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Securing the Future: CAIB Fosters Dialogues and Broadens Public Awareness...

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Cartoon Africa International Biennial (CAIB) Fosters Dialogues, Broadens Public Awareness and Engages Youths in Environmental Protection in Africa
Since 2012 when the collaborative agenda to deploy cartoons and comedic art, photojournalism, cartoon animation/multimedia tools, etc. to address vital development concerns in Africa not given the attention they deserved debuted in Lagos, Nigeria. 

The project is gradually building up into a movement of sorts as it continues to gain more visibility and attract attention of key stakeholders locally in the context of achieving some of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa through media advocacy, youth engagement creative education and capacity building for  visual journalists in Africa.

One issue in the front burner of the CAIB project is the environment. Every other year, within the prism of graphic humour, edutainment and public dialogues, the CAIB project addresses among other concerns in favour of Africa’s sustainable development and productivity, the issue of preserving the environment. Thus, at the ongoing 3rd edition of Cartoon Africa International Biennial (CAIB 2016/2017) which opened on November 24, 2016, in Benin City, Edo State of Nigeria, with the theme: “Sustainable Environment Equals Sustainble Development” stakeholders, young and old alike, were of one mind on the issue – why can’t things be different?

The tragedy of leadership in Africa has brought it home to the citizens of the continent that Africa of the future would depend largely on the individual/personal deliberate, proactive and game-changing actions taken by today’s African citizens to secure the future on all fronts. And one key issue central to all of these is about our activities in and attitudes to the environment, participants at the CAIB2016/2017 unanimously agreed.

The 3rd cartoon biennial was hosted by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Edo State Council, at the NUJ Press Center, No. 1 Reservation Road, G.R.A, Benin City, and focused on building the capacity of up-and-coming journalists and youths in the skills of visual journalism and illustrated storytelling in the context of better reporting the environment and other development issues in Africa, especially in Nigeria.

Public presentation and distribution of FREE copies of the first edition of WASH4All comic book series to all participants, and a paid visual journalism/media art training course, added verve to the three-day event. The free comics were produced by Horizon International and MediaBFI- the media arm of Beautiful Feet International (BFI), to engage young people in the fight against malaria and other WASH-related diseases, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. Click here to download your copy of the free comic book. (You may also want to link up to our new African Press Cartoon portal for more cartoons, comics, graphic novels, cartoon animations and more info-graphics, visual journalism and development communication editorial contents for your personal or corporate use. Terms and conditions apply).

Various experts from the media, health, academics, civil societies, visual arts, film and cartoon animation industries, etc. attended the event as resource persons/supporters.

The host and chairman of the occasion, Sir Roland Osakue, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Edo Council boss, while delivering his keynote address, told the gathering that more than ever before the issue of preserving the environment and educating people on the importance of environmental hazards to fiscal development and personal wellbeing has never been so crucial, especially now that the Federal government of Nigeria has finally embarked upon the clean-up of Ogoni land. He warned that African citizens have a 50/50 responsibility with their governments to preserve the environment, protect biodiversity and mitigate pollutions and deforestations as well as all man-made degradation of the environment. The chairman challenged journalists to up their game in informing educating and enlightening the public on the crucial issue of properly reporting the environment.

The NUJ, Edo State chairman who was represented by the Financial Secretary of the union, Mr. Lucky Isibor, reiterated the urgent need for more media attention and proper environmental education for journalists and other stakeholders. He challenged environmental journalists to up their game in the crucial issue of properly reporting the environment, while commending the organizers of the CAIB project for the innovative initiative.

On his part, veteran Nigerian journalist, Mr. Tony Abolo of the International Institute of Journalism (IIJ), Benin City study center, while delivering his public lecture entitled “REPORTING THE ENVIRONMENT EFFECTIVELY THROUGH INFORMATION GRAPHICS” at the CAIB event, bemoaned the negative attitudes of people towards the environment, harped on the inevitable consequences to human life and productivity and advocated ways the media could play a vital role in changing the status quo by effective deploying visual journalism/ information graphics to trigger positive changes in perceptions and attitudes towards the environment. “…today the destructive habit of man has gone full circle – Global Biodiversity balance has been threatened. Global Ecology has been impacted; the Environment is in a state of destruction and degradation. The polar ice is melting faster; polar ice which was solid ice, since the ice age, are melting rapidly, under increased global warming, thus raising ocean levels so fast, thereby threatening coastal cities and towns and with it additional source of man continued source of livelihood is under threat. In fact with the ozone layer gone, we now have a higher carbon emission levels and globally there is a climate change. Until now, we had a dry season and a rainy season with definitiveness of periodicity. Today, it is no longer so.”

Tony Abolo encouraged journalists to engage in some art education as a great tool for effective mass communication, especially in matters relating to environmental education, averring that “…pictorial strips or the use of nature and high imagery of cartoons. These with greater reliefs, and emboldened images can communicate yet more powerfully and visually in a society that is not so literate and that loves the simple and ordinary and who are visually sensuous. The multi-media tools come readily in hand through compu-graphics.”

Other experts who spoke at the event opening included veteran Nigerian journalist, Mr. Peter Iyeke, a journalism lecturer with the International Institute of Journalism (IIJ) Benin City Study center, high point of the event was the formal kickoff of the outdoor travelling Open Cartoon Campaign on environmental protection, which was declared open by the event convener and curator, Francis Umendu Odupute, at the NUJ Press Center in Benin City.

Mr. Odupute told participants at the event that as soon as the basic funding needs are fully met the open cartoon campaign on environment (and other development concerns in favour of Africa) will continue to travel from place to place for the next couple of years or more – beginning from Benin City to selected towns and cities in Nigeria, West Africa Africa and other parts of the world, to broaden public awareness and inspire change of attitudes  that ultimately contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa.

The travelling open cartoon campaign and workshops is an integral part of the 3rd Cartoon Africa International Biennial (which ends in December, 2017) anchored by FICDATA and strategically targets African youths as its primary audience.  Along with the travelling open cartoon campaign on the environment is the “WASH in School” (WinS) health and wellness outreaches to schoolchildren in Nigeria, facilitated by MediaBFI. At each school visited, schoolchildren received free copies of WASH4All comic books, a special advocacy tool by the CAIB organizers to engage young people in the fight against malaria and other related diseases, and to improved water access, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) among young people in the spirit of securing the future.

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