The supremacy of brain over brawn is being championed through the arts and creativity in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. The objective is to engender a legacy of peace and stability that would in turn breed prosperity for all stakeholders. The promoters of the project led by the Niger Delta Legacy Advisory Board want to sow a virile of peace, stability and prosperity in the Niger Delta through a constructive engagement with the people, particularly the youth, that would see select citizens chosen for training so that they can fall back on their talents and skills to make the region a better place for all.
From what the promoters of the project say, a new era of peace and stability is on the horizon, particularly if the efforts of ace Nollywood Producer, Jeta Amata, on a purpose driven project tagged ‘dawn in the creeks,’ yields desired results. The social responsibility initiative, currently being supported by the US government through the Consulate in Lagos, would actually benefit from the support of corporate bodies, particularly those operating in the Niger Delta area.
According to Amata, the initiative is about empowering people, with focus on ordinary citizens, socially and economically by training them to use their talents to make films that can help achieve a positive influence on the way the society thinks and seeks enforcement of social contracts.
This is a peculiar project, though. Amata explains that it is not just about empowerment. It is about fishing out ordinary people and training them to make films with tales that showcase how best to engage with government and leaders in a peaceful and more result oriented way. The project is out to reawaken the consciousness in young people about self belief and a more constructive and diplomatic engagement with stakeholders to better mutual benefits.
These ideals would amount to nothing, in the thoughts of Amata unless all hands are on deck to make it good. For instance, he is convinced that the time has come for today’s leaders, parents and successful people to ponder ways of preparing the youth for leadership tomorrow, ‘not in a way that 30 years down the line, the same people are still at the frontline, forcing down the rest.’
Aside patriotism, the desire to build a legacy of peace and prosperity that each parent would be proud to beget to his/her children inspired ‘Dawn in the creeks’.
According to Edward Obi, a Catholic Priest who chairs the Board of Advisers, Niger Delta Legacy Engagement, ‘there has been a breakdown in the relationship between those who govern and the governed in the Niger Delta. This has resulted in a pervasive belief that violence is an acceptable and effective tool for solving problems. This is so, because people are unaccustomed to demanding accountability from their governments or feel their demands are unheard, making people resort to taking matters into their own hands – often in negative ways.’
The need for a change of this trend of narrative is what dawn in the creeks is poised to address. Some of the pertinent issues raised by Amata include. ‘How then do you send the message out in Nigeria? Why not use a medium that can reach millions across the world. In the bid to convince the local people in the Niger Delta, I let them know that I was born in the Niger Delta. I went to the same schools that some of you are attending today. I swarm in the same rivers that people are swimming in today, but chose to go the other way. What kind of Niger Delta do we want to leave for our children?
The sun is rising and shining bright in the Niger Delta with this initiative. It is really a new dawn in the region with 21 youths selected from three different communities having successfully completed training under Amata.
These lucky 21, chosen from Delta, Rivers and Bayelsa States having graduated from filmmaking training under Amata, have been formed into three groups of seven each, empowered with seed capital and equipment to make their dreams come true. In the true Niger Delta spirit, they are already making films for a living!
Amata highlights, ‘I chose seven youths each from Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers States who we brought to Lagos for training. They are already making films and we will support them to make a commercial success of their efforts.’
It appears to be a case of teaching one to catch fish as against giving one fish as findings show that the youths apart from making their own films were presented with multimillion naira ultramodern filmmaking equipment on graduation. They are putting the equipment to good commercial use by covering events and filming for others to make good living.