I am Omoni Oboli and I represent Naija! Nollywood is truly representing Nigeria everywhere you go! The news is littered with one movie or the other, produced Nigeria, showing in one film festival or the other. This has been going on for many years, and we the filmmakers of today are eternally grateful for those who ran this race before us, so that today we’re being celebrated everywhere, unlike many before us who weren’t so fortunate. We’re now reaping the harvest of their diligent and persistent zeal and dedication to their craft. I salute all veterans!
I’m currently at the Stockholm International Film Festival in Sweden where my movie, OKAFOR’S LAW, has been officially selected to show at the 27th edition of the film festival. It just so happens that my movie is the first Nigerian movie to be screened there since its inception, along with another movie, GREEN WHITE GREEN, by Abba Makama. It’s such a delight to see us breaking new grounds and pushing the frontiers of the Nigerian movie industry, thereby widening the area of influence of our material. This has been done by many before us, and to be able to do it for those coming behind us, knowing that they too will reap a bigger harvest from the efforts we put in today, is such blessing. I pray that our best work today would be looked at tomorrow with the smirk on the faces of the next generation, knowing that they have moved way beyond where we are today.
The journey to where we are now, with the clearer view of the possibilities tomorrow, is not one that we should take for granted. Those of us who are at the fore front of the entertainment industry as a whole, and Nollywood in particular, know how far ahead we could have been if those who were always at the front all understood the magnitude of the possibilities. Unfortunately, we don’t always grasp the full picture. This is due to the clouding of our vision with the demands of the immediate and dire needs of each person at the time. It’s also due to the often unnecessary attention paid to meddlers and those given to personal distractions.
The beauty of this thing called Nollywood is that it is a platform so big that no one person, or even a hundred people can hold it down or hold it back when it eventually explodes to its full potential. The effort to try only swallows up those who refuse to see. I have seen so many new entrants into the industry that has gladdened my heart, knowing that the future is secure with enough talents. We have actors the likes of Blossom Chukwujekwu, Adesua Etomi, Somkele, Lala Akindoju, Ijeoma Grace Agu, Judith Audu, Beverly Naya, OC Ukeje, Daniel K Daniel and so many others boldly showing the stuff they’re made of, walking in the footsteps of those before them and rising to the occasion to give performances that makes the average Nigerian smile from sheer pride. They have walked into a time when their work has taken them from this formally unknown industry into the world stage, because they dared to give more.
The added bonus to me is that as a producer, I have many more people who can deliver the varied roles in my movies to give it more life than when we first started. “The more the merrier,” I always say, and the older actors who have persisted in staying the distance have immeasurably contributed to the building of the new talents and also acting as a kind of conduit to introduce these talented actors to their already captive audiences. Everyone comes into the industry with a view to make a difference, and the symbiotic relationship between the older more experienced hands and the new, sharpens the industry and helps move it forward.
I walk today in the snow laden streets of Stockholm, not because I came to look for a job, nor to beg for a better life or many other reasons (good or bad) that has helped position many Nigerians strategically in countries across the globe, but because my movie, a Nollywood production, conceived and made in Nigeria, was selected to be shown to the good people in Sweden. We are moving forward, Nigeria, and when we rise to the responsibility of being diligent with what we do, knowing that it would encourage and help build us now and the future, we will yield the right result.
The joy of that future is part of my driving motivation to reach even further, because I believe that if I do the heavy lifting now, the next generation of Nollywood actors, producers, directors and indeed all the players in the industry will reap bountifully without the same tears and effort we’re experiencing now. I didn’t get here by myself. It took a village to put this together. The village of supporters, great assistants, workers, encouraging friends and family, a good team, well wishers and the Nigerian fans and audiences. They all made this Delta State, ‘Waffi’, Mosogar, Ibusa, UNIBEN homegirl become who she is today. That same principle, with everyone working together with a view of the big picture and a sense of community, can help build the Nigeria we all would love to live in. Till next week, keep smiling!