The Youth Many Of Us Did Become And Will Not Become

By Odimegwu Onwumere

I started thinking again recently of my youthful days after reading Forbes edition of July 20, 2016 in which a 28-Year-Old John Crestani was said to have read the bible and the Bhagavad Gita (Hindu scripture) for years to make money, but his turning-point came after reading a business book and today he makes thousands of dollars a day. In short, Forbes has it that as a result of Crestani’s never-give up spirit, he built an associate marketing network that at the moment brings $250,000 to $500,000 per month to his pocket and he travels the world.

While I was mesmerizing on the fortunes of Crestani, there were and are going to be more 4.7 million middle and high school students using a tobacco product, alcohol. The researchers from the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had in 2011 heralded this rather ugly situation that has been befalling the youths. From east, west, north and south, many youths were not and some are becoming terrorists. But that was not at 21 when Crestani’s fortune came in 2009, when he fled Thailand after not being successful at college due to economic situation. Regrettably, many of us at that age hadn’t any other direction than to go to college or join trade or learn a skill or the other. We didn’t know and are not going to know that people were and are making millions of money on online businesses. In short, many of us had and have confusing direction of not knowing where to start from.

Crestani’s success at that age when most of us were and are still feeding from our parents pots of soup has made me to think of the youth I never was and many will not be. It is not that I was a loafer as a youth, but imagine where many of us were not married at 35, even at 40, due to economic challenges. Because of this, some persons have called the present youths a lost generation. But I beg to disagree on this, because Crestani and others from Nigeria never disappointed the 20th and 21st centuries. But before we go to Nigeria, we have Mark Elliot Zuckerberg, an American programmer, Internet entrepreneur, and philanthropist, born May 14, 1984, who together with his college roommates and fellow Harvard University students Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes launched Facebook from Harvard’s dormitory rooms and today, he is chairman, chief executive officer, and co-founder of Facebook with his net worth estimated to be US$51.2 billion, as of June 2016, ranking him as the 6th richest person in the world.

In Nigeria we have Orji Uzor Kalu – billionaire founder of Slok Group now 56 who was a millionaire at 19; there is Cosmos Maduka who was a street “akra” seller but now – founder of Coscharis Group (sole distributor of BMW vehicles in West Africa); we have Michael Collins Ifeanyi Enebeli Ajereh (aka Don Jazzy) – famous music producer and co-founder of defunct Mo’Hits Records, now CEO of Marvin Records, and many others. These persons made fortunes in their youthful days and many of us will not be the youths they were and are. The wealth many of us did not make yesterday is a great problem to us today and it is going to be a greater problem to youths of tomorrow who fail to make wealth today. Many a youth would hinge their failures on the two recessions hitting the world known as “the Great Recession and the Greater Recession”. But for ages, recession has not been aloof, yet many poor persons sent poverty on errand. We will continue to have such things as reduction in all goods and services, yet, many youths will spring up to be renown and many will not be. Many of us had thought and still think that youths with low education will not be successful in the attainment of incomes. However, just on Sep 23, 2011 there was the “Forbes 400: The Self-Made Billionaire Entrepreneurs Who Said No To College”. The number must have increased by now in the part of clime where the survey was conducted and around the world where survey is yet to be conducted on such.

Many of us as youths were and never and (are) going to be indoctrinated into joining radical groups and movements. We know the story behind the Hitler Youth, especially in Rhineland city of Bruehl, where in 1939, membership in Nazi youth groups was made mandatory “for all boys and girls between the ages of ten and eighteen.” According to a statement credited to Adolf Hitler in 1938, “These boys and girls enter our organizations at ten years of age, and often for the first time get a little fresh air; after four years of the Young Folk they go on to the Hitler Youth, where we have them for another four years . . . And even if they are still not complete National Socialists, they go to Labor Service and are smoothed out there for another six, seven months . . . And whatever class consciousness or social status might still be left . . . the Wehrmacht (German armed forces) will take care of that.”

Many of us didn’t grow, have grown and are going to grow obesity.

There were, are, never many anxious, depressed, anti-social youths. Many had, have never and are going to have these traits. On Monday 13 September 2004, I read an article by a Madeleine Bunting in the Guardian, saying, “Three-generation survey reveals sharp decline in teenage mental health.” We were meant to understand that “The mental health of teenagers has sharply declined in the last 25 years and the chances that 15-year-olds will have behavioural problems such as lying, stealing and being disobedient, have more than doubled.” These are some of the traits some of us had, never had and are going to have. The paper went forward, “The rate of emotional problems such as anxiety and depression has increased by 70% among adolescents, according to the biggest time trend study conducted in Britain.”

In my time as a youth, behavioural problems were not common, but today, the source said that between 1974, 1986 and 1999, behavioural problems have increased above the roof. “The deterioration of adolescents’ mental health in Britain is in contrast to the findings of research in the US which showed that a comparable decline tailed off in the 90s, while in Holland, there was no decline at all,” said the study. From Harriet Sergeant of Daily Mail, 19 September 2009, showed how “a generation of violent, illiterate young men are living outside the boundaries of civilised society… Thousands of teenage boys are failing to make the successful transition to manhood.”

I was meant to understand that many millions of youths had left, never left, are leaving and are going to leave school without gaining the basic qualifications of five good GCSEs. When the society cannot provide for these youths who have had no prerequisite qualifications to fend for themselves, they turn to crime. We are today seeing the uncountable number of crimes ongoing among the youths across the world. Governments, groups and individuals can only be putting up initiatives for early interventions in the lives of youths, but certainly, there will continue to be a John Crestani that many youths did become, are to become and will not become.

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Rivers State-Nigeria based poet, writer and consultant.

Email: odimegwu@journalist.com

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Film: Tool for Socio-cultural Integration and Tourism Promotion

By Odimegwu Onwumere

 

Film, as the word implies, is defined as a thin sheet or strip of flexible material, such as a cellulose derivative or a thermoplastic resin, coated with a photosensitive emulsion and used to make photographic negatives or transparencies. In an online report, rom the Old English filmen in the Indo-European roots, it is believed among them that one indication of the gulf between them and their Victorian predecessors is that the Oxford English Dictionary fascicle containing the word film, published in 1896, does not have the sense “a motion picture.” The one hint of the future to be found among still familiar older senses of the word, such as “a thin skin or membranous coating” or “an abnormal thin coating on the cornea,” is the sense of film used in photography, a sense referring to a coating of material, such as gelatin, that could substitute for a photographic plate or be used on a plate or on photographic paper. Thus a word that has been with them since Old English times took on this new use, first recorded in 1845, which has since developed and now refers to an art form, a sense first recorded in 1920. Thereafter, often used in the plural, movies became a sequence of photographs projected onto a screen with sufficient rapidity as to create the illusion of motion and continuity.

sam dede

(Sam Dede; Nigerian Actor)

 

However, on the theme of Film as a Tool for Socio-cultural Integration and Tourism Promotion, it is imperative to say that Africans, precisely the present day people called Nigerians, didn’t know what film was till when in 1903 the first film was shown at Glover Hall, Lagos; and thereafter in 1904, the first film titled Palaver was shot in Jos, in the present day Plateau State. Before these events took place, Nigerians were enmeshed in folklores, according to the myths of their different ethnic groups before they were amalgamated in 1914, by Sir Lord Luggard. Aftermath of Palaver, film-showing and cinema-going was politicized by the British and American exploiters. Through their makeshift cinema vehicles, they inculcated the much sorted socio-cultural integration and tourism promotion. This polarization of film-showing and film-going was sustained through a platform called Colonial Film Unit.

 

In the recent times, Nigerian films have been produced since the 1960s. It is on record that the rise of affordable digital filming and editing technologies has stimulated the country’s video film industry. Later in the 1990s, the movie industry in Nigeria tremendously progressed. Today, Nigeria has the second largest film industry in the world, and rated largest in the Africa’s movie industry – in terms of the value of the movie industry and the number of annual film production. In this regard, film in Nigeria has brought dividends of eco-political empowerment, socio-cultural integration and tourism promotion. Nigeria’s annual film production is ahead of the United States but behind the Indian film industries. This was why Hala Gorani and Jeff Koinange, who were formerly of the Cable News Network (CNN) said, Nigeria has a US$250 million movie industry, churning out some 200 videos for the home video, market monthly.

 

In his Keynote Address at the 2nd National Film Festival, 27th November, 2003, titled, In Defence of the Films We Have Made, Odia Ofeimun, a radical Nigerian poet/author, said that film does represent a deep psychological implant pressed into place by so many untold and even unspeakable events in our history. It looks like an underdeveloped prong of the collective mind of a whole nation. But it is actually the result of a deliberate scrambling of categories and genre for the sake of effect in a society where the truth of history is still being told unnecessarily in whispers. Arguably, in western scholarship, such a fare of screen narratives would be appreciated as a special category. In literature, critics of African literature have moved from talking about magical realism, as Latin Americans pursue it, to what our South African-based critic, Harry Garuba, has called animist realism.

 

In the said 1960s, the Nigerian films were dominated by the people from Yoruba ethnic group, thereby giving the people of that region an edge to showcase their culture. And they were manned by Hubert Ogunde, Duro Ladipo, Kola Ogunmola, Moses Olaiya (Baba Sala), Ola Balogun and others, whom Ofeimun, described as, tough-minded denizens of folk drama. These indigenous Nigerian film pioneers were frustrated by high cost of film production, but they were never discouraged owing to the cultural ties and tourism they were integrating Nigerians through their films. It was as a result of the unrelenting spirit of these film-dudes that television broadcasting in Nigeria, which began in 1960s, received much government support in its early years; and every state had its own broadcasting station by the mid-1980s. It was the efforts of these Nigerian film-dudes that the government law moderated foreign television content to enable the Nigerian film producers showcase their products. As a result, producers in Lagos began televising local popular theater productions, which are not far from the films of the persons mentioned above for Nigeria’s socio-cultural integration and tourism promotion. Many of that were circulated on video as well, and a small scale informal video movie trade developed.

 

In promoting our culture, it is a known truth, said Ofeimun, that rather than wait on the imports from Hollywood which speak to our common humanity by denying or simply being indifferent to whatever we could call our own, the home-video woke up something that was once there but had been stamped underfoot by managers of the national and sub-regional cultural economy. Not to forget, this was happening when swindlers in the political marketplace were emplacing homegrown democracy with one hand and displacing it with the other. The video arrived in the most homegrown attire that it could weave for itself in a country where the search for foreign exchange had become the defining factor in national dream-making. It turned its back on the dollar trail and reached out for the Naira without hesitation.

 

Rather than the dollar-mania that had overtaken all comers, it sought an import-substitution aesthetic which insisted on building a comparative advantage not as a subaltern of the imported Hollywood stuff but its avid displacer. Whereas in every other area of economic activity, imports have killed the local industry, the home-video industry is one area in which the avalanches of CDs and DVDs that have come as bounties from off-shore bootlegging confederations have merely widened the room for the video marketers to dance.

 

The emergence of film in Nigeria has integrated Nigerian authors to lengthen the showcasing of their arts through films, as a result, widening the scope of that genre’s culture which was previously read by those who cared.

 

Film is widening the cultural relationship and tourism promotion between Nigeria and other countries since the staging of the first National Film Festival in 1993. The festival broke the disparity in the West African coast, relationship with the member states, which were only glued by the awkward smuggling of goods. Film breached the debasement the international creditors meted out on us, in the words of Ofeimun, as those who lapped up what others produced while abandoning their own. Film in Nigeria broke the pariah on cross border trade which was centred on feeding the stomach and brought about the exploration and exploitation of indigenous artistic talents. This broken jinx ended the years of centralised knowledge or awareness: those who could not read books can now watch films, thereby making the culture of Nigerians go round, as against the years when it was few Nigerians that could tell which highlife musicians, authors, or fine artists were doing what within the West coast.

 

Many academics and intellectuals, especially Onokome Okome, Jonathan Haynes, Hyginus Ekwuazi, Wole Ogundele, Obodinma Oha, Brian Larkin and Dul Johnson, made it their business to monitor and censor film, which’s seen by them as art, business and social ideology – with elements of culture and tourism in any defined society. It is only film that can tell story in a way that no other medium can do. Film has integrated the Onitsha Market Literature and widened the culture of only buying and selling, for the inculcation of socio-culture awareness. Likewise, the same is applicable in the Kano Market Literature.

 

His film, Amadi, Ola Balogun had to show the cultural affinity that a people can relate with people from other ethnic group by producing a movie in such a people’s language. It is on record that Amadi is clearly an experimental film: an Igbo film made by a Yoruba. Films such as Cinaventures’ Bisi – Daughter of the River, Ladi Ladebo’s pairing with African American Ossie Davis and in Countdown at Kusini and his later productions, Taboo and Vendorlack in the true and original tale of communality of Africans, thereby making us to grasp the visual results and not in authenticating its Africanness and our culture. Films like Dinner with the Devil by Sanya Dosunmu and Wole Amele and Eddie Ugbomah production, and The Great Attempt which were banned by the film censors, perhaps met their waterloos, because they breached the culture of Nigeria.

 

Hubert Ogunde’s film, Aiye, was termed the modal film of witchcraft, showcasing the Yoruba tradition and their cosmic cultural endowment, which Ofeimun calls, cultural economics. Amaka Igwe, Olu Jacobs and Joke Silva, Zack Orji, Tunde Kelani, Galadima, Liz Benson, Kenneth Nnebue, Peter Edochie, Sam Loco Efe, Zeb and Chico Ejiro, Mofe Damijo, Yinka Quadri, Genevieve Nnaji, Jide Kosoko, Omotola Ekehinde, Zack and Fred Amata, became directors, producers, actors and actresses coming from different cultural divides. In the words of Ofeimun, they are new denizens on the block. Their emergence brought about the Nollywood, as it is known today, widening our culture and promoting tourism.

 

Nollywood was set by the release of Living in Bondage critics called the box-office movie in 1992 by NEK Video Links owned by Kenneth Nnebue in the eastern city of Onitsha. The Promotion of tourism in the story goes that Kenneth Nnebue had an excess number of imported video cassettes which he then used to shoot the first film. The huge success of that film set the pace for others to produce other films or home videos. It is a known fact that through the business instincts and ethnic links of the Igbo and their dominance of distribution in major cities across Nigeria, home videos began to reach people across the country. Nollywood exploded into a booming industry that pushed foreign media off the shelves. Against the early Yoruba filmmakers who used local languages, the use of English rather than local languages served to expand the market and fierce marketing using posters, trailers, and television advertising also played a role in Nollywood’s success, bringing back the British and Americans Colonial Film Unit, when films were shown in mobile vans.

 

However, in Europe, in its Cross Border Cooperation: Neighbourhood Programmes under Technical Aid to the Commonwealth of Independent States (TACIS) programme, the European Union launched its “Wider Europe – New Neighbourhood” initiative in 2003. The creation of Neighbourhood Programmes, covering the period 2004-2006, became the first step in implementation of the new instrument. The Neighbourhood Programmes as a bi/trilateral programmes and regional/multilateral cooperation programmes, involved both sides of the European Union’s external borders. They supported local and regional authorities and organisations inside and outside the Union to work together to improve the economic and social conditions of the areas concerned, to address common challenges, ensuring efficient and secure borders as well as promoting people-to-people contacts. The initiative seek to address the challenges posed by proximity and neighbourhood, aimed at working with neighbouring countries towards improving conditions for the free movement of goods, services, capital and persons as well as developing a zone of prosperity and friendly neighbourhood.

 

“Paving the Way for a New Neighbourhood Instrument”, the Commission adopted the Communication as part of its new policy, which envisaged the creation of a new instrument for dealing with the common challenges arising from proximity related issues on external borders of the enlarged EU. Among the many examples of projects that were carried out by the initiative, a successful project for national and international heritage reservation was the one entitled, Arctic Archives and Films under Restoration in Barents Region (AARE). The project aimed at increasing the know-how of the Russian partners (from Murmansk and Arkhangelsk) in restoring, digitising and archiving of the unique audiovisual materials – arctic documentary films, as well as to facilitate their public access.

 

Film as a Tool for Socio-cultural Integration and Tourism Promotion, however, has brought much good to humankind. Film has brought quantitative studies increasingly dominating analyses of conflict, issues of data validity which have many a times received tremendous consideration. Our local cultures are in sojourn all over the world through film. In the interaction of cultures, globalisation is also setting the pace.

 

With the approach that local cultures are overwhelmed, it is on record that there is sufficient evidence, in accord with a comment that ‘dynamic cultures will overcome conservative cultures’. In another vein, reports explicate that attempts by Nigerian video films to mainstream along the lines of global commercial culture could explain their superficial commitment to culture… since the elements of local cultures are daily refined by influences which dictate the mainstreaming of values to fit global prescriptions. That, itself, brings into question the optimism of a former Secretary-General of the United Nations who, in reference to nationhood and cultural projection, stated (De Cuellar, 1995: 7): “Nationhood… has led each people to challenge the frame of reference in which the West’s system of values alone generated rules assumed to be universal and to demand the right to forge different versions of modernization.” A different view is the interpretation that ‘forging different versions of modernization’ means projecting a version of local culture which suits the demands of global popular culture.

 

Gelete: Irin Ajo Eda Laye, says the report, which chronicles facets of a man’s journey through life and was produced by a former television personality – Jaiye Ojo, is another. The film is said to be a collage of the lives of different people from different backgrounds: intrigues, desperation, greed, misfortune, betrayal, and leaves lessons… it portrays Yoruba culture in its richness, leaving out the kind of abusive and rotten language used in some other films, ostensibly to raise their popular appeal.

 

The world cup and other world’s grand finales are today extolled by their fans through film. The case of the world cup in South Africa is an immense case study. People, who could not be there live, were united as fans by the televised world cup films in what many call Film Centres for Football. In the Film Centres for Football, a Christian could shake hand with a Muslim, irrespective of their religious background, and an American can sit with an Iraqi and watch football film, irrespective of their countries wrangling, and so on.

 

Nigerians can’t thank the Nigerian Film Corporation, set up in 1979, and the Nigerian Film Distribution Company enough, for playing very great-secondary roles in their affirmative consequence towards emancipating our film. Posterity will always remember foundation and pioneering work of Nigerian filmmakers like Sanya Dosunmu, Jab Adu, Ola Balogun and Eddie Ugbomah; Ade Foloyan, Moses Adejumo Olaiya, Herbert Ogunde and Bankole Bello. As part of its cultural preservation programmes, in 2009, UNESCO called for greater support for Nollywood, which it said, is the second-largest employer in Nigeria.

 

About the Author: 

Odimegwu Onwumere, Poet/Author, is a Poets for Human Rights member, USA., co-founded by Poet Laureate Larry Jaffe, the author of One Child Sold; and a Champions For Nigeria Resident Poet, United Kingdom . Onwumere is a voracious reader, prolific writer, researcher, poet, thinker, social critic, political analyst, an activist, etc. He has published four books namely: Piquant: Love Poems To Prince Tonye Princewill (2008), The many wrong doings of Madam do-good (2009), Through the Crucible (2012) and The Disgrace of Marriage (2012). Tel: +2348032552855.

Transcript from Odimegwu Onwumere’s speech on Saturday, May 24th 2014, for being a nominee of the Promasidor Quill Awards for journalists which event took place at the Grand Ballroom, Eko Hotel & Suites, Lagos

Men of the Press, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Today marks another milestone for journalism in Nigeria. It is a day when people of the media are again celebrated. It is a day that patriots are recognized outside politics. I am grateful to share in this banquet. Although, I cannot remember the actual date when I began the work that drew smiles on the faces of these honourable judges that have won me this nomination today.

Odimegwu Onwumere

But I can remember it was 9-something in the morning on May 20, 2014 when I received a call from a soft-spoken Mr. Charles Igbinedu who introduced himself as calling from Promasidor. And I had been nominated for the Promasidor Quill Awards. I was immediately and loudly, ecstatic. I remember Mr. Igbinedu laughing quietly at me.

My mind raced straight to the powerful and generous editor of the “Nigerian Pilot” who read my article and saw fit to publish it.  My mind still turned as hundreds of thoughts moved through my head like the wind.  I’m not sure that I can thank the editor enough. But I believe him to be one of the great un-explored media gurus in the country.  He is an intelligent and humble man who recognized human dignity and I look forward to day when we meet in person so I can shake his hand in appreciation and gratitude.

It is my greatest joy to continue my career’s journey celebrating this nomination today.  Though even as I do, out there – in the towns and villages – there are many talented people who could have just as easily been here with us, maybe even as winners, sharing their mammoth experiences through the written word. These persons with the rare and powerful gift of the written word locked inside, work steadily at hidden altars of writing without acknowledgement, appreciation, completely unknown. I was once just like them!

While this nomination I am receiving today could be attributable to the untiring hard work that began in 1994, I understand that great words than mine are being placed on paper that we never see.  I have listened to the radio and watched TV where governments at all levels have awarded national honours to people. Folks among them did not contribute what many of the newspapers, radio, TV, citizen editors and journalists contribute on daily basis in making sure that there is a balanced society. Yet, I am not sure we do not have any that has been recognized in that capacity.

If there is any, check the person proper, he or she might not be neutral with his or her journalism practice and with the government activities. But I’ve heard of such awards, awarded to musicians, films actors, footballers… And everyday, there are complaints that our children and education are spiraling down. Then we ask, instead of “Bring Back The Book” as President Goodluck Jonathan started championing the project since 2010, what the government, at all levels, seem keen to bring back are the downsizing of literary people with an uttermost scorn.

The Guild of Editors today, is calling for funds to erect its official edifice. The Nigerian Writers Association’s (ANA’s), acres of land in Abuja have been there for years without any significant building that could be called ANA’s erection on it. The same story plays out with journalists. News websites in Nigeria hardly store or keep information on their different news sites for long period of time, unlike their western counterparts.

And I read somewhere that Nigeria would be using Africa as its “Internet Password” or something, like you have United Kingdom signing with UK. I ask, how can our children pay attention to reading when their government has shown and indirectly been infusing in them that these professions are better than literary works. Hence, our children model these professionals as role models against literary men in this country.

It could be such a mindset that propelled a lady I was bird-eyeing some years ago to abscond, because I told her that I was a writer. The comment that came out of her already poisoned mind was, “Writers do not feed well in Nigeria.” Another lady was uncomfortable to stay in my house and did not want to do anything with me again in life after seeing from the entrance of my apartment to the floor, to the parlour, bedroom, kitchen, in short, the whole of my house were books and newspapers.

When I asked why she ran away I learned she was worried that I hadn’t television, big records, computer games and other of her fantasies the environment had poisoned her mind with being more important than books. She saw books and newspapers as taboo and avoided the reader like a plague. Then, you wonder how seriously such a girl would take to reading. But by tomorrow, you will not be surprised to see her winning one national award, because she represented her state, school or the country as Miss XYZ, whereas her mates and elders who had buried their lives in books would not receive such acknowledgment. This is why I fought to make sure my words are not left unread, unknown on my altar and earn this nomination.

This is where the country has ebbed to. It is the same even in religion, everywhere. The journalist in Lagos or Abuja or elsewhere working hard to succeed in a pious manner is not given the same respect as his 419ner-mate enjoys or as the contractor, pension/police funds looters enjoy. Let me digress!

It is the same media that has been promoting and popularizing certain sections of religions, that have planted an obnoxious mindset, a thinking that they own the concept of “God”, simply because they are popular.

It would behove the authorities to give traditional believers the same status they have given to the two foreign religions of Christianity and Islam in the country. The marriages and activities of traditional believers should also be made popular and recognized. Recognised heads of villages in the country should be constitutionally empowered to sign traditional marriage bond. They should be allowed to enjoy any benefit that Christians and Muslims enjoy in Nigeria. Without this, Nigeria is yet to become a secular country!

I say that traditional believers should not (even atheists)  be relegated in Nigeria, because Arch-Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa once wrote a book titled, “God is not a Christian”. He says that one’s conscientiousness about God depends on where one was born. If you were born say in Afghanistan you will probably be a Muslim; if you were born in England you will probably be a Christian and vis-à-vis. I want to appeal that our history as a people from different ethnic groups in Nigeria, did not start with the coming of the rapacious Imperial Masters. It is time to invalidate the constitution of Nigeria and make traces of a constitution that will show largely what we believe in.  And practice as a people and not what Europe or America wants us to believe in.

Some of us have been writing for decades in Nigeria but still live a life of squalor. Footballers and artistes are promoted with funds. In this era of technologies, the internet is inundated with Nigerian writers. Many of them are not paid. Not even many of those working in the print houses. I was once told by a brother that came back from Europe that anything a freelancer contributed that was published in the newspapers there would, at least, place a plate of food on the table of the freelancer.

But the case here is that many of the newspapers houses are out of business and many more might go soon. Because, they do not have sponsors in government; their owners are not the occupants of either the state or federal government houses. The same is applicable to radio and TV stations. Some of these stations keep talking about football from the early hours in the morning they open to the next morning they want to on break. Because, Mr. President or Mrs. Governor is a fan of one foreign football clubs, whereas he or she is not a fan of one local football clubs, let alone, being a member of any literary organizations in the country that were instituted by individual efforts.

I’ve said in different forums that governments at all levels need to revive writers in Nigeria and the media houses as a matter of urgency. I have always said that the Nigerian government has to provide for the Nigerian writers/media men, like it has done to performance artistes in 2010. Government should invest in cultural infrastructure, such as the building of theatres, stadia, releasing funds to newspapers companies and hosting large festivals all over the country for writers/media men at all levels.

Government should build the Abuja Writers’ Village, which the late Mamman Jiya Vatsa procured for the Nigerian writers in 1985. The 56 acres of land is located at Mpape, a suburb of the Federal Capital, Abuja. The lackadaisical manner with which  government treat  writers/media men in the country is largely  responsible for  the underdeveloped reading/Education culture in the country  and, this should be quickly  addressed if we are serious about developing reading culture in Nigeria.

The government should help writers/media men by building standard and state-of-the-art publishing, radio/TV industries to cut cost of publishing. Constant scarcity of printing materials and electricity problem should abate. Dearth of trained publishing personnel should be re-addressed. Writing and broadcasting in indigenous languages should be re-awakened. The inconsistent education policies and lack of direction on the part of operators should be quickly addressed. Piracy and poor promotion and distribution of books should be aggressively dealt with.

My thanks, again, is not enough for the efforts of one man in helping me reach this point at the Promasidor Quill Award today. But I would like to dedicate this to the Feature Editor of the Nigerian Pilot, Mr. Alozie Emma. While that may last, it might be imperative that authorities should beam their lights on people like Alozie. He is a hidden treasure.

I thank all of you who have gathered here today and have waited patiently as the awards activities unfold. It was my article titled, “CSR: Companies Fare In Nigeria” that has brought me this far. We are only two nominees in the category of the awards called, “Best CSR & Industry Report of the Year”. And one person won.

promasidor

I thank my family members and relatives, my Chi, the organisers/sponsors of the awards, those who have assisted me in one way or another in my writing/media career.  I thank the Nigerian Pilot, inventors of the internet, the media houses and journalists across the world for always being innovative even in this world of uncertainties. Where in many countries journalists are seen and treated as terrorists and their media houses, theatres for terrorism.

I send my warmest regards to all the pen-pushers who are unjustly thrown into the prison. My empathy also goes to writers/media men who were killed by the enemies of truth they tried to unravel, as I appreciate the invaluable nomination for the Promasidor Quill Awards for journalists.

Thank you.

If there was one thing I could change to improve education in my country…

By Odimegwu Onwumere

Reading culture is dying in Nigeria. A tiny number out of about 160 million people have healthy reading habits institutionalised. Majority just enlist into various schools. Many have graduated. They are all for the obtainment of certificates. This habit is causing our country harm. Half-baked educated people dot the streets. Reading of books isn’t taken seriously. Against this backdrop, Nigeria needs a reading transformational initiative campaign for individual’s personal knowledge. It is my desire that our countrymen and women should engage, communicate and learn. Personal knowledge, not schooling, is the only thing that can make our today count and have a firm grip of the future.

Sidney Davis, a scholar from Kittery Point, Maine, saw reading as the utmost, saying that true education teaches HOW to critically think, not WHAT to think, it consists mainly of what we need to unlearn and not so much what we learn, it is not to worship at the altar of what is known, but to question it. Napoleon Hill added in his book – Think And Grow Rich – that an educated man is not, necessarily, one who has an abundance of general or specialized knowledge. An educated man is one who has so developed the faculties of his mind…

OdimegwuOnwumere

Hill had said so before Nelson Mandela, who was the first African to be the president of his native country of South-Africa, in the aftermath of a racial apartheid in which some Europeans imposed on South Africa that started from 1948 and ended in 1991, said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Many see Mandela’s statement to mean schooling, but this is wrong. Twenty seven years in an apartheid jail did not limit his education.  Hill was right. What people go to school to do is to acquire “specialized knowledge”, which invariably is called ‘indoctrination’, without actually being educated. Unlike in schooling, education has no daily curriculum to follow. Education improved as the communities developed, which later became the stand for schooling to spring up. Sidney Davis was right.

It is this ‘indoctrination’ that makes a professor of a faculty in a university to be grounded in a course, yet, is financially poor. This is not the same with an educated person. He or she has every tendency of going beyond limitation to do the unlimited. So, an educated person has a very strong intuition and imagination, which know no bounds. A schooled person only knows the intimation he or she has gotten through schooling.

Education is an awakener. School only teaches. The power of education can make one do what a schooled person cannot. Robert Frost, a renowned poet, who was born in 1874 and lived until 1963, said: “Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.” Education does not indoctrinate, but what many people erroneously refer to as education is schooling.

What we have in schooling that we call education are combinations of cultures, which have brought the world much narrow-mindedness. Education does not harm. Schooling is a formation of methodological ideas transferred from one generation to another. One who went through schooling yet, might not have educated him or herself, thoughts, judgments and so on. This is why a medical doctor is not even schooled where an engineer is. Whereas there are people who were not opportune to go through what is known today as formal-schooling, yet, they are grounded in their native wisdoms, arts and sciences. This is natural and unpolluted. They live in peace and are not detrimental to nature, which our school acquisitions loathe and treat like viruses.

Henry Ford was regarded as one of America’s foremost industrialists, who revolutionized assembly-line modes of production for the automobile. He lived between July 30, 1863 to April 07, 1947. According to Napoleon Hill, Ford never believed in a “general” or “specialized” knowledge to make history in engineering, having barely gone through formal-schooling. But he exhibited the power of an educated person.

Hill tells us that Ford brought a suit against a Chicago newspaper which called Ford “an ignorant pacifist” in its editorials during the World War. Upon knowing that he was not (well) formally-schooled, Ford objected the statement.  The lawyers who were handling the matter thought that Ford was an uneducated fellow by using logical questions thinking they could intimidate him, but they failed. The questions are: “Who was Benedict Arnold?” and “How many soldiers did the British send over to America to put down the Rebellion of 1776?” Ford replied in answer to the last question, “I do not know the exact number of soldiers the British sent over, but I have heard that it was a considerably larger number than ever went back.”

However, becoming bored of this line of questioning, Ford used the “education” (not schooling) he had deposited in himself and asked the lawyer who was troubling him with the questions. Reportedly, Ford said: “If I should really WANT to answer the foolish question you have just asked, or any of the other questions you have been asking me, let me remind you that I have a row of electric push-buttons on my desk, and by pushing the right button, I can summon to my aid men who can answer ANY question I desire to ask concerning the business to which I am devoting most of my efforts. Now, will you kindly tell me, WHY I should clutter up my mind with general knowledge, for the purpose of being able to answer questions, when I have men around me who can supply any knowledge I require?”

Hill says that the answer floored the lawyer. Every person in the courtroom realized it was the answer, not of an ignorant man, but of a man of EDUCATION, hence the maxim: “Any man is educated who knows where to get knowledge when he needs it, and how to organize that knowledge into definite plans of action. Through the assistance of his “Master Mind” group, Henry Ford had at his command all the specialized knowledge he needed to enable him to become one of the wealthiest men in America. It was not essential that he had this knowledge in his own mind. Surely no person who has sufficient inclination and intelligence…”

Hill hinges his point concerning Ford’s knack, saying: “The faculties of the great universities possess, in the aggregate, practically every form of general knowledge known to civilization. Most of the professors have but little or no money. They specialize on teaching knowledge, but they do not specialize on the organization, or the use of knowledge.”

Ford was one man who put “personal knowledge” into action. He put the real meaning of the word “educate”, which was derived from the Latin word “educo,” meaning to educe, to draw out, to ‘develop within’, into action. Like Ford, according to Forbes periodicals of August 23 2011, there are over 400 self-made billionaires on the “Forbes 400 Richest Americans List”, who did not go to college. This has pushed people into asking if formal-schooling is necessary.

It is indispensable to make it clear that being educated should not be misconstrued as having fulfilled an obligation in a formal informative regulation like colleges and universities for a detailed period. This could be called enlightenment, but, yet, the person who had undergone through this enlightenment only got a precise ground of study, which does not espouse education in generality. In clarity, while education is developing self through both specified and unspecified means, the Webster’s dictionary has this to say about schooling: It is the process of being taught, such as in a school…

Having said that, it is vital we see those who did not go to school but embraced other forms of enlightenment as educated persons. They also grow as those who went to school grow in invention and expand in their knowledge as the knowledge of those who went to school expands. Education should not be limited only to the acquiring of basic skills of history, geography, religion, social studies, music, sciences, philosophies, and arts or mathematics, reading, writing, and arithmetic, and many other disciplines. No. Education is more to these.

We must not forget that our forbears did not have formal-schooling, but lived and operated their environment systematically to soothe them. It was from their system that the modelling of formal-schooling began, without a definite date. Writing may be termed the origin of formal schooling; but languages, learning processes were in existence. The later were found in oral traditions of peoples. It’s important we begin to seek for knowledge, as if we want to die today. The more we desire this, the more places and things we know. We must change the misleading mentality of schooling, which is constraining us from gaining education. Through education, we know better and do better.

(This essay was *Shortlisted for the NUHA Adult Blogging Prize 2013*)

Odimegwu Onwumere is a poet, writer and media expert. He lives in the Port Harcourt Province of Rivers State, Nigeria. Tel: +2348057778358. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

 

BUY! BUY!! BUY!!! “The Disgrace of Marriage”

BUY! BUY!! BUY!!! “The Disgrace of Marriage” on Amazon.

The book discusses issues of immense importance in marriage and relationships. “The Disgrace of Marriage” is an awareness crusade book for people to understand how divorce started and the views of many people towards marriage. The book suggests reformations to people who are in marriages and those who want to venture into it, on how to go about the different approaches towards a befitting marriage.

NO AGE BARRIER! IT IS A BOOK FOR EVERY HOME, INDIVIDUAL OR GROUP. Don’t miss it!!!

Order for the Soft copy, following this link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GN82UNS

FOR HARD COPY ORDER, contact: +2348057778358

A REVIEW by Nkong Kima, BA (Hons), MA in English, University of Yaounde 1 (Cameroon): In an ongoing distorted world, it is rather hard to qualify which values are tolerable to human civility and which are not since what was formerly regarded sacrilegious has eventually found accommodation in our transformed society. The argument is centred on three distinct human personalities: the conservatives, the moderates and the fanatics. These three constitute the entire entity of humanity. While the conservatives think that the “old world” should be the lone sanctioned behaviour for mankind, the fanatics think otherwise. The moderates are “lost” midway and go by any order depending on the prevailing circumstances. What then is the acceptable norm?

The Disgrace of Marriage

Odimegwu Onwumere would like to identify himself with the first category, the conservatives. Onwumere is against any negative influence on the marriage institution. He frowns at the inception of the colonial hegemony in Africa which incidentally altered the marital institution of this sacred “Dark Continent”. In a rather confused attempt by the society to institutionalise the “new order”, he stands opposed to anything that contradicts the “old ideology”. Onwumere may be perceived by some readers as a fanatic of the “old order”.

But whatever the perception, it is important to note that the marriage institution remains the only institution which protects and propagates human values. If this institution is destroyed, our society is doomed as the current wave of crimes and destruction of lives and property would be a child’s play if the assault on the marriage institution and consequent erosion of our values are not halted forthwith.

The sound and witty presentation of facts, the intellectual urge accredited to them and the rare ingredient of wisdom inherent in “The Disgrace of Marriage” are the reasons why every beholder should count him or herself blessed to bump into this book or other publications of Onwumere.

ALSO BUY: “Through the Crucible” and “The Many Wrong Doings Of Madam Do-Good”. Order, following these links:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0089WYSVS and http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008223IBG

Odimegwu Onwumere is shortlisted for the NUHA Foundation blogging prizes

In the adult category of the ‘Nurturing Human Activity’ with the acronym (NUHA) blogging prizes, your favourite Poet/Writer/reporter on national and international issues, Odimegwu Onwumere has been among the seven writers shortlisted from the over forty five entrants for the this year’s adult category of NUHA blogging prizes competition.

This was contained in a press release made available by the editor of NUHA, Rumi Hamza by 2:33 PM, Tuesday 19th November 2013.

Part of the release reads: “We wanted to thank you for your participation in the NUHA Blogging Prizes, and thank all of your friends and family members who have also participated through voting, tweeting and commenting on our website and on Facebook.  We have thoroughly enjoyed reading your posts and exchanges, and we hope that you will continue to be involved in the NUHA Blogging Prizes next year. The time has now come to announce this year’s shortlist. (They are on): http://www.nuhafoundation.org/home/blog/bloggingentries

“Putting together this year’s shortlists, taking into account the votes, the debate generated and the intrinsic quality of your articles, has been a difficult task that has involved nearly a dozen volunteers.  In fact, we ended up shortlisting seven articles in the Adult category, rather than the six we had planned initially. This bears testimony to the strength and value of your ideas, and we hope that you will continue to engage with these questions of education and development,” said the editor, NUHA.

Onwumere who is full of joy to have thus come this far in the competition, said: “I want to thank all the persons who took time out of their busy schedule to read, vote and comment on my article. I hope to make it as one of the winners by December 10, when Hamza said the Winners of the Youth and Adult Prizes and of the Adult Runner-up Prize will be announced.

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Onwumere’s essay was titled, “If there was one thing I could change to improve education in my country”. The article could be found following this link:

http://www.nuhafoundation.org/home/blog/bloggingentries/2013/adult/if_there_was_one_thing_i_could_change_to_improve_education_in_my_country_o_onwumere#.UowYV2HWrIU

Book: The Many Wrong Doings of Madam Do-Good by Odimegwu Onwumere

The Many Wrong Doings of Madam Do-Good by Odimegwu Onwumere

Odimegwu Onwumere, a Poet/Author, Media Consultant, the Founder of Poet Against Child Abuse (PACA), has just published a fictional account of human trafficking and child abuse, as a child rights defender and human rights crusader.

Published by Macdyke publishers, Nigeria, the book is true revelations of the strategies human traffickers use to lure their unassuming victims into forced labour and the dangers human trafficking portends in the society.

According to Onwumere, “the book is a strong case study for every individual to understand that all of us are victims of child abuse or child abuser”.

The official launch of the book has been fixed for June 12, 2010, at UAC Guest House, #17/18, Opposite SCOA Motors, Forces Avenue, Old GRA, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, at 10am.

Publisher, National Network newspapers, Port Harcourt, Reverend Jerry Needam will chair the occasion, while Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, the Executive Governor of Rivers State will be the Special Guest of Honour. Chief Oby Ndukwe, Publisher, Beam, Port Harcourt, will be the Presenter. Guests of Honour will be Chief Martins Agbaso, the Leader, All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Imo State, and Alhaji Asari Dokubo, the Founder, Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force (NDPVF). Book Reviewer will be Barrister J.E Emeagi, Emeagi Chambers, Port Harcourt. Hon. Suage Badey, the Chairman, Rivers State Action Congress (RSAC) will be the Host.

Other dignitaries expected to grace the occasion are Mr. Tony Uranta, Secretary, UNDESS; Prince Ogbonna Nwuke, Rivers State Commissioner of Commerce and Industry; Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, Media Consultant to Prince Tonye Princewill; Actor Sam Dede; Barrister Osima Ginah, Rivers State Commissioner of Urban Development; Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, Head, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA); Dr. Davies Ikanya Ibiamu, Rivers State Commissioner for Special Duties; writers, poets, journalists, politicians and the distinguished members of the public.

“I hope the general public will be excited, not by judging the huge names involved, but by the huge revelations on human rights ‘the Many Wrong Doings of Madam Do-Good’ tends to expose,” said Odimegwu Onwumere.