Nollywood stars storm Yenagoa for AMAA
Ordinarily, the people of Bayelsa State always retire to bed peacefully after the day's work. This is after they might have had fun, relaxation and merry making.
But on Saturday April 30, they had a surfeit of fun as eminent personalities, artistes and other indigenes of the state stormed Yenagoa, the state capital, for the maiden edition of the African Movie Academy Award (AMAA) ceremony.
Many hearts leapt for joy as a huge crowd besieged the fence of the expansive Glorylands Cultural Centre. And as the giddy crowd outside surged forward and backward trying to catch a glimpse of the galaxy of artistes, Governor Dipriye Alamieyeseigha captured the happy mood of the people when he broke into a song: "You are the Lord, let your name be glorified," before he began his speech.
He went further to express the happiness of the people "from the prevailing wind of joy and gladness blowing across this magnificent auditorium of the Gloryland cultural centre. I am convinced that it takes a crowd to make a celebration."
Indeed it was the apogee of celebration for Bayelsans as they competed to take photographs with the likes of Ramsey Noah, Richard Mofe Damijo, Omotola Jolade Ekeinde, Genevive Nnaji, Jim Iyke, Bimbo Akintola, among others.
Alamieyeseigha, who could not hide his joy for hosting the event in Yenagoa, said that AMAA "signifies a new awareness as it is the local industry's response to similar awards organised by artistes, producers and marketers in America and Europe".
Also Mr Oji Onoko, media consultant to AMAA, buttressed him: "The idea of AMAA award is to reward excellence and creativity in the film industry, which is self-financed. As we are looking at the industry, we are also looking at people's ability to strive and succeed against all odds."
Mrs. Peace Anyiam Fiberesima, the brain behind the whole event, painted a picture of the power possessed by films in relation to the problems confronting African continent: "As I welcome you to the celebration of African movies, I urge you to encourage all films makers, as films have the capacity and capability to project Africa in a positive light. Africa as a continent, has many problems, from civil wars to genocides to sickle cell, HIV, AIDS, Malaria, malnutrition and poverty. Film creates a relative escape into our dream world, our world of make-belief where good most of the time surmounts evil."
Commenting on the success of the ceremony, the Director of the state Council for Arts and Culture, Mr. Barclays Ayakoroma said: "Words cannot express my joy. The programme was a success by every standard. It was an international programme that started on a good note. Many people did not give Mrs. Fiberesima a chance. One, they did not think the programme should be held in Bayelsa. Why Bayelsa and not in Lagos, Port Harcourt or Calabar?. With the presence of the stars, I am sure there has been no gathering like this in any state. I think in spite of all odds, credit should be given to the state government for making this happen.''
The programme has opened up Bayelsa. The impression people have is that the place is restive but the stars would go and tell the story.
Igwe added: "I am totally and completely satisfied with the planning, the organisation, the efforts and delivery."
The duo of Segun Arinze and Stella Damascus Aboderin as comperes added colour to the ceremony which was however punctured by the jury's verdict of poor quality of Nigerian films/movies.
The Jury which was made up of three foreigners and two Nigerians scored the films low in the areas of scripting, sound, lighting, editing and sound track, thus tasking film makers to work towards significant improvements.
Amaka Igwe, who incidentally was a member of the jury, amplified the verdict: "If people follow what the judges said, we would know it is time for improvement. We have to work harder and give our best to the world because the world is watching. People have to understand that they have to work harder. Our sound is very bad. Story wise, we have a problem. The best film we saw ended badly and that was why the jury said we had a problem with story resolution."
To most Bayelsans, it was as if the day should not end. But the end came as the crowd rushed outside to lay ambush and touch their favourite artistes who were led into a waiting luxury bus by mobile policemen. As the people watched and waved as the bus moved towards the gate, Governor Alamieyeseigha's words that "this day will leave a lasting impression in our collective memory", reverberated through the night.