By Joseph Erunke, ABUJA

The General Manager and Chief Executive Officer of the National Theatre, Nigeria, Prof. Sunday Ododo has advised creatives in the country to tell their stories from Nigeria’s perspectives.

Ododo, who recalled that Nigerian creatives prepared cultural space ahead of Independence, however, regretted that colonialists had earlier brainwashed indigenous artists to undermine their cultural values.

The professor of Performance Aesthetics, Theatre Technology and Cultural Engineering spoke in Abuja, at the launch of MSwitch Creative Spaces and ArkHive, a platform focused on encouraging Nigeria’s young creative minds to tell their stories and showcasing them through the right communication channels.

Assuring that Nigeria was focused on encouraging creatives to tell their stories,he noted that “every art springs out from the condition of the society of the artists and as such the Nigerian story must be told from a Nigerian perspective.”

He described ArkHive as a platform which will not only nurture young creative minds but will in turn serve as a production hub of unharnessed ideas.

Presenting a keynote address themed ‘Arts for Change’, Ododo said that the ArkHive platform is been propelled by Nigerian youths to unlock economic and social prosperity that can influence the rest of the world.

He submitted that art in Nigeria especially during the colonial era was suppressed and could only be viewed from the eyes of the British masters.

He further noted that those who took over power to bring freedom to the people did so successfully with the help of artists and their crafts.

He said: “During the colonial period, the colonial master came and forced us to adopt their own cultural way of life making us look down on our own cultural values.

“It was a period of brian washing, whatever is good can only be mirrored through the eyes of the white man.

“So when the quest for freedom began, our artists made contributions, using their arts to redeem our own cultural space, to let us know that what we had before these people came was also and is still viable.”

Also, noting that for many, creativity is a ‘Lagos thing’, Ododo, said the launch of ArkHive brings to life activities of the creative mind in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city and its environment.

He assured that his administration is expanding to give mobility to National Theatre beyond the Lagos space to create zonal offices across the country by giving room to creative hubs like music, fashion and film.

According to Ododo, such hubs will encourage young creative minds in Nigeria to explore their talents.

In his address, Kadir Malami, the founder of MSwitch and ArkHive platform opined that contrary to several beliefs, Nigeria does not have a shortage of talent.

Salami, however, explained that the major challenge of the creative industry in Nigeria is the ability of storytellers and other creatives to sell Nigerian or African stories.

His words:

“Simply because we have lots of stories that have not been told, we have barely scratched the surface and over the years we have realised that the challenge in Africa and in Nigeria is not a shortage of talent but it is the ability for the young talent to be able to realise their potentials.

That is exactly why MSwitch has set up a place like this that would allow young talents like us to be able to thrive and live abundantly through our skill sets.”

He assured that the ArkHive would serve as a community where creatives would be at liberty to meet with mentors who would provide the needed guidance to explore the world of creativity.

According to Salami, there are two major challenges faced by young creatives in Nigeria and they are being able to explore their talent and showcase them to the world.

The second is to have a community where mentors are readily available to help the young creatives to express their talents, and tell and sell the Nigerian stories.

He added:

“That is why at MSwitch, we have decided to collaborate with three veterans and people in the academia to be able to build this community and inspire Nigeria’s young creatives.”

Activities at the launch include the presentation of awards to winners of the short film contest – The Show Room was named the third runner-up with a cash prize of $250 while the short film, The Screen won the second runner-up prize of $500.

The overall winner of the contest was secured by the film, ‘The Boy Who Cursed’ with a cash prize of $1,000.


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