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I grew up dancing and I'm working to fulfill my dream of showcasing Bonny to the world

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18 December 2022
14 minutes read
I grew up dancing and I'm working to fulfill my dream of showcasing Bonny to the world

My name is Godwin Sotonye Victor-Green and I am from Greens Iwoama, a village on Bonny Island, (Rivers State, Nigeria).

I was born on 5 February 1997, in Port Harcourt (capital of Rivers State), the second to the last of the five children - four boys and one girl - of Chief (Hon) Victor Green and Mrs Leticia Victor-Green.  I grew up around Creek Road Market in Port Harcourt.

Love for dancing

I started dancing from when I was about six years old.

It started when I attended children's birthday parties, and when I became serious about it, I would go to the market to dance and people would give me money, and then I began to look for a dancing group to join, but because I could not go beyond our area, I could not find any. 

My parents were popular in the area and if I went out, the people would inform my dad, a school proprietor, a former councillor and one of the earliest politicians in Bonny. The name of the school is Base Comprehensive College, Port Harcourt. My mum is a principal in the school. So, they run the school together.

My love for dancing started when I began to watch Nigerian movies and saw them dancing and going to the market and for competitions. 

I had seen the Aki na Ukwa home movie by Aki and Pawpaw. My dad had bought the CD and I kept watching it. I also watched the videos of Dauda and Mr Ibu where they were dancing.

And, when I came to Bonny on holidays, there was this guy in my village named Waribo - he is late now - who loved dancing and he danced to a point where he had mental issues and I was always talking about him.

And my parents were like if they allowed me to keep up dancing I could end up like Waribo.

When I began dancing, my dad did not like it, because he was more concerned that I faced schooling. He actually wanted me to be a lawyer.

Then, when I was about eight years old, my mum caught me one day dancing in the market, I received beating for like three days. 

My parents could not understand why I would be going to the market to dance for money when we were living well and money was not a problem.

At some point, my dad stopped me from watching movies featuring Mr Ibu, Dauda and Aki and Pawpaw.

My parents never understood why I loved dancing. But dancing made me happy.

In school, I was not that brilliant but when it came to dancing, I was a star that everyone looked out for.

I attended Sunrise Primary for three years, Fatima, for two years and I did not really do well and my dad moved me to his school, where I was till I finished secondary school.

I sat for the West African School Certificate Examination in 2013.

But I only got into a higher institution in 2019.

I really wanted to be a military officer because I was inspired by an uncle, Kenneth Minimah, a military officer. My dad also said that, perhaps, joining the military would calm down my stubbornness. 

I made five attempts to join the NDA  (Nigerian Defence Academy) but I did not succeed. 

I eventually got into the Rivers State University in 2019, where I am reading business management, and in my final year. I hope to go for a post-graduate programme in event planning.

I believe that God's plan for me is to be in the entertainment industry. 

Ever since I ventured fully into the industry, I have been growing.

Disc-jockeying and cinematography

Since I could not make it through dancing, I decided to go into disc-jockeying. I started in Churchill  Borokiri, Port Harcourt. My stage name was DJ Green. I was using my laptop combined with some rented equipment. 

I was about seventeen or eighteen years old after I left secondary school.

At some point, my dad got me to perform at the events of the National Union of Proprietors of Private Schools where he was the Rivers State President.

I also performed at the the end-of-year parties of some schools. Everybody liked me playing because I was young and I used to hype -  and I danced too. 

I was making money.

But I stopped when I felt I could make more money through cinematography or video coverage of events.

I learned this from a man in Borokiri (UPE) Sand Field named Yinka Mutari. His brand name is Taru Records. 

He is really good at it.

I picked up and started doing jobs and till date I have been doing cinematography and I expanded it to photography too and established my own media company called King Green and we cover weddings, which is where I started from, as well as other events. With hope, I would soon get my own media complex. I am working towards it. 

Later, my dad believed in me and gave me some money which I added to what I had made from my gigs to buy the equipment I use.

The birth of Bonny Uncensored

I have had a love for Bonny Island since when I was little.

It was where we went to spend Christmas.

When I started going out on my own, I saw a lot of events happening.

So, I have for a long time had the idea of hosting a big musical/cultural event in my head but I did not khow that I was going to begin it on Bonny Island. 

But one year, we got to Bonny for Christmas and I and some others were talking about the need for a different kind of events.

In 2017, when the family came to Bonny for Christmas, by the 25th, the festival was over and it was time for us to go to the village. Then I wondered that all the mega shows being held in other places, why could we not do one in Bonny?

I was having the thought of government and brands; I never knew an individual could plan such an event.

Then it occurred to me that I could.

I, however, asked: who would give me the money. I knew that no brand could sponsor your event if you did not show them the vision of your event and how serious you are.

I am the kind of person who would go after what I believe in.

So, in 2018, I began to think about the name to call the event. I thought of so many names. I wanted a name that would be different from the many others. I wanted a name that when people heard about the event, they would be curious to know more about it. 

Then one night, I and my good friend and supporter, Ted Tolofari, hit on the name, Bonny Uncensored. 

Another friend, who is a graphics designer, Golden Amacree, helped with the design of a logo and flyer.

But, that year, we could not host the event even as the flyer we put on Instagram attracted some buzz.

I said that, in 2019, we must make it, by fire or force.

We started saving money and planning.

And, with support from family and friends, we made it in 2019. My dad, who initially was not not cool about the event because he said all eyes would be on me, gave me about Five Hundred Thousand Naira, although he did not want to give me that much until I explained to him how much we needed and what for. My budget was Five Million, Five Hundred Thousand Naira; to pay artistes from both Bonny and outside, get a stage and create a nice event experience for people to have fun. But, we were only able to get Two Million, Two Hundred Thousand. We ended up cutting down a lot of things.

For that first event we had musicians and DJs, based in Port Harcourt and Bonny Island including Dan Dizzy,  1da Banton, Sikiboi, DJ Jounel, and some Big Brother housemates.

We also had vendors largely from Bonny. We provided them the platform for them to showcase themselves.

We charged an entry fee of Five Hundred Naira and we had at least one thousand two hundred persons in attendance even as it seemed that people did not believe in the event.

It was held at an open field on Berger Road, which is now being used as a market. We did not pay for the space.

This year's edition, our fourth, will be held on the 27th of this month and tickets are going for Two Thousand Naira per person. 

This year, it will be held on the field at the Government Lodge. We got approval from the local government authorities.

We also have kind and cash support from Budweiser, our headline sponsor, and La Casera.

We have raised about Nine Million, Three Hundred Thousand Naira. Although it is not up to what we need but we have to do with what we have.

Last year, when we had a whole lot of artistes, we noticed that people were bored. So, this time around we are having five artistes. So that people can dance more and have a nice environment to express themselves, take pictures and generally have fun.

We also have a children's segment starting from 3pm. We have a playground for them and  we will do dancing competitions where they can win scholarships and cash prizes. Their own tickets cost Five Hundred Naira each.

We use professional security services, provided by Petrez  Guard, so we have not had any bad experience. 

We held the event during the COVID-19 year because we saw that some others held their events. We also felt that we needed to fill up the space. We ran into some debts but we have taken care of them. 

That was even the year we stayed the longest: the event ended at 4am.

My dream is that Bonny Uncensored will be the biggest culture and music concert in Africa, yes, Africa. Because, we can have Bonny Uncensored in Lagos, South Africa, United States of America, anywhere we want to showcase Bonny. So, we can take all of Bonny that we can showcase anywhere in the world. We normally feature the Abara dancers. Their performance is beautiful and their costume is colorful.

We are looking at expanding the cultural aspect. We have some beautiful traditional dances in Bonny. So, we are looking at showcasing the best.

I would say that we have been well-received by the Bonny community. Normally, after Christmas, people went to their villages or to Port Harcourt or Opobo but I can say that for the past three years, people have stayed in Bonny for the Bonny Uncensored.  

We really get motivated by the people's acceptance.

With hope when the Bodo-Bonny Road is completed, there would be more people who would come for the show.

I believe that in the next three to five years, Bonny Uncensored would have an international recognition. 

Appreciation to the Nigeria LNG Limited for providing total logistics support to, and on, Bonny Island, and to our local guide, Godswill Jumbo of Kristina Reports. 

TO KEEP US GOING

Dear Reader,

This initiative which started as a demonstration project for an intern of The Journalism Clinic has, before our very eyes, taken a life of its own, demanding a lot more resources than envisaged.

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Many thanks.
Sincerely,

Taiwo Obe, FNGE
Commonwealth Professional Fellow
Founder/Director, The Journalism Clinic
+234 818 693 5900
founder@thejournalismclinic.com.