By Paul Ndiho
Renowned Nigerian director Jeta Amata, last week joined two U.S State Department officials at the agency’s headquarters in Washington for the viewing of “dawn in the creeks” a new reality TV show that focuses on the Niger delta.
Created by Nigerians for Nigerians – “Dawn in the creeks” is a new hit TV series in Nigeria showcasing stories of non-violent problem-solving and peaceful cooperation between Niger delta communities and local governments.
Nollywood filmmaker, Jeta Amata is the executive producer of the series, and he says the TV show is having a huge impact on the Niger delta residents.
“I tell you that people, who are meant to be fighting right now, or doing bunkering and things like that, are doing different things now, they are talking to their friends and they’re making films instead.”
Jeta says he embarked on a journey to find solutions that could bring peace to a region that has been the epicenter of conflict. The program addresses social, economic and political issues of young Nigerians through their own voices — by teaching them to become the next generation of filmmakers. The youth are taking advantage of this unique opportunity to sharpen their producing, writing, directing and film editing skills.
“They are telling people look we can do things differently. So that is good enough and it’s a seed planted in them. The community is begging to discuss the problems they’re going through; no one is bottling it up. No one is thinking about fighting, they’re thinking how we can solve it. This is the best thing that can happen to them.
With the support of the United States, the producers of the show visited different communities in Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta states to form a seven-person team of local youths with inspiring stories to tell. And that’s the basis for the reality show. Ambassador Rick Barton is the assistant secretary, bureau of conflict and stabilization operations at the U.S State Department.
“I think it’s an innovative way for the United States to practice 21st century diplomacy. It captures people’s imagination, it goes to local ownership, and it shows that Nigerians have solutions to their own problems.”
Expressing optimism about the hit show U.S Consul General, Jeffrey Hawkins, says that it goes a long way toward solving the challenges the country faces in the Niger Delta.
“Niger delta is really important, it’s where the oil is, it’s where so much of the problems have been in the past but it’s also a place where an amnesty process had sort of put a band aid on some problems and allowed some space for creative thinking about how we might change that narrative.”
Nkemakonam Linda, a Nigeria-American originally from Delta State, says that show resonates with her in so many ways.
“I have lived there, I’ve experienced these problems and I was practically shaken and I was crying because it reminded me of a few friends that I have lost because of this conflict and I’m glad someone is finally empowering the youth — to tell their stories.”
Nigeria’s movie industry has greatly evolved since the 1960’s – to become Africa’s largest film industry according to the u-n educational, scientific and cultural organization.
Despite the industry’s growth, government investment in the industry remains slow. Most films are shot on digital cameras, with tight budgets – often compromising sound and picture quality.
Nollywood films are soaring in popularity across Africa, because they often touch on issues many people can relate to.