A FUSION & EXPLORATION FOR VALUES SYSTEM REVIVAL: Beauty of Henrisol Entertainments Ltd. & LOTO Productions Collabo - By ‘Tunji Ajayi

A FUSION & EXPLORATION FOR VALUES SYSTEM REVIVAL:

Beauty of Henrisol Entertainments Ltd. & LOTO Productions Collabo

By

Tunji Ajayi

A sage reportedly said that to exterminate a society psychologically, take away their languages, their religion and their culture. This appears an incontrovertible truth.  Such society’s historical antecedents are gradually forgotten. Their identities and pride are lost.  The people, though may live under the illusion that they still exist. But the truth is that they aren’t.  Like a drowning man struggling in the middle of the high sea gasping for last breath - a “homo mortis” - dead but terminally living person, so is such a society;  a  pitiable walking corpse. Colonization was a disaster for Africa.  And so it was for Nigeria, the supposedly Giant of Africa to whom the rest of Africa looks up to as a father.

In When a Giant Sleeps (Nigerian Tribune, May 14, 1996), I likened Nigeria to my old-school mouthed-braggart friend - the wide-chested, Jackie the Giant in whom I mistakenly placed my trust and confidence to safeguard my interest and defend me from the onslaught of an assailant in a street brawl, but who kept throwing his punches without caution and discretion and falling down at every punch from my spindly-built assailant. Having a strong nation requires collective efforts.  Everyone has a role to play in restoring Nigeria’s lost glory. But our losses can be regained only if we bend backwards and retrace our steps; stop chastising what should be glorified, and embrace what we have consistently disgraced. And that includes our hitherto esteemed values and decent cultural practices; which in Yoruba parlance is referred to as “omoluabi” culture. That is why the Yoruba proverb remains apropos:”Omo t’ó so ilé nù ló s’àpòìyà kó.” – Yes. Anyone who denigrates his origin only postpones his evil days because a river that forgets its source often runs dry.

I once averred in “OF CBB & BBN NAIJA: Beyond Laycon & Ogun Governor’s Torrential Gifts”(Ohio Wesleyan University Press, USA, October 15, 2020)that a man is what he watches and what he listens to. Yes. Like a drama script being digested and acted on by the perspicacious Cast, every indecent noble action, inaction, or decent action emanates from our inner mind - our thoughts before we translate them into actions. If our youths watch or read obscenities, why should we expect from them wholesome practices? Didn’t Fela the maverick musician say “Dirty mouth cannot talk clean things?”  That perhaps explains why a learned justice averred that the state of a man’s mind is as good or as bad as his actions. Africans, and indeed Nigerians need to guide their thoughts and actions; otherwise they inadvertently will keep on enslaving themselves with foreign cultural practices. In his musical track, “Price of Peace” (1973), the legendary reggae music star Jimmy Cliff lamented the damaging effect of colonization to subjugate and subtly efface African man from his society.  Hear him: “Brother what a price I've paid, You stole my history; Destroyed my culture; Cut out my tongue; So I can't communicate; Then you mediate; And you separate; Hide my whole way of life; So myself I should hate.”  Here in Nigeria, our colonial masters freed us from their exploitative and suffocating jackboot since 1960. But have we truly freed ourselves?  That perhaps made the legendary Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the Afrobeat music connoisseur remind us all in his Colonial Mentality (1977) “You don be slave before-before; Dem don release you now, but you never release yourself”.  What a blunt truth! Africa is Africa. Nigeria is Nigeria, and it is neither America nor Britain. We have our own history. Each of the over 250 different ethnic tribes in Nigeria, the largest black nation in the world has her own antecedent and her recent historical pasts. Every society has her own cultural practices and distinct traditions. Why do our modern-day parents and the youths embrace foreign cultural practices? Foreign clothes, their accents, foreign dressings, their music, and their idiosyncratic behavioral patterns that are so alien and incongruous with our esteemed traditions; such that we are neither here nor there? Why do our media and entertainment space promote almost 90% foreign films, video and dramas infested with foreign unwholesome practices?  Can a Nigerian metamorphose into being an American simply by imitating their cultural practices? We even denigrate our own languages as we chant to our innocent children on daily basis: “Don’t speak vernacular”. And now we pride ourselves in not being able to speak our indigenous languages while we esteem foreign accent and languages. We remember a Ghanaian Missionary James Kwegyir Aggrey Achimota who enthused: “I am proud of my colour. Whosoever is not proud of his colour is not fit to live. “    

The Jamaican reggae music star Jimmy Cliff also laments in his “Price of Peace”. Hear him: They “took away my name; Put me to shame; Made me a disgrace; As the world's laughing stock.” Perhaps for Nigeria to avoid being a laughing stock in our modern world, Henrisol Entertainments Ltd. in a collaborative efforts with Laolu Ogunniyi Theatre Organization (LOTO) are poised to change the narratives with a project on regular production of befitting Drama series of quality and didactic contents capable of informing, educating and entertaining the Nigerian and African audience, both at home and in the Diaspora. The project is powered by Otunba Olusola Adekanola, FCA, mni, JP., the pioneer and initiator of the popular Accelerated Revenue Generation Programme (ARGP) which drastically improved the nation’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) for over a decade, and which unarguably remains the major template for IGR in many states of federation till today. Otunba Adekanola is also a renowned philanthropist of no mean repute. The golf buff albeit unconsciously by his uncommon magnanimity and free-giving nature, eloquently defines philanthropy in the true sense of the word. In our African settings, most affluent men give out in dire expectation of greater returns for their acts of philanthropy – a “quid-pro-quo” philosophy of “rub my back I rub yours in return” typical of our modern-day politicians.  

Adekanola, also a great promoter of Golf sports in Nigeria, is always moved by deep passion and unquenchable zeal to support novel ideas and developmental projects, especially for youths’ development.  Speaking in a meeting with Prof. Laolu Ogunniyi, the formerHead of Media Arts Unit of the University of Ibadan, and world-renowned  author of “Candle In The Wind” ;Otunba Adekanola confessed to Laolu Ogunniyi:  “I had been deeply impressed by your contributions to the world of dramatic arts since I was growing up in those days when your popular drama serial “Winds Against My Soul” first transmitted in 1979 attracted all and sundry;  turning all our streets across the nation empty  in the evening with everybody rushing back home to watch the epic soap opera.” Adekanola continued:  “Even  my  parents  encouraged me and my  siblings to watch and learn from the qualitative and educative contents, until now when drama and film productions on social media and our television had become so bastardized, turning into all-comers affair with profane, vapid and  unsuitable contents either for adults or our children. This has evidently set us backwards, leading to all forms of morally debased and ignoble conducts, especially by our youths.” This eloquent testimony cannot be said about many of our modern-day productions.    

Evil thrives when virtuous elders keep silent. Henrisol Entertainments Ltd., in collaboration with Laolu Ogunniyi’s LOTO Productions is determined to use their novel Cultural Revival Project to improve the ugly trend. According to the ace cinematographer and producer of Wole Soyinka’s “The Lion and the Jewel”, Theatre on the Screen, Opa Aje, Alájopín etc,”the collaborative effort is aimed at restoration of the lost value system. It will include among others, the production of drama series/serial and artistic works of immense values.  The entertainment world has become very crooked and bastardized especially by non-professionals and charlatans where everybody now poses as film/drama Producers and Directors churning out “irrelevances” erroneously branded as dramas. Thus, in this era of the internet and the social media which is open to everybody, it becomes so difficult even for the audience to distinguish real, educative and edifying contents from irrelevances.” Ogunniyi decried theslapstickÀròso + Equipment”popular approach of presentation now on the social media by self-styled producers, adding that the collaboration of Henrisol Entertainments Ltd.  and Laolu Ogunniyi LOTO Productions would offer the best in drama productions and artistic values, without pandering towards obscenities and unedifying foreign practices which in the past years have undermined our rich cultural heritage, esteemed values and decent traditions.    

To take back her rightful place, regain her pride and strength, Nigeria must go back to the base, and embrace great value system which was her pride rather than keep denigrating and desecrating her esteemed cultural “omoluabi” practices and traditions with morally debased entertainments on the television and social media. It is far too late to keep lamenting on the effects of Nigeria’s colonization, while at the same time it deliberately denigrates her own traditions, languages, mores and norms.  Our society cannot afford to tag along unreasonably with colonial practices even decades after the slave masters had gone.  Like Jimmy Cliff the music maestro advises black Africa in his “Black Queen Arise” (1973), Nigeria the Giant of Africa must rise and take her rightful place in the continent by embracing her own values.  Cliff sings:  “You're the queen of the universe; But made to feel the worse; You're the one from Creation; Mother of civilization; Immorality, you must eradicate; Morality you must indicate; To produce a mighty nation . . . ” Thus, our society can become great if we cherish all our values and rich traditions, teaching our children in the right direction by using the social media, the television and drama series, biographical works, documentaries, etc., positively to teach them our varying esteemed cultural practices and values.  

Like the ace musician King Sunny Ade reminded us all in his “Destiny” 1988, “Ohun t’í a bá ni, k’á fi s’àpónlé. Ìtélórùn ni baba Ìwà.  Teni n teni” . . .  Koopà n be lókèòhún, Iyùn n be lódò àwa. Champaign n be lókèòhún, Ògùrò n be lódòàwa. Emu àkììkà! . . .  Lace n be lókèòhún, Aso ÒfÌ n be lódòàwa.  Ànkárá n be lódòàwa., Kampala n be lódòàwa., Àdìre n be lódòàwa., òun Kènte. Ìtélórùn ni baba Ìwà, teni n teni”. . Yes.We have all we need.KSA’s words are a truism from which to learn useful lessons. According to Sunny Ade, whatever we have must be cherished. Contentment is a valuable trait. As the Whites have their precious Copper and gold, we also have our Coral Beads. They have their Champaign wine; we also have our Palm wine. They cherish their Lace materials; we have our Aso Òfì, Ànkárá, Kàmpálà and Kènte.  Africans must cherish their own creativity and customary practices; values and apply them positively to impact on our lives in all spheres.   

According to the prodigious film maker and ace mass mobilization pundit whose impactful input into the erstwhile Ibrahim Babangida Government’s Mass Mobilization for Self Reliance & Economic Recovery project (MAMSER) in the 80s remains indelible, Laolu Ogunniyi laments:  “It is certain that we are having critical challenges with our sets of customs and rules of constructive social interactions. This is why the existence of Henrisol Entertainmentsbecomes relevant. . . .  Henrisol Entertainments is not ‘arts for arts sake’.  But we are talking about proper arts that will make the society shake and become conscious and say . . .  wait a minute, let’s retrace our steps!” His talk is beyond the vagary of bragging. Like Justice Edward Coke would say: “Every skilled person is to be believed with reference to his own arts”.  Thus, let’s watch out for sizzling drama series, entertaining cultural dance arts, educative biographies, meaningful music productions etc., in days ahead from Henrisol Entertainments and Laolu Ogunniyi’s LOTO Productions. Verbum Satis Sapienti.

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 *Tunji Ajayi, a creative writer, author and documentary producer writes from Lagos, Nigeria.(+2349020007004; +2348033203115)

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Tunji Ajayi - a creative writer, author and biographer writes from Lagos, Nigeria

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