A GOODWILL MESSAGE BY PROFESSOR NDOWA E. S. LALE, FAvH, FESN, FISCEST, FINMN, VICE-CHANCELLOR OF THE UNIVERSITY OF PORT HARCOURT, ON THE OCCASION OF THE 30TH CONFERENCE OF THE SOCIETY OF NIGERIA THEATRE ARTISTS (SONTA) ON WEDNESDAY, 1ST NOVEMBER, 2017
I am delighted to welcome thespians from all nooks and crannies of our beloved nation to the University of Port Harcourt on this auspicious occasion of the 30th Conference of the Society of Nigerian Theatre Artists (SONTA). In a manner of speaking, I would like to welcome all of you back home because today’s gathering represents a homecoming of sorts for two reasons.
One, this is the second time the University of Port Harcourt will be hosting the Society of Nigerian Theatre Artists Conference, having successfully done so in 1994. Two, the University is home to many famous thespians, some of who have been making commendable waves in the popular Nigerian Movie Industry—Nollywood and other branches of the booming entertainment industry over the decades.
It is heart-warming to note that the University of Port Harcourt was home to the distinguished playwright and teacher, Professor Ola Rotimi of blessed memory and famous novelist, Ifeanyi Aniebo. Famous Literary Critics, such as, Charles Nnolim, Wilfred Feuser, Sunday Anozie, Chidi Maduka, Chidi Amuta, Chidi Ikonne, Helen Chukwuma, Seiyefa Koroye, also held court here.
As a breeding ground for actors, actresses, directors, comedians, dramatists and other theatre practitioners, we are proud to say that UniPort has produced a galaxy of movie stars. They include: Ejike Asiegbu, Hilda Dokubo, Francis Duru, Bimbo Manuel, Monalisa Chinda, Rita Dominic, Bob-Manuel Udokwu, Victor Osuagwu, Julius Agwu, Lancelot Imasuen, Millicent Jack, Yibo Koko, Michael Ogbolosingha, Michael Ogolo, Basorge Tariah, Iyowuna Obomanu, Mike Ogundu, Ovunda Ihunwo, Edward Imo, Gift Iyeumame (Muma Gee), Yul Edioche, Charles Inojie, Ossa Earliece, Kester Oshioreame, amongst others. The list is endless.
Additionally, I find the theme of this year’s conference: “Theatre, Economic Recession and the Quest for Survival,” very appropriate and timely. This is especially so because the nation is currently recovering from a debilitating economic recession that has left lasting pain in many families. Any discourse that focuses on the survival strategies would be a worthwhile venture.
I wish to congratulate SONTA for deeming it fit to enlighten the public on the theatre strategies for survival in a season of economic difficulties occasioned by recession. It is my belief that at the end of this conference, we shall have learnt the role of theatre in cushioning the effects of economic recession.
It is no longer news that Nigeria’s vibrant entertainment industry has been a major employer of labour in Nigeria in the last decade. It is only reasonable we support SONTA to harness the potentials of the industry to tackle the rising problem of unemployment. It is however worrisome that with the robust artistic profile of the University of Port Harcourt, there is no conducive and befitting theatre structure both in the University campus and the State at large. I am happy to note that our University is still in the business of producing competent theatre practitioners and movie stars. We therefore use this opportunity to appeal to well meaning individuals and corporate bodies to partner with the University in this regard.
Distinguished thespians, let me on behalf of the University of Port Harcourt, welcome you all and wish you fruitful deliberations and a pleasant stay in the University of Port Harcourt and the Garden City of Port Harcourt.
Once again, we thank you for choosing Unique UniPort for your conference and we would not mind hosting you again and again.
You are all welcome!
NDOWA E. S. LALE, FAvH, FESN, FISCEST, FINMN