Peace Anyiam-Osigwe Hosts The World In South Africa
When they all arrive South Africa, the filmmakers and the award guests including nominees of the different categories of the award event, which is in its 11th edition, will be guest of a respected African patriot, a proud Nigerian and a restless creative spirit who is genuinely committed and devoted to given Africa and not just Nigeria a voice in the international motion picture scene: Peace Anyiam-Osigwe.
A poet, lawyer, publisher, business woman and philanthropist, Peace or PMO as the founder of AMAA and its mother body, the African Film Academy (AFA) is simply called, has been at the forefront of turning the attention of the world to Africa and specifically to Nigeria in the last couple of years. PMO has with the AMAA which she founded in 2004 and which has consistently held in Nigeria and which the Bayelsa State government has hosted and supported from inception, draws the world’s attention to the vast potential of the African and Nigerian tourism and cinema industry.
As founder of the AMAA that has earned her an iconic status, Peace has always gotten Nigeria to play the much trumpeted ‘big heart’ role as the soil of Bayelsa until this year, plays host to over 10,000 motion picture practitioners from home and abroad who converge for the AMAA, an event that has earned a reputation of being perhaps the biggest gathering of black movie makers in the world.
Usually held in April in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, the award was moved to September this year to make way for the 2015 general elections and post election activities. Filmmakers were gearing up to the award in Bayelsa this September when words came after the colorful nomination event in Los Angeles, California that the award will instead hold in South Africa. “We took the awards this year to South Africa because the awards was going to clash with the preparation for the governorship elections in our traditional host state, Bayelsa. We didn’t think it was proper to bring people in at this time,” PMO offered as if anticipating the question on why the award is holding outside its traditional host state and country.
Easily one of the few women in the continent whose heart truly lies in the development of moviedom, Peace, daughter of the late philanthropist, Anyiam Osigwe says she is in all of this because of her desire to give Nigeria and Africa a voice cinematically. She said: “It’s a call to do more for Nigeria and Africa. Africa has no voice. Africa has a serious issue with having a good voice. All we hear about Africa are negativities of Africa. But with movies we can tell the story without anybody closing our voice. So for me the passion is to tell the true Nigerian and African story.
“To be able to explain that I am passionate about being an African and I have no apology to make to anybody about being first a Nigerian and then an African and I think that is what my drive is. I had a father that said we must speak as loud as we can because we have to be recognized for who we are and not what somebody says we are and wants us to be.
“A lot of the time you see movies about Africa and it’s an apology. They are trying to make us look ancient or you showing the black Americans in their hip hop clothes and you are forgetting the beauty of the real African. You are forgetting the dimensions of the truth of Africa. That is my drive, to eliminate the borders created by our colonial masters and to celebrate our values, music, celebrate our films, our theatre, our tourism potentials, our culture, fashion and make no apologies for it”.
Well regarded in film circuits across the world, Peace who possesses an undeniable charm and geniality and who named her parents, Mariam Makeba and Winnie Mandela as her all time role model, is rightly respected both at home and abroad for the way she has walked her dream –AFA and AMAA into the undisputable hub of movie making and capacity building and Africa’s answer to the Oscars respectively.
She speaks of her journey with AFA and AMAA: “My Journey with the AFA and the AMAA is not a selfish journey for it has not enriched me personally in anyway but rather it has seen me running to my family and our foundation, the Ayiam Osigwe Foundation for assistance year in, year out. People have been alleging all sorts. They need to get closer to know that it is not as they think. I am being owed monies here and there. I don’t get involved in the decision of who is nominated or not. My credible jury hands me a list after nomination and whether the filmmaker is in Australia or Trinidad, he or she will be flown in and accommodated once they have been nominated.
“This year alone, we have over 200 nominees and they are coming from all over. So putting the AMAA together cost so much and this is the reality we are still trying to get our prospective sponsors to appreciate. But for me, it is a journey that I feel that I should be on. Africa cinema needs all of us and what we have done is to create a platform to celebrate us as African filmmakers’’.
With the AMAA now well established, Peace, a recipient of the national honour of Member of the Federal Republic (MFR) said her next big project will be to lead AFA to establish a fund for African filmmakers which she says falls in line with AFA’s commitment to propagating film making in Africa. Peace stated that it is AFA’s vision to see film and cinema elevated to international levels, in terms of both production quality and profitability, and to explore film as a vehicle for development.
“African filmmakers work hard with very little. So this ambition is clearly borne out of our commitment to the development of our stories, images and our heritage. I believe that the African film industry is viable. We just have not been able to harness our creative capacities and to increase Africa’s share of creative product in global trade, which according to a recent report remains marginal at less than one percent of world’s exports.
“We believe that it is time for a serious paradigm shift and a time for filmmakers that form part of the continents creative industry to claim their share of the world export. The creation of this fund is an urgent intervention needed to help found and establish an enabling infrastructure that provides the sector to a point where it generates a viable culture economy in the same way other countries outside Africa have done and are doing,” she asserted.
And what is her expectation for the September 26th event? “We are ready and South Africa is ready. This year, we have major partnership with Facebook, with the Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism and we should be tying up a partnership deal with Unity Bank.
“The whole idea is to unite Africa. We have had a wonderful working relationship with the South African High Commission and we are all ready to give the proudly South African welcome to our nominees and guest. I wish this was happening right here (Nigeria). But it is fine. It is all part of the mission of uniting Africa. But we are set to deliver the most credible reward system in the continent,” she enthused.
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