Growing Old….. I NEED TO KNOW
Some twenty years or more ago, I was an enthusiastic writer of a drama series I NEED TO KNOW, Most of the cast and crew were young men and women I was meeting for the first time. I remember Bisi, or better stated Funke Akindele. A young, vibrant and irrepressible girl who constantly had a hoarse voice and had a vivacity you could almost feel. She was Bisi in the series and had a definite mind of her own. She was friends with her mates Ngozi, Hauwa and Essien. The four girls in the first season of the series. It was interesting how the girls interacted with each other and their general mother, Mrs. Tomori or otherwise referred to as Carol King. For a long time, I had a problem separating the girls from their roles. Maybe it was because the series I NEED TOKNOW was such a hit. The girls had fun, made it the series look so real that even when they were off camera, the jokes went on unabated.
Mrs. Tomori became a real big girl to the girls and boys. There was Bayo, who got a role because he kept making fun of the young man who was being auditioned to such a level that Lloyd Weaver asked him to audition and against expectation became the lead male actor Bayo in season one of the series. Bayo became a full actor after he read theatre arts from Ibadan.
I am flipping the pages and taking some interesting reading of my experiences because recently the cast and crew of this series came together and memories flooded in. What was the series about? Looking at students of Independence Memorial college and how they faced questions of adolescence and sexuality. UNFPA wanted to have a series that used drama to create a fun teaching of reproductive health issues. It hoped that adolescents will have the answers to the questions of sexuality and reproductive health and be empowered enough to take responsible decisions on their reproductive health issues. In addition, it was to help underline the need to take positive decisions on issues so they could achieve life goals not hampered by child marriages, female genital mutilation, early teenage pregnancies and a host of other things.
As the deputy representative Daniel Landry explained, UNFPA added parent /child communication guideline for adults in the series. I NEED TO KNOW became a monster hit and the cast became stars in their own right. What happened to them after the series had run its course? What was the effect of the series on the cast and crew? When we met, there was camaraderies, memories and high fives. I wanted to learn how we all were making progress on the highway of life, dreams and ambitions.
Bisi as Funke Akindele we all always knew. Funke Akindele learned the enter –educate style and became the widely popular Jenifa in Jenifa’s Diary and has continued an activist drama series that states her vision and guide in her comedy skits that make sense. Did we sense that when she was Bisi? Did we have any reason to expect she was going to be such a thoughtful social commentator?
Jenifa’s Diary has created its own space in our media world and I salute Funke for visioning an interesting series.
Do you remember Vince? The Cassanova boyfriend of May who gave his mother sleepless nights because he had a thing on May, a young girl we projected as having HIV? His mother Tanya who was a doctor in the series had to separate her medical responsibilities from her concerns as a mother.
Vince became a professional mass communicator, and tells me, that what he learnt as a young actor affected his love life to make him a restrained person. He has taken parts in other media aspects of his life, conducts interview and longs for opportunity to allow today’s young persons learn how they can take effective control of the issues of life and goals.
What are those issues now? Fraud, a misplaced decision to make money by whatever available means possible. Fast cars, fraudulent practices, drugs, cybercrimes have overtaken the youth of today. A young man hacked my Facebook account and put out a story that I have benefited from money doubling. The intention was to sway my friends into taking such short cuts. It was a very sad experience for me. This is one of the young person I had offered a free writing course so he could learn about being a writer. The feeling of someone stealing my identity was very strange, it was sad to find the attempt to smear me as a dishonest money doubler painful.
Can a series like I NEED TO KNOW help such a human being? Are we truly lost in a world so dark and dense that the principles we learned in growing up may no longer suffice to comfort us as grow old?