Mariam Adebimpe Lawal is the coordinator of Kids and Teens Heroes’ Project. In this interview, she talks about the importance of the project to the younger ones who are fast forgetting about their history. Excerpt:
What is the heroes’ project all about?
The heroes’ project is just about filming the stories of our country’s great legends. It is a project that intends to bring to television the real life history of Nigeria’s great heroes and heroines.
In a country like Nigeria where today’s youths now dream of becoming millionaires without working, this project will help return them on the right path. They will realise that no one can achieve greatness without hard work, so in essence, this project will help nurture the culture of hard work among the youths.
Therefore, the project is trying to tell the youth that there are people in this country who achieved success against all odds without doing anything illegal.
As part of the project, I filmed the Obafemi Awolowo story because he happened to be someone my dad loved, and still loves. I also grew up admiring him. To me, ‘Awo’ means an achiever who stood against all odds to get to the top. So I decided to shoot his story first because he is someone I admire.
So, how did you go about the shooting of the film?
It wasn’t easy for me, especially during the first and second rehearsals. Being a teacher also helped me achieve a lot because I was working with my pupils and students. At a point, I regretted spending my personal resources on the project. But what gives me hope is that each time I watch the movie myself, I learn a lot from it, despite being the writer of the story. The aim of the movie is to preach hard work to the young minds.
Why did you say you almost regretted embarking on the project?
The truth is that from the beginning of the project, till this moment, I have been the one funding it. When I wrote to the parents of some pupils who acted in the project, only two of them responded financially, so I have been the person financing this project. I, however, will continue to work on the project because of my personal conviction that it will help build morally-sound youths. This project will put resilience, determination, patriotism, persistence and hard work in the minds of our youths.
So are you currently seeking help over the project?
The Awolowo project is the first in a number of films to be shot, and I want to make a statement with it. However, I will like state governments, especially the South West governments to support this project. While Chief Awolowo worked for the development of the country at large, people of the Western region benefited more from him, so it won’t be a bad idea if the region’s governments work to project his legacies, while the younger generation learn from him. I also want the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation to assist me on this project, as well as the Federal Ministry of Arts and Culture, among others. Corporate organisations are not left out; they can partner with us on this project.
Apart from Chief Awolowo, which other heroes are you looking at?
There are several people who have contributed to the development of the country and from whose lives our younger generation can learn the values of hard work, determination, among other positive values. However, it is the Awolowo project that is ready now and we will take it from there. The future of the project, however, depends on external support as I cannot continue to fund the movies from my personal financial resources. But one thing about the project is that at a time when our younger ones are almost forgetting about the contributions of our heroes to national development, the project will bring them up to date with history. Going by the age of the target audience, the film was shot in easy-to-understand language and it will definitely help our younger ones.
So who is Mariam Lawal?
I am a mother and wife. I am also a passionate teacher who believes that every child is unique in his/her own way.