Amnesty award for film exploring poverty and extremist exploitation of Nigeria's Almajiri children

Amnesty International has awarded a prestigious prize to Nottingham graduate, Temitope Kalejaiye, for a documentary about children trapped in a cycle of poverty and extremist influences as part of the Almajiri Islamic education system in Nigeria.

Nigerian children walking down a road

Amnesty International has awarded a prestigious prize to Nottingham graduate, Temitope Kalejaiye, for a documentary about children trapped in a cycle of poverty and extremist influences as part of the Almajiri Islamic education system in Nigeria.

Filmed as part of the coursework for her Masters in Broadcast Journalism at Nottingham Trent University, Temitope travelled to Northern Nigeria to meet some of the millions of Almajiri children whose daily routines include memorising the Qur'an by night and taking to the streets to beg for food and money during the day.

The short film, entitled Almajiri is Begging, scooped the Student award in the annual Amnesty Media Awards, which recognise excellence in human rights reporting and acknowledge journalism’s significant contribution to the UK public’s awareness and understanding of human rights issues.

Temitope, who is currently in Nottingham and plans to travel back to her native Nigeria to progress her career, said: “While spending a year in the UK studying for my MA in Broadcast Journalism, I was struck by the absence of children begging for money and food. In Britain they were conspicuous by their absence and this stark difference between the developed and developing world in terms of the most vulnerable members of our society gave me a pressing use for my filmmaking skills.

“Instead of shooting a documentary in the UK as part of my university project, I opted to travel back to my home town of Yola, Nigeria, motivated by a suicide bombing of the local market carried out by a young boy of about 12 years old.

“Persuading a local Almajiri school to allow me to film was no easy task and required considerable persistence and persuasion. However, I won through in the end and was able to examine alleged links between children sent out on the streets to beg and their vulnerability to Islamic militancy and terrorist exploitation.

“The best bit for me was the fact that I could use my film making skills to make a difference in the life of these children. I am also proud of the rare access I achieved and the balanced way the Almajiri story is told.”

The story has been picked up for distribution worldwide by Journeyman Pictures and has already been viewed more than 6,000 times on YouTube, sparking comments, blogs and individual debate about the plight of the Almajiri.

Speaking about receiving the award, Temitope added: “The award night was the most memorable moment of my career. I have never had such a huge number of important industry people wanting to have a conversation with me. I now hope to be able to use my film making skills to advance the human rights causes I care about.”

I am proud of the rare access I achieved and the balanced way the Almajiri story is told.

Temitope Kalejaiye

Two out of the three nominees for best student work at the awards were students from Nottingham Trent University’s Centre for Broadcasting and Journalism (CBJ), with a documentary by Emmanuel Oboro on slum clearance in Lagos named as a runner up. Emmanuel also won the documentary award at the International Micro Film Festival held in Nottingham in October 2016.

There was also success for the CBJ at the recent Broadcast Journalism Training Council (BJTC) awards, with student Sofia Sinnott Montero placing as runner up in the Best Original Story category for her film12 A WEEK: The Story Uncovered, about young people who die suddenly of cardiac arrest.

Amanda Ball, acting head of the CBJ, said: “Each year our students produce well-researched and thought provoking films about subjects they feel passionately about. The graduates achieving recognition this year have created exceptional pieces of work which have generated comments from judges and industry professionals that they are among the best they’ve seen.”

In addition to broadcast success, Nottingham Trent University’s BA (Hons) Print Journalism degree was recently crowned as the UK’s top performing undergraduate journalism course accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) for the fourth year in a row.

The prestigious accolade was presented as part of the NCTJ Journalism Skills Conference, where the university was named as the institution which has the highest percentage of students achieving the industry recognised NCTJ gold standard: A-C grade passes and 100 words per minute shorthand.

The graduates achieving recognition this year have created exceptional pieces of work.

Amanda Ball, acting head of the CBJ

  • Notes for editors

    Press enquiries please contact Helen Breese, Media Relations Manager, on telephone +44 (0)115 848 8751, or via email.

    Watch the full film, Almajiri is Begging, on You Tube.

    Nottingham Trent University
    Nottingham Trent University’s five-year strategic plan Creating the University of the Future has five main ambitions: Creating Opportunity, Valuing Ideas, Enriching Society, Connecting Globally and Empowering People.

    The Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education was awarded to Nottingham Trent University in November 2015.  It is the highest national honour for a UK university and recognises the institution’s world-class research. Pioneering projects to improve weapons and explosives detection in luggage, enable safer production of powdered infant formula, and combat food fraud, led to the prestigious award.

Amnesty award for film exploring poverty and extremist exploitation of Nigeria's Almajiri children

Published on 6 December 2016
  • Category: School of Arts and Humanities

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