FOR stakeholders and professionals at this year’s edition of the Innovention Series, organised by the Verdant Zeal Group, telling the true African narratives, through its local media and its entertainment industry, has become imperative, if the continent is to realise its full potential.
The experts are drawn from different sectors of the nation’s economy, including the much-vilified Nigerian media and the nation’s ‘rave of the moment industry’, Nollywood, argued that one of the challenges presently facing the continent remains the fact that its narratives are always churned out from the information dissemination channels of the West; hence the obvious distortions and misrepresentation of the peoples’ real values.
Delivering her keynote address at the event, lawyer and business-woman, Mrs Bolanle Austen-Peters, wondered why the average Nigerian would be that negatively painted, when he in the true sense depicts creativity, hard-work and intelligence.
The founder of Terra Kulture and Bolanle Austen-Peters Productions stressed the need for the country to re-position and begin to tell her own positive narratives to the world, noting that the present-day developed economies had to take charge of their narratives before achieving to effectively position themselves.
“America,” said she, “is the greatest country in the world, God’s own country. Who says? Does it mean the country does not have her own negatives, her own challenges? She has, but it is all about positioning. It is all about the image she wants to sell to the outside world,” she argued.
She believes Nigeria has so much human and natural resources that could make her the cynosure of all eyes. “Why is it that in Nigeria we have not been able to package this array of incredible food that we have and make the world see and feel them?
“Unfortunately, nobody is looking at them. Nobody is looking at these assorted foods, being serious revenue earners for the country.
“If you go abroad and see the way the few arts that were stolen from Nigeria were repackaged, you begin to wonder what exactly our challenges are as a nation. For instance, how are we handling the ones (arts) that are here, which are not stolen?” she asked rhetorically.
Austen-Peters also sees the nation’s array of cultural festivals as a gold mine, left untapped.
“If the Rio Carnival in Brazil could be generating billions of dollars, what stops us from making Ojude Oba Festival in Ijebu Ode, the Opa Oranmiyan and other cultural attractions in the country, with far richer contents than Rio Carnival, money-spinners?” she argued.
She challenged the nation’s media and the entertainment industry to begin to tell Nigeria’s own narratives that would be different from those told by the West.
Speaking at the event, Founder and Publisher of Business Eye Magazine, Ibim Semenitari explained that her decision to go into journalism was informed by the need to tell the African narratives from the African perspective.
“Something needs to fill the gaps. The reputation of our country is what you say in songs, the contents you report on a daily basis in the newspapers and the entertainment the nation’s entertainment industry produces. That is why they must all be tailored towards depicting what we really represent,” she stated.
She is also of the belief that the media must play a crucial role, in the task of repositioning the country.
In his welcome remarks, Group Chief Executive Officer, Verdant Zeal Group, Mr Tunji Olugbodi, explained that this year’s edition of the series was informed by the need to build the country’s image, through media and entertainment.
He argued that despite the nation’s entertainment industry, Nollywood, being a money-spinner with a value worth about $3.3 billion, the challenge of the industry still remains severe revenue bleed, a development that has continued to retard the growth of the industry.
“According to 2014 statistics released by the Nigerian government, Nollywood was valued as a $3.3 billion sector, with 1,844 movies produced in 2013 alone.
“Of the industry’s $3 billion valuations, less than 1 percent was tracked from official ticket sales and royalties. The rest came from pirated reproductions sold by unauthorized vendors for roughly $2 each. As a result, producers and financiers see only a fraction of the movie industry’s economic value,” he argued.
The Verdant Zeal, however, expressed optimism that the challenges could be overcome through concerted strategy, by stakeholders in the industry to take ownership, build structures and inspire excellence.
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