The Estonian and Nigerian journalists are a team. They spent three weeks researching together in Lagos and are proud of the film they've since produced. Madli and Ayodele are part of DW Akademie's East4South project.
What are the stereotypes that African countries still have to deal with?
Ayodele Okulaja: There are still people who think Africa is just a place filled with bush and forests, but there are very prosperous regions, too. I tell people to look at both sides - at the rugged and wild parts of the continent and at the wealthy and successful ones, as well.
Madli Lääne: I had a lot of preconceptions before my first trip to Africa, but Nigeria was my second trip to the continent and I was much more open this time.
Ayodele, were you able to give your Estonian colleague impressions of the "real" Nigeria?
Yes. I planned several outings and tried to show Madli our rich cultural diversity - historical sites, museums, social events. We even went to places I'd never been to, and by the end, I was quite surprised myself!
What is the focus of your film?
Ayodele Okulaja: It's about children with Down's syndrome. Because of Nigeria's cultural and religious background Down's children face additional challenges. Parents often don't understand why their children are the way they are. We wanted to show how these children survive in a city like Lagos with its 20 million inhabitants. We worked together with the "Down Syndrome Foundation of Nigeria", an education center where children can learn sports, music, light academic material, and the things they need for living more independently.
What have you gained from the East4South project?
Madli Lääne: One of the main reasons I applied to the program was because I wanted to work with African journalists. Through this I've gained special insights into a country and issues that are important to the people there. I wouldn't have had experiences like this if I'd only worked with an international crew.
Ayodele Okulaja: I'm happy to have been part of this project. Working with Madli gave me an opportunity to cooperate at an international level as well as at a personal level. We're very proud of the film we've produced. And with what I've learned here, I'm closer to another goal: to become a multimedia journalist and to not just limit myself to print and online.
Since it began in 2010, 60 journalists from Africa and eastern Europe have taken part in the East4South project. The project is funded by the EU with a goal for media makers from Africa and Europe to exchange ideas and overcome prejudices in their own reporting. In this final East4South round four eastern European journalists spent three weeks with their African counterparts and each team produced a film.
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