It was pomp and pageantry in Ikeja, the capital of Lagos as the Creative Designers Guild of Nigeria, CDGN, in collaboration with the Lagos State Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and the Lagos State Film and Video Censors Board (LSFVCB), hosted the first-ever cultural and entertainment exhibition in Nollywood, Nigeria, with the theme “Expanding Cultural Creativity Through Entrepreneurship.”
The one-day event, held on Friday, June 10, 2022, at the CitiHeight Luxury Hotel in Ikeja, Lagos state, highlighted and showcased the exhibition of cultural designs and attires spanning different Nollywood movies, ethnic groups, beads, various forms of makeup, and African hairstyles, resulting in the existence of cultural diversity in Nigeria, as well as a renaissance of its fading cultural heritage due to the influx of western domination.
Mrs. Joy Osawaru-Akinyemi, the Lagos state chairman of the Creative Designers Guild of Nigeria, in her opening address, applauded them for attending. “I welcome you all to this great event, and I appreciated the Lagos State Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and the Lagos State Film and Video Censors Board for their cooperation in hosting the programme. The exhibition is about the way we are, who we are and the way we do our things. We Nigerians should love who we are and be ourselves. We need to go back to our culture and represent our ways of dressing and doing things. Each time you see or notice a piece of artwork, that beautiful dress, that traditional makeup in a movie, it is because our members made it happen, and through that, we have continued to preserve and promote our culture to the world through our arts.”
Mrs. Akinyemi went revealed that the event was organised pursuant to the State Government’s commitment to repositioning the entertainment sector to fulfil its potential as a primary revenue generator and employer of creative talents, through entrepreneurship, as well as how young people can turn their creativity into significant wealth.
“Our creativity should be export bound and encourage tourism like how countries like India and China are doing, that is why we have the panelist session where we talked about creativity and entrepreneurship to the youths and students to know there is livelihood in creativity so as to have positive decisions. This exhibition would be an annual event to ensure that the youths are conversant with aspects of the creative industry that could be explored for wealth creation.” She stated.
The Hon. Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Pharm. Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf, represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mrs. Oyinade Nathan-Marsh, in her keynote address at the event commended Mrs. Joy Osawaru-Akinyemi and the CDGN for providing a one-stop culture and creativity exhibition to Nigerians, particularly Lagos residents, with all-inclusive facilities to cater to various interests in the arts and filmmaking.
“I greatly commend the Creative Designers Guild of Nigeria for the incredible work. Africa for the longest time has remained a giant and a leading voice when it comes to creative space, and the testament to this can be seen in the various creative arts that are being delivered from the continent daily, especially from Nigeria’s Nollywood. To say that Nollywood has become a significant contributor to Africa and global creativity is to put it very subtly. As the industry has become recognized as the fastest-growing movie industry on the continent, I am extremely pleased to join creative in the house today at this culture and entertainment exhibition, the maiden one.”
She stressed that the Nigerian movie industry has grown into one of the country’s greatest exports and also into national pride. As the economic hub of the nation, we must begin to blaze the trail and seek to transform the entertainment industry in accordance with global best practices.
She added that, “Most times, when we watch movies, we are overtly amazed by the actors and actresses, and we tend to forget the outstanding efforts of those behind the scene, like the costume designer, the makeup artist, hair stylist, prop managers, set designers, and everyone else who put an indescribable amount of energy and hard work to ensure our movies are top-notch and amazing. Progress is being registered in our cinematography and picture quality, storytelling method, script writing, special effect makeup and so many other aspects. And all this is all thanks to creative professionals that are here today.”
The Commissioner expressed her appreciation to the Guild for honouring her and deemed her deserving of the guild award for her services to the Nollywood audiovisual sector and efforts to promote the arts. She told them that she would not rest on her achievements, but would do everything she could to ensure that their joint vision for Lagos’ broader arts and entertainment sector becomes a reality.
“My profound appreciation goes to the guild for honouring and deeming me fit to be a recipient of the guild’s award for the recognition of my effort in uplifting the art and my contributions to the audio visual industry in Nollywood. I assure you not to rest on my oars but continue to put in my best for the collective dream for the greater Lagos art and entertainment sector to be achieved.” The Commissioner stated.
A panel discussion for schools and educational institutions was the event’s high point. Mazi Uche Anyamele moderated the session, and the panelists included, Mrs Iyen Agbonifo-Obaseki, production designer and former CDGN President, Mr. Patrick Lee, President, Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN), Ms Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, thespian and doyen of the art, Sewedo Nupowaku, Communications Consultant. Also in attendance at the panel discussions were Dr. Tony Akposheri, filmmaker/DGN Vice President, and Arc. Dr. Kuti Ezebiro, Architect, academic and public intellectual.
The panelists shared experiences and engaged in stimulating conversations about possible collaborations and partnerships between producers and cinema operators, against profanity, vulgar language, scenes of excessive violence and negative African stereotypes in films to guide against social decline.
Veteran Nollywood actor, Dr Tony Akposheri, encouraged the youth to explore their inherent artistic talent as a weapon for economic growth for themselves and the nation. He advised actors to explore more themes relating to love as opposed to rituals.
He said, “They should focus more on telling African history in movies to educate children and keep them abreast of the dictates of African culture and history.”
Sewedo Nupowaku, a communications consultant, also urged the youth to explore the latest technology to promote the nation’s cultural heritage. “We can make money off our culture, but what are we doing about it? How are we galvanizing ourselves to tell our stories with the latest technology, with well-crafted and welled research scripts? We can tell our stories as good as anyone else.”
Nupowaku emphasized that the idea of this workshop is for people to learn and know more about our heritage. They need to be more up-to-date with our history and show more interest so that they are very excited to support our heritage. “Our culture goes beyond the movies, the music, our dressings, books, and dancing. The young folks have already been short because, for a long time, history has not been taught in our classrooms.”
Ms Ajai-Lycett caused a stir when she said people need to be careful about the health effects of skin bleaching as it affects the liver and could lead to skin or liver cancer.
“If we accept to maintain our natural skin and hair, we will be creative with them to improve our economy as a nation because there is a massive business in it for us, but we are unconscious of it. And what breaks my heart most is that celebrities are found in that habit of promoting skin bleaching and wearing wigs, and they go as far as selling it to the public, this is bad, and I advise that they desist from that bad habit. We do not need to imitate the western world; I advise that we remain black, bold and beautiful,” she said.
Dr Kuti Ezebiro, architect, academic and public intellectual, educated the audience on the economics of culture and the thriving entrepreneurship within it.
“Every great thing goes through three basic stages in life. The first stage would be an expression (argument), ridicule (antagonize) and discussion/reception (acceptance). Culture is economics, and unless we understand how culture produces economics, then we will continue to identify with relics. Culture in the real essence is the spirit that drives the expression that you see as aesthetics or activity. Unless we understand that spirit and affirm it, then we are all exhibitionists of relics. If you want to see African culture in terms of fashion, then we begin to look at the Zulus, Ghanaians, and maybe in Nigeria, the Tiv, and Yoruba for the Asoke.” He said.
The entertainment business, according to Dr Kuti Ezebiro, may reorient itself. When you genuinely comprehend the anthology of your being and that culture is the life stream that gives you your being, identity, and aspiration, you are truly an activist and protagonist of your own culture.
Akinshola Akintelure is a Content Writer, a tech savvy and Social Media Manager.