By Prisca Sam-Duru

The urgent need to rescue street children and youth from total degeneration birthed the new movie titled, ‘The Oratory’, which premiered both in Lagos and Abuja to public delight.

‘The Oratory’, an initiative of The Nollywood Factory in collaboration with Salesians of Don Bosco, is a movie that seeks to raise awareness amongst key stakeholder publics on the plight of homeless and street children in Nigeria. It was directed by Obi Emelonye, a Nigerian film director, and produced by Dr. Cyril Odia, a Nigerian Salesian priest presently serving in Dublin, Ireland.

After the movie’s first excellent outing on November 20, 2021, at the Film House Cinemas in Surulere, Lagos, it held its second premiere on Saturday, November 27, 2021 at the Genesis Deluxe Cinema, Ceddi Plaza Abuja.

Featuring a mixture of both Nigerian and international movie stars, ‘The Oratory’ was filmed at locations in Rome, Atlanta, Lagos and Turin.The movie plot takes viewers through the life of Rev. Fr, Michael Simmons, (played by Rich Lowe Ikenna), an American Catholic priest on a missionary trip from Turin, Italy to Ikoyi, Lagos. Once in Lagos, the plight of street children in Makoko catches his attention as he resolves to help alleviate their predicament. To achieve that, Fr. Simmons must do all he can to confront Shuga, the dangerous Makoko Kingpin who has the street boys locked in criminal servitude.

Produced and directed by Obi Emelonye, the internationally acclaimed movie was earlier screened in Dublin, London, Turin and Venice while attracting rave reviews. It stars Enyinna Nwigwe, Rich Lowe Ikenna, Florence Okechukwu, Lawrence Nwali, Andrea Ferrara, David Davidson, Stephen Ogunnote, and others.

Addressing the press during the week in Lagos, Chairman of the Organizing Committee of The Oratory premiere, Gbenga Adebija, said “The Oratory is not just a movie, it is actually an integral aspect of a multi-dimensional initiative of Salesians of Don Bosco, which not only reminds us individually and as a collective of our civic responsibilities towards street children,” adding that it is aimed at creating “an inclusionary framework for the upliftment of homeless, delinquent and juvenile youths who are at risk of negative social issues such as violence, sexual abuse, trafficking and crime.”

“The attempt of this movie is to call for action. As Salesians, we believe in faith in action. If we don’t multiply that effect and get more partners to come on board, we can foresee that there is going to be a disaster. The more young people are increasing on the street, the more the threat of insecurity,’’ says, Dr. Cyril Odia, a Nigerian Salesian priest and Executive Producer of ‘The Oratory’.

Dr Odia who stated that the number of out-of-school children in Nigeria is in millions, expressed how excited some of the street children who watched the first premiere in Surulere, were.

On his part, Child Protection Specialist at the United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Denise Onoise, said the movie aligns with the objectives of the international organization.

“At UNICEF, we do partnerships like these even with ministries and government agencies. This is particularly interesting for us due to the work we had done in the past six years. Three years ago, the state governments in the North had been worried about the Almajiris and wanted them to be returned to their states.”

Onoise who disclosed that UNICEF is particular about poor children and how to help them live better lives, stated that “Sometimes, a lot of them, because of poverty, are not able to go to school, so they are on the street. Many of them are not able to access healthcare. Again, they have problems being on the streets. Sometimes, they don’t have a home where they can sleep”.

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