Gangs of Lagos: Runsewe weighs in on cultural-related controversy

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Chief Olusegun Runsewe, Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), has called for calm over the uproar created by the production of a new film, “Gang Of Lagos”.
Runsewe, in a statement on Friday, said there was need for strategic rethinking on cultural related narratives by filmmakers in Nigeria to avoid public resentments and reactions.
BRANDPOWER reports that the  “Gang of Lagos” co- produced by Jade Osiberu and Kemi Lala-Akindoju, premiered on April 7 and has generated reactions from the Lagos State Government.
The state government in its reaction said the movie portrayed the Eyo Masquerade as a gun-wielding villain while adorning the full traditional regalia.
The state also felt it was a  misrepresentation of cultural ethos of Eyo masquerade and insulting to the tradition and history of Lagos indigenes.
Runsewe, however,  pleaded with the state government and the good people of Lagos to forgive the infractions contained in the flick, assuring to arrest such cultural insensitivity headlong.
He noted that the Eyo masquerade was one of the key cultural tourism products,  associated with the history of Lagos and Nigerian culture.
Runsewe advised film makers to be well  guided when producing for public consumption on Nigerian cultural history so as not to provoke tension and irritations across the country.
“Lagos state government, for instance has invested and continues to champion the growth of the creative sector, targeting young persons for training in all aspects of film making and production.
“With community theatre halls built at each of its local geo-space and even with John Randle Yoruba Museum, where researches on Yoruba culture and tradition can be learnt first hand.
“So, films with narratives on the ways of  life of our people must trend on best acceptable and sensitive information profiling,” he said.
“Though the world of creativity is said to hold no boundaries but when it comes to cultural narratives, careful measures, strategic profiling, dedicated investigation should be done,” he said.
He said request to collaborate with custodians of national cultural and traditional institutions should be thoroughly considered and consulted.
“During the last National Festival for Arts and Culture (NAFEST) in Lagos, we, at NCAC wrote to the Oba of Lagos, requesting the participation of the iconic Eyo masquerade.
“We were made to appreciate and understand that Eyo masquerade public appearance is guided by certain traditional ethics and procedure, so we expect our filmmakers to follow same engagement route.
“Honestly, we at NCAC appreciate Nigerian filmmakers for the efforts to use such narratives, to contribute to national cultural tourism rebirth and acceptation, including its international cultural tourism value chain.
“But we must advise that a cultural sensitivity context and content analysis should be part of both production and post-production ecosystem,” he said.

BRANDPOWER recalls that the Lagos State Government had expressed displeasure with the promoters of the “Gangs of Lagos” film/series over what it described as “cultural misrepresentation” as well as portraying the culture of the state in a derogatory manner.

In a reaction by the state government, the Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs. Uzamat Akinbile-Yussuf said the Ministry, being the regulatory body and custodian of the culture of Lagos State, viewed the film/series as a mockery of the Heritage of Lagos.

Earlier, Prince Uthman Shodipe-Dosunmu, the Apesinọla Ẹyọ Ọba Alakẹtẹ Pupa Ọkalaba Ẹkun, a cultural group, had condemned the film, calling for an immediate withdrawal. Shodipe-Dosunmu described the film as “ethnic profiling, sacrilegious and outrageous trash.”