Tuesday, 18 August 2009

STAR ACTOR: Behold elder Ali Balogun


TODAY at the National Theatre, family members, friends, colleagues and associates of the film activist and former President of the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP), Mahmood Ali-Balogun will converge for a special ‘praise and worship’ session, which his wife, Nkechi, says is to celebrate the man of theatre.
Born and raised in Kano, Ali-Balogun is known for his documentaries, and activism as a cultural worker, particularly advocating for a virile film industry in Nigeria and Africa as well as creation of an enabling environment for culture sector to thrive. As a prelude to today’s event, slated for the Conference Banquet Hall of the National Theatre beginning from 2pm, Moviedom sought and got friends of the director of MNet short film A Place Called Home, one time Vice President of the Independent Television Producer Association of Nigeria (ITPAN), founding member of the Conference for Motion Picture Practitioners of Nigeria (CMPPN), and member of the Steering Committee of the Motion Picture Practitioners Council of Nigeria (MOPPICON) to put down short lines for Ali-Balogun. Peter Tade Adekunle (ex-President of NANTAP) ‘I met Mahmood Ali-Balogun in 1989, during the formation period of the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP) and at the first convention, where I was fortunate to be the first chairman of the convention; Mahmood was elected the first National President. In his period as President, Mahmood served the association to the best of his ability, causing the state chapters to increase in their numbers, which led to good national spread. It must also be noted that he used his clout to generate funds apart from committing his own financial resources to support the association. I was also privileged to work with Mahmood when I played the lead role in his film ‘Teemi Ni n’Tooto’ . You can only come to admire him for his attention to details. It must be mentioned that apart from administration, directing and politics, he is also a good actor. I saw him play the role of Landlord in Ola Rotimi’s play,’ If…’, directed by Niji Akanni. He interpreted the role so well that some of us that watched the production concluded that Mahmood missed his calling; he should have taken acting as his major! Happy birthday!’. Francis OnwOchei, Actor and producer ‘Our paths first met about 22 years ago at the National Theatre. He has remained focused, devoted and dedicated to the development of the arts and motion picture. His outspoken nature, fearless and consummate contributions to issues are unparalleled. He is an icon of the reformation of Nollywood. I wish him many more active and productive years’. Gab Onyi Okoye aka Gabosky, filmmaker and distributor ‘I met Mahmood in the industry and have remained close to him for sincerity and willingness to render help at anytime. So, I find him my kind of person. I don’t easily make friends with people because they are big or because of what I am going to get from them. He is a honest man and blunt. He will tell you the truth no matter how you feel. He is not the kind of person that will tell you what you want to hear because he wants to make you happy. I will describe him as a core practitioner; one who stands for the truth. I know he is just 50 today, but a lot of us respect him because of the way he carries himself and the kind of person he is. He is strict and doesn’t mess around’. Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, CEO of African Movie Academy (AMAA) ‘In life many people have several journeys to make, Uncle Mahmood has done just that with his tireless work to encourage and stimulate the growth of the Nigerian film industry. I am sure many will agree that his tireless activism has helped to position Nollywood in the mind of many. He is without doubt, one of the few documentary filmmakers, who has actively worked for corporate Nigerians in documenting events and issues, aside his official functions. There are more than three things to Uncle Mahmood. First, he is a conversationalist; secondly he says it as it is, and thirdly, some might think he always has an ulterior motive in the things he does, but truly as you build a strong and close bond with him you get to appreciate the fact that he is indeed a true friend. As he journeys towards the next part of his life our wishes for him are that he attains his maximum potential’ shaibu70@yahoo.com

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