Why Africa remains ill-reported, by communication scholars, experts

Cross section of participants and invited guests with Prof. Sobowale and his wife.

Cross section of participants and invited guests with Prof. Sobowale and his wife.

THE African Leadership Development Centre of the Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State hosted unusual guests last Tuesday.

The occasion was the 3rd Idowu Sobowale International conference and communication scholars and professionals came from far and near to honour the distinguished academic whose contribution to media development in the country is legendary. Prof. Idowu Sobowale is renowned as bridge builder between the town and gown of media and communication industry. He excelled as Editor in the print media conglomerate, the Daily Times of Nigeria as well as in the academics, as the pioneer Dean, School of Communication, Lagos State University. In attendance also was the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Charles Ayo. And the opening ritual of the conference last Tuesday also witnessed award presentation to some dintinguished personalities including former governor of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba; The Guardian Editorial Consultant, Mr. Lade Bonuola; renowned scholar, Prof. Cecil Blake; film-maker, Tunde Kelani and Chairman, Adenuga Productions, Wale Adenuga for their contributions to the media and communication profession in Nigeria.

Delivering the keynote address, on the theme of the conference, ‘Globalisation, Media Entertainment and National Development’, Prof. Cecil Blake lamented the continued exportation of raw materials to western nations by Africa while ironically borrowing to buy finished products from western world.

“Africa remains the sources of raw materials and cheap labour for the western world. The driving ideological force of globalisation is neoliberalism. The Chinese are getting into globalization. They have their China Cable Television (CCTV). We have nothing compared to the CNN, Aljazeera in Africa”

According to him, there is a great imbalance in the international news flow.

“Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) relies on Voice of America (VOA) for its election coverage of African news. CNN and British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) are now left with the responsibility of telling the world about Africa.

“Nigeria Idol is a replica of America Idol. Magic is for Africa, as miracle is for the West,” he said.

Prof. Idowu Sobowale, speaking on one of the awardees, Bonuola, said, “He was the first Editor of The Guardian and later the Managing Director. When The Guardian came on board, he came to seek my opinion.”

He thanked the Chairman of the Sobowale International Conference, Prof. Lai Oso, as he was overwhelmed with joy, seeing so many people around.

That you are here again is of great joy to me. The best we can do for our nation is to continue doing what we can, as though we are doing it for God. Expect more abuses than praises. That way, you will never be disappointed.”

The Chairman, Sobowale International Conference, Prof. Lai Oso said: “Our main focus is on the entertainment industry and how to use it for national development, within the concept of globalisation. To many people, entertainment is just to sit down watch a film, relaxing and so on, but we are thinking more than that.”

Oso noted that films could be used to mobilise people for cultural development and preservation of cultural heritage. “The same thing with music. We want to study what is on ground and look at how we can re-orientate the entertainment industry to serve Nigeria’s development needs.”

He said the award is to recognize individuals that have contributed to the growth of media and communication industry.

“Somebody like Chief Olusegun Osoba, this is a man who has been editor and governor. It is somebody that we are proud of in the media and communication industry.

“Wale Adenuga has been producing entertainment programmes for years and has remained consistent.

Speaking on Bonuola, he said, “In the past, he used to write a column, Ladbone in the Sunday Times, which was like a clinic for the teaching of English Language. So, he has done so much that we think we should honour him.”

Commenting on Sobowale, Oso said he was a correspondent with The Daily Times, who covered the Nigerian civil war, after which he came into the academics and made a mark.

“He has produced good professionals. It is somebody that some of us who are his students want to identify with. We are using his name on this platform to drive research, scholarship and professionalism in media and communication practices in Nigeria.

One of the participants, Prof. Onuora Nwuneli described Sobowale as a friend and colleague of 30 years.

“Sobowale is a fine scholar. He was my former student and my colleague at the University of Lagos. He has never changed in character. He was a Commissioner for Education in Lagos State. He came out clean in the important offices he had occupied. So, if he is having a conference of this nature, it is expected of me to be there.”

He recalled that the Vice-Chancellor of Covenant University said that if Nigeria can produce anything that can sell for 50 cents for the world on the net, we can make a minimum of one billion dollar a year.

“The idea here is to make Nigeria think more about the concept of globalisation and how the media and entertainment industry can help drive the Nigeria angle of the participation in globalisation.”

He also agreed with the keynote speaker that the present producers in the entertainment sector should not forget about their backgrounds, which they ought to be familiar with.

Speaking on behalf of the awardees, The Guardian’s Editorial Consultant, Lade Bonuola, after receiving his award, said: “I felt greatly honoured, when I was informed of the award. I want you to know that the entire universe is your platform. You have a lot to do, if you are diligent and observant mass communicator.”

He challenged journalists to appreciate that the world is theirs and should be proud that they belong to the communication world.

“On behalf of the awardees, we cannot thank you enough. I am going to hang it for the wall for people to see because of the source of the award. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

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