Night of Nollywood Stars
By Godfrey Azubike
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Yenagoa, capital of Bayelsa State plays host to the growing clan of Nigerian actors and actresses
Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, was agog once again last week after several months of tension that gripped the inhabitants in the wake of the political crisis, which eventually swept away Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, erstwhile governor of the state. Thanks to the Africa Film Academy for bringing the people a lot of fun by staging The 2nd Africa Movie Academy Award, AMAA, in the state capital. The maiden edition of the award also took place in Yenagoa last year.
The 2006 edition of the AMAA programme which took place at the Gloryland Cultural centre in Yenagoa, April 29, attracted giants in the movie industry in Nigeria and other Africa countries including Ghana, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Cameroon, Sudan and Zimbabwe. Also on hand to share in the fun were some eminent Nigerians including Frank Nweke Jnr, minister of Information and National Orientation; Paul Obi, a former military governor of Bayelsa State; Timi Alaibe, director finance and administration, NDDC and Nnamaka Ali, wife of the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, who represented her husband.
The rest are Goodluck Jonathan, the host state governor and his wife, Peremobowei Ebebi, deputy governor of Bayelsa State and wife, Nerinepre Seibarugu, speaker of the state House of Assembly among many others.
The awards programme began at about 10am with the ceremonial boat regatta and cultural display at the Ox-Bow Lake in Yenagoa. The award proper kicked off about 7.30pm at the Ultra Modern Gloryland Cultural Centre in the state capital. Before that fateful day, Yenagoa had been awash with handbills, banners and billboards, all heralding the arrival of the movie giants, and welcoming tourists into the state for the epoch making events.
Frank Nweke Jnr, minister of Information and National Orientation urged the artistes not to relent in their efforts at projecting the Africa cultural heritage. The minister also commended the Bayelsa State governor for embarking on tourism through the encouragement of the movie industry.
Goodluck Jonathan, host state governor, said the government was committed to the promotion of tourism by exhibiting its rich cultural heritage. He said it was the dream of the government to make the whole state a holiday resort. "That is why we have resolved to set aside 14 to 28 days every year for cultural activities that will attract patronage from tourists all over the world. It is a cultural calendar we intend to follow faithfully, one that will come to be recognised as a seasonal carnival reminiscent of the best that Brazil can offer," he revealed.
The governor said the state identifies fully with the aspirations of AMAA and to underscore that point he formally offered to host the event every year. "As a measure of our seriousness on this matter, Bayelsa State government has resolved to build a secretariat for AMAA in Yenagoa, and offer logistical support to the academy.
Jonathan urged the artists and filmmakers to reflect the reality of Nigerian society in their works and adequately evoke the society's rural reference points. He said it was the sacred duty of the custodians of the industry to document today, as a public trust for tomorrow.
Yenagoa enjoyed economic boom within the few days of the AMAA programme. From motorcycle operators otherwise known as Okada riders, to commercial vehicle operators, food vendors and all sorts of roadside sellers including GSM card sellers and phone operators, all savoured the gains of the AMAA award. Hotels in the city were not left out, as they were all fully booked. This is not to say that there were no critics of the programme, especially the state government's involvement as a major sponsor. The critics saw the government sponsorship of the programme as a wasteful exercise.
Miriki Ebikibina, chairman, Conference of Nigeria Political Parties, CNPP, in the state said the hosting of the AMAA programme by the state government even at a time of abject poverty among the people, was another recorded wastage and misplaced priority of the present administration in the state.
The CNPP boss noted that while the people were yet to benefit from some social amenities such as pipe borne water, good network of roads, employment and empowerment, the hosting of the second AMAA award which has little or no significance to the life of the average Bayelsan, encouraged to take place with government's financial backing. "The huge amount of money spent on renovation of the cultural centre, the publicity of the project on CNN, African Movie Magic among others which obviously must have gulped close to N500 million is a clear indication that the present administration has not only lost focus, but derailed and has become insensitive to the plight of the people," Ebikibrina said.
Peace Anyiam-Fiberesima, chief executive officer, of the African film Academy which conceptualised the AMAA award, said the essence was to encourage artists in Africa, pointing out that staging the programme in Bayelsa State was to prove to the world that there is relative peace in the Niger Delta region. She revealed that 150 entries were made for this years award out of which fifteen films made the nomination lists.
Highlight of the occasion was the AMAA award proper. Kanayo O. Kanayo, a Nigerian, won the best Actor Award of the 2nd AMAA award with the film, Family Battle. He beat four other nominees made up of two Nigerians, a Gambian and a Bourkinabe. In the female category, Joke Sylva won the best Actress award with the film, Widows Cot. She defeated five other nominees made up of three Nigerians, a Zimbabwean and a Ghanaian.
In the best upcoming actors category, Sam Anyamele won the award with the film Day of Atonement. He defeated three other nominee made up of two Nigerians and a Ghanaian. For the female category, Tendal Musoni, a Zimbabwean beat two Nigerian nominees and a Ghanaian to emerge the winner. She won with the film Tanyaradwa.
On the supporting role, Justice Esiri, a Nigerian won the best actor in a supporting role award through the film Rising Moon. He defeated five other nominees in that category, including three Nigerians, a Zimbabwean and a Ghanaian.
Onyeka Onwenu won in the female category with the film Widows Cot as the best supporting actress in a supporting role. Similarly, Andy Nwakolo, a Nigerian won the AMAA Best director award through the film Rising Moon. He defeated eight other nominees including five Nigerians, one Gambian, one Ghanaian, and a Bourkinabe. In the marketing category, A-Z, a Nigerian organisation won the best distributor/marketer award through the film, Desperate Billionaires. The company beat two other Nigerian nominees, namely Dove Media and Great Feature.
The other award categories include Best Documentary won by a Bourkinabe company; Best picture won by Nigerian in Rising Moon; Best costume won by Eagles Bride, Nigerian; Best sound won by Widows Cot also Nigerian and Best Make-Up won by Ghanaian film My Mother's Heart. The rest are best visual effect won by Rising Moon, Nigerian; Best Cinematography won by Zimbabwe in Tanyaradzwa; original effect award won by Nigeria film in Day of Atonement; Best sound track won by Burkina Faso in Sofia; Best Editing won by Nigeria film in Rising Moon; and Best screen won by Eagles Bride, a Nigerian film.
Peter Igho, Mohammed Ali Balogun, both Nigerians received recognition award from AMAA. Also, 86 years old Sudanese C. Gubark still breathing with energy as African oldest filmmaker also received recognition award, while Herbert Ogunde who died at 88 was given post humus award which was received on the occasion by his son, Yomi Ogunde.
Marian Makeba, the famous South African female musician thrilled the audience with her music of yester-years on the occasion.