Use movies to tackle modern day slavery, FG urges Nollywood

Lai Mohammed
Lai Mohammed

The Federal Government has urged the Nigerian movie industry (Nollywood) to make movies that expose the stigma and hazards associated with human trafficking, irregular migration, prostitution and forced labour.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the plea on Thursday in Abuja at a ceremony to commemorate the International Day for the Remembrance of Slave Trade and its Abolition.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the event with the theme, “My Hands, My Freedom: A Roadmap to Containing Irregular Migration,’’ was organised by the Ministry of Information and Culture, its parastatal agencies, UNESCO and other stakeholders.

Represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Ms Grace Gekpe, the minister mandated the National Films and Video Censors Board to encourage artistes to include in their works the message on the dangers associated with the modern day slavery.

He recalled that for over 40 decades, more than 18 million men, women and children were forcefully removed from African countries, Nigeria inclusive, to the Americas, the Carribeans and Europe as victims of transatlantic slave trade.

The minister said the tragic period marked one of the darkest chapters in human history, hence the commemoration to remember, honour and immortalise those who suffered and died under the brutal slavery system.

Mohammed specifically reflected on the events of the nights of Aug. 22 and Aug. 23, 1791, when an uprising of enslaved Africans began on the Island of Dominque (now known as Haiti).

He said the event set in motion the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.

“The slave rebellion in the area weakened the Caribbean colonial system, sparking an uprising that led to abolishing slavery and giving the Island its independence.

“This marked the beginning of the obliteration of the savage slavery system, the slave trade and colonialism and hence the declaration of Aug. 23 every year by UNESCO as the International Day for the Rememberance of Slave Trade and its Abolition,’’ he said.

Mohammed said that Nigeria was celebrating the day on a later date because UNESCO gave member states the liberty to mark the day on a convenient date other than Aug. 23.

“I assumed work only a day earlier on Aug. 22, 2019, hence it became necessary for us to reschedule it for today to allow for a more robust celebration,’’ he explained.

The minister noted that Africa was currently faced with the reality of modern day slavery, including human trafficking, voluntary slavery, child labour, forced marriage and forced labour.

“Today, the number of young girls, being trafficked from West Africa, most of whom are trapped in the international sex tourism industry and labour exploitation, is alarming,’’ he said.

The minister reiterated the commitment of the government to tackling the spate of unemployment within the youthful population to address the menace of modern day slavery.

Speaking in the same vein, Mrs Julie Donli, the Director-General of National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Person (NAPTIP), said the scourge of slavery abolished during the colonial era had resurfaced in modern times as human trafficking.

Represented by Mr Chidi Donatus, a Director in NAPTIP, Donli said that human trafficking and illegal migration constituted a great global challenge.

On her part, Mrs Ndidi Aimienwauu, Acting Director-General of Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation (CBAAC), identified the unquenchable thirst and search for golden fleece and greener pasture as factors for illegal migration by Nigerian youths.

She said the youths were being driven by wrong optimistic mindsets and most of them risk their lives and future for pecuniary interest, only to become stranded in the countries they migrated to.

Aimienwauu urged government to make policies and provide needed infrastructure to encourage creativity and job opportunitiers among youths.

NAN reports that a film on Slave Trade entitled, “Shehu Umar, ’’ produced in 1975 for the Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC) held in Nigeria in 1977 was shown at the event.

The film, which was said to have been poorly preserved but rediscovered and digitised in Germany, focused on the issue of migrant slavery. (NAN)

– Dec. 19, 2019 @ 16:29 GMT

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