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Environmental degradation often tends to become irreversible and imposes damaging costs on the economy resulting in output and human losses, loss of labour productivity from ill- health and  loss of crop output.  The ecological  and social costs  of such unrestrained pollution  and  degradation  have  put  a  big  question  mark  on  the  perceived  notion  of industrialisation  as a way of  economic  development.  Industrialisation  is  on the  increase which is undoubtedly necessary for civilisation, but so is the pollution due to emission of waste  generated  from these  industries.  The  industrial  pollution  due to  its nature  has the potential to cause irreversible reactions in the environment and hence is posing a major threat to our very existence. Since the carrying capacity of the environment is not unlimited and some areas or ecosystems are more susceptible to adverse environmental impacts than others, unplanned   and   haphazard   industrialisation   has  substantially  increased  the  risk  to  the environment. A number of studies have shown that air and water pollution are taking a heavy toll of human life, particularly, in the developing countries through ill-health and premature mortality.  Pollution  control thus, assumes  greater  significance  in the context  of  ensuring sustainable  development  through planned  industrialisation.  Within  the  social  and cultural milieu,  certain  esteemed   indigenous   cultural  practises   like  female   genital  mutilation encourage  environmental  health  problems  which  in turn  bring  about  maternal  and  child mortality. They continue up till this day because of long practice and acceptance as part of socialisation and cultural heritage by communities.  Thus, this project proposes the use of ecocinema as a tool for advocacy for  environmental health risks and a means for ensuring environmental justice. It identifies corruption, poor implementation of laws, greed, lack of accountability on the part of the government and the private sector as the continued cause of environmental  pollution  and   environmental  health  risks.  This  thesis  also  submits  that collective action is the way forward for environmentally challenged communities to seek and obtain justice for the harm done to them. This can only achieved when they eschew rancour, selfishness, ethnic bias and dishonesty. Such values can be promoted via ecocinema which conscientizes and empowers them with information and strategies for securing justice from the appropriate authorities. Through critical analysis and interpretation of two ecocinematic films this project consulted a several books, journals, articles, internet, reports and archival documents  to authenticate  its position.  Historical  and literary  research methodologies  are employed  to establish  its argument  while  the standard  MLA style of documentation  was employed in acknowledging works cited in the dissertation.



1.0    Introduction

Environment  has  been  defined  as  the  totality  of  the  physical,  economic,  cultural, aesthetic and social circumstances and factors which surround the desirability and value of property and which also affect the quality of people’s life. The environment therefore is not restricted to the natural world of plants and animals but also the social interactions between humans as it relates to culture, arts, traditions and religion as well as the interactions between man and the ecosystem.  The exploitation and exploration of the natural resources to satisfy the numerous needs of man produces and  exposes man to dangerous unhealthy elements. Thus, it is this interaction between man  and his environment that produces environmental health  challenges.   Environmental  health  disasters  exist  in  virtually  all  countries  and continents of the world including Africa. Industrialisation, pollution, human need and greed are  the   sources  of  environmental   health  disasters  in  the  world.  Since  the  dawn  of industrialisation, economic indices have been regarded as the primary principle for measuring success  and  progress.  As  a  result,  the  environment  is  punitively  exploited  by  humans everywhere.

Granted,  we  have  benefited  from  industrialisation  and  technological  advances.  But these technological  and industrial developments  have been accompanied  by an  increasing negative   impact   on   the   environment   in   terms   of   its   pollution   and   degradation. Industrialisation bears the seeds of environmental damage aided and abetted by both need and greed of man. Activities such as manufacturing, processing, transportation and consumption not only deplete the stock of natural resources but also add stress to the environmental system by accumulating the stock of wastes. The productivity of the industries, however, depends on

the supply and quality of natural and environmental resources. While water, soil, air, forest and fishery resources are productive assets, the pollution of water, air, atmosphere and noise are the by-products of economic development, particularly industrialisation and urbanisation. “Green  house  effects”,  “global  warming”  and  “acid  precipitation”  are  cases  in  point. Pollution is an “external cost” (sometimes  called a “spill-over  cost” or  a “neighbourhood cost”). Untreated or improperly treated waste becomes pollution, increasing not only private costs but also social costs.

Environmental degradation often tends to become irreversible and imposes damaging costs on the economy resulting in output and human losses, loss of labour productivity from ill- health and  loss of crop output.  The ecological  and social costs  of such unrestrained pollution  and  degradation  have  put  a  big  question  mark  on  the  perceived  notion  of industrialisation  as a way of  economic  development.  Industrialisation  is  on the  increase which is undoubtedly necessary for civilisation, but so is the pollution due to emission of waste  generated  from these  industries.  The  industrial  pollution  due to  its nature  has the potential to cause irreversible reactions in the environment and hence is posing a major threat to our very existence. Since the carrying capacity of the environment is not unlimited and some areas or ecosystems are more susceptible to adverse environmental impacts than others, unplanned   and   haphazard   industrialisation   has  substantially  increased  the  risk  to  the environment. A number of studies have shown that air and water pollution are taking a heavy toll of human life, particularly, in the developing countries through ill-health and premature mortality.  Pollution  control thus, assumes  greater  significance  in the context  of  ensuring sustainable  development  through planned  industrialisation.  Within  the  social  and cultural milieu,  certain  esteemed   indigenous   cultural  practises   like  female   genital  mutilation encourage  environmental  health  problems  which  in turn  bring  about  maternal  and  child

mortality. They continue up till this day because of long practice and acceptance as part of socialisation and cultural heritage by communities.

In cognizance of the several sociological and natural adverse effects of environmental health  risks  and  disasters  emanating  from  cultural  practises,  pollution  and  degradation engendered by industrialisation, several international conferences have been held starting in

1972 to protect the earth’s resources and humans at large. Several measures and agreements have also being ratified but as we have seen over the years, lip service  have  been paid to these standards of practise as agreed internationally to the detriment of the greater percentage of humanity and the fragile environment.  To this end, a  dynamic,  integrated  and holistic approach needs to be employed for greater awareness and abatement of these monumental challenges.

Art  is  as  old  as  humanity  itself  and  has  been  used  to  propagate  human  ideas, experiences, ideologies, feelings, hopes and expectations. From literary to the performative genre, art has played a central role in diagnosing and proffering solutions to several human needs as they occur at any stage of development. The theatre and its various media have been particularly exceptional in transforming and preserving human experiences, nature, failings, triumphs and aspirations into memorable and scintillating performances entertaining as well as educating. Having seen that the problem of environmental health risks or its symptoms cannot be solved by science alone, this project seeks to highlight how film and specifically, ecocinema  as  an artistic  medium  can  be  independently  and  corroboratively  deployed  in bringing succour and relief to a  hurting world. For the purpose of this discourse, the films Erin Brockovich and Moolaadé will be examined carefully to buttress the objectives of this study.

1.1    Statement of the Problem

Over four decades, Nigeria has been drilling oil from the Niger Delta making huge returns locally and internationally  from the sale of crude and other oil related  products.  In fact, Nigeria’s economy is built around oil than any agriculture or any other mineral. The 2006

UNDP Niger Delta Human Development Report states that:

Local people in the delta are acutely aware of how much wealth oil can produce. Oil and gas alone have generated  40 per cent of  Nigeria’s national  GDP  over  recent  decades.  Between  2000   and  2004,  oil accounted  for about 79.5 per cent of total  government revenues and about 97 per cent of foreign exchange revenues (14).

But this has scarcely impacted the lives of ordinary citizens in the area as the report further explains, “the Niger Delta produces the oil wealth that accounts for the bulk of Nigeria’s foreign earnings. Paradoxically, however, these vast revenues from an international industry have  barely  touched  the  Niger  Delta’s  own  pervasive  local  poverty.  This  has  spurred formidable challenges to sustainable human development in the region…” (14). Instead it has caused  them  more  harm  than  good.  Oil exploration  and  production  comes  with  several environmental health hazards and death as we  learn from a study conducted  by Jon Gay, Olivia Shepherd,  Mike Thyden and Matt  Whitman who note that oil contamination  from drilling processes creates problems that destroy the lives of people living in close proximity to oil camps, wells, pumping stations, and pipelines. People living on oil-rich sites around the world are subjected to contamination of drinking water, top soil, and livestock due to toxic pollution that can result from the oil extraction process” (2). In the Niger Delta, pipelines, flow stations crisscross people’s homes and communities. The area is known for farming and fishing; but due to oil drilling and monotonous spillage, the farmlands have become infertile, the fishes and other aquatic life have been wiped out setting up a huge socio-economic gap in the area. Loss of lives as a result of fire accidents from blow out in oil wells and flow stations

are well documented, environmental health hazards in the area though not well documented is unavoidably monumental. There are several cases of cancer, kidney failures, respiratory and heart  problems,  damage  to  liver,  lung,  and  pancreas  are  well  represented  environmental health hazards directly linked to oil contamination in the region.

In view of the various human, social and environmental  injustice and violations  of local and international standards by the oil companies including Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Agip and others, the Niger Deltans have resorted to all kinds of means to seek redress for the atrocities  committed  in their  communities  since  the discovery  of  oil in the  early 1960s. Several local and international advocacy, human rights and environmental justice groups, like Friends of the Earth, Social Economic Rights Centre (SERC), Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Movement for the  Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) among others have risen to draw attention to the region to bring Shell and other multinational companies to justice to the extent of carrying weapons, almost to no avail.

This project aims to find a broad and inclusive solution to the problem in the Niger Delta.  The  researcher  discovered  that  most  of  the  efforts  of  the  diverse  advocacy  and environmental justice groups and movements are largely based on individual gains, selfish interests, ethnic and tribal bias. Some of the groups are mere political fronts. Also, a number of the activists are poorly equipped,  lack understanding  of the demographics  of the area; others  have  been  threatened,  assaulted  or  killed  and  hence  are  treading  with  caution. Consequentially,  the struggle  for the  emancipation  of the Niger Delta environmental  and health crises have largely failed.

This dissertation proposes that what is lacking in this communities and among the oil producing  states  is collective  action. The Niger Delta people are divided  along  personal, ethnic and political lines not to mention the magnitude of illiteracy,  ignorance, pride, and

fetish       thinking       among       majority       of       the       people.        According        to,  the  term  “is  traditionally  defined  as  any  action aiming to improve the group’s conditions (such as status or power), which is enacted by a representative of the group.” Thus, except the Niger Delta people agree on all issues relating oil  extraction  and  the  justice  system  it  will  be  far  from   realising  its  dream  of  a environmentally healthy and wealthy status for which it is capable of.

There  is  power  in  critical  mass;  the  process  has  to  begin  from  the  grassroots. Environmental  health advocates,  human rights agencies, civil liberties  organisation  within and without must work together via re-orientation, seminars, workshops on civil rights and privileges, timely and effective access to information,  critical consciousness and education which  can be  achieved  through  ecocinema  or  in  conjunction  with  ecocinema.  Once  the majority of the people buys into the dream, a positive revolution that will reverse the current status quo like it did in Brazil when Paul Freire developed and applied a method and concept of critical consciousness  which  ended the culture of silence and inaction that  helped  the socially dispossessed  extricate themselves  of internalising  negative  images  of themselves created  and   propagated   by  the  oppressor  (in  this  case  the  Federal  government   and multinational companies) in situations of extreme poverty. By teaching and empowering the people of Niger Delta to read and write literally and read the world around them (politically, socially, intellectually, spiritually, economically and otherwise) to understand and take their appropriate  place  as  a  people,  the  “enviro-socio-health”  injustices  will  be  stamped  out drastically. The process however will take time but will eventually as it did in Brazil work out great changes.

The same denominator  of lack of collective action that faces oil producing  Niger

Delta faces the struggle against female genital mutilation around the world. Many African

and Asian countries attach myths, taboos and other unconfirmed consequences for girls who refuse to be initiated into womanhood through female genital mutilation. Around the world, female genital mutilation or FGM is a common practice that derogates and devalues the girl- child and women generally.  WHO fact sheet published  recently on  its website notes that, “more than 140 girls and women are currently living with the consequences of FGM” which include painful and/or irregular menstruation, pains during intercourse, complications in child bearing, cancer of the cervix and critically maternal and child mortality.

Advocates  have tried to convince  different  groups of the health dangers of  FGM, many hang on to their ancestral, religious inclinations and convictions on why it must not be stopped. Even scholars argue that the dangers notwithstanding, FGM should be encouraged. These school of thought even go as far as naming the practice by other names such as female genital surgery, female circumcision,  female genital cutting and  so on. However, we shall stick with the term FGM.   Another school of thought argue  against the practice citing the above environmental health disasters as their basis. Consequent upon the clash of interest, the problem  associated  with FGM continue  spread  wide and deep among women around the globe especially in Africa.

The  government  and  especially  women  should  realise  that  the  issue  of  FGM  is particularly dangerous to their future as married women and their children and thus take a common step to end the practice. Again, collective action is the way forward. It is not easy a decision to take. Advocates, human rights organisations and other such related and interested bodies must agree and work closely together to end this barbaric practice and the symptoms that  mediate  it.  Collective  action  can  be  taught  using  the  films  Erin  Brockovich  and Moolaade and the result will be outstanding. These two films depicts how collective action

works  in  rural  and  urban  setting  achieving  the  environmental  justice  for  an  oppressed population.

1.2 Objectives of Study

Environmental health challenges are pervasive in our societies today. They permeate domestic  life,  industries  and  every  area  of  human  endeavour.  Human  needs,  industrial technologies  and  greed  carry the  fermenting  seeds of degradation.  People  in developing countries  like Nigeria  are unaware  of the environmental  health  disasters  they court as a consequence  of their  carefree  attitudes  towards  the  environment.  The  Microsoft  Encarta Encyclopaedia asserts that “with almost 80 percent of the planet covered by oceans, people have long acted  as if those bodies of  water could serve as limitless  dumping  ground  for wastes.” For instance, Adati Ayuba Kadafa states in his article Oil Exploration and Spillage in            the            Niger            Delta            at              Journals

/index.php/CER/article/download/1789/1868&sa.pdf that “An estimated 9 million- 13 million (1.5 million tons) of oil has been spilled in to the Niger Delta ecosystem over  the past 50 years; 50 times the estimated volume spilled in Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska 1989.” The thrust of the project is to raise awareness on the causes of  environmental  health risks, to orient  people  on  the  dangers  of  pollution  and  environmental  degradation,  to  empower individuals and communities to unite and change their attitudes to their environment instead of waiting for and blaming the government, to use ecocinema as tool for seeking redress for environmental injustices meted out to communities by governments and the corporate world. The researcher believes that ecocinema can be used a potent weapon to combat the spread of environmental health risks. Alachi submits that film, a media of theatre has been recognized as a unique  and  powerful  “form  of  communication  that  upholds  social  expressions  and

education as a means of fighting social evils and also stimulating development and communal consciousness  among  the  lower  classes”  (162).  Also  relating  the  significance  of film  in problem solving, Chris Brooks is of the view that:

We must put in our hands the theatre as a gun, as a weapon…I think any weapon is good for defending oneself. But between m.45 and an m.50 (guns) I prefer the m.50. The problem consists of how to make our theatre a weapon potent and effective, with greater fire power (7).

This project is aimed at using ecocinema as a tool for advocacy to address the  challenges facing these communities. A plethora of studies carried out have tended to blame government and the manufacturing  sector for their corruption and negligence  of  the environment.  The position  of  this  project  is  that  the  people  aid  the  system  to  disenfranchising  them  by selfishness  of individuals,  ethnic  bias,  illiteracy  and  compromise  that brings  distrust  and disunity. Hence this dissertation projects a  paradigm shift from the name calling and sees community participatory development  and collective action as a way out of this problem. Although it analyses other films to  substantiate  its argument, this project is limited to the study of two films Erin Brockovich and Moolaadé and guided by the theories of Paul Friere and Augusto Boal. This project maintains that except there is a change in attitude from the government,  the  corporations,  and individual communities,  environmental  health risks and injustice will continue to limit the potentials of these communities.

1.2    Significance of the Study

In recent times, academic research has gone from unilateral disciplinary approach to interdisciplinary,  multidisciplinary,  intercultural, multicultural and multidimensional quality in order to produce a balanced and holistic approach to problem solving. This thesis seeks such quality by introducing film an artistic or cultural construct as a panacea for medical and

sociological  catastrophe.  The issues treated  herein like industrial pollution,  environmental injustice and gender discrimination cuts across continents, race, language, age and sex. These are contemporary environmental  health issues that need urgent  attention in this age where nature is on the verge of near collapse as human induced degradation rages on without any signs of abating.

Most times, the victims of these problems are helpless because the institutions  that perpetrate  these evil are the elites in government,  and wealthy national and  multinational private  firms  indifferent  to  the  plight  of  the  common  man  whose  lives  and  source  of livelihoods are eroded. Channels of communication and redemption are often inaccessible to them and for this very reason, illness, untold suffering and mortality increases. This project is significant and relevant to the point where it encourages individuals and communities to look inwards, unite and forge collective action as a way of seeking justice and accountability from the relevant institutions that perpetuate this act of environmental degradation and injustice rather than being  indifferent. It promotes the instrumentality of entertainment education in this  case   ecocinema  as  a  potent  weapon  to  combat  environmental   health  risks  and environmental injustice an area that has not been paid attention to in the academia.

The value of the content of this work to researchers,  human rights activists,  health workers,  academicians,  students  and  lecturers  within  and  outside  the  art  spectrum  is monumental as this will help forge greater dynamics and comprehensive  problem-solving paradigm with reference to the Millennium Development Goals as well as the agenda of the Federal Government to make Nigeria one of the top economies by 2020.

Filmmakers, directors, theatre artists, students through this project will recognize new frontiers to channel their research and creative faculties as new themes, new  methods and

concepts are available to them for interpretation and re-interpretation. It is hoped that their horizons will be enriched and enlarged by this research work.

1.3    Rationale of the Study

The issues raised in this study are contemporary and relevant in a time like this when issues  like  climate  change,  global  health  crisis,  human  rights  abuse,  social  injustice  and discrimination are rife and concurrently threatening man’s existence. It is an urgent clarion call to all and sundry for all hands to be on deck in the task of  human  liberation  from ecological and human rights abuse to a healthy society.

1.4    Scope of the Study

Environmental  health  risks  is  conceptualized  as  a  broad  spectrum  comprising  the resultant effect of environmental abuse and degradation as well as the complications resulting from the social environment and how both of them exists in destroying the  health status of humans. We shall limit our focus on the problem of industrial pollution and female genital mutilation. The two films under review are Erin Brockovich and Moolaadé.   The choice of the two films is deliberate as they deal with environmental health risks from the ecological and social viewpoints as well as issues that impede social justice. The films also deal with the role and portrayal of women as agents of change and advocacy.

1.5    Research Methodology

The researcher  employs  the historical and literary methodologies  in analysing  and critically interpretation of this data used in the work. San Ukala in Manual of Research and of Thesis Writing in Theatre Arts states that historical methodology “entails the investigation of documented sources, such as books, journals, reports, films, video and audio tapes, archival materials…as well as oral sources” (12). He explains that this method is used to ascertain

facts and occurrences in definite places and time. Literary methodology on the other  hand, according to Ukala “focuses on written and printed library and archival sources, especially books, journals, theses, reports, literary works, such as plays, novels and poems” (13). These methods are necessary and were employed in this dissertation because of their relevance to the topic. Since historical materials and published works were consulted and used, it is only natural that the researcher adopts these particular methodologies other than sociological and artistic  methodologies  whose  tools  differs  from  those  appropriated  in  this  work.  This dissertation analyzed books, films, journals, Newspapers, magazines and internet materials in order to establish  and justify  the argument  of the researcher.  The contemporary  Modern Language   Association   (MLA)   was   employed   in  acknowledging   works  cited   in  the dissertation.

1.6    Theoretical Framework

In tackling the research problem  of this thesis,  it is noteworthy that a single  linear disciplinary theory of reference may not cover the questions begging for answers. Hence, we must as a matter of necessity situate this research within the configurations of at least two theories.  Thus,  this research  is directed  by the  compass  or theories  of  Paul Friere  (The Pedagogy of the Oppressed) and Augusto Boal (Theatre of the Oppressed). The imperative for adopting these groundbreaking theories is to bring the  populace to see their collective problem for what it is and not as a means for self aggrandisement and to help them see one enemy. As long as they saw the corrupt system rife in government and other corroborating agencies as a common enemy, they will realise the need to work together and take action as a unit.

Globally reckoned as the father of education Paulo Friere espoused in his books The

Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Education for Critical Consciousness that education needs to

be  participatory,  informal  and  liberating.    In  his review  of  Friere’s  works,  theories  and practices, Richard Gibson states that:

Friere’s aim is to simultaneously  strike four keys in the struggle  for social justice: literacy, or as Friere says “the way we read the word and the  world”,  critical  consciousness,   the  creation  of  liberation  and escalating  economic  production  as people come to  understand  their surroundings.   He  links  literacy,  education,   production  and  social justice;  a harmony arising  from the  interrelationships  of the four.  I suggest that what is miraculous or promethean in his project is not a singular contribution to any one of these factors in isolation, each of which has been detailed…I believe Friere claims his sense of literacy leads to critical consciousness (1).

Paul Friere as seen in the above was concerned about the large amount of illiterate people in his native Brazil and saw the situation as an impediment to development and a creation of a democratic mentality. He saw that the government capitalised on their weakness to deny them of basic statutory rights and privileges as citizens. Freiere stated his concern and the task that lay  ahead  of  him  in  his  seminal  work  The  Pedagogy   of  the  Oppressed   “in  1964, approximately four million school-aged children lacked schools; there were sixteen million illiterates of fourteen years and older” (41). Consequently, he set out to activate a change in that regard, he sought to provide these  illiterates with an alternative education system that will take place outside the traditional schools. And through the Adult Education Project of the Popular Culture Movement, Friere through the help of his colleagues instituted:

A new institution of popular culture, a “culture circle”, since among us a school was a traditionally passive concept. Instead of a teacher, we

had  a  coordinator;  instead  of  lectures,  dialogue;  instead  of  pupils, group participants; instead of alternating syllabi, a compact programme that were “broken down” and codified into learning units (42).

Pedagogy in Paul’s thinking was more than gaining the ability to read and write. It is for him, the ability of the masses to understand the prevailing oppressive settings in which most of these rural dwellers find themselves and take drastic measures to change their estate through dialogue and social cooperation. Some of the topics covered by this participatory teaching include  nationalism,  profit, remittances,  human rights, and  several others. Juma Nyirenda writing at   believes that “Friere was convinced that learning to read for adults, should be a process in which contents and materials had to have a bearing on their daily reality; and a study of their concrete social reality should lead to a critical awareness of the possibilities for an action and change”( 4). In view of this, we can assert that education and literacy from Friere’s point of view when applied in the Niger Delta and among women struggling with the menace of FGM via ecocinema, their cases can be adequately helped— social and environmental justice can be realised.

Richard Gibson agrees to Nyerinda’s deconstruction of Friere when he elucidates that:

Reading, writing and re-writing is for Friere, a highly charged political process; an act which exposes the designs of the oppressors on the one hand, yet creates and recreates the newly literate on the other. Which means literacy must be driven by particular  content.  Friere sees the mechanical  process  of  literacy  as  insufficient.  It  is  not  enough  to simply decode  print; what must be addressed  is  the relationship  of power, signals of reality which are designed to delude or disclose and

then to act on that understanding. In addressing mechanical decoding, Friere distinguishes between illiteracy and political illiteracy (18).

Literacy  therefore  is  not  a  passive  state  but  a  liberating  force  from  the  shackles  of imprisonment both internal and external, private and domestic; from the political, economic and social confines in which the elite (like the multinational companies in the Niger Delta) has reduced the people to puppets and biological robots using them to  actualize   their own base desires. So words and invariably knowledge, is built on consciousness already present which is in Friere’s opinion, “…a consequence of men’s beginning to reflect on their capacity for reflection about the world, about their work,  about the power to transform  the world, about the encounter of consciousness itself, which thereby ceases to be something external and becomes part of them”(81). It is on the basis of self actualization, critical consciousness and participation, that Augusto Boal developed most of his theories of drama.

Augusto Boal began his sojourn in the theatre under the watchful and  consummate eyes of John Gassner  who  equally tutored  Tennessee  Williams  and  Arthur  Miller.  After learning  from  him  the  Method  Acting  of  Constantin  Stanislavsky  and  Brecht’s  acting techniques, Boal directed a few plays using the duo’s techniques but soon appropriated their acting techniques in his experimental theatre  practice. Kee Escamp in his appraisal of the Forum theatre that Augusto Boal invented comments that:

Boal   developed   a   didactic   of   progressive   theatre    techniques: experimenting   with   the   use   of   theatre   as   rehearsal   for   social intervention.  He  viewed  theatre  as a  laboratory  and  a platform  for conscientization, awareness raising and problem solving ‘simultaneous dramaturgy’   was   such   a   dramatic   strategy:   a   combination   of

participatory  propaganda  and  community  generated  theatre.  ‘Forum theatre’ is another very efficient drama strategy (12).

As Boal worked with rural dwellers appropriating the participatory methods of Paulo Friere in the creation of performance and seeing the impact, he began to oppose what he termed the finished   theatre   of  the  bourgeoisie.   He  saw   the  precepts   in   Aristotle’s   Poetics   as dehumanizing  to the audience  in that they had no say in the  theatre which supposedly is meant to affect their existence. Thus in one of his essays Poetics of the Oppressed, he argues that:

The bourgeoisie already knows what the world is like, their world, and is  able  to  present  images  of  this  complete,  finished   world.  The bourgeoisie presents the spectacle. On the other hand,  the proletariat and the oppressed classes do not know yet what  their world will be like; consequently their theatre will be the rehearsal, not the finished spectacle (254).

Augusto  Boal  sees  the  bourgeois  theatre  as  an  extension  of  the  political  elite’s oppressive policy of excluding and disenfranchising the rural poor from their rights to the means of production, thereby creating poverty and despair among them.  Consequently,  he used the forum theatre which was influenced by the prevailing circumstances in Brazil, which had just gone through a long period of military dictatorship. He used his forum theatre to preach liberation and nationalism. According to him, “what I believe is that we all should transform society and not abide by it,  and not respect it completely”  (12). Boal designed forum theatre much like the literacy programme of his friend Paul Freiere where the people can look into the different poor  political, social and economic conditions that are starring them in the face, come to  terms with these stark realities and using theatre as an interface

proffer  solutions.  Expounding  on the  intricacies  of his techniques,  he  submits  that  “one knows how these experiments will begin, but not how they will end, because the spectator is freed from his chains finally acts and becomes a protagonist, because they respond to the real needs of popular audience, they are practised with success and joy” (255). Ken Gewertz a journalist,  who  watched  Boal developed  a series  of community  based  performances  and workshops  in  Harvard  University,  with  teachers,  students,  and  community  leaders  and activists         reports         thus         in        the         school’s         online         Gazette         at 5-boal.html:

The key to Boal’s theatre is the “spect-actor,”  an audience  member who is invited onstage to take part in the drama. Working mostly in poor communities, Boal serves as a facilitator to help volunteers create dramas around problems  that affect their  lives. At the performance, audience members are free not only to comment on the action, but also to step up on stage and play roles  of their choice. In doing so, they discover new ways of resolving the dilemmas that the play presents. In follow-up exercises, community members learn how to translate these insights into social action.

Augusto Boal emphasizes the participation of the people for whom the drama or performance is meant for not necessarily only one member of the audience but as much as they are willing to act or ask questions or redirect the progress of the drama they are actually free unlike they are in the finished theatre of the bourgeoisie. He states that, “contrary to the bourgeois code of  manners,  the  people’s  code  allows  and  encourages  the  spectator  to  ask questions  to dialogue, to “participate” (255).

As the decades roll by, one is constantly intrigued by the manifold impact of Augusto Boal’s seminal work both academically and practically as an effective and affective means of social intervention for the rural poor. Theatre for development has spread all over the world as a liberating force and it is gaining deeper grounds as its impact in one community creates a yearning for other communities. In his lifetime, Augusto Boal took his forum theatre to North America, Europe and Asia but not to Africa. However, theatre for development has wormed its way to Africa changing the course of history and all together changing the destinies of the affected communities;  this  is possible because each community is taught and imbibes the culture of collective action.

There are several theatre groups using theatre for development  in Nigeria’s  tertiary institutions  and  beyond  to  enlighten  and  empower  communities  to  rise  up  to  face  their problems  through  collective  action rather  than  individual  or  sectarian  attitudes.  Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, with the establishment of the ABU Collective is often credited with the professional introduction of community theatre as David Kerr in African Popular Theatre admits:

The  ABU   Collective   was  established   by  experienced   expatriate lecturers; Michael Etherton and Brian Crow, and by such committed young Nigerian theatre workers as Salihu Bappa, O. Abah and Tunde Lakoju…  The  collective  was  heavily  influenced  by the  concept  of

‘rehearsal theatre’, developed  by Latin American drama worker  and theorist,  Augusto  Boal.  Boal  emphasized  ‘theatre  as  a  discourse’ where,   instead   of  polished   performance   presented   to   a  popular audience  by  an  elite  cadre  of  artist,  the   theatre   team  actually collaborated with the audience in the creation of drama (161).

Since then, theatre for development has truly become a phenomenon for change in the hands of NGOs, aid agencies and governments who through a deliberate and fluid community based performances   has   brought   desirable   changes   and   enhanced   development   in   these communities. Some critics have argued that film is not as participatory as the applied theatre or TFD because it is a recorded media. Iyorwuse Hagher also bemoans the cost implication of television programming as a barrier to an effective adaptation of TFD to film when he states that:

Another  contradiction  that  has  risen  in the  practice  of  TFD  is  the inability of adapting the theatre to media. Perhaps this is due  to the prohibitive  cost of operating  a television  or radio  media.  But more corrective  is the fact that a media TFD programme  might not be as participatory  as  required.  However,  in  order  for  TFD  to  be  more effective, it ought to adjust to television (110).

But we are no more in the 20th century. Today, advanced and innovative technology in media and  entertainment  has  made  it  possible  for  even  the  poorest  among  us  can  afford  a multimedia mobile device. Cheap cable television has been proliferated in the market. The new digital cinema is possible and cheaper than celluloid used in the former times. Theatre has got to adjust to the trend and through this means pass across community development message. In fact, the community can be brought together and shown films dealing with their situation  based  on  the  filmmaker’s  research  in  the  community.  Such  arguments  as  put forward by Hagher and other critics cannot stand in the light of this blazing fact as further pushed in Zakes Mda’s view:

At times scripted plays are performed  to live audience  or  broadcast over the radio. At others, small format films and videos are used. All

these lack elements of popular theatre such as peoples’ participation in creation  and  performance.  However,  insofar  as  they  are  modes  of theatre whose objective is to disseminate developmental messages or to conscientize communities about their objective, social, practical and economic situations, they are modes of theatre for development (48).

From Mda’s words, we understand that film cannot be discounted as a crucial strand in TFD. It is cheap,  accessible,  comprehensive,  reusable  and operable.  The average  filmmaker  in Africa understands the potency of the film medium to people’s psyche and employs it rather customarily to suit his goals and the aspirations of the target community as David Kerr notes:

The  film  maker’s  concern  with  the audience  is linked  to  the  very influential role which art has in Africa shaping popular opinion. There is  a  feeling  of  responsibility  towards  the  public  especially  since illiteracy  makes  the  literary  means  of  communication  difficult.  As Traore puts it, “Cinema in Africa is a social political school. Cinema when there is no means of education in the service of the people can help them become more conscious of themselves” (193).

We  have  learnt  from  Kerr  and  Traore  that  film,  specifically  ecocinema  is  a  necessary strategy in the quest for social and environmental  advocacy—its  use is  rather  timely and inevitable to say the least.

1.7    Definitions of key concepts

Ecocinema: is a coinage from two different words eco (pertaining to ecology) and cinema which deals with films collectively. Ecocinema can be surmised as the cinema or films that deal    with    ecological    issues.    It    is    further    defined    by    Scott    Macdonald    at

as a branch of ecocriticism that “actively seeks to inform viewers about, as well as engage their participation  in addressing issues of ecological  importance, raising awareness, and at times, political action. As decades go by, the need for sustainability in health, livelihood, safety and economic prowess echoes throughout conferences, forums, seminars  and  workshops  as  our  environment  moves  towards  the  brink  of  extinction  as consumption of the natural resources threatens the very capacity of the earth to sustain the explosive human populations that ravage and compete with its treasures against one another all  in  the  name  of  development,  greed  and  supremacy.  Scott  Macdonald  compares  the fragility of the earth with the fragility of the film  strip  and wonders  how crucial it is to preserve nature. In his view, despite the agnosticism and criticism that faced ecocinema in its developmental stages, its role is paramount cognate with the efforts of ecologists and health professionals in maintaining a wholesomeness of a sort. In his view:

A  tradition  of  filmmaking  that  encapsulates  this  pattern-that  uses technology  to  create  the  illusion  of  preserving  “Nature,”  or  more precisely,  that  provides  an  evocation  of  the  experience  of  being immersed  in the natural world—has  evolved  during recent decades. That it has found  difficulty attracting  substantial  audiences  is to be expected, given the distractions of contemporary life. The fact remains, however, that filmmakers (and video-makers) in many locales continue to sing the value of the particularities of the physical world in works that can provide  forms of visual/auditory training in appreciating the transitory.

Ecocinema then is a summon by filmmakers to humans everywhere to desist from plundering the earth’s resources or engage  in such hazardous ecological depletion as  presently is the causes  of untold  environmental  health catastrophe  among  majority of human  population. Ecocinema is a coinage from ecological cinema and can be traced to ecomedia which in itself can be located within the concept of ecological criticism or as it has come to be recognized ecocriticism.  Ecocinema  is  strategic  to  this  project  to  the  extent  that  it  recognises  that environmental depletion is human induced and can be prevented and curbed drastically by a collaborative   effort   by   human   cooperation   domestically   and   globally.   Additionally, ecocinema is conceived beyond literary nomenclature as also an advocacy for the protection of  humans  and  environment  in  one  mutual  goal  of  sustainability  aimed  at  affecting behaviours, attitudes and policies.

Advocacy: is a verbal support for a cause. It is a strategy that is used around the world by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), activists, and even policy makers themselves, to influence policies. This is crucial in this research because of the ability of theatre and film to influence policies and attitudes. Advocacy is about creation or  reform of policies, but also about effective implementation and enforcement  of  policies.  A policy is a plan, course of action, or set of regulations adopted by government, business or an institution, designed to influence and determine decisions  or  procedures. Advocacy is a means to an end, another way to address the problems  that we aim to solve through other programming  strategies. Deploying ecocinema as a weapon, the filmmaker realises that ecocinema is not necessarily the (only) answer or  solution to curb environmental  health risks or degradation but as an integral component of the spectrum of solution for maintaining earth’s balance, sustenance and  environmental health of mankind. As a visual medium, it will engage confront people with their predicament and the faces behind them whether it is government or the corporate world or both in connivance. We shall be looking at the extent ecocinema can change policies and behavioural change even in medical field. In this sense, we will  deconstruct  medical humanities.

Medical  humanities:  Is  broadly  defined  by the  College  of  Medicine,  New  York  State University  in  its  website  to  include  an  interdisciplinary  field  of  humanities  (literature, philosophy,  ethics,  history  and  religion),  social  science  (anthropology,  cultural  studies, psychology,  sociology),  and  the  arts  (literature,  theatre,  film,  and  visual  arts)  and  their application to medical education and practice. The humanities and  arts provide insight into the human condition,  suffering, personhood,  our  responsibility to each other. In the films under  review,  we  shall see later  how  unethical  practices  by medical  personnel  engender environmental  health risks and  promote social and environmental  injustice. From the two films studied, the need for  orient medical practitioners and the populace especially in the rural areas on the ethics and proper administration of medical care is paramount hence its inclusion in this work. When government, corporate bodies and health care providers violate the principles of medical aid it seriously affect lives and mitigates sustainable development and constitutes environmental injustice. In this light we shall also be treating environmental injustice.

Environmental  injustice: This is a key component affecting public safety,  environmental health and development.  This is also  one of the bases for ecocinema.  An environmental injustice   according   to   exists   when members of disadvantaged, ethnic, minority or other groups suffer disproportionately at the local, regional (sub-national), or national levels from environmental risks or hazards, and/or suffer  disproportionately  from  violations  of  fundamental  human  rights  as  a  result  of environmental factors, and/or denied access to environmental investments,  benefits,  and/or natural resources, and/or are denied access to information; and/or participation  in decision making; and/or access to justice in environment-related  matters. This makes environmental justice a necessary goal in the portfolio of ecocinema.

Environmental        justice:      

environmental  justice  is defined  as  the fair treatment  and  meaningful  involvement  of all people  regardless  of  race,  colour,  sex,  national  origin,  or  income  with  respect  to  the development,  implementation  and  enforcement  of  environmental  laws,  regulations,  and policies. In the words of Bunyan Bryant, “Environmental justice is served when people can realize their highest potential.” A major highlight of the environmental justice movement of the  1980s  is  the  power  of  number  and  unity.  A  community’s  numerical  strength  and persistence as a unit or army is necessary for their case to be heard and their desires  and aspirations met. This is termed collective action and it is clearly depicted in the films under review.

Collective action: Collective action can be defined as a conscious effort by a group against oppression from other groups or government, with the aim of influencing a given authority or policy or possessing power. In our case study films, we shall see the import of this concept as a vehicle for change among the masses and particularly women. For several years, women have stood against patriarchal domination via collective action. This will be treated in greater detail in the course of this work. Having established the touchstones of this dissertation, we shall then move on to the next chapter that  examines the nature and scope of literature or scholarship on the topic of discussion.

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