July 1 was a day of double honours for the ace filmmaker and culture advocate, Tunde Kelani, as hours apart, he earned both local and international plaudits for his work in the field of filmmaking and for his consistent advocacy for the preservation and promotion of African indigenous culture, heritage and knowledge systems.
Earlier in the day, he had received the good news from the Board of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the famous American award platform, otherwise known as the “Oscars“ that he had been elected a voting member. The status enables the producer of such famous works as Saworoide, Arugba, Maami, Dazzling Mirage, among others, to vote for winning works and artistes in the prestigious annual award ceremony.
Elected in the ‘Directors’ category, Kelani was among 842 new members from 59 countries. Two other Nigerians on the list of new members are Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje in the ‘Actors’ category and Chinonye Chukwu in the ‘Writers’ category. There are 10 categories of members.
Last year, the Academy had also elected four Nigerians — the documentary filmmaker, and co-founder/Executive Director of the iREP Documentary Film Forum, Femi Odugbemi, and three actresses — Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde and Wunmi Mosaku and Ngozi Onwurah — into its fold.
Later the same day, Kelani mounted the rostrum to be conferred with the ‘Leopold Sedar Senghor Prize for African Cultural Creativity and Impact’ at the Banquet and Award ceremony of the 9th Toyin Falola Annual Conference on Africa and the African Diaspora, TOFAC.
The event held at the Babcock University in Ilishan Remo, Ogun State, which jointly held the conference (July 1-3) with the University of Texas at Austin, USA.
The letter of conferment presented to Kelani, popularly called TK, within the film industry stated: “The Léopold Sédar Senghor Prize for African Cultural Creativity and Impact is awarded to an African artist of any medium or form whose works are devoted to harnessing African cultural heritages in creative ways for social consciousness and impact. This Prize is named after the father of Negritude, the visionary poet, politician and first president of Senegal, Leopold Sedar Senghor, one of the most important intellectuals in African history.”
In conferring the award on Kelani, the co-organisers said: “We consider your achievements as a distinguished cultural ambassador, and your passion for African development and progress as noteworthy and worthy of this unique recognition, and in enhancing the pan-African spirit of the TOFAC Conference”. The letter of notification was signed by Olajumoke Yacob-Haliso, (PhD.), Conference Convener and Dean, Veronica Adeleke School of Social Sciences, Babcock University.
The Award was presented to him by the Chairman of the Banquet, Fuankem Achankeng I, — The Nyatema of Atoabechied Ruler, Atoabechied, Lebialem Southwestern Cameroon.