|Stephanie Idahosa nee Okereke|
I have seen quite a few pictures of athletes especially at the Olympic games standing at the podium, receiving their medals. I have seen tears in the eyes of many as they were garlanded and the pride on their faces as their national anthems filled the air. Unfortunately I have never been to any Olympic games so I cannot accurately describe the atmosphere of those moments but from what I have seen on television, I believe those moments are probably the most precious moments of an athlete’s life.
The most precious moment of my life was when my first son was handed over to me by doctor Akagbuo our family doctor. As I gazed into that squeezed up face with the luminescent skin, the tiny but perfectly formed finger nails, the long soft hair and the little legs that refused to keep still, as I stared at the sweating woman who had just pushed out this replica of me and of life from her stomach, I could not have loved either her or the baby more. That was not just a defining moment of my life as a father and husband but also my crowning moment in life.
I have had several defining moments in my career but I am still waiting for that crowning moment. I believe, that every artiste, every athlete and every performer lives for that crowning moment. Deserved or not, some of my colleagues in Nollywood have had their crowning moments which in my understanding, must have come when their names appeared in the National Honours list and they were given awards like MON, MFR, OON. Those awards are the height of recognition that our country can bestow on individual citizens for bringing honour to Nigeria and contributing to the growth, development and advancement of the nation.
Now I do not know how many Nollywoodians have been awardees but I know quite a few and I also know plenty more who should have been, who are not. So last night I start thinking about the National Honours list and how it concerns Nollywood. I get to start asking what is the criteria or is it criterum for handing out these awards and how those who have been granted awards qualified for them. I asked myself why somebody like Zeb Ejiro should be given an award and nobody remembered a woman called Amaka Igwe, why somebody like Stephanie Idahosa nee Okereke was given an award and nobody remembered a certain Genevieve Nnaji, I start ruminating about why some people like Pete Edochie and the late Justus Esiri were given awards and nobody remembered people like Olu Jacobs and the late Sam Loco Efe. I puzzled over why someone like Chinedu Ikedieze was given a national award and nobody considered his colleague in naughtiness Osita Iheme or even the man who created those characters, Amayo Uzo Philips. I ask why a Teco Benson should be mentioned in the honors list and a Launcelot Odua Imasuen, a Reginald Ebere, a Tchidi Chikere, a Chico Ejiro and a host of other directors who have brought and keep bringing honour to this nation have been largely ignored. What about the two men who started off this phenomenon called Nollywood, Kenneth Nnebue and Paul Ogunjiofor, are they not bonafide citizens of this nation? Or does somebody know something about their citizenship that I don’t. What about all those working in the Yoruba sector and the Hausa sectors of our industry? What about a certain unknown, little man called Mike Oriyedinma, the man who actually birthed Nollywood, forgotten in the backwaters of Onitsha. What about the Richard Mofe Damijos and the Kanayo O Kanayo’s the Liz Benson’s the Joke Jacobs and the Kate Henshaws of Nollywood.
Now I know that there are a lot of other people from different sectors
who have also been ignored but I can only speak for my industry. The artistes
reward is not in the amount of money he is paid but in the sound of applause he
recieves and how loud it is. Those who draw up the lists for NATIONAL HONOURS
should bear in mind that we are not teachers, so we cannot wait until we get to
heaven. Now I know that those of my
colleagues who have been honoured will be aggrieved by this piece. I apologise,
I am not saying or even remotely suggesting that you did not deserve your
awards, I am only thinking you know and sometimes I cannot help but think aloud
and like Olu Jacobs amiable detective character in NTA’S THIRD EYE, “I wonder,
I just wonder.”