobody is
monitoring anything. There are more private initiatives than
government policies. For instance, in the tertiary area where there is
high level of publishing activities in the country, if you want to
encourage publishers in the university, you cannot use books without
Nigerians participating. Then, if publishers from outside the country
come and bring books, you can get a lecturer in the country who will
look at the books and domesticate them for Nigeria. Besides, Nigerian
publishers have to be involved, including booksellers and agents. If
that is in place it will improve local publishers. We do not seem to
be bothered about what is going on; that is why they can sit down
abroad and keep sending things to us here”.
   Kolawole urged government to setup a National Book Commission in
the country, stressing that once that is  done, it would go a long way
in developing the book sector. He argued, “When there is a National
Book Commission, there will be development in the sector. The
commission will be concerned with issues relating to books ranging
from authorship, publishing, book selling, and editing among others …”

WHEN the Nigeria International Book Fair opens, it will also provide
opportunity for children to see all kinds of books. According to
Kolawole, there is no better opportunity for children to see a large
collection of books in the country today than at the book fair.
  He noted, “In the past when the book trade was well-structured in
Nigeria, parents took their children to bookshops; they had the
benefit of entering a bookshop and seeing an array of books, but now
the children do not know if bookshops exist anymore because the books
are brought to their schools.
  “That is a major problem we are facing in this country. When one is
talking about reading culture, once one gets to the bookshop, one will
even buy more than the books he is looking for. There is something
about the atmosphere when you enter into a bookshop that encourages
you to want to buy and read books, but today the reverse is the case.
Some parents do not even bother; they spend lots of money buying
movies than buying books.
  “Once they hear about the latest movie in town, they will rush to
get that movie. Such attention is not being focused on books. The only
books these children see are the textbooks they use in school. So, how
are they going to improve their reading habits? The book fair is
creating that opportunity for children to come around and see
different kinds of book, ranging from literature books, fiction and
non-fiction books. There is no way a child will come to the book fair
and not be impacted upon positively”.

Echoes Of Revolution In Emema’s A Plague of Gadflies



PERHARPS his name may not ring a bell now. But his works in the 80s may still stir the memory about his works, which may still linger on the minds of lovers of television drama.  Paul Emema worked behind the camera, as writer, producer and director of some Nigeria’s tele-dramas among them are Behind the Clouds and Supple Blues.
  In the mid 90s, his name was synonymous with educational offerings like Intended Outcomes, a tele-drama aimed at bringing about positive social re-engineering. It was sponsored by the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA). Emema doubled as director and producer of the trend-setting I Need to Know television series that ran for eight seasons.
  Against this background, the reading from his book A Plague of Gadflies published last year brings to mind again his contribution to the development of television dramas. It makes use of traditional folklore and oral performance, a satirical statement about a world Emema knows too well. The dramatic impact is structured around the best of African traditions, of a nation plagued by corruption, tottering and on the brink; it’s a nation succumbing to the plague of decadence gnaws at everything.
  Though written as far back as 1993, it captures the trend of events happening in today’s Nigeria, what with the menace of the Boko Haram sect. it also echoes the revolt in other parts of Africa - Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and others. Emema, while holding us individually responsible as active participants, carefully and clearly points out the path of redemption.
  A Plague of Gadflies is set in his native Niger Delta, of a simmering intensity that sends up the resource-rich but poverty-stricken realm of oily corruption.
  According to Emema, “The play is dedicated to the healing of Nigeria and all God’s wounded children in Africa; it satirizes the strange doings in the land of Ovrode in the heart of the Niger Delta. The traditional ruler of Ovrode, Ovie Gideon Ogbighe Okumagba, who bears the alias ‘The Night Fox’, holds court with a special breed of potentates known as the Royal Blood. The corruption of the cosmos by these controllers of economic and political power leads up to the choice of Isaiah Akpojaro as the next Odio-logbo, to wit, the noble Chief Adviser to His Majesty.”
   Emema pointed out that “Corruption is not from the government alone but it is all over the place - from the contractors to the private sector. We, as individuals, should check ourselves. I may have used the traditional setting to express my views but it boils down to looking at ourselves because we all makes up the government”.
 Producer and director of Visual Network, Iloyd Weaver, commended the drive in Emema’s pen that seeks to makes a mark.
   He said, “Emema’s courage should be saluted for giving us an epic-proportion play in this age of minimalist plays. As a big play, A Plague of Gadflies is reminiscent of the vast canvass of the late Ola Rotimi in The Gods Are Not To Blame and Kurunmi. His words are aptly deployed, and the proverbs are a joy to behold. The book deserves to travel far and wide.
  “In the book, Samson Akpojaro, the half-brother of Isaiah, aided by the fiery Ochonogo, leads a handful of freedom fighters who, alongside the entire populace, initiate an uprising that dislodges the regime of corruption. It all comes to a head at the time of the spiritual and ritual festival of peace called Egba. Houses are burnt and the revolting freedom fighters take the offspring of the oppressive gang hostage such that members of the Royal Blood are left with only the clothes they are wearing at the time of the mayhem. The revelation comes over the filthy lucre - the bags of cowries and the parcels of land they collected from Isaiah Akpojaro - members of the Royal Blood never bothered to offer the requisite traditional sacrifice to the ancestors.
  “The 23 years that His Majesty Okumagba had been on the throne of Ovrode comes to such a pass that he pronounces banishment for the Royal Blood thus: “I, Gideon Ogbighe Okumagba – The Night Fox – as I live, and because my noble ancestors watch over my throne night and day, I pronounce your exile to Bini Kingdom until your deaths.”
  Even so, The Night Fox cannot bask in innocence because Edokpe with whom he had sworn to an oath of secrecy reveals that His Majesty also wallowed in corruption because of all the villagers’ farmlands he gave to “our foreigner friends” in exchange for the selfsame bags of cowry.
  “Emema has penned a prophetic play that expands the Niger Delta canvass of oil, blood and gore to encompass such happenings as the stepping-aside episode after the June 12, 1993 annulled election, the recent uprisings in North Africa and the Arab world, etc”.
  For Emema, the moral of his play could be a challenge starring his native country in the face, “the story reveals itself; it is only a matter of time that the little things we do catch up with us”.