BY UDUAK ISONG
Sometime ago, I bought a James Baldwin book on the Kindle. A book about his journey to several islands on a boat, by himself. A few pages into the book, I thought, wait a minute. James Baldwin was a black man. What’s a black man doing sailing across seas just to discover islands? I knew immediately that there had to have been another James Baldwin. So I googled and googled and of course, this was another James Baldwin and he wasn’t black.
I am currently filming with one of my favourite directors and every day we argue about what really is the cause of our troubles. He says it’s the leaders, I say it’s the people.
We’re a closed minded people, hardly able to see the bigger picture. Intolerant, believing ourselves to be all knowing and wallowing in a false sense of superiority complex. Which is why the question, do you know who I am? Is one of our favourites.
Our true nature was very evident during the last elections. If you questioned people’s choice of candidates, you were shouted down and called names because the people who sold the change agenda considered the people who didn’t buy it of lesser intellectual capacity. Some of my friends will argue though that the sentiment was mutual. Perhaps.
And now there’s another debate, the MOPICON bill. A bill which seeks to decide and register motion picture practitioners.
Many of us have kicked against it, consistently asking what values it will add to the industry and how it will address some of our immediate challenges but we’ve been dismissed and called names in true Nigerian style.
Why don’t we like being questioned ? No one knows it all, it’s only by constant questioning and hole picking that we can eventually get things right.
Does it not bother us that no life changing invention came from here? Not the light bulb, not the airplane, not the telephone, not the Internet, not Facebook!
A friend was telling us that Zukerberg says he’d like to provide free internet for the entire world, another friend laughed and said if it gets to Nigeria, we’d package it and sell it. And he’s right. The Westerner seeks ways to make life easier and better not just for himself but for the next person. We only want to enrich ourselves, as long as we’re comfortable, the situation of the next person doesn’t count.
What do we care about bad roads, when we can afford SUVs or why should the Government make providing 24-hour power supply electricity for everyone a priority when there’s constant electricity for the top officials? What about education; let the public schools continue to decay after all some of us can afford the private ones. Isn’t it funny though, that most of the people who rule us are from the public schools? Of what use then is our overpriced and exclusive private schools?
This is what has kept us backwards. We are satisfied with a small cake as long as we get a large piece, never mind that we can get even larger pieces if we concentrated on making the cake bigger!
We must change our mindset, if we desire real CHANGE, we must seek primarily to serve, to add value, and to leave the world a better place than we met it not just for our children’s children but for total strangers.
So back to MOPICON, again I ask, what values exactly will this bill add to me as a filmmaker and to the industry as a whole?
As Denzel often said in Philadelphia, explain it to me like I’m a four year old.