Telling Igbo Stories in the Age of Digital Transformation
“Ndị Igbo! We are more than the stereotype of a people obsessed with money. We are vibrant, diverse people with many stories about young innovators, entrepreneurs doing great stuff,” Emeka Mba, founder of Afia TV speaks about the Igbos wielding the power of the digital space to tell their stories at a recent edition of Centre for Memories’ Monthly Distinguished Speaker Series in Enugu.
The former Director General of the Nigeria Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) and former DG of Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), Emeka Mba, stresses the need for Igbos to go with the trend the digital space has brought to the world in his lecture, “Ebube Dike Telling our Stories in the Age of Digital Transformation”.
In his lecture Mba laments the remarkable absence and lack of interest in building media platforms in Igbo land. He attributes this lackadaisical attitude to the fact that most people, especially business and political leaders in Igbo land, are yet to fully comprehend the multi-dimensional shift that is happening before our very eyes. “We can redefine our identity, image, influence, character through smart application of storytelling and more investment in media and the creative industries.”
Speaking further, he reminded attendees that once upon a time, Enugu was the heartbeat of Nollywood. “However, in the absence of any form of organic or deliberate engagement by the government, the industry gradually moved out of the state, leaving just a handful of producers still struggling to cope with the absence of supporting infrastructure.” This, he says, has led to a brain drain of players in the entertainment industry in the Southeast.
In view of the above, Mba asks a very striking question. “How come our region, which was second to start regional television broadcasting, and is today arguably home to Nigeria’s strategic independent manufacturing and trading hubs in Aba, Nnewi, Onitsha, Owerri…have the least traditional media presence and representation in the country?”
From his discourse, it is obvious that eastern Nigeria need media and storytellers, especially broadcast media, to help stimulate more demand for products, services, promote and uplift the profile of SMEs and craftsmen. The Igbos can rise back to what they used to be, but they must embrace and build a solid digital economy. However, to accomplish this goal, Mba submits that “this will require focus in key areas such as digital infrastructure, programs on digital entrepreneurship and innovation, digital literacy skills, digital financial services and [proliferation of] digital platforms.”
Mba, who is the founder of Afia TV explains the role Afia TV is playing to help bring Igbo stories to the world. He also stated that young people are the future and that is why he has employed young people because they know what most old people do not. He admonishes young people in the audience.
“You should take advantage of the changing dynamics of storytelling, as the convergence of digital tools and social media have transformed how we tell stories. It has removed barriers to content creation.
“To remain relevant and succeed in this new world, Ndi Igbo must embrace a new digital mindset,” Mba adds.