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Africa Cinema Professionals apologize over Gang of Lagos movie



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Madu Chikwendu frontline film maker, member of International Film Producers Association, member Cinema Professionals Association in Africa affiliated to Cinema Professionals International has apologized to Lagos Island indigenes, who are aggrieved over the depiction of the Eyo masquerade in the movie Gangs of Lagos.

Mr. Chikwendu tendered this apology on behalf of cinema professionals during an interview session on Naija FM monitored by this medium. He explained that Eyo is one of the African traditional masquerades, which should be preserved and her ethics respected, despite the art and theater being acknowledged as assumption of roles, and movies being works of fiction with disclaimer.

In his words “I acknowledge that this matter is not as simple as hiding under creative license and disclaimer. The industry owe the Eyo masquerade and her custodians an apology.

“The producer ought to have consulted with Eyo masquerade culture experts and custodians, before going ahead to shoot the movie.

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“Film making has various levels of gate keeping from scripting to locations, in these: Gang of Lagos failed in doing proper research on the Eyo masquerade, they failed to engage knowledgeable culture experts. You don’t trample on the culture, beliefs and values of indigenous people in the bid to tell a story. Where your rights stops is where those of others begin”

Isale Eko Descendant Union, IDU, has been on the forefront of public advocacy to right the wrongs they felt was done to the Eyo heritage with the Amazon funded Gangs of Lagos movie. Hon Prince Adewale Ojora an indigene of Lagos Island (Isale Eko), and a member of IDU and Eyo Adimu Orisha had challenged the other guests on the Nigeria Info 99.3FM “Danfo Conversation with Ireti Bakare Yusuf” program.

Ojora’s main submission is that the movie Gang of Lagos left the audience with the impression that the Eyo Masquerade is a criminal gang. This he insisted is a false narrative which Lagosians had wanted the producers to quickly correct initially, before the recourse to litigation.

“Eyo is a spiritual cultural festival that is staged to herald the passage of high achieving Lagosians to the realm beyond, the movie Gang of Lagos wrongfully depicted the cultural heritage of Lagos aborigines.

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“The move is insensitive to indigenous Lagosians, Eyo cannot be used to herald the passage of a gangster and Eyo is not the first gang of Lagos as depicted in the movie. Eyo play has no time table, it is staged on request and from 1854 till 2017 you can count the number of times it was staged. We cannot have a movie telling an erroneous story of Eyo as a stop gap and to millions of people who have not been informed about Eyo.

“The cost to mobilize and stage the Eyo masquerade play is humongous in terms of time, logistics, regalia it runs into hundreds of millions of Naira, a three month preparation is needed for the play, and aside the Adimu, Okolaba, Oniko, Ologede and Agere traditional Eyo groups, there are hundreds of others who will participate in the procession.

“This play is exclusive and synonymous with Lagos Island, Isale Eko is not a den of gangsta and Eyo is not the first gang of Lagos. We cannot sit back and let anyone defame Eyo for profit in the name of artistic and creative license.” Ojora concluded.

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