Zuriel Oduwole is a 16 year-old filmmaker, advocate for girl-child education and gender equality. Her current project is a story about the slave port City of Goree Island in Senegal which she stages with her all-girl-crew as part of the 2019 US Black History Month.
Many literature have pinned the underdevelopment of Africa under the development of the west as Zuriel’s story which focuses on the history of slavery and its effect on the African continent tells.
As a girl child advocate, Zuriel is working assiduously to ensure current ugly trends against the girl-child ends.
To this end, Sahara Group, an African energy conglomerate, providing an empowerment platform that would give wings to the aspirations of the African girl-child, has found Zuriel a worthy partner, sharing like ideals, in achieving its girl-child objective of providing education access to 15 million girls of primary school age – half of them in sub-Saharan Africa – who would never have had the opportunity to enter a classroom.
The project tagged ‘Empowering the African Girl Child’ is being implemented under Sahara’s Grooming Film Entrepreneurs initiative, which seeks to promote economic empowerment through the arts.
According to the Head, Corporate Communications, Sahara Group, Bethel Obioma, the project is expected to drive the advocacy message for girls’ rights; highlight key issues affecting girls across the three African countries; and equip 90 girls with the foundational skills required to become film makers.
“We plan to identify and empower girls who have shown a talent for film making and/or production. Our hope is that the initiative would inspire and replicate Zuriel’s success among other girls her age in Africa. Above all, Sahara Group is particularly passionate about the fact that the project would give traction to ongoing conversations and interventions geared towards the pursuit of gender equality and quality education, being goals four and five of the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Speaking on her partnership with Sahara, Oduwole said she is hopeful that the success of the project would encourage more corporations around the world to create partnerships with small groups to empower more girls across the globe.
“I like the fact that Sahara Group sees some value in what I am doing with girls’ education across the world, and just like the African proverb, ‘if you want to go fast, go alone, and if you want to go far, go together’. I think I have gone very fast in the last five years since I started my project at age 10. Sahara has shown they are serious about girl’s education, so it is easy for me to create a partnership, so we can do more together for girl’s education in Africa, and also around the world,” said the teenage film maker who at the age of 12 had her self-produced movie screened in a commercial cinema.
The Manager, Sahara Foundation, Oluseyi Ojurongbe, said the film making workshop would run for two days in each of the three countries. “The participants will be expected to execute a joint docu-film project featuring human angle stories of children across Africa- using their countries as case studies- to highlight challenges, opportunities and aspirations of the girl-child in Nigeria, Ghana or Cote D’Ivoire.”
Ojurongbe explained that 90 girls (30 from each country) from age 13 to 19 have been identified across the three African countries as beneficiaries based on their interests in film making.
“The physical workshop training will be accompanied by several on-line and classroom based mentorship/follow-up sessions for six months to track and sustain the progress of the beneficiaries. At Sahara, we are hopeful that the platform would amplify the cause of empowering the girl-child across the continent though the voices of the beneficiaries and millions of other girls that would be inspired to reach for their dreams.”
Sahara Foundation, in collaboration with Zuriel from January 8-17, 2018 hosted a film making session for 90 African girls in Nigeria, Ghana and Cote d’ Ivoire to give the beneficiaries a head start towards pursuing a career in the creative arts.