I’ve been travelling and I’m backlogged on posts for about a month (including posts on the Savannah International Movie Awards and the Zuma Film Festival), so I’m going to start with the latest first and work my way back:
11am Press Conference for Sani Danja’s new organization NIGERIAN ARTISTES IN SUPPORT OF DEMOCRACY, Bolingo Hotel, Abuja, TODAY
Last week while hanging out with Kannywood artistes who had come to Abuja for the Zuma film festival, I went with some of them to meet up with Kannywood superstar Sani Danja. While there, he told me about an initiative I’ve heard rumours of for some time but which I had heard no details on until this point. Sani Danja told me that the political conflict in Kano between the film industry and the government has instigated him and other artistes from Kannywood and other parts of Nigeria to become more politically involved, resulting in the formation of an organization, Nigerian Artistes in Support of Democracy (NAISOD). His vision is to create a platform under which artistes from all over the country, not just the north, can 1) advocate for themselves and protest the sort of arrests etc going on in Kano, 2) more generally support democracy a) through non-partisan support of candidates (from any party) they think will support democracy in the upcoming elections, b) through creating awareness, internally (rather than externally through NGO’s etc) motivated, about other social issues such as HIV awareness or peace building. Danja felt that with the influence artistes have through their large fan base, that it was their duty to become involved in more creating social awareness. For more information on the organization, see their website: www.naisop.org
Sani Danja and other artistes in the organization are holding a press conference today, Monday, 10 May, at 11am at the Bolingo Hotel, Abuja, close to the Ship House/U.S. Embassy. I am not involved with the organization, but, as researcher/freelance journalist thought that the idea of artistes forming organizations to be vocal about political and social issues both an interesting and a potentially quite positive development. Of course, there are concerns here: How will the organization keep itself accountable from supporting the highest bidder? Is it possible/positive for an organization made up of many artists to speak with one voice in support of political figures? What criteria will they use for support of their candidates? Must every artiste involved in the organization be in support of a single candidate? There is a certain amount of fuzziness in the goals, which could make it difficult for them to take bold action. However, democracy in general is a work in progress, as is any fledgling organization. I am generally quite skeptical and cynical about celebrities and their social causes, especially as regards Hollywood celebrity’s obsessions with Africa. But in the case of Nollywood and Kannywood, I think such indications of social awareness and feelings of social responsibility from within is actually a positive development. NAISOD may not end up being the most influential organization, and there may be others that come up, but artistes, whether we as critics like it or not, actually have a huge fan base and a great amount of power to speak to that fan base. More than anyone else, filmmakers and musicians probably have the power to propel the “masses” into action. As such, I think that it is useful to publicize ventures like this, as well as to give constructive criticism that will help artistes become more precise and effective in their goals.
I will try to put up more information after the press conference today.