Amnesty award for film exploring poverty and extremist exploitation of Nigeria’s Almajiri children
Amnesty International awarded a prestigious prize to Nottingham Trent University (NTU) graduate, Temitope Kalejaiye, for a documentary about children trapped in a cycle of poverty and extremist influences as part of the Almajiri Islamic education system in Nigeria.
Filmed as part of the coursework for her Masters in Broadcast Journalism at NTU, Temitope travelled to Northern Nigeria to meet some of the millions of Almajiri children whose daily routines include memorising the Qur'an by night and taking to the streets to beg for food and money during the day.
The short film, entitled 'Almajiri is Begging,' scooped up the Student award in the annual Amnesty Media Awards, which recognise excellence in human rights reporting, and acknowledge journalism’s significant contribution to the UK public’s awareness and understanding of human rights issues.
Temitope, who is currently working as a journalist for The Guardian in London, said: “While spending a year in the UK studying for my MA in Broadcast Journalism, I was struck by the absence of children begging for money and food. In Britain, they were conspicuous by their absence and this stark difference between the developed and developing world in terms of the most vulnerable members of our society gave me a pressing use for my filmmaking skills.
“Instead of shooting a documentary in the UK as part of my university project, I opted to travel back to my hometown of Yola, Nigeria, motivated by a suicide bombing of the local market carried out by a young boy of about 12 years old.
“Persuading a local Almajiri school to allow me to film was no easy task and required considerable persistence and persuasion. However, I won through in the end and was able to examine alleged links between children sent out on the streets to beg and their vulnerability to Islamic militancy and terrorist exploitation.
“The best bit for me was the fact that I could use my filmmaking skills to make a difference in the life of these children. I am also proud of the rare access I achieved and the balanced way the Almajiri story is told.”
The story has been picked up for distribution worldwide by Journeyman Pictures and has already been viewed more than 7,000 times on YouTube, sparking comments, blogs and individual debate about the plight of the Almajiri.
Speaking about receiving the award, Temitope added: “The award night was the most memorable moment of my career. I have never had such a huge number of important industry people wanting to have a conversation with me. I now hope to be able to use my filmmaking skills to advance the human rights causes I care about.”
Two out of the three nominees for best student work at the awards were students from Nottingham Trent University’s Centre for Broadcasting & Journalism (CBJ), with a documentary by Emmanuel Oboro on slum clearance in Lagos named as a runner-up. Emmanuel also won the documentary award at the International Micro Film Festival held in Nottingham in October 2016.
Amanda Ball, acting head of the CBJ, said: “Each year our students produce well-researched and thought-provoking films about subjects they feel passionately about. The graduates achieving recognition have created exceptional pieces of work which have generated comments from judges and industry professionals that they are among the best they’ve seen.”
The School of Arts and Humanities at Nottingham Trent University is now pleased to offer a half tuition fee scholarship worth £6,450 to Nigerian students who have received an offer to study MA Broadcast Journalism starting in September 2017.
This article is sponsored content brought to you by Nottingham Trent University.