The hall was thrown into a rousing laughter when I arrived at the Terra Arena located on Tiamuyu Savage Street, Victoria Island, on a rainy Friday morning. I could tell the compere was fully in control as all his jokes held the entire hall spellbound. It was just the right way to set a an atmosphere for the premiere of the short film ‘Hanatu’ produced and directed by film maker, Kunle Afolayan for Sahara Foundation.
Oluwadamilola Adejuyin, a student of Eko Akete Senior Secondary School charged the atmosphere with a rendition of her poem titled: ‘Nigeria of My Dream’ where she highlighted her expectations of Nigeria. She spoke the mind of most young people through her poetic lines.
Speaking at the event which included the unveiling of the book, #NigeriaStartsWithMe, Tonye Cole, chairman, Sahara Group, said it is a collection of what is most important to young people in Nigeria.
“If a country will be great, he said, “it has to communicate with the youth. Today, the voice of young people is heard on social media. Before now, we asked for the youth of Nigeria to speak their mind trough the #NigeriaStartsWithMe. And we collated over 1, 000 entries which we have made into a book and will be presented to the acting president of Nigeria tonight.”
After the unveiling, the much-awaited short film later rolled out on the large screen keeping many people on the edge of their seats. Hanatu tells the story of a little girl with the eponymous name who lost one of her limbs and her father in ghastly motor accident. She is rediscovered by Piriye, a youth corps member posted to serve in her village. Piriye would later go out of his way to help the lonely Hanatu who never left her mother’s hut but peeps through the window watching other children play around and go to school, to get a new limb through one of the Sahara Foundation’s programmes online.
The film, epitomises Sahara’s commitment to sustainability, responsibility and extrapreneurship. It is an expression of what the company stands for – providing opportunities for aspirations to blossom into fruition. It is the mantra of hope; the demystification of impossibilities; a clarion call for sustainable development across climes and times.
While speaking about the production, Afolayan said he never saw it as a job rather it opened his eyes to so many things.
“I didn’t want to shoot the film in Lagos,” he recalled. “Someone recommended Auchi. I told myself I will look for children in the community to audition for the role of Hanatu. The young girl who played the Hanatu role, Joan Momodu, followed her sister to the audition, she stood on one side. I just saw her knew she would play the role well.”