by Onyeka Nwelue
Let us talk about a serious issue?
I will be donating my eyes and heart once I seize breathing. For kidney, if doctors feel there is anything they could do with the one kidney that I have, to save someone then, they have all my consent to do so.
The Woodpecker International Film Festival ends today and it has been an intense outing for me. I have totally learnt so many things and enjoyed myself. I would say the highlight of the festival for me, would be seeing To Give Or Not to Give, a film by Malgorzata Skiba and Kumar Subramaniyan.
Malgorzata studied film at Jagiellonian University of Krakow. Since 1995, she freelances as a director-producer and author of documentaries produced for TV channels and art centres in Europe and India. Her work focuses on religion, ecology, art and education. Her films have been screened and awarded at various film festivals. Amongst them are films made for PSBT- Eco Dharma and Autumn in the Himalayas. She lives and works in New Delhi. She is married to Mr. Subramaniyan, who is a New Delhi based freelance cameraperson and director. In 1990, he graduated from Film and TV Institute of Tamil Nadu as Best Cinematography Student. From 1991 to 1994 he worked for the Press Trust of India Television in New Delhi. Since 1994, he has been working as Director of Photography, associated with number of documentaries, commercials, as well as fiction, travel shows, NGO projects in India and abroad. His favourite genre is documentary.
To Give Or Not to Give follows the Catholic priest, Father Davis Chiramel of Kidney Federation of India. A powerfully narrated story; extremely bold and overly beautifully orchestrated, this film brings to you the reality that is on ground. People are dying every day, of ignorance. We follow the story of Father Chiramel and how, on seeing, a member of his church, vanishing from the surface of the earth, from renal failure, donates his kidney to save his life. We then follow a series of doctors, performing surgeries of all types, in many parts of India and saving thousands of lives, lives of people who, in return, set up or start working for organisations, gathering organs to save lives of others.
There are questions: what are you living for? Why can’t you die? And leave this troubled world? But there are reasons why one needs to remain alive. Your personal purposes in life, your dreams, your aspirations. Bad health can stop you from achieving all these things. I refused to let many things deter me from achieving my personal dreams. I even refuse to let people stop me from doing things I want to do.
I am not brain-washed to say I want to donate my eyes and heart. I was convinced enough to say this after I saw this film. Yesterday, I had a short discussion with Mrs Malgorzata Skiba and we have started discussions on how to be able to relax the mind of people who believe in superstitions. Are there Nigerians who would donate their organs to save others and make them live longer? Do we start from religious organisations just like Father Chiramel who believes so much in Christ, did? What would Father Mbaka and his teeming and devoted members think of this idea? Are there not people in his congregation who are passing through hell, health-wise, but resort to miracles and prayers? Isn’t it time we let science give us joy? And become realistic for once?
I have already interacted with Father Davis Chiramel. Religion asides, I am more interested in what legacies we leave behind when we go.
What do you want to be remembered for?
Onyeka Nwelue is an Assistant Professor of African Literature and Studies at the University of Manipur, Imphal and Visiting Lecturer of African Studies at the University of Hong Kong. He is currently on the Jury of the Woodpecker International Film Festival in India and his latest book is Hip-Hop is Only for Children.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.