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World Intellectual Property Day… Excitement as foundation honours creative women in Warri

By Anote Ajeluorou
08 April 2018   |   3:06 am
As the global creative community looks set to celebrate this year’s World Intellectual Property Day 2018 on April 26, activities are at fever pitch at the offices of Friends of the Creator (Artistic) Foundation (FCF), Oleh, Delta State.

Rockson Igelige

As the global creative community looks set to celebrate this year’s World Intellectual Property Day 2018 on April 26, activities are at fever pitch at the offices of Friends of the Creator (Artistic) Foundation (FCF), Oleh, Delta State. The event is scheduled to hold at Ifash hall, PTI Conference Complex, Warri, Delta State.

With the theme ‘Powering Change: Women in Innovation and Creativity,’ FCF has lined up some outstanding Nigeria women, at home and in the diaspora, with creative flair for honour. Significantly, the FCF event in Warri is the only programme taking place in Nigeria that is listed on the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s (WIPO) project website.

Publicity Secretary of FCF, Mrs. Majovo Peace Odioko, said FCF, founded by U.K.’s University of Westminster-trailed entertainment lawyer, Mr. Rockson Igelige, decided to celebrate WIP Day 2018 to draw attention to the plight of creative people in their fight against intellectual property theft that is so rampant in the Nigerian society.

Founder of FCF and entertainment lawyer, Mr. Rockson Igelige, gave insight to the foundation’s reason for celebrating WIP Day, saying, “It is a kind of motivation for upcoming artists and inventors. It will create the awareness that people are watching and observing and someday they might recognise your work. In a nutshell, it will serve as a catalyst to produce more creators and inventors.”

He also explained the collaboration mix with engineering instead law, noting, “Last year, we did it with the Faculty of Law of Delta State University, Oleh Campus. This year we have to pick Faculty of Engineering because innovation is also involved. Innovation is connected to technology and science, too. And they are ready to support us with facilities and other related logistics. Beyond that we are also working with the dance unit of Department of Theatre Arts of University of Benin, Benin City, too, to actualise this year’s WIPO theme.”

Igelige also shed light on why it is important to deepen knowledge of IP among creators and copyright owners, noting, “So that they can know their rights and when to enforce it. It is important that they know their rights and be able to enforce it otherwise the incentive to create and innovate will be killed.” 

The six women to be honoured are dance queen, Kaffy, ‘Nigeria Go Survive’ back in the days music fame, Veno Marioghae-Mbanefo, Nollywood actress, Joke Silva, U.S.-based visual artist, Happiness Egobundu Akaniro and Canada-based actress, Isoken Ibie, and Director-General of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye.

Meanwhile, while responding to the theme of WIP Day, Marioghae-Mbanefo, said, “The theme for this year’s World Intellectual Property Day, ‘Powering Change: Women in Innovation and Creativity’ is, itself, empowering for the woman. For so long, women have yearned and fought to give expression to their creativity and ability to innovate. Bit by bit, the world has seen the emergence of women whose creativity has influenced communal and global trends and challenged the status quo. Miriam Makeba sang of the pain and oppression of her people in South Africa until the world was forced to take notice and do something about it.

“Nigeria’s Buchi Emecheta and Flora Nwakpa wrote amazing books, side by side with their male counterparts, in the days that education and fame of any sort was still quite a rarity for the Nigerian woman. Their courage stirred something in women that made them say, ‘Hmmm… If they can, I think I can!’ Then Chimamanda Adichie came with her incredible and brilliantly spun tales, telling our story our way, and changing some wrong global perceptions of who we are. We have not only swelled with pride for our daughter, but also ecstatically said to ourselves, who have fearfully hesitated to become, ‘Oh, yes, we definitely can!’

“Women are doing fantastically innovative and creative things. And it is a purposeful kind of creativity that is breaking new grounds, introducing new social and political elements into our daily lives, forcing us to see and deal with the things we are used to sweeping under the rug.”

Also for dance queen, Kafayat Oluwatoyin Shafau, popularly known as Kaffy, the theme ‘Powering Change: Women in Innovation and Creativity’ “for me is the beginning of sustaining and improving the future of creative services and innovations in the country. It is an idea I am happy to be associated with as I am a passionate advocate of youth and women empowerment, especially in the arts.”

“Over the years now,” U.S.-based Ibie informed, “we are beginning to see women taking up leadership positions, although not enough and making their voices heard either in science, technology, engineering, medicine or creative arts.

“Intellectual property (s) should be protected, preserved, encouraged and recognised. Celebrating and recognising women as innovators in a field or area significantly dominated by men is a brilliant move in the right direction. It is also a way of exploring the brilliant and beautiful intelligent minds and brains of countless women around the world. Further more, it displays the creativity of women in our ever-changing world, as they reshape Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and see themselves as stakeholders, test boundaries and push limit in their creative expression across the globe.”

According to Akaniro, “I have not created the greatest innovation in the whole world, neither do I represent the best of all women living. I’m just a personification of a tiny chip of the resilience of the Nigerian woman and I’m proud to be of that breed of women to whom I dedicate this award. It’s a great honour to receive the IP award. It humbles me. I see this as an encouragement and it’s like someone saying, ‘we got our eyes on you, don’t mess up!’ Sounds funny, but I think this puts the fire under me and says to me now, ‘we recognise your hustle; you make us proud, and we are conferring on you the responsibility to inspire younger ones because they too got their eyes on you.’ It’s like putting me on a pedestal, but I think I’m up to it.”

Marioghae-Mbanefo also paid tribute to some women pioneers, who blazed the trail and and became inspiration to other women behind them in stretching the boundaries of creativity, when she said, “Here in Nigeria, we have pacesetters like Lola Fani-Kayode and the late Amaka Igwe, who introduced professionally produced, home-grown television drama series to our local screens and produced many of today’s national celebrities.

“You have the likes of Uche Jombo and Stephanie Okereke-Linus, who produce movies that tug at our heartstrings and stir up our awareness of the shame called domestic violence, thus, rousing individuals, bodies and state governments to decisively deal with it. Omawumi’s song, ‘Na who I go ask’ shocked us into confronting the terrible evil that is child molestation, which has lived, coiled and hidden for so long like a deadly cobra, under our roof – many times, coming in the shape of close family, friends and domestic help.

“I could go on! These women inspire us to dare to flesh out our dreams and use our talents to reshape our world, one little amazing thing at a time. Therefore, this theme for this year’s World Intellectual Property Day just takes us to a whole new level. So, yes, I am very, very excited and happy about it.”

Marioghae-Mbanefo also expressed happiness at being given an award on a day that celebrates creative people world wide, saying, “I am, honestly, very humbled and very, very honoured. There are so many incredibly gifted women out there, who are creating and innovating all the time, working hard at influencing their world positively and effecting change. So, to be singled out for this award is infinitely edifying. And I am truly grateful to God for counting me worthy. I also thank the organisers for this great privilege.” Kaffy shared the same sentiments, when she said, “I am very honoured to be receiving an award, for being recognised for my contribution to the arts.”

So also Ibie, when she enthused, “Looking at where I am coming from, this award has made me realise how much stake we have as women in any industry we find ourselves and secondly on world matters.”

Marioghae-Mbanefo was full of praise for the award organiser, when she said, “Creativity, for me, is like the air I breathe. “I can’t do without it. My head is also a very busy beehive of outside-the-box ideas. My dream and passion is to use every creative gift that God has given me to effect positive changes in my country first, then, globally. I am far from being done; I still have a lot to say, a lot to do and a lot to share with the younger generation that has a lot of unanswered questions. This award is like receiving a huge boost of injection of the right things, times a hundred! You can’t receive an award of this magnitude and let its fire fizzle out. It brings with it another phase of my journey in innovation and creativity, which, by God’s grace, would be outstanding!”

Akaniro also expressed appreciation to the organisers of the event and for finding her worthy of being honooured: “I’m also grateful to the organisers for putting all this together. For someone like me who believes that part of my purpose in life is to create, knowing that my works are valued and protected gives me great confidence to focus on doing the work at hand, knowing that someone’s got my back. It’s reassuring to know every participant in the field knows there are rules to play by or seek redress. It’s encouraging to know that Nigeria is part of the discourse.”

Kaffy, too, was equally full of praise for FCF for celebrating and honouring some pioneering women creatives, when stated, “Receiving this award further refuels my fire and passion for empowering and creating.”

For Ibie, “This prestigious award will help broadening my mind, continue to push and make sure that I represent women and the world efficiently and continue to advocate for proper representation of women on critical matters that affect the betterment and enhancement of women and humanity.”

Also, Akaniro waxed lyrical in her estimation of what WIP Day means to her and the entire creative community. According to her, “WIP Day was created to raise awareness and protect creative ideas. This year’s theme focuses on and celebrates women makers, creators and inventors; women, who are driving change and changing our world for the better through art, performances, inventions and various ingenuities. In other words, we are celebrating women that inspire us creatively.

“Intellectual property laws are very important laws for creative; they impact the growth of the creative industry and, to a large extent, protect the works of individual creators, be they musicians, visual artists or digital developers, writers, etc.

“In today’s world, women make up a huge percentage of people in the creative fields. I’m not certain if we have current data for Nigeria, but in the United States, it’s said that 51 per cent of visual artists are women, and 46 per cent of all art-related workers are women. That is a percentage that cannot be ignored. From what we see in Nollywood and art exhibitions these days, one can deduce that women are making as much impact in Nigeria. Statistics also show that women make up 45 per cent of the global workforce.

“The role of women in the development of a nation’s economy and her contribution to modern workforce has grown tremendously and women are making impacts in every imaginable field you can think of. Interestingly, that hasn’t diminished women’s role in family-buildng. Hence, we cannot underestimate women’s contributions.”