One of the pioneers of Nollywood, the contemporary Nigerian movie industry, Mr. Francis Duru, has called on government to make entrepreneurial studies, especially in the area of arts and crafts compulsory in the primary and secondary school curricular, arguing with the knowledge of teachings from such areas, there was an assurance that when a child leaves school, that child would have something that could put money in his/her pocket.
Duru made this call, while presenting a motivational speech to students (and parents alike) at the Women Development Centre in Abuja, on Wednesday, 21st May, 2014, during this year’s edition of the World Day for Cultural Diversity and Development celebration, organized by the Federal Ministry of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, in collaboration with UNESCO and all Federal Cultural Parastatals, on the theme, “Cultural Entrepreneurship Development in Nigeria.”
The movie star, who said every child had a talent, emphasized that it was not just about their talents but how the talents could be metamorphosed into skills to a point where the children could make a living from it, having passed through a process where they identify whom they were working with, where they were working and what they were doing in their school or church drama groups.
Narrating his experience in his early days as an up-coming artist, Duru said: “From my school days, there were different types of drama productions: some you were paid, and some you were not paid. It even got to a point where government will come and beg you to do it and when you begin to do that, you are exposing your talent and skills. It is when you are doing this that somebody can say this person can do this; they begin to prefer you, from nothing to something.”
He averred that it all had to do with how one began, disclosing that although he had wanted to study Law, Mass Communication, English or Literature, he found himself in the University of Port-Harcourt doing a Certificate in Theatre Arts course even when he had a provisional admission to study a degree programme in the same course; and that after his certificate course, he was able to pay his house rent and take care of his school fees as a result of his taking part in drama sketches regularly.
According to him, on many occasions when they went for performances, there were instances where they were paid, but often times given drinks as payment, which simply showed that people never had respect for the arts, adding, “It did not just come to be; it was a time when money was not the issue but passion. It was a time when the business was not respected. If you tell somebody you are doing Drama, they looked at you as a social outfit, a never-do-well. But today, parents come and say, ‘I want my daughter to join Nollywood.’ And I tell them Nollywood is not mechanic work that you will just join.”
He further narrated some of his early experiences, thus: “In the course of wondering in the night, the police will arrest us for wondering and when they ask us what we were carrying in the bag, we will say, costume. They will search the bag and ask where the costume is and we will tell them, that is what you are holding. They will be thinking costumes are very valuable items. It happened like that until I stepped into the University of Port-Harcourt and I met the likes of Dr. Barclays Ayakoroma. He taught me and I played with him. He directed me and together we attempted ventures both commercially and academically. Indeed it was an experience and at the same time, a process.”
Duru therefore encouraged the young ones to endure and go through the process, saying if they had skills and talents but were yet to acquire character, their talents would be rendered useless since it is character that is going to make them stoop low to conquer, seat and identify with great minds and as well cause them to bring out humility as a tool to learn from each other.