Veteran actor, Dejumo Lewis, popularly known for his role in the classic drama, ‘Village Headmaster’, has been in the film industry and has been practicing radio and television broadcasting for over 30 years, but says there is still more to come. to the. With the launch of his new book Project Afrika, Lewis in this interview with SEGUN ADEBAYO talks about issues related to Nigeria and the film industry.
What prompted the decision to bring back the old ‘Village Headmaster’ you are currently working on?
There has been a clamor for the return of the ‘People’s Director’ during a period 30 years ago, when he was laid to rest unceremoniously.
Many people felt that it was unfair to have laid it to rest. How did you feel about it?
It was sad because it was laid to rest without consulting even with the sponsors, the producers and all the stakeholders who were involved in the production. He was just yanked from the scene and that was it. Viewers have been petitioning daily for the show to be returned, but the NTA turned a deaf ear to the clamor for it. Even while the creator was alive, he wanted a private production of the show and commissioned Tunde Oloyede to work on it. But for some strange reasons, he just didn’t take off until the man died.
Who was the creator of the program?
Ambassador According to Olusola. He was the creator of the show and has been given creator credit since the year the show hit the screen in October 1968. Two or three years ago, we actors decided to hold the show’s 50th anniversary. When that happened, we got people like Wale Adenuga, who owns Peffti and Wale Adenuga Production, and other co-op organizations interested, and that’s how he approached the NTA authorities so they could help, so the show can go out. again and publicly agreed and signed an agreement to execute it.
When the show was taken off the air, what kind of setback did it give you personally?
Aside from the fact that it affected what was planned for the show and all of that, people were watching it and how they received the news and all of that. What kind of setback did he give you as an actor?
It was very sad and depressing. It seems that nobody could do anything as long as the top management of the NTA decided to suspend it. He was halted in 1989 until he was revived by Wale Adenuga.
For that number of years it was shot down; You have participated in other film productions. Was there anything like what you had over 30 years ago?
I think Agogo Eewo’s TK production was kind of like it because it had similar goals of showcasing our culture and addressing the indigenous challenges we have with respect to leadership and governance, that was so outstanding. Others that I was involved with were just social issues that were of interest to the producers and owners of those films.
With what you did in Village Headmaster back then, do you think you can still reproduce the same feat if given the same character to play again? Do you think you still have it?
Yes, I can do much better but I have reservations about the development of the program. So the goals, I think they’re trying to keep it so it’s done along the lines of the original goals.
You have been in the film industry for a long time. You have seen the transformation from the old days to the new order. Looking at what we have now, what exactly do you think this industry hasn’t been doing right?
It is mainly our colonial Nigerian or African mentality, that they are only concerned with foreign ideas and foreign way of life, foreign problems, more than they are concerned with their own indigenous problems. From my own study of culture and communication, the content of any media must be the indigenous way of life and system. In that process, they address challenges related to development, sustainable development. It is very sad these days all we see is domestic violence, social violence, military violence, but we are saying that we want peace. We say that we do not want violence, attacks, kidnappings, we want peace and sustainable development, but we are doing the opposite to achieve it. But on my own, I have been writing a book for so long about the time when I did my Masters in Communication at the University of Ibadan. I graduated in 1991 after practicing communication, television broadcasting, and radio broadcasting for over 20 years. So, I have become involved in the practice of communication. So, that’s what influenced my decision to go for my Masters to understand communication theories; knowing why we do things in movies about communication in our culture. Why we do it the way we do it. So, that led me to the basics of communication and for my dissertation and thesis, I wrote on Culture and Communication: A Study of NTA Network Programs. And I’ve been developing the dissertation into a book for over 30 years, and right now, I have seven volumes of the same book. I was going to post something like this earlier, but realized it was too voluminous and might put off a lot of people interested in that topic. So, I have to split the whole thing into seven volumes of the same generic and serial title The Project Afrika- Developing Africa by AfriKa. The implication of this is that it is drawing attention to the destructive effect of imperialism, colonialism, even from the early period of what is now the norm in Africa with regard to governance and development. That it is foreign investment and foreigners who have been involved in our development and not our people; even though we have had western education in areas like engineering, medicine, economics, government, international relations and all that. By the way, the spelling of Africa in the Africa Project is with a ‘K’ and not a ‘C’.
Why did you do that, sir?
Because that’s how we Africans, we don’t even have a ‘C’ in our African alphabet, in particular, the Yoruba alphabet. So, it’s the Afrika Project; Developing Africa by the people of Africa. And that’s what’s responsible for why things don’t work. Or rather, they are working in the opposite direction.
One of the seven volumes, which is the first one I want to publish now, this publication, has been delayed due to lack of money. The problem is that I am drawing attention to the terrible effect of imperialism and colonialism and Africans have to be aware of their development if we really want our development to be sustainable. But I’m addressing it globally. In fact, the title of the first volume I’m about to publish is ‘Compelling Global Restructuring Is Long Overdue. Today, we only have two global technologies; the west and the arabs, but now it is all over the world. Even in China and India, they have been and are still working on their own indigenous technology because I found in my research that there is technology embedded in all indigenous systems and cultures, such as language, education and religion. Something called the primary message system has changed.
Elections are coming up and are generating a lot of reactions and counter-reactions in politics, what do you suggest Nigerians should do to get it right this time around?
What we should be planning, for now, is not a general election to elect new leaders, but an interim government that is a zero-party election, in which all cultures in Nigeria take control of their development and rule by electing the indigenous peoples of the six main cultures such as the Yoruba culture and the Igbo culture and other geopolitical areas. We are copying from the West and it has not helped us and it is not even helping them. Look at what is happening around the world today, in the Ukraine, the US, the UK and everywhere else, no place is politically stable. The reason is that the system of democracy is not run in the right way and we Africans have our own original democratic system that we need to go back to. We must invest and develop. That is my position. Instead of having general elections now, we should have an interim government of indigenous representatives from the six geopolitical zones to now handle the issue of restructuring, democracy, African technology and the African economy. Look what is happening to our Naira, it is really as sad and scary as the violence that is happening all over the world. But we focus only on Nigeria. The criticism is only about the central government, about Buhari and his government, and that is where we have missed the point and are going completely off track, off the path of sustainable development.
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