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A vote for the veterans

By Jide Oyewusi
18 January 2022   |   3:23 am
It remains incontestable that Nigeria is blessed with so many highly talented individuals who at one time or another continue to showcase their various talents in different forms of entertainment aimed at bringing excitement to their audiences and making life more enjoyable.

Photo: NEEDPIX

It remains incontestable that Nigeria is blessed with so many highly talented individuals who at one time or another continue to showcase their various talents in different forms of entertainment aimed at bringing excitement to their audiences and making life more enjoyable. To start with, there are a wide variety of musicians with various brands of music that ensure there is never any dull moment either at home or at any social events, and in fact everyone chooses whichever brand he prefers at every point in time. Quite unfortunately, most of the different local music that ruled the 70s and 80s are now out of circulation with the demise of their originators and sadly with no one gifted enough to keep the flag flying. There are also those in the stand up comedy often found officiating at social events dishing out hilarious jokes that get their listeners rolling with laughter. Others include those whose comedies are embedded in movies to provide comic relief and then there are actors and actresses whose main engagement is purely acting and churning out of lesson-filled movies that keep their audiences spellbound. It is always difficult to imagine a world without any form of entertainment. What an entirely boring environment the world would have been. The life of man on earth is realistically very short and uncertain, and without some interesting elements in the form of entertainment to engage human attention, living itself, no doubt, would have been more frustrating than hellish.

This fact duly considered, there ought to be a concrete way of showing deep appreciation to those who bring laughter to the human faces thereby bringing joy to a world ravaged by various shades of tragedies. Before the advent of home movies, TV stations were replete with different entertaining programmes that people kept date with every week quite religiously. Interestingly, it was also a period when only few people had the luxury of television in their homes and played host to many of their neighbors who trooped to their homes every evening in order not to miss any of those lovely programmes they enjoyed so much. Everyone who lived in the country at the period under the discussion will remember programmes such as: The Village Headmaster, The New Masquerade, Basi and Company, Supple Blues, Behind the Clouds, Fortunes, and so many others which gave everyone something to hold very dear to the heart. Apart from the English plays, there were also so many local ones that enjoyed wider patronage by the locals than even those in foreign languages which were only patronized mostly by the elites.

Later came the home videos and then a sudden twist from TV shows to that of buying different home videos cassette which came out in droves. Before long, Nollywood, the name for the general body of actors, actresses and movie producers entered Nigeria’s lexicon and quickly became one of the greatest employer of labour as more and more people were attracted into the sector. But quite sadly, while those engaged in Nollywood were thinking of achieving major breakthrough through the ventures, the monster of piracy reared its ugly head and dealt a devastating blow to their various aspirations. Because of the evils of piracy, members of Nollywood ran into deep waters with many of them unable to recoup the money invested into producing their movies. Many also become indebted and blackmailed because of huge debts. A case in study was that of Moses Olaiya otherwise known as Baba Sala whose film titled: Orun Mooru was pirated before he could recover just a little out of the large sum of money he invested into producing it. Baba Sala ran into a very big problem, and it is doubtful if he ever recovered from it until he passed on.

It is a sad fact that while most people enjoy watching the different movies, they are never ready to support the movie producers to survive. Rather than insist on original copies of movies, they readily accept and promote pirated copies of any work and by so doing contribute in no small way in killing investors into the movie industry. For the same reason, most movie producers are only popular in the media but have nothing much to show for their fame in terms of material possessions. Such truth is always hidden from the public until some of the veterans suddenly take ill and are unable to foot their hospital bills and then resort to coming out to solicit for help. And quite unfortunately too, most of the nation’s rich individuals never ever put those in the entertainment industry into their agenda except very few of them who render some assistance after most of veterans have become completely destitute. Whereas in saner climes, those who have done well and contributed much to the social development of their societies are well taken care of in their retirement, the reverse is the case in Nigeria where veterans are most times assisted to launch appeal funds seeking assistance from the public.

The federal government must urgently set up an endowment fund for those in the entertainment industry such that can take adequate care of them in their old age or whenever they face health challenges. The last administration made such promise but it never saw the light of the day. It is quite unfair to abandon to their fate those who contribute so much to keeping the society happy and lively. For instance, as we speak, Ojo Arowosafe popularly known as Fadeyi Oloro is seriously down and pleading for help. Yet, this is the same man that gave his best to acting in his heyday and earned the love and respect of everybody. Everyone must rise up to his help now in his moment of need before it is too late. Moreover, adequate recognition ought to be accorded these veterans before they pass on.