By JAPHET ALAKAM
The Benin kingdom is one of the oldest institutions in Africa, noted for its rich cultural heritage and ruled by great Kings known as Oba of Benin. Presently, the city is ruled by Omo N’ Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Erediauwa, the 38th Oba of Benin and head of the traditional state of Benin. Since he ascended the throne, many great reforms have taken place in the kingdom and recently he celebrated his 90th birthday in style.
As part of his mission to celebrate this great man while alive, a veteran TV Producer and son of the soil embarked on a TV documentary account of the Oba Erediuwa. The 55 minutes documentary tagged Oba Erediuwa;the Iconic Reign of a legend, is a compelling television documentary produced by Intratainment IQ in collaboration with AIT. Viewres will through the documentary see the very essence of Benin culture showcasing the fascinating story of the reign of the Oba of Benin.
In clear and crisp pictures, the documentary captures the most remarkable achievements of the custodian of the revered Benin tradition, gauge the impact of his reign, and see his over three decades on the throne through the voices and also present views of some celebrated Nigerians, the citizens of the Benin kingdom within the monarchy and in the Diaspora.
In a chat with Nosa, the veteran TV Producer revealed that his latest project, which will span the next five years, is producing a series of TV Documentaries showcasing the achievements of well known Political leaders, Monarchs and Past Heads of State in Nigeria beginning with the Oba of Benin, a program slated for broadcast on AIT International on Sunday. His personal mantra is, “why not celebrate them now that they are still alive?”
According to him, from the conceptualization through production and debut, this must see Television phenomenon, “Oba Erediauwa, the Iconic Reign of a Legend” proves to be the impeccable model for future television documentaries. The production was flawlessly executed with uncompromising touch of excellence in compliance with standards comparable to world renowned television shows.
The opening sequence features past Igue festivals and official palace functions, a compelling documentary with content professionally coordinated, showcasing never before seen footages of the Oba of Benin’s nation-wide thank you tour of 1982, his coronation of 1979, and other memorable events in the palace of the Benin Monarch, such as the role the Oba played in endorsing Governor Oshiomhole during his bid for a second term. A revealing interview, where Oshiomhole shares some of his personal experiences with a monarch whom he says he is very much indebted to.
Viewers will also see his romance with many great Nigerians, like Former military head of state, General Yakubu Gowon, how Gowon lauded the him for his contribution to nation building as Crown Prince while serving as a Permanent Secretary of the Federal civil service during his tenure as military head of a young Nigeria. Former President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari romance with the Oba when he was a Minister and his visit to the Palace when the Oba ascended the ancient throne of his ancestors as the 38th Oba of a single lineage that spans over 800yrs.
The Sultan of Sokoto and the Head of the Caliphate, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar’s admiration for the Oba for the role he is playing in the preservation of the culture of the Benin people in-spite of the Oba’s western Education (Erediuwa is a law graduate from the University of Cambridge). The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, a friend and great admirer of the Oba of Benin, in his usual expressive self, decries the role the British played in the Benin massacre, while the Obong of Calabar, describes the efforts his people’s made in ensuring the exiled king, Oba Ovonranwe was well taken care of in Calabar.
The Emirs of Kano and Zaria both relived their experiences during the Oba’s thank you tour in 1982, three years after his coronation ceremony. It also features the journey to the throne, the proclamation of the passing of Oba Akenzua II and the rituals which culminated in the crowning of the Edaiken of Uselu as the Omo ‘N Oba N’Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Erediauwa, the 38th Oba of the ancient Benin Kingdom in 1979.
This bold initiative which took a little over a year to complete, took the producer and creator of this project, Mr. Nosa Ajayi, a veteran TV Producer to different parts of the country for unprecedented interviews with an amazing line up of guests.
It is a well documented piece that showcased the activities of thge great monarch and the rich culture of Benin city.
Mr Nosa Ajayi, a Nigerian and US trained broadcaster is a graduate of English and Television Journalism who relishes challenging projects. He started his broadcasting career in the eighties. Has worked in many organisations and created many reality based programs which includes a television documentary series titled, “The Untold Stories of Africa”, a show that took him to several parts of Africa such as Kenya, Ivory Coast, Tanzania and Cameroon.
Among Nosa’s most recent works is a Documentary titled “Benin Past and Present”, showcasing the relics of past Benin while examining the impact New Benin made on the Old Benin. It was produced for the Edo State Government and broadcast in Sweden as part of Edo State Government’s contribution to a Swedish festival in 2010.