NUTAF Festival: GUU Is A Pathfinder Like It Has Been In Other Fields Of Study – Nwokocha
Goodluck Okorie in an interview session with NUTAF Director Victor Nwokocha over the upcoming NUTAF Festival set to take place in Gregoru University Uturu (GUU).
Q. Good morning sir, may we know you
My name is Victor Nwokocha, I am the National Festival Director of NUTAF.
Q: Sir, you’ve heard that GUU a private university is hosting the forthcoming NUTAF
I didn’t just heard about it, I’m privileged to have been part of the planning processes, so i know about it. I have been the Festival Director of NUTAF since 2017 and the Secretary to the Board of Trustees NUTAF.
Q: Being the Festival Director, Secretary, Board of Trustees, and a friend of GUU right from the time of Uturu Carnival in 2014; what can you say about the Hosting University especially on their readiness?
I will be very frank with you, I may not sound expectedly as you may think, I am going to be blunt and straight forward. I think that GUU is oncourse, I think that GUU is ready, the ratio of the percentage of readiness is on the increase, it may not be 100% right now, but I believe where we are, where GUU is, is encouraging enough and am safe to believe that in the next couple of days, all the ‘Ts’ will be crossed and all the ‘I s’ will be dotted. Things that are not yet ready will be fixed and we will have a smooth festival. This is what I sincerely believe in. I must also say that, it is a thing of joy, as Abia indigene that the first private University in the country to host this great festival is Gregory University, Uturu which by far is one of the leading Private Universities in the country if not in Africa as a whole, for a whole lots of reasons. So, it is a thing of joy for me. I think it’s historic and i think it’s also going to leave a great legacy for the festival going forward. It has given other Private Universities the encouragement to seek to host NUTAF and to believe they can host NUTAF. So GUU in this instance is a pathfinder like it has been in other fields of study and research. I think it’s a great thing and we are here to be the string part of the history making event for GUU.
Q: So, sir, is there any changes between the last time you visited this institution and now.
Hmmmm, Gregory University, Uturu is a synonym for the word “Change”. Change that is positive, change that is inspirational, change that challenges other person’s to change. The University has grown in leaps and bound, from the foundational years. Although we are still in the foundational years because for a school that is less than 10 years is still in the foundational years, but, let me use the word “Embryo”, from the embryo period of the University till now, it has not left any body in doubt about the fact that it has come to make a difference. GUU has become a centre of Excellence in several Areas such as: Human capacity development, Scientific research, Entrepreneurship, Technical and vocational education training among other areas.
So far, the University that is less than 10 years old and is already a reference centre, i think GUU is really doing great. So, if you ask me, i will say, there has been changes upon changes and these changes inspire others. The truth is that private University system in Nigeria came at a time when most people didn’t believe it will succeed and also to bring it down to our own perculiar environment, when Gregory University started, they were doubts because people in the first instance didn’t think the school location was the best, some people said, why locate the University in Achara, Uturu, why not take it to Okigwe, why not take it to some other areas that they considered in their own opinion better or best. But the Chancellor, Professor Gregory Ibe, since the foundation of the University has had his vision and focus, he has been a man that will allow you the chance to doubt and criticize him, then he will surprise you. SO, WHEN THE UNIVERSITY STARTED, A LOT OF PEOPLE THOUGHT THAT IT WOULDN’T SUCCEED, BUT THOSE WHERE THEIR OWN OPINION AND THOUGHT. TODAY, THE UNIVERSITY HAS BECOME A REFERENCE POINT, people wish to be here, people travel far and near to be here, the school have hosted scores of national and international events and it’s still hosting, NUTAF is one of them. So in terms of taking the charge, being the pathfinder, Gregory University does not have a rival, that’s my opinion.
Q: Sir, what new thing is GUU bringing to table that has not been in the history of NUTAF?
I think people should watch out for a new flavour in artistic contents. The theme for NUTAF 2021 is “Theatre Beyond Limit – the COVID19 Era”. Now what that says to us in the first instance is that you cannot limit theatre. The theatrical experience we are expecting in GUU exemplified the theatre you cannot limit. So that’s why I say we should look out for a new flavour in artistic content. This flavour will cut across all event elements, the dramatic presentation, the performances, we’re going to see on stage, the visual expressions, etc. When we have NUTAF fadinational theatre, Gregory University was one school that it’s participation elevated the visual excitement that people who watched the event had. Now, in terms of entertainment element, GUU was in Lagos for the length and breathe of the festival with an exciting musical content. People haven’t forgotten what the DJ did that came from GUU with all the equipments. So, if we borrow a leaf from what happened in Lagos from what GUU brought to Lagos, we now bring it down home from where it grew, we could confidently say that a new element in terms of artistic content is what people should expect. Now beyond artistic content, it has gingered expectation let me say, it has provoked expectation that a private University somewhere in Abia State succeeded in getting the voting right of NUTAF for the first time in 35 years history of the festival. You know there has been private universities before Gregory University, some of these private Universities also offer theatre and performing arts, film studies as the case may be, HOW COME GREGORY UNIVERSITY BROKE THE JINX? This past years, some of these schools did not even dare to bid for hosting right. They have taken it for granted that they will not even get the hosting right. NUTAF hosting right really have never been easy to get even by the more established older Universities. It’s a thing of struggle. So, GUU getting it gingered up people’s expectation. There must be something about this school? how come this school got it? It has sparked a lot of discussion on several fora. The festival Local Organizing Committtee Chairman, Dr Oluseyi Ogungbaesan, here will bear me witness that it has soaked a lot of discussion and caused heighting expectations. People are going to come to GUU to say let us go and see. Now the university decided to erect a memorial for NUTAF, the memorial comes by way of the Amphitheatre. NO SCHOOL IN THE HISTORY OF NUTAF HAS CONSIDERED IT FIT TO ESTABLISH SUCH A MEMORIAL THAT YEARS AND YEARS TO COME, GENERATIONS WILL LOOK AT THAT AMPHITHEATRE AND SAY THIS IS THE LEGACY OF NUTAF. One physical solid legacy that people could look forward to in years to come. So all these come together to give us a big picture of a new beginning for NUTAF, a fresh beginning for NUTAF, a turning point for NUTAF. What we usually look at as a departure point before GUU, after GUU. So the expectation will not end only in GUU, GUU will be the beginning of expectation in NUTAF. What in my humble opinion as the festival director, what the University is bringing in to NUTAF goes beyond just the artistic content, it’s historical and i strongly believe that, that turning point that historians would use to say in time to come, NUTAF before GUU, NUTAF after GUU, that turning point alone is bigger than anything we can imagine.
Q: Sir, having seen the readiness of GUU, what would you want tell the participating Universities?
What i will tell them is simple “Make una come, una go belle full, una no go like go again. Because as it is said, like we said it, like we will say it “WE ARE GUU, THAT MEANS MORE”.
Q: Do you have anything to tell the chancellor of the hosting University?
Ans: I have one or two things to tell the Chancellor, Professor Gregory Ikechukwu Ibe, one of them is this, Sir, you’re born to be a pathfinder, please be strong, pathfinders do not necessary travel on the road that they built. They travel through the forest to clear the path, they hardly ever travel back on the road, they build the path for others to travel. The pathfinding process, the path clearing process is usually not a very sweet process, because in physical imagination you’re the one holding the matchet, it is the matchet you’re using, clearing your path, swinging your arms feeling the pains, having the heat upon yourself, maybe you even struggled by bees in the forest. So the Chancellor of GUU is a pathfinder and I encouraged him to be strong because the pathfinding process is not an easy process, is not everybody’s process. There are those born to be pathfinders, there are those born to be path workers, the pathfinders does his job, for the people coming behind them to enjoy working on that path, and will give glory to God that God sent a man or woman as the case maybe to clear the path for others to follow.
So I will tell Professor Ibe, to please sir be very strong, you’re a pathfinder, do not weaver, don’t get weary, NUTAF is part of these pathfinding processes we are talking about in the University. May God strengthen you as you deliver your duty to humanity, the duty of pathfinding. That is one of the things I have to tell the chancellor. The second thing I want to tell him is sir, BEYOND WHATEVER YOU MAY THINK, IMAGINE OR FEEL, KNOW YOU’RE HIGHLY APPRECIATED. People may not say it the way it is, BUT WE PRAY THAT GOD GIVES US EVEN ONE MORE PERSON LIKE YOU, BUT EVEN BEFORE THAT ONE MORE PERSON COMES,WE PRAY THAT GOD PROTECT AND KEEP YOU IN GOOD HEALTH AS YOU PLAY YOUR ROLE FOR HUMANITY.
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