To Young People in Rivers State; indigenes or not, I hope this message meets you well. It is my desire that it does.
There are obvious factors that may militate against such peace but we are conquerors. Let us win.
You have had a tumultuous period, from pre-elections violence to post elections slandering and hate-preaching.
This has claimed lives – especially of youths, people who we are told are the future of tomorrow – our very own sons, those that should shine. We have buried them for political gains and maybe out of sheer inability for tolerance of our differences, which make us human.
This rare act of having-sense, of understanding that there could be arguments, disagreements but then settlements, without the use of violence, wrenches the heart.
I grew up in Port Harcourt, spent my first 25 years on the streets of Port Harcourt. I attended a community secondary school, the Community Secondary School, Nkpolu-Oroworukwu, in Mile 3, Port Harcourt. I trekked in the sun and had worn-out sandals and torn uniforms so I may understand what it means to truly come from Port Harcourt.
Your life is yours, literally. You would have to use the seat belt of self-control and drive carefully to wherever you want it driven to – this life, this state.
I am particularly writing you because of something good that is coming to town. The 2016 Africa Movie Academy Awards would hold from June 11, 2016. Obviously, this programme is aimed at telling the world that Rivers State is safe for business and it would have African movie and music stars glow on the stage and share images on Instagram and Snapchat.
However, I would love you, dear young people in Rivers State to seize this opportunity firmly and make something meaningful off it.
This is what I mean. The event is co-sponsored by the Rivers State Government. Don’t attend it because you want to take a photograph with stars. That’s lame, sadly. Attend it because you wish to be spurred to make a meaning of your lives – to build contacts, to share your movies and to ask for the secret to selling your movies in the African market.
You may wish to know that AMAA has had several episodes of its show held in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. And luckily, I have attended some episodes. And during my attendance, sadly, I have not seen an indigenous Ijaw movie shown on the big screen. Does it mean that the people of the state are not dreamers or are not movie lovers? Sadly, despite the huge resources the Bayelsa State government has invested in AMAA over the years, there has not been a single indigenous workshop on screenwriting, film making, acting for film held by the body to encourage budding filmmakers and to allow Bayelsans tell their story too.
All I see on the days of the awards are local performances from the people and blind cheering without any thought of what the future holds. AMAA does not owe anyone an apology – or so I think. The government of Bayelsa does. It has been too silly not to have thought that AMAA could at least facilitate workshop in South Africa or Tanzania for Bayelsans.
Rivers young people should ask for this privilege.
The Rivers State Governor should bargain for a pre-awards workshop for budding filmmakers based in the state. That way, the stars that would visit would share expertise with young Rivers based film enthusiasts, so someday, the Rivers man may tell the story of his many successes and failures using film.
This letter is to awaken you – it is to let you know that film is a great business – it is to let you know that you can be a Monalisa Chinda or Tonto Dikeh. It is not about the glitz but purpose and usefulness. It is about asking your government to allow AMAA to recognise indigenous filmmakers through any adhoc venture possible and proceed to organising a workshop and maybe invest in a small scale film school so your taxes that would be used to keep this show going, can be meaningful to you.
God bless you and our dear state,