Ambassador David Gilmour remarks at the comic book launch event at the Canal Olympia Cinema

Pictures of the student and comic book Scarf actors

Ambassador Remarks
Comic Book Launch Event
Canal Olympia Cinema

February 16, 2018, 1600 – 2000

Madame the Minister of Social Action
Monsieur the Minister of Communication
Monsieur the representative of Minister of Security
Monsieur the director of Canal Olympia Cinema
Monsieur the traditional chief of Hanoukopé
Madame the director of RELUTET
Messiers the directors of AGO Media
Distinguished guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

Good evening. It is a real pleasure for me to be here with you for this extraordinary event. What a treat to be able to watch a blockbuster Hollywood film on its opening night in a beautiful, modern, air conditioned movie theater like this! Until last year, we would have had to go to Ghana or Nigeria to do this, but thanks to Canal Olympia the people of Togo have a world class cinema of their own. So I’d like to express my gratitude to the Canal Olympia team for collaborating with the U.S. Embassy on this project, and for giving people in Togo and all across West Africa the chance to enjoy movies the way they are meant to be seen, on the big screen.

This evening we are fortunate not only to celebrate the debut of a new film, Black Panther, which is based on a famous American comic book, but also the launch of a new comic book, created right here in Togo. It was commissioned by the U.S. Embassy and brought to life by the young artists and writers of AGO Media. I would like to take a moment to recognize the tremendous work of the AGO media team on this project. I am very impressed by the creativity and dedication of these young artists. I think they are as talented as any group of illustrators in the world. On day, I hope, we may have the chance to gather again in this theater to watch a movie based on one of the comic books that they have created!

Ladies and gentlemen, the theme of tonight is heroes. Stories about heroes in all their different forms – whether it is the heroes we see in movies, or the heroes in comic books, or the heroes in the ancient stories and legends that have existed for as long as human civilization has existed, like the great epic of the Middle Eastern hero Gilgamesh or the stories of the legendary Sundiata from Mali – these stories fill a deep need within all human beings. They remind us of what we value, and of the ideals we aspire to.

In the comic book we created, the super hero Scarf battles human traffickers who are abducting and exploiting children. Our intention was to use the archetypal story of a righteous hero battling evil villains to help educate and inspire people to take action against the threat of human trafficking. This is the power of a great hero story.

Yet, I must tell you the truth: In reality, there are no super heroes with magic powers battling the human traffickers. Black Panther and Scarf are not coming to the rescue. But this doesn’t mean that there are no heroes involved in the fight against human trafficking. We have many heroes:

There are the police and the gendarmes who catch traffickers; The prosecutors and judges who ensure that they are punished; The agents of the Ministry of Social Action who work hard to ensure children’s rights are protected; The officials from the ministry of labor who help trafficked children find work once they’ve been rescued; The host families who welcome children saved from difficult circumstances into their homes; The defenders of children’s rights working for NGOs and organizations like RELUTET to educate people about the dangers of human trafficking; Teachers, coaches, and community leaders; All the ordinary men and women across this country who fight and sacrifice each day to give children education and opportunities to succeed. These, ladies and gentlemen are the real heroes.

I urge you to join me in applauding them for all the work they do. Maybe they will not get a movie made about them but they are the ones who are keeping this country safe and helping children have a brighter future.

I hope that the comic book we have created will make their jobs a little bit easier.

Once again I thank you and I look forward to a fun and agreeable evening.