IN CONVERSATION WITH SHAIBU HUSSENI
Shaibu Husseni is a Nigerian culture journalist, theatre practitioner and film critic. He is presently a doctoral student and a fellow of the Department of Mass Communication of the University of Lagos. He reports films and the arts for Nigeria’s flagship newspaper, The Guardian and is reputed as one of the most consistent journalists documenting the country’s massive film culture dubbed Nollywood. He has been for 8 years, the chair of the selection panel and a member of the jury of Africa’s premier film awards, the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA). Husseni has sat on several local and international panels on film, theatre and allied matters, as well as served on the board and on the jury of many festivals, awards and committees. He is a member of the; Board of Trustees of the Association of Movie Journalists of Nigeria; the advisory board of the African Students International Film Festival; the Nigeria Oscars Selection Committee (NOSC); and the Abuja Carnival Management Committee.
Can you tell us how you got appointed to the Abuja Carnival Management Committee, and how you felt?
With all humility, I consider myself a key stakeholder and strong player in the Nigerian and African arts, film and culture scene. Though I am a member of the National Troupe of Nigeria and have represented my beloved country in several performances within and outside the country in the past, I never saw this appointment coming. While in the library of the University of Lagos, I received a call from the office of the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture informing me about my nomination as a member of the Carnival Management Committee (CMC). I was invited to attend the inaugural meeting which took place the day before the AMAA 2016 ceremony in Port Harcourt. As I was the head of the AMAA 2016 jury I had to clear with my bosses and the founder, Ms Peace Anyiam Osigwe to attend the meeting. I was given permission as they also saw it as an honour to be recognized at the national level. The minister, Lai Mohammed chaired the meeting. I am grateful for the confidence he has in my ability to contribute to the success of the carnival and by extension the theatre, culture and film sector. I am happy to serve.
Shaibu Husseni at Abuja Carnival 2016
What did you contribute to this year’s carnival?
We worked as a team so I take no personal credits. We had Mr. Biodun Abe—ace creative designer, theatre artiste and cultural producer as the artistic director. He directed a successful edition prior to the 2016 edition. I do not intend to discredit the previous ones, but I can say that this year’s carnival was the best organised since inception despite the recession. I followed its operations from the onset and even worked as the personal and special assistant to Professor Ahmed Yerima, one-time Director-General of the Abuja Carnival. For this edition, we had the Minister of Information and Culture and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, who are both interested in developing the carnival into a huge cultural product that would be used to drive tourism since participating states and independent groups use the platform to showcase their diverse cultural heritage. It was also easy for us to get media coverage and publicity because the ministries of culture and information are now united. In addition, chief executives of national news agencies like the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), were co-opted into the committee.
A presentation at Abuja Carnival 2016
Between July and September 2016, you were part of the crew for the 7th Children’s Creative Station Workshop held at the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos. At the platform the children did dance and theatrical performances under the aegis of The National Troupe of Nigeria. How was the experience?
The National Troupe is a parastatal of the Federal Ministry of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation. It was formally established in 1991 and is constituted by professional theatre administrators and artistes whose primary function is to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of the country through dance, music and drama. Six years ago, this programme started as a way of engaging children by reawakening their imagination and developing their talents during the long vacation. It is always great to catch them young and for the 7th edition, they put together a play titled The Dented Anthill, directed by Peter Badejo OBE, one of Nigeria’s foremost choreographers, dancers and African performance specialists. I was a member of the public relations team and it was heart-warming to see children as young as 2, on the stage participating in dances and cultural performances from different Nigerian ethnic groups. About a hundred and twenty children participated in the workshop. We have to imbibe in our children, the love and appreciation of our motherland. What better way, than to get them to write and perform plays and dances themselves? Many parents, siblings and friends were pleasantly surprised to see how talented the children are. At the command performance there were children whose parents and grandparents were once or still on stage and in film. Moses Adejumo aka Baba Sala’s grandson was one of the lead performers. Ramsey Nouah’s son in addition to performing also doubled up as master of ceremony for some of the presentations. The baton is being passed and one can only hope it continues. The audience had an unforgettable experience and more parents have indicated interest to register their children for next year’s edition. We also had support from Access Bank, Wapic Insurance, Promasidor, Mimee Noodles, Sona Foods and Aqua Dana. We hope we will continually get support in keeping this programme going.
Peter Badejo OBE with the children after the Command performance of Dented Anthill in 2016
Toddlers in performance
What are we to expect from the 2017 edition?
We will keep improving so expect a better carnival.
Image credits: Shaibu Husseni, Cultual Troupe of Nigeria and Abuja Carnival
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