Popular gospel actor, Evang. Femi Adebile has voiced that comparing gospel film industry in Nigeria to democracy, the industry has grown and still counting. Adebile in this exclusive Interview with Gospel Film News also x-rays the impact of democracy on the gospel film industry, future of the industry amongst others. The outstanding actor who has featured in several blockbusters including Mount Zion movies expressed his views on dividends of democracy and how it benefits the gospel film industry. Excerpt:
What has been the impact of democracy on gospel film industry in Nigeria?
Democracy has really helped the Gospel Film Industry in the sense that we have been able to express ourselves in the movies we produce. Now we have freedom of opinion, believe and religious believes. There are some things we can now write in our movies free to correct some ills in the society which we cannot do when we were in the military regime because even those who are not gospel filmmakers that time who are secular filmmakers, secular movie producers that expressed their opinion those times, some of them were killed, some have to run away into exile, some were arrested but now we have the freedom to say anything we want to say by the leading of God. So, we can say democracy has really helped the gospel film industry because we have freedom to express ourselves in the tune of drama that God has given unto us.
Tracing back to the annulment of 1993 election can we say Nigerians have come a long way in exercising their democratic right?
Yes. I see many people say today that we are not in democracy, this is still military regime but that’s wrong notion. That you are able to express yourself is democracy. It’s not necessarily because the government have to do what you say. That we are able to even speak freely shows that we already enjoying the dividend of democracy. Look t the way people can talk, Nigerians can now express their opinions, anger complain, even put it online, mention names of dignities, talking anyhow and nothing is happening. During the military regime you can’t do it. Wole Soyinka who tried it have to run into exile when he tried something like that but now we can express our opinion, we can say anything we want to say. It’s not necessarily means that they answer what we say or do what we say but the fact that we can talk freely, express our minds means that we have freedom unlike before. So, i will say that Nigerians have come a long way in exercising our democratic right. Though we want more, we have a target, we want to a situation whereby we will be able to have a close tete-a-tete with some government parastatals where we see them and tell them what we need and what we want them to do for us as per issues that concerns the country, we want that situation to happen but i want to say it’s just a milestone and by the grace of God we are getting there. I can boldly say that we have been able to exercise our rights.
Comparing democracy of 1993 and gospel films of 90s in Nigeria, can we say gospel film industry has grown or experienced setback?
No, no no….. We have grown. Let’s thank God for what He has done. If we look back to the 90s and the democracy of that time, we have really moved forward. A lot of things has happened in the gospel movie industry. We’ve had many people in the industry that has risen. We have many movies that has been released. Many producers, soap operas, short films, feature length movies, serial movies, television stations, YouTube channels, and so on, we have grown. I cannot actually say there is any setback because we have to always appreciate God for what he has done, for where he has brought us. We need to appreciate God. He has brought us so far, there have been improvements. Now we have audience that want to watch our movies. People now call us for movie productions, people now want to watch our movies, they are anxious to watch our movies. The Lord has broaden our audience unlike those times when not too many people have interest in gospel movies. Even gospel movies that time was not supported in churches but now we can see that churches are even coming together to shoot gospel movies, so i can say we have actually grown. I will be someone who will not appreciate God if i say that we have setbacks. I can say we have challenges but we don’t have setbacks, what we have is challenges and no good thing come without challenges. God has given us the grace to recover fast from every challenges that has come, we thank God for this growth.
Looking at the music industry (including gospel music) in those days where music is an instrument to speak senses to the government, how best do you think gospel films in Nigeria can shape democracy or address government flaws?
As many as are led by the spirit of God, they are the sons of God. That we see any flaw in democracy we must always ask God for leading and direction to address that flaw well in our movies. Not that we just see any flaw or issue and then we just start writing script and addressing the government flaws, no. We must always be led but then definitely Christian films can address government flaws. We have a lot of Christian films that have done that, for example The Reformer. “The Reformer” is a movie that centers on politics. Another film, “Land of Fury” by Darasimi Mike-Bamiloye also spoke on Boko Haram and all that. You won’t produce that kind of movie before democracy, you will be arrested, they will be looking for you, you can’t produce such movie before that time but now movies like that are already addressing the flaws of the government. So, in addressing the flaw of the government we can only do it best when we seek God’s face. The issue of democracy in Nigeria can be done when we seek God’s face and God is giving us a leading and direction. That we are script writers does not mean God has sent us to write until we ask Him for a leading. We can do it by coming together, by seeking the face of God and by allowing God to direct us, and by doing it respectfully. That we want to correct government flaws does not mean we should begin to insult the government because the Lord enthrones, they are our leaders, therefore we must respect them. So, we must do it respectfully in all humility and prayer. Look at the way the issue in “Land of Fury” was resolved, it was through prayers not coming to write things to slash the government or talk bout this and that but allowing the Lord to direct us in whatever we do and we see that its very important tool for nation building.
What do you think is the future of gospel film industry in Nigeria?
The future is bright. If God has brought us to this level, then it means that God is committed to bringing us to a place where the world will depend on Gospel Movies, where the world will be blessed from gospel movie. I usually say one thing that if God is not ready to take you there he will not bring you here. So, if God brought you here it’s because He wants to take you there. If God has brought gospel movie makers here today it shows He is taking us somewhere and i always say that the difference between here and there is letter “T” and that is Time. With time the future is bright for gospel film makers . We thank God for what He has done and we appreciate God for where He is taking us to, only that we need to be focused, we must not forget the reason we are called, why we find ourselves in this ministry, our focus must still be there and we should not be distracted. We should avoid distractions here and there, and for those that will avoid distraction God is bringing us to very good end. I believe that the future of Gospel Film Industry in Nigeria is going to be very great. I see a time whereby even government will support gospel movies, where government will produce gospel films. I see a situation whereby we will come together to shoot a high budget movie with the aim of achieving the purpose of God but we must be ready to be united, we must be committed, we must be ready to work as one not that everybody is fighting for his own, we must have united purpose. With all of these i believe the future is bright and God will take us there in Jesus name.
Thank you for your time with Gospel Film News sir
Thank you for the opportunity to grant this interview. God bless you.