The 16th Annual Teenage Festival of Life (TFL 2009)

“Young people and The Millennium Development Goals: Creating Opportunities for involvement”.

“What could be attracting this horde of young people on a Saturday?” it was quite usual. Most surprising, was the realization that they were secondary school students. Excellent was in the air as they hurriedly trouped into the Main Auditorium of the University of Lagos to witness another edition of the “ Teenage Festival of Life 2009” with the theme, “ Young People and The Millennium Development Goals: Creating Opportunities for Involvement”.

The highly appreciated “Teenage Festival of Life” became a reality in 1993. It has since then ben a platform for young people to realize, express, and develop their maximum potential. The festival has afforded young people the opportunity for a free positive self-expression and a display of unique talent and potentials in drama, music, poetry and artwork. During the TFL, young people have an avenue to air their opinion on issues such as drug abuse, premature sexual activity, teenage pregnancy, peer pressure, cultism and Sexually Transmitted Infections including HIV as well as suggest a way forward from their own perspective. TFL was conceived as part of the efforts to fulfill the vision of Action Health Incorporated, a non-governmental organization, dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of adolescents in Nigeria.

The intense preparation prior to the D-day, November 14, 2009 was laudable. The preparation kicked off early in the year to ensure the success of the event. It featured young people “doing their own thing” with support from Adults. A TFL planning committee was set up comprising young people and experienced adults, to discuss, plan and coordinate all preparatory activities leading to the festival. Publicity for the event was done through the quarterly newsletter, placing o posters at strategic places, verbal communication, and shearing of handbills. As part of the preparations for the event, a two day training workshop on script development and stage presentation was held to enhance the quality of entries submitted by participating schools. The workshop also provided an avenue to enlighten schools on the rules and regulations of the festival. A seasoned artistic consultant conducted the workshop along with facilitators in the different artistic genres.

Young people from 47 secondary schools in Lagos State submitted entries for the competition. The assessment and short-listing of scripts was conducted by a learned panel of experts in the creative arts. The selection criteria used included structure, style, format, diction/language, plot, character realization, time/setting, title, and theme realization. A total of 16 drama scripts, 10 songs entries, and 21 poetry scripts were evaluated. These selected entries were presented to a panel of judges, made up of professional writers and dramatist as well as young people at a two-day prejudging event. The best three entries were elected at the pre-judging event, and the students had to be groomed, in other to ensure high quality stage performance on the festival day. The grooming process was facilitated by a theatre Art consultant and respected stage Director, Mr. Lookman Sanusi.

Countdown to TFL was not many hours, and the next was long awaited day November 14th, 2009; the Saturday that left a mark in the hearts of both young and old who filled the auditorium to a capacity of 1,500 people. The Master of Ceremony, Mr. Dayo Adeneye of Prime time jamz conducted the programme alongside sis teenagers whom he had groomed over a period of time as comparers. Mutable personalities in attendance included high level officials from the Lagos State Ministry of Education, Community Development Association members from Shomolu, kosofe and Mainland Local government, parents, representatives of NGOs and the media.

The welcome address was presented by Mrs. Adenike Esiet, the Executive Director of Action Health Incorporated. In her address, she summarized three issues that are imperative in the lives of young people, that the millennium goal addresses: (1) access to education, because of its potential for lifting young people all over the world from the dungeons and traps of poverty, (2) access to sexual and reproductive health information and services to protect young people and help them make informed decisions about their lives; and (3) changing gender norms that affect young people from getting into situations that will deprive them of achieving their life’s goal.

After the welcome address as a power-point presentation on the TFL process presented by Miss Tolu Amusan, who explained the different stages of present6ation for the event. The representative of Ministry of Education, Mrs. M. K Hazoume, who is the officer-in-charge of Family Life and HIV Education Curriculum implementation in Lagos State are taught in the three learning domains of education; the cognitive, affective and psycho-motor areas of learning. She encouraged parents to help the young people showcase their talents, knowing they are the future of the nation.

Finally was the anticipated moment for the schools to make their well-rehearsed presentations. In the song category, Ikosi Senior High School presented a song, titled, “Hope”, Toybat Comprehensive High School, Gbagada, advised us to `Achieve Paradise`, Comprehensive high School, `A better place`. For the drama category, Ikosi Senior High School acted a drama on `The Resolution`, Apostolic Church Senior Grammar School, Ketu, `To Me, To You`, Girls Junior High School Agege, `Victory of a victim`. For the poetry category, Gbagada Senior High School, Bariga recited a poem titled `Heart in Pain`, St. Luke’s Grammar School, Bariga, `The value of Me`, and Ajayi Crowther Senior School, Bariga, “The Battle for Development”.

The motivational talk segment was very interactive as Chief Dayo Adeneye gave the young people’s opportunities to ask him questions about his life. They asked about his career, what his growing up was like and if he ever experienced poverty. They requested to know how he differentiates the passion from his desire to be rich and how they could be like him. Uncle D1 was generous with his answer. In summary, he encouraged the young people to obtain a good education after which they could pursue a career where their passion lies. He left the young people with a final word, “wherever you find yourselves in the next twenty years, learn to give back to the society, while being a part of those that change the society”.

“Am Hotter Than Fire” rented the air as the popular artist “Sheyman” steeped on stage. Next was ”Baraje” by the re-known music –artist ”Rugged man”. They both thrilled the audience called for more. In between performances, they encouraged the young people to aspire for a good education and to achieve success.

When the excitement calmed, it was then time to acknowledge the winners. School in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd positions in the three categories were awarded trophies, while those in the 4th, 5th, and 6th position were awarded plagues. The supervising teachers were awarded gift items. Individuals who were outstanding in their performances were not left out. Opetie Ebibote from The Apostolic Church Grammar School, Ketu and Ajose Nurudeen from The Ikosi Senior High School, Ketu received awards for their outstanding performances in the drama category. Adeshina Lawal from Toybat Comprehensive High School, Gbagada, and Ebunola Funmilayo from the Ikosi Senior High School, Ketu received awards for their angelic delivery of songs. Victor Nwaboka from Ajayi Crowther Senior School, Bariga and Chidera Okani from St. Luke’s Grammar School got rewarded for their poetic competence.

Ikosi Senior high School, Apostolic Church Grammar School (Agege), came 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively in the drama category. For the creativity in song category, Alapere Comprehensive High School, Ikosi Senior High School and Toybat Comprehensive High School came 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. For their competence in poetry, Ajayi Crowther Senior High School and Gbagada Senior Grammar School were 2nd and 3rd respectively.

The 16th edition of the Teenage Festival of Life ended in a grand style, just like it had promised from the very beginning. The objectives were achieved as there was increased awareness on the roles of and actions by young people in the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

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