The Quest for Prodigies


In a world where there is an avalanche of unknown talents, one young Nigerian is on a vigorous search for the next big wonder, writes Solomon Elusoji

On one normal morning in the spring of 2014, Moses Akerele woke up inside the dormitory of the University of Benin with a banging idea. Over the course of his three years in the university, he had seen people celebrate talents that were inferior to some of the talents he had encountered on campus. It was a basic epiphany, but, within him, a bell began to toll.

“Every day, on campus, I saw young creative minds everywhere, super talented writers, photographers, models, singers, dancers, inventors of many things and ideas, designers, makeup artistes, video directors, fine artists,” Moses says, in an email interview with THISDAY. “Most of these guys, I felt, were better than those being celebrated outside. Although there were a lot of campus events trying to put these people in the spotlight, I was curious to know them deeper and give them a platform for the world to discover their excellence.

“And that was because I love young, creative minds. I knew I had to do something for them in a world where we mostly celebrate what we have seen on television or the internet. I just wanted to see young, talented people get noticed, duly appreciated and recognised.”

So, for the young Moses, that became the beginning of a journey that would escalate into big things. That morning, he shared his thoughts with his friends, disturbing them incessantly. Then a student of Mass Communication, he would later try to berth his ideas through the execution of some class projects. But he couldn’t get it right. It would take him about a year, precisely March 2015, to define how best to create a platform for these super-talented, young creatives.

In April 2015, the first episode of The Campus Prodigy with Moses Akerele was released on YouTube. It was tied around an interview with Oscar Odibo, a blooming music artiste who was studying Theatre Arts at the University of Benin.

“I had heard Oscar’s music in places that were cool,” Moses says, reminiscing about his decision to debut with the music artiste, “and I had also read about his music on some blogs. And, at the end of the interview, he taught me that, as a student, it is possible to strategise, in terms of brilliantly aligning academics and passion.”

Immediately the debut episode was released, Moses and his team quickly dropped a teaser on social media to create awareness, and had people on his BBM list use it. People started asking many questions about it and word went round. And, since he had interned with a media house prior before starting Campus Prodigy, Moses was able to leverage on his experience to build on the success of the first episode.

That year, Moses would go on to invite several other young, talented university students on the show, carefully digging into the vagrant workings of their creativity.

“The show is basically a channel targeted at recognising and celebrating young, creative and artistic minds across universities in Nigeria,” Moses tells THISDAY. “These people include those who have exceptional talents, those who have been able to carve a niche for themselves in what they do, stand out and create extra efforts to get their creativity out to the world, those who could easily serve as inspiration for those who really want to try.”

Each episode of the Campus Prodigy, which can be streamed on YouTube and downloaded on selected blogs, is in 3 phases: ‘The Interview’ with these creative minds, ‘The Period’, which gives room to see into the world of these creative people and how they go about their different creative activities, and ‘The Events’, red carpet media coverage of university events.

Since its launch in 2015, the show has since had several episodes cutting across different schools and has supported several events in different universities. In 2016, however, it promises its viewers more.

“We are reaching out to every university in Nigeria to bring Nigerians and the world up close and personal with wonder-kids, creative people and talented youths in our universities,” Moses says. “We believe they deserve and need a stage, a platform. Besides, we really want to see young talents get noticed, appreciated and celebrated, you will be amazed by the kind of untapped talents there are in these institutions.”

But, for Moses and his team, it hasn’t been a smooth ride all the way. “Our first recording failed, my guest was on set and our camera developed a fault that we couldn’t rectify, leading us to reschedule,” Moses says. “So, having the right and desired equipment to give us the desired taste is one big challenge we face; we work with the limited resources we are able to get and we have had a couple of failed shoots due to this.”

There is also the logistical nightmare of having to travel across Nigeria, from one school to the other. “That has been really tasking,” Moses admits, “as it takes up most of the expenses we incur.”

Also, since it’s a young show, getting more and more people to get acquainted with it has been a challenge. But things are looking up, as the numbers rise. Besides, Moses has no plan to take his feet off the pedal.

“The dream sort of grows every day,” he says. “I want it to be big enough to be a plinth to many careers, to make every guest a ‘superstar’; I want the show to host people and literally ‘catapult’ them to bigger levels, I want it to be a hub where young stars are seen and celebrated, a home for university students in Nigeria, supporting their events and lots more.”

That dream, gradually, is growing wings and this is largely due to, Moses says, the support he received from all and sundry.

“Everyone that saw my idea and was willing to support really inspired me, my friends were ready to assist at no cost, on set, off set, handling the camera, clothing, make up, my designs, sounds, post
production, publicity and more,” he remarks. “Honestly my team has been a massive inspiration because they believe in me and the idea, my sister is readily there to support as well, these people have kept me and Campus Prodigy going.

“Moreso, every guest that honoured my invite inspired me, many messages and comments, both positive and negative (trust me I’ve had comments that should make me quit already), has been a big push and a huge inspiration. Recently, I finally mentioned it to my parents and another inspiration came from that chapter.”