Benin-based TellThatStory, a creative non-governmental media group, on Monday convened a conference on creative storytelling for artists across the South-South states.
Welcome delegates, Mr Babawale Obayanju, Co-host of the group, said the conference was aimed at strengthening and exposing the participants to a new level of potentials they had yet to explore.
According to him, this will be achieved, using the practical knowledge tools shared by identified skilled personnel from across Africa and the world.
On the conference entitled “Exposed!”, Obayanju said it had in its past four editions impacted well over 500 photographers and filmmakers, physically and virtually.
Beyond the usual photographers and filmmakers, he said this edition took a step further to engage artists in Nigeria following an identified knowledge gap in the creative space.
“We are truly pleased at the growth we have seen in the art community, especially the photography and filmmaking space, since we began the fulfillment of this mandate called TellThatStory in 2017.
“To provoke purposeful and intentional changes, where artists are producing quality and consistent bodies of work with the appropriate value for such works, at TellThatStory.
“We ensure that artists interrogate the environmental, political and social questions facing people everywhere.
“This is with a premium on the power of real stories by real people while promoting these stories and issues above the circles of the story or the fellowship of the artist,” said the co-host.
With a theme “The Artists in the Age of Anthropocene, examining the context of this Age – Globalization, Urbanization/Migration, and Climate Change,” he said the conference would empower young people from the South South, especially the participants.
Delivering the keynote address, Nnimmo Bassey, Executive Director, Home of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), described art as a tool for communicating change, saying the battles raging in the tumultuous age of Anthropocene required that no artist could afford to sit on the fence.
“For us, one of the urgent questions of the Anthropocene is whether we can afford to indulge in art for arts sake.
“To answer this question, we may have to examine what artistes, or their production have stood the rest of time, have made positive contributions to the emancipation of peoples across the world.
“At this juncture, we should ask ourselves some questions: What art piece most influenced you and your world view?
“Which musician stirred your conscience and demanded that you stand up to be counted?
“What do you learn when you reflect on the bronze artistic pieces of Benin Kingdom and why they were stolen?
“How best can you use your talent to communicate on the issues of our time – climate change, corruption, poverty, crime and violence?
“How can art build resilience in our time by propagating a counterculture?
“The artist must take a stand. The artiste must make a choice,” said Bassey, a renowned environmentalist.
In their presentations, Sophie Bouillon, Founder of StoryMi Academy and Damilola Onafuwa, Founder of StoryMaximal, underscored the need for Africans to tell their stories their own ways, but in more creative way than ever.
Bouillon for instance, regretted that Nigeria was under-covered; hence journalists and creative artists would need to tell more about Nigerian history and offer correct narrative.
She called on the participants to establish balance and common history for humanity.
To Onafuwa, the stories that needed to be told about Africa were bigger than what one man or an organisation could do alone.
“We actually need an army of storytellers and perspective is very important in telling the stories.
“Some of the reasons we need to tell our stories are one, it anchors us, meaning it tells about who we are and where we are from.
“Second, it drives us to be curious about our history, ancestors and culture. The more our stories we tell, the more we know about these.
“Lastly, it makes us accountable to our generations. It will help our children to learn about now,” he said.
The conference also featured exhibition of artworks and photography about environmental degradation and deforestation in the South South Nigeria.