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BusinessDay 15 April 2018

38 C002D5556 Sunday

38 C002D5556 Sunday 15 April 2018 Arts NCAC boss lauds Edo govt for introducing culture clubs in schools OBINNA EMELIKE Ol u s e g u n Runsewe, director general, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) has commended Edo State Government for introducing culture clubs in public schools in the state. Noting that the initiative would go a long way in stimulating the interest of the youths in the rich cultural heritage of the state and Nigeria at large, the DG said the move by Godwin Obaseki, governor of Edo State, was not surprising in view of the cultural antecedents of the state. Runsewe pointed out that Edo State has a rich cultural history and tradition, which are as old as the ancient Benin Kingdom and are reflected in the various art forms such as sculptures, paintings, bronze works, dances, oral tradition, among others. Olusegun Runsewe, DG, NCAC The NCAC boss stated that most of the vices in Nigerian society today are largely due to the deterioration of our traditional value system, occasioned by the undue influence of foreign cultural values. He said that for Nigeria to make significant progress, the citizens must return to the value system, adding that the best starting point is to consciously socialise children in the core national values, using the family, the school and other agents of socialisation. “I have been stressing the need for us to revive cultural education in the schools curricula and I presented a Council Memo on this during the 2017 National Council for Culture and Tourism in Jigawa”, he said. Expressing delight that the Edo State governor has given practical expression to the call, he enjoined other state governors to join the campaign to revive Nigeria’s fast deteriorating cultural values. Runsewe stated that the NCAC under his leadership would work with the states to ensure that Cultural Clubs are not only fully established but are also functional in all schools nationwide. He added that the Council is engaging Nigerian youths on cultural revival through such programmes like National Culture Quiz Competition for Secondary Schools, Children’s Component of the National Festival for Arts and Culture (NAF- EST). All these, he said, are geared towards inculcating in the youth, the appreciation of Nigerian Arts and Culture as well as building in them, innovative skills, healthy competition and inter-cultural exchanges that would foster national peace, unity and development. “When the youths are properly groomed to internalize the attributes of our traditional values like love of neighbour, community spirit, personal integrity, hard-work, discipline and honesty, they will grow up to be responsible adults that can contribute meaningfully to national development”. Runsewe concluded. Johnnie, Jazz, Whisky returns to Lagos with Adekunle Gold Johnnie, Jazz & Whisky, Nigeria’s biggest and brightest afro-jazz music platform, reemerged recently for another lush experience at Cubana Lounge in downtown Victoria Island, Lagos. Staying true to its promise of a night where flavour is king and afro-jazz is the beat, Johnnie Walker Black Label turned on the style having positioned the unique event as a formidable force on the music scene. Guests turned out in their droves as the gentlemen and ladies alike looked stunning in showstopper all-black outfits. Johnnie Walker Black Label is the world’s most awarded deluxe whisky setting the benchmark for over 100 years and this event was all about showcasing its status as the ‘Everest of Whiskies’. Guests were treated to a wide variety of exotic cocktails carefully crafted by a team of expert mixologists led by champion bartender, Kelvin Oduntan, who also offered some whisky education to the whisky enthusiasts. As guests ‘nosed’ Johnnie Walker Black Label to discern its flavour notes, curated spoken word performances echoed followed by a soulful musical performance by TemmieOvwasa. With an effortless blend of poetry and panache, her rendition prompted rapturous cheers of excitement from an eager audience. Adekunle Gold’s band, 79th Element, had been serenading the audience with afro-jazz covers of popular hits but nothing could have prepared the guests for what was to come. Adekunle Gold performed nonstop with the mastery that only comes with years of skill and preparation. By the end of his performance, the ‘Ire’ crooner was in the midst of an adulating crowd who had become one with their entertainer. Through Johnnie, Jazz & Whisky, Johnnie Walker Black Label keeps walking the journey that will see afrojazz at the pinnacle of global music entertainment. NFC announces date for 2018 ZUMA Film Festival With theme, Archiving For Creativity, the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC), has announced that the yearly film festival ZUFF will take place from December 1-7, 2018 in Abuja, the nation’s capital and traditional host city. While announcing the date, Chidia Maduekwe, managing director, NFC/ chairman, Organising Committee of ZUFF, disclosed that all that needs to be put in place to ensure a successful international film festival have been effected, adding that ZUFF 2018 will be used to further show Nigerians and stakeholders in the industry that Nigerian film can compete with others globally. The NFC boss is also hopeful that as part of the strategies put in place for the festival, key partnerships and collaborations with relevant agencies including government, organisations and private individuals would be retained and expanded. “This 9tth in the series will again provide the platform to sustain the recognition of Nigerian film makers who have or are adding the needed value in the development of the art and business of filmmaking”, he said. Maduekwe pointed out that this year’s theme will reignite in the consciousness of the filmmakers and other stakeholders the important role of films — audio visual archiving of creative works and its posterity values. According to him, it is a paradigm shift to protect and preserve several thousands of films that have been produced in Nigeria, in the past decades. He stressed that different pieces collections of audiovisual and film materials are being lost due to non-preservation. “In some ways, ZUFF 2018 is set to redefine the need and potentials of audio visual archiving in Nigeria, and NFC through this festival seeks to bring to the front burner the need to preserve Nigeria’s memory for future generations,” he said. Entries are expected for the following categories: Best Cinematography, Best Script, Best Animation, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Documentary, Best Foreign Film, Best Student Film, Best Picture and Best Indigenous Film. Entry for ZUMA Film Festival opened March 1, 2018 and would close on September 30, 2018. Entry forms can be downloaded from the festival and NFC websites: www.zumafilmfest.gov.ng; www.nigerianfilms.gov.ng.

Sunday 15 April 2018 C002D5556 BDSUNDAY 39 Book Review Book title: Deep Secrets Author: Nnamdi Agbakoba Imprint: Lagos, Lampstand Books, 2015 Reviewer: Chuks Oluigbo Nnamdi Agbakoba’s ‘Deep Secrets’ is an outright discouragement of social vices among youths. It specifically tackles the twin evils of student cultism and examination malpractices that have almost become a norm in Nigerian higher institutions and even secondary schools. These twin evils have had adverse impact on mostly vulnerable youths who are involved in antisocial behaviour. ‘Deep Secrets’ is the story of Okechukwu Obiefuna, a freshman Law student in a Nigerian university, who is lured into cultism by Justin Agorum Ike, an older student in the same department whom he had come to love and trust. Okechukwu’s life begins to fall apart after a cult clash that claims Justin’s life. Unable to get a hold on himself, he opts for suicide. Not even the preaching, counselling and exhortation from his godfather, George Obanye, can change his mind. Narrated from the first person point of view and embellished with a high dose of irony and suspense, the book opens with George Obanye, Chief Accountant for the Bank of Commerce and Industry, closing early from the office and pondering on the internal memo he had just received requesting him to “kindly see the managing director for an urgent meeting”. While struggling through the excruciating Lagos traffic, his phone rings and it is his godson Okechukwu announcing that he is in trouble. It is at this point that we get a hint into Okechukwu’s personality and lifestyle. On hearing the destabilising news that Okechukwu is at Ikeja Police Station, arrested alongside over 40 other students after a riot in school, George says, “Okey was a godson I wish I never had. All he had to offer was trouble of all sorts and exams he had to re-take again and again before passing. He was a thorn in everybody’s flesh.” We also learn from George that it is not the “first, second or third time” that Okechukwu has been arrested as he has become “a regular customer at numerous police stations” owing to his violent and unruly behaviour, despite his father being a high-ranking police commissioner. George succeeds in getting Okechukwu out of the police cell and takes him home. Okechukwu, who feels his life has been shattered, contemplates suicide. However, through a combination of persuasion, threats, counseling, exhortation and preaching laced with elaborate quotes from the Holy Books, George is able to calm him down and get him to confess to all his iniquities. “Uncle, this whole thing started two days after I arrived on campus,” Okechukwu begins and goes ahead to give a blow-by-blow account of how he was initiated into the world of student cultism at a midnight party that was held “in a very awkward place, deep in a thick forest somewhere quite close to the campus”, how he drank raw human blood, how he was beaten and tortured by older members of the cult to test his bravery, how he became stone-hearted after undergoing that process, and how the cult killed 14 people. Hearing this sordid tale, George does not mince words in administering the repercussions of cultism. He tells Okechukwu, “You see this cult thing is like a boomerang. Whatever evil you and your co-cult members have inflicted on mankind will eventually come back to haunt you.” When Okechukwu tries to absolve himself of the killing of 14 innocent people by his cult, George tells him point-blank, “No, you are a part of the killings and that is why the blood of the people you have killed is coming back to haunt you and now you want to kill yourself. It is a boomerang syndrome. Evil begets evil. Whatever a man sows that will he reap.” George further tells him that so long as he and his co-cult members have drunk each other’s blood and made vows and oaths to each other, they have bound themselves to each other in the spiritual realm. “Therefore, whatever evil your co-cult members may have committed, you are also guilty of the same evil,” he says. George also succeeds in unravelling to Okechukwu the reason behind his academic problems in the university – “You are a so-called Law student but you cheated to pass English Literature, English Language and History. I have all the facts. So, why are you surprised that you are having problems in passing any of your university tests and exams?” On the need for hard work as against looking for a shortcut to success, George admonishes, “Nothing in life is easy... Life is not a bed of roses; you must work hard to attain success.” To drive home his points, George shares some of his poems with Okechukwu and also reads him a couple of short stories. But unknown to George, Okechukwu is not persuaded. George sleeps off on the sofa while watching a movie and Okechukwu seizes the opportunity. He drops a second suicide note and zooms off, saying in the note, “I do not want any burial ceremony. I want to be thrown away or cremated and my ashes thrown away for I am worthless.” When George wakes up and finds the note, he quickly locates the address that Okechukwu had left in the note. Sadly, he is a tad too late as Okechukwu is already dead – or so he thinks. In a sudden twist, the tide turns against George. Before he can report Okechukwu’s suicide to the police, he is accused of murdering Okechukwu and is arrested and thrown into the police cell. Fate, however, smiles on him as Okechukwu survives his suicide attempt and surfaces in court the day George’s case is to be decided. Dr. Rufus Ola, who treated Okechukwu for an overdose of sleeping pills, explains what happened – “Okechukwu was never dead, he was only in a deep coma induced by the sleeping pills. He was easily revived to full health by twelve noon on Saturday at the St. Patrick’s Specialist Hospital by inducing vomiting and administering high doses of a medication to reverse the effects of the tablets he took. He was admitted one or two hours after he ingested the pills, but by that time his loving godfather had been arrested for alleged murder. Unknowing to family members, it was not until late on Sunday that information reached us that his godfather Uncle George was arrested for a murder that never existed. Okey attempted suicide but he was lucky, we were able to save his life.” Following this revelation, the presiding judge strikes out and dismisses the case. To crown it all, George receives a promotion letter from his office elevating him to the position of National Chief Accountant and Regional Head for West and South Africa in Johannesburg. On the same day and in the same court that George’s case is to be heard, five boys arrested in connection with Justin’s death are found guilty and handed different prison sentences. In delivering her judgment, the presiding judge makes it clear that the judgment “is designed to send a clear message to all cultists lurking in our institutions of higher learning that the state is going to leave no stone unturned to deliver speedy judgment for youths who participate in terrorist activities in whatever shape, form or manner”. On his part, Okechukwu apologises to his father and promises to “be a good boy from now”. And in what one may regard as an epilogue, the author adds, “Okechukwu made well his promise to drop all cult activities and resort to hard work. He cancelled all plans of defacing his body with all kinds of tattoos of snakes and scorpions. Violence became a thing of the past and guzzling beer and hard drink was stopped also and he ditched smoking. He put hard work before him by hitting his books with a vengeance. He never missed inspirational gatherings in the church or mosque when inspirational speakers were invited. Okey finally graduated from university with honours and now works for one of the most prestigious law firms in the country.” The message of ‘Deep Secrets’ is clear – student and youth cultism, examination malpractice and cheating, police brutality, terrorism, youth restiveness and violence are evil and should not be tolerated while peace, religious tolerance, hard work, family bonding and efficient judicial system are good and should be encouraged. Dedicated to “all victims of terrorism, cultism, and violence” and “to all those who have lost loved ones”, the book is written to serve as a counter-terrorism and counter-cultism therapy “proposed to be dispensed and administered through the academic system”. To buttress this point, Dr. Mrs. Benedict Okwudili Ikegulu, director, Book Development Center, Nigeria Education Research and Development Council (NERDC), Abuja, writes in the Foreword that books like ‘Deep Secrets’ or “similar counterterrorism or counter-cultism literature” can be invaluable in checking “the deplorable activities of university cultists or terrorists” that “have been a crucial social cancer not only in Nigeria but worldwide”. To justify the book’s raison d’etre, the author rightly says in the Preface that even though it would appear there is a reduction in student cultism in Nigeria, “this is not the time to become complacent, because if the scourge returns, it will be seven times as bad as previously experienced”. The beauty of the book lies for the most part in its conversational approach and accessible language, which makes it easy to read and assimilate. The downside, however, is that it is ridden with avoidable grammatical and spelling errors. Subsequent issues will benefit from better editing.

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