Billy Abel, Yola
For about a decade now, Nigeria’s North East zone has been at the centre of global media attention. Ironically, it has thrived in the media for the wrong reasons, namely the activities of the Boko Haram insurgents and the inherent challenges of terrorism.
Stories from that part of the country have been of gloomy tales of internally displaced persons, out-of-school children, dropouts and devastating bomb blasts. Against this background, on June 5, 2018, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo launched the North East Humanitarian Innovation Hub in Yola, Adamawa State. It was conceived and assigned the responsibility to pilot creative solutions to the multifaceted humanitarian problems created by the insurgency.
Barely a year afterwards, one of its selected novel projects became Africa’s only virtual reality film and sole nomination for an award in Linear content category of the 76th Venice International Film Festival, Italy.
The project, “Daughters of Chibok,” was to complement other efforts by both local and international bodies, intended to highlight the experiences of Chibok Community and their captured girls. The movie explored a new scintillating approach to film production (virtual reality) and successfully transported the world to the reality of Chibok community in Borno State.
Chief executive of the hub, Ahmed Modibbo, said: “The hub was to spur socio-economic growth, support entrepreneurship and empower the youth and the underprivileged. The hub launched the Demo-Day exhibition, showcasing the innovative solutions of the top 12 start-ups to the North East humanitarian challenge competition. One of such inspiring innovations showcased was that of VR360 stories, a virtual reality company.”
He said the launching of the hub led to the production of “In Bakassi,” Nigeria’s first virtual reality documentary. It thas progressed to be screened in Cairo Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, Africa Tech Summit and in Hot Docs:
“Following the success of ‘In Bakassi’, VR360 in collaboration with North East Humanitarian Innovation Hub, released a second visual advocacy project titled, ‘Daughters of Chibok,’ a film that highlights the impact of the kidnapped Chibok girls on the affected families and paints a portrait of pain, loss, courage, and hope.
“The documentary was able, for the first time ever, to take the audience on a fully immersive trip to Chibok, seeing first hand what the town is like, meeting its people, visiting the schools, and hearing their stories, without having to physically go there- by harnessing the power of virtual reality.”
Joel Kachi, CEO of VR360 said he cherished the opportunity to be contributing to the plethora of advocacy for the cause of the Chibok girls in a new way by visually transporting the world to Chibok via VR.
He pointed out that while there were hundreds of efforts made by the humanitarian community to address the situation of the Chibok girls, “Daughters of Chibok” is one of the many films specifically designed to transport the world to Chibok and help mobilise resources to support the community still living in pain of its un-returned 112 hundred children:
“It is our hope that through this documentary and with your help, we can lend our support and bring for the first time, the reality of Chibok for the world to see, harnessing the power of Humanitarian Innovation Hub.
“The overall objective of the production is to bring the world closer to the plights of the Chibok community and to mobilise humanitarian and political actors to provide help for the people already groaning by the loss of their children.”