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Theatre Helps Raise Awareness on Human Trafficking in Most Affected Regions in Nigeria

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The city of Benin in southern Nigeria was once the capital of the former Edo Kingdom of Benin, one of the oldest states in West Africa. It dates back to the 11th century.

Little remains of that kingdom. The once-mighty city is now the main “sender” place of origin of Nigerians migrating irregularly towards Libya in search of greener pastures in Europe.

To inform local youth about trafficking in persons and other risks of irregular migration, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) organized on 18 October three theatre performances in the Edo state capital. The performances marked the completion of an eight-month training in 17 communities in Edo and Delta states, two key migration-prone areas in Africa’s most populous country.

The open-air event brought together close to 100 individuals, who gathered to raise awareness about the plight of thousands of people who have suffered deception, abuse and exploitation along their migration journeys. Since early 2017, IOM has assisted some 15,171 men and women to voluntarily return to Nigeria. Most returned from Libya, Niger and Mali under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration.

Of those, 42 per cent came from Edo. The theatre project grouped 44 men and 33 women into five troupes performing 47 shows in 115 communities in Edo and Delta. From July through September this summer, those performances reached 8,403 individuals.

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“Most of the actors are seeing theatre for the first time, so the training wasn’t easy. But I’m elated with the outcome,” said Lancelot Imasuen, a renown Nollywood filmmaker who led the project. “A lot of these people have the talent to pursue acting; some of them are even performing at the national arts and culture festival taking place this week in Benin City.”

Together with Imasuen, IOM helped audition the actors and performers and equipped them with materials, musical instruments and props. Imasuen, who directed the three plays titled Empty Waka, Dance of the Migrants and Trafficked, trained the participants on directing, script development, stage management, set and costume design, and make-up.

“We selected returnees, students, potential migrants, and their families to promote social cohesion as we have witnessed that many returnees face stigmatization upon return to their communities,” explained Cyprine Cheptepkeny, IOM Nigeria Awareness Raising Officer. “We chose theatre as an awareness raising tool to pass on the message in an entertaining way, going beyond the traditional information channels,” she added.

Those watching the plays in markets and other public spaces say they have been impacted by the stories. At one performance, a woman among the audience shared the story of her daughter. Based on that testimony, IOM was able to identify the daughter as a victim of trafficking. Following further investigation, IOM staff referred the case to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).

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“In ancient Greece, theatre was seen as an instrument for social development and a means to express belief, approval or disapproval, pain and suffering,” said Eleni Zerzelidou, EU Project Officer, Migration and Drugs. “Community theatre nowadays goes beyond that. It comes from the community and it can help the community develop capacities for critical thinking on human trafficking and other issues affecting them.”

This project is part of IOM’s wider efforts to promote safe migration channels in Nigeria. At the end of October, IOM will organize the ‘Music for Safe Migration’ concert in Benin City, among other sensitization activities. The event was funded by the European Union through the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF).

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PHOTOS: Odebunmi facilitates  film making training for constituents

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The lawmaker representing Ogo Oluwa/ Surulere Federal Constituency, Hon. Segun Dokun Odebunmi has facilitated an empowerment training program for members of his Constituency on Film Making and Cinematography for self reliance.

Odebunmi, who also chairs the House Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values on Thursday informed that the training was part of  his quest for human development.

Remarking, the lawmaker justified the training as  one of the ways of encouraging the youths to think out of the box and make use of the technology advancement to create another source of income.

” I grew up in this community and I know what majority of our people are passing through especially now that the economy of the world is being challenged, people need multiple streams of income and I am making  use of every opportunity to assist my people by training them on how to make use of their talents and make more money through entertainment”, he said.

He thanked President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the  National Assembly for the opportunity, urging the participants to take the advantage to better their lots .

The lead speaker, Mr Maruff Ajibolu charged  participants to take full compliment of the training as Nigeria’s creative industries are slowly breaking new grounds and currently recognised as among the biggest globally.  This he noted led to its marking as a priority sector in the FGN’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan with a very high projected income  over the coming years and also led the Federal government to grant most segments within the creative industries including Nollywood conditional access to pioneer status incentives which include holidays from the payment of companies’ income taxes as well as withholding tax on dividends from pioneer profits for an initial period of three years.

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Also remarking, a key player in the creative industry, Mr. Muyiwa Ademola also harped on the huge potential subsumed in cinematography and film making. The Nollywood star further noted  that the event was a rare opportunity, because it has always been either FG , CBN and World bank projects.

“It was designed to help people discover their talents and passion with the intent of turning it into a source of income”, Ademola added.

The training which took place concurrently at Resource Centre, Igbo-Ile Surulere LG and Ajaawa Town Hall, Ajaawa, Ogo-Oluwa LG, had other notable speakers which included, Mr Yemi Ogunyemi,  Mr Ojo Oluwatona.

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At 90, I can’t venture into acting again – Iya Osogbo

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Veteran Yoruba actress, Madam Grace Owoola Oyin-Adejobi, popularly known as Iya Osogbo on Tuesday said that she would never venture into the business of acting again in her life.

She also spoke for the first time about the day an excited fan nearly ran her into a gutter with her jeep vehicle on her way to the office of one of her children in Ibadan, the capital city of Oyo State.

According to her, this experience has remained indelible in her memory because her thought was that the day was going to be her last on planet earth, except in the end it did not turn out as she feared initially.

“The fan eventually came down from her car to let me know that she merely wanted to exchange greetings with me. She later enveloped ten thousand naira and dashed me.”

Iya Osogbo who was the wife of the late versatile actor in the Yoruba genre, Chief Oyin Adejobi made these revelations while featuring on Parrot Xtra Hour on Radio anchored by Olayinka Agboola in Ibadan.

The veteran actress added that she started her acting career some 67 years ago and she also mentioned that she had already made her name before she acted in the film titled “Eran Iya Osogbo” thereby correcting the erroneous belief her admirers had held before now.

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She said that unlike now when acting has become not only the in-thing and profitable, in her time, parents frowned at people, especially women who ventured into the profession as they were generally regarded as unserious types and therefore wayward.

Madam Oyin-Adejobi expressed her displeasure over the near-nudity being practiced by actresses in Nigeria, advising them not to be deceived by the pleasures of the world but to believe that they can succeed through dint of hard work and the grace of God.

On how she met her late husband, Oyin Adejobi who died in the year 2000, she said that both of them went to the same school and were also living on the same street, saying that right from the start of his career, he was never under a boss.

She said that apart from the death of her husband, the lowest point for her life was when her fourth child, a female died .

“It took me a long time to recover from that experience”, she said.

However, her happiest moment was when she gave birth to her first child, a boy in 1954.

Iya Osogbo narrated further that whenever their theater group went to stage plays or was showing a film in a cinema house, she was the one who used to sell ticket unmindful of what some miscreants might do, “as I know that they all love me adding that it was at Jebba that we raised the gate fee of our shows to twenty Kobo which had a lot of value unlike what obtains nowadays where the value of money is nothing to write home about”.

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She admonished younger generation of Nigerians on the need to work hard and be focused.

“I got to attain this age because of God’s mercy. In addition, the Almighty also gave me the wisdom of preserving my body and being moderate in all I have been doing. Our youths should emulate this too. They should learn to be God fearing too.”

Iya Osogbo, who featured prominently in productions like Orogun Adedigba, Kuye, Kootu Ashipa and others will officially turn 90 on Sunday. She equally announced that there will be no formal event to mark the occasion.

She added , “All my admirers including colleagues and family members have agreed to postpone whatever plan they have to celebrate my 90th birthday because we must obey NCDC’s COVID-19 prevention rules.”

 

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Burna Boy Unveils New Album ‘Twice As Tall’

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Nigerian Grammy-nominated Damini Ogulu professionally known as ‘ Burna Boy’ has released a fresh album, titled “Twice As Tall, ” a follow-up to his 2019 album, “African Giant.”

The 15-track album released on Thursday, featured Senegalese artist, Youssou N’Dour, O.G, Chris Martin, U.K. rapper Stormzy, afro-pop band Sauti Sol among others.

According to Burna Boy,  the “Twice As Tall” album is “a journey through a bunch of emotions and energies at different points in time. It has now morphed into something bigger than me. It serves as a bridge for mankind to show that we’re all different but still very much the same.”

In a post on his Instagram page following the release of the new album, the artist commended  those who played significant roles  in the success of the project, saying he is grateful for the “unreal talents” that went into the production.

The post reads, “I’m grateful for the unreal talents that came together from ALL over the world to pull this off

“Shout out to the OG @diddy for coming on board and sprinkling his own unique spice on this! I hope I’m able to spark something in you when you listen.”

Burna’s new album was produced by Diddy, Bose Ogulu and the afro-pop fusion singer himself.

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