|Popular Nollywood actor, university lecturer and incumbent Director- General/CEO, Rivers State Tourism Development Agency, Sam Dede in this interview talks about his desire to return to Nollywood after the expiration of his appointment as well as what fun seekers should expect at this year’s edition of the annual Port-Harcourt carnival.
WHAT’s your impression about Nollywood since you’ve been away?
We have a new crop of film makers. In some quarters, they refer to them as new Nollywood; it’s good. I’ve seen some of the works they’ve done. It’s quite an improvement on what we used to have. I just hope it is sustainable because it is not easy out there. It’s a different ball game.
What we know is that Nollywood grew out of its own steam. It was a deliberate move to tell our own story in our own way and our people have become used to that way of telling our story. So, anything new that is better than what we used to have is very much welcome but I hope we can sustain it.
Are you missing acting?
Yes, I can’t wait to return to the industry. I will definitely return to Nollywood as soon as I am done with this appointment. There are so many jobs to be done in the industry.
The fact is that a lot of things have gone wrong while some of us have been away. Some of us have gone into politics; taking up political appointments, while many others have gone into different businesses.We need to come back stronger and more experienced to put Nollywood on the right track
How have you been coping as the Director-General of the Rivers State Tourism Development Agency?
It has been tasking. What you should do is to face the challenges. And the good thing for me is I already had interest in tourism before the appointment came. So, my coming into the terrain and drawing a strategy plan for tourism in Rivers State was not really difficult because the idea has always been there. This is just time to put it down for people to see.
This is what we have done and we are moving gradually into it. Also, being a celebrity opens doors for you and it also gives you a leeway to get through things in life. I think I am using the advantage of the goodwill to get some things going for us.
This year’s Port-Harcourt carnival will hold from the 14th of December through 20th. What are we expecting from the organisers?
The 2014: One Love, One People Edition, is a Carnival with many firsts. For the first time in the history of the Carnival, we are set to unveil our state-of-the-art performance stage. It is a one hundred and fifty (150) feet of architectural masterpiece with many outstanding features.
The stage is collapsible and can be uncoupled into smaller units to stage multiple events at far-flung locations within the state. The stage is designed to complement our sponsorship drive as it can also be deployed for branding purposes by interested sponsors. In no small measure, this stage, which is the largest of its kind in Africa, will raise the standard and brand pedigree of the Carnival in line with our vision to position it as a global brand.
Secondly, we have packaged the different activities of the Carnival into sub brands for commercial exploitation. Unlike in previous editions, we have fully democratized the Carnival to encourage business participation from interested corporate bodies and multi-national organisations in order to make it a ‘commercially attractive and economically viable Carnival brand’.
At least twelve individual events such as the ‘Free Style Street Parade’, the ‘Kids Carnival’, ‘Praise Jam’ and ‘Ekere – rhythm of the Tribes, to mention a few, are open to exclusive and non-exclusive category sponsorships. We have also created a headline sponsorship window for interested sponsors.
Thirdly, for the first time, we are staging Miss Carniriv Beauty Pageant (MCBP) as part of the carnival. The pageant, slated for the 13th of December, is a special event to herald the carnival and introduce the beauty of Port Harcourt and indeed Nigeria to the world. I will also like to add that successful participants and fans alike are to go home with unique prizes and gifts as a token of appreciation from the organisers. And there are more that we can not reveal in one sitting.
You claimed that the Port Harcourt Carniriv is one of the biggest Carnivals in Africa, is this really so and why have you not translated this into the commercial and publicity success expected of a brand of this nature?
Each year, over Five Hundred Thousand participants, 23 local government floats, ten costume bands and visiting troupes from all over the world take part in our carnival. The turnout grows each year and this is a known fact. Add to that over 14 kilometres of street parade and over 25 group tour requests during the carnival and you are closer to the big picture – we are big!
We have always concentrated our energy and resources in delivering the best Carnival in terms of audience participation and satisfaction and without sounding immodest, we have succeeded in bringing internationally renowned musicians and chart toppers such as Shaggy, Patra, Style Plus, Morgan Heritage and their indigenous counterparts to Port Harcourt for live performances.
In the same token, we have always lined up the best-of-the-best indigenous stars to also perform alongside the global icons. Although our work speaks for us, we have since learnt that we have to sound our own trumpet too. For this reason, this year, we are upping the media and publicity stakes on a global level and we are sure that the international community will marvel at the entertainment spectacle that is the Carniriv 2014: One Love, One People edition.
What makes the carnival unique?
One of the unique features of the carnival is that each year we launch it with a predominant theme. For instance, the 2013 edition was themed, ‘The Green World Edition’ in consonance with the universal crusade to go green. As expected, throughout the duration of the 2013 edition, we promoted everything organic, respect for nature and sustenance of the environment in the quest to improve our general wellness and the quality of life
This year, the Carnival is themed, One Love, One People edition, for reasons that are self evident: Our country and indeed the global community has embraced globalisation – the breaking down of barriers, the closing of ranks between people of diverse colours, creed, culture, political leaning, race etc. Our theme is well thought out because it denoted the unity of our people, diverse as we are in creed, and culture and faith and opinion – we celebrate our oneness as people of the greatest city in Nigeria – calm, peaceful, fun filled and original.
Who are the artistes to perform?
We are unveiling the list of the artistes that will be performing at the flag off in Lagos where we will invite all of them to meet with the press. Last year, we used 56 upcoming Port Harcourt based artistes. We gave them the same opportunity to perform on the same stage with international artists, using the same stories as international artists and all of them were paid. We will do more this year.
You participated at the Notting Hill Carnival for three years, what’s the value to the Carniriv brand?
The project is Carniriv at Notting Hill Carnival. We also do the same at the carnival in Trinidad and Tobago. Our intention is to globalize our carnival. We want to get Carniriv carnival to be on the list of globally recognized carnivals and we are getting there.
I’m sure if you ask people in London, they will tell you they know about Carniriv. Same in Trinidad and Tobago. That’s the whole idea of participating in those international carnivals.
We want to tell the whole world that when it’s winter in Europe, America and elsewhere, and people are looking for places to go to, there is a carnival in a place where the sun light comes up as early as 6am and doesn’t go down till 6pm. This is the place to be during winter.
It’s beginning to happen because people are bombarding our website. Last year, we had a packaged tour for 25 people from the United Kingdom who attended the carnival. We are not talking of others that came on their own. We set up a strategic development plan to globalised our carnival to rank among other carnivals in the world.