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From Motivational Speaker to Author, Oliver Asaah hits the music circuit
March 9, 2016 | 0 Comments

-Debut Album launch set for March 26, 2016 in Bowie,MD

By Ajong Mbapndah L

12742656_10209051099663136_5689792197075527808_nBuilding on his motivational speaking and book writing prowess, Oliver Asaah is taking his creative genius a notch higher with the imminent launch of his debut album titled “Life is Not a Given.” Music has always been part of me says Oliver as he talks passionately about preparations for his album launch on March 2016 in Bowie,MD, books and post album projects

Mr. Oliver Asaah, we understand you are launching your maiden album later in March; can you introduce the album and its contents for us?

The album goes under the name Oliver T. Asaah (Minka Systems). Minka Systems is a band in the making. The title of the album is: “Life Is Not A Given”. The album is diversified in music genres and it has eight tracks plus three instrumentals with philosophical ideas and proverbs. The Minka Systems is part of my Triple Plate organization; Wealth Pool Industries. Minka Systems is the music arm, Minka Series is the writing arm and Minka Inspire is the speaking, training and coaching arm. I realized that in life, you never really get satisfaction until you do the things that are your strength and passion. That’s why I went back to my core talents (speaking, writing and music), after doing so many activities in life.

May be a story will drive the message home. I started my public speaking in secondary school as Master of Ceremony and others. In 1996, I was the Douala Chapter general secretary and also the National General Secretary of Seat of Wisdom Ex-students Association (SWESA). The college was celebrating its 30th anniversary that year and I was slotted to deliver a keynote at the symposium. The topic was: “How to meet SWESANS out of college”. A lot of ex-students were not active in SWESA. When I examined the topic, I realized that it could be interpreted in two ways: what can we do to meet SWESANS out of college or what does meeting SWESANS out of college means to us? I decided to choose the former interpretation to bring ideas on how to encourage and attract more SWESANs to participate in the association. If more SWESANs were engaging in the association, it would give more meaning to the latter interpretation.

Anyway, I delivered a landmark speech at that event. When it was time for questions and answers and observations from the big and diversified audience, Mr. Joseph Nkwokro Nojang of blessed of memory was second to take the floor and was in awe of the ideas in the speech. Then a setback came from Miss Gen Dube, the able principal of the college at the time. In her words which I remember like yesterday she stated: “Oliver, that was a great speech, but I am afraid the college students sitting there did not quite get your message; the level was a little too high for them”. I hit my chest and that remark shaped my future speaking engagements. Remember, I had just graduated from law school. After that day, I always size up my audience and that determines my choice of words and expressions in my speaking engagements.

So what genre of music have you worked on for the album and what are the messages you seem to send across?

I worked on several genres in this premier album. This is salsa, soul, makossa, zouk, Hiphop-rap and classic rock. Often people take life for granted and wait for their desires to happen to them; it is a fallacy and a fantasy. Your desires and aspirations must be carved into a dream and then laid out step by step into achievable goals using the SMARTER Goal concept.

Next, you design a strategy or a road map on how to accomplish them. Step out of your comfort zone and take massive action irrespective of all stumbling blocks that may belie your route to success. This is what COMFORT means to me: Come over Merely for Open Rapport Trail. ZONE (Zenith Offsets Needed Effort).

Your dream therefore must be so big you spend your entire life pursuing it. That is the only way not to assume that you have reached the zenith at any point in time and start resting on your laurels. The album therefore is filled with motivational ideas and strategies to advance in life, seek teamwork and that we are complementary to each other.

A few expressions we see in some of the promotional content, Minka systems, what does it mean?

12804793_10209252830106271_8475695087948101274_nMinka Systems is my musical band in the making. It is one of the three arms of the Wealth Pool Industries as mentioned earlier. The March 26 launch event is a red carpet event with lots of celebrities and VIPs coming from about 15 states, Canada and Europe.

And a little more about you, how did Oliver Asaah get into music?

My father, Asaah Fominka, later Nkemamin, had a big compound on top of the hill, in his gigantic fenced compound. He was a farmer rearing goats and sheep. Early in the morning he would make a sound and all the animals would assemble in the yard and he would give them salt before letting them off into the fields to feed. One fateful morning when I was about 6 years old, I was standing at the veranda as he performed the animal salt ritual. I sighted an airplane flying in the sky and imagined that passengers on board were singing a song and enjoying themselves. I instantly composed a song and started singing and dancing to my own composition. As the song reached its climax, I sang and danced all the more. As I nodded back and forth in my excitement, I did not notice a big ram approach. I assume the ram thought I was challenging him to knock horns so it came straight at me and knocked me off balance. I landed on my back among the animals. Dazed and confused, I thought it was my brother Columbus who had pushed me over. But on looking around, Columbus was nowhere in the vicinity. Rather it was my father who stood there having a good laugh.

I learned my lesson; but that didn’t stop me from singing and dancing. I just had to make sure there was no ram around to knock me off. That is to say music has always been in my blood. I took this same spirit to secondary school with competitions in which I excelled and earned multiple nicknames. I am thinking of writing a book on nicknames and their influence on people and society.

What were some of the challenges you faced in the production of this Album?

Like every new endeavor and industry you get involved, there is a lot to learn especially if you want to leave a mark. Learning the process of music production, finding the money; without a sponsor, it is tough. I am a music junkie and I am talented in multiple music genres so it becomes challenging to decide what genre to settle on. That’s why this premier album is so much diversified leaving my audience and fans to have a feel of the menu I offer and decipher which meal is most appetizing to them per my strengths. Nevertheless, I love salsa and really want to fill the gap left by my friend Pierre Tchana after his passing years ago. I will ex-ray the Lebialem culture and tradition and finally I tackle the business community with a new music application which brings success principles, strategies and motivation to the entrepreneurs in music form. I want all entrepreneurs to dance and feel their dreams, goals and aspirations to manifestation like never before.

We also understand that you are an author; can you tell us something about the books you have written?

Oh yes, writing is a passion and a talent for me. I have been writing since secondary school, but never really published until 2010. I have a great collection of poems not yet published. I coauthored my first book in 2010, with other authors: “The Arts and Science of Success”. It is a compendium of success strategies shared by multiple writers. My contribution in the book was the strategy I used to reprogram my subconscious mind which I decided to share to the benefit of anyone who dares to use it. This was a precursor to my first solo book, “The Broken Bond” published and launched in 2014.

The Broken Bond is an attempt to tame the beast ravishing relationships especially among Africans in the diaspora stemming from my personal experience from a broken relationship. The Broken Bond therefore is a true story. It is making news in readers’ circles and on It is a relationship handbook whether you are unmarried and vying for a relationship,( the dating curve) in the book will guide you; if you divorced and just want to live a single life, the chapter on individualism, Leave the Fetters Behind, Flowers of life and more will help you; if you are married and your marriage is suffering, chapters like letting go, 5 Cs of relationships, the 10 commandments of relationships, Flowers of life and more will help you; if you are married and want to take your marriage to another level, chapters like: what God put together, True thriller stories, Little Drops of Care, and more will help you or if you just want to motivate and inspire your life using a holistic approach, chapters on the subconscious mind, effective communication, and more will help you . If you want to learn about Lebialem marriage culture and more, chapters like: Atayo Syndrome, marriage contract in Nweh, Courting process, Nucleus of family and more will help you. I share some of the principles and strategies I personally use to do the things I do.

Where does Oliver Asaah get his inspiration, to write his books, and now a musical album?

My inspiration started from my parents who are my role models. Interestingly, my father Nkemamin formerly Asaah Fominka and my mother Emerencia Agendia both of blessed memory did not go to school but knew the value of education and their characters exerted tremendous influence on me. I learned a lot from my parents growing up. The most important and memorable lesson from my father was and remains to never be envious, jealous of or belittle other people’s belongings; instead, to emulate and even do better than them.

Oliver Asaah with a copy of the Broken Bond.Copies of the book will be on sale at the album launch

Oliver Asaah with a copy of the Broken Bond.Copies of the book will be on sale at the album launch

Another very vital lesson, he gave me was and is to be accountable and always know that trust in someone or something does not exclude crosschecking to make sure all is well. One day, he handed me some money as part of my tuition when I was in Our Lady Seat of Wisdom. When I tried to shove the money into my pocket, he yelled at me so hard I nearly passed out. I had not counted the money in front of him to confirm the amount.   He advised me to always count money that is given to me right there in front of whoever gave to me to make sure the amount was accurate. I learned hard work, selflessness, and humility from my mother. I then sharpened the foundation I got from my parents with my own reading, listening, attending conferences, hosting events as MC for decades; everywhere I go, I set a goal for myself to bring back at least one new idea to add to my own portfolio.

When I was in Seat of Wisdom College, still in Form one, every day during evening studies, I read the dictionary for the first ten minutes. That exercise, took my vocabulary through the roof. My writing and speaking gave me the nickname: “Bombastic or Verbose”. At one time, I was always selected to give an intention or prayer in church every Sunday. I didn’t know why until a classmate of mine overheard Form five students gossiping my name after church. I was in Form three then. They were praising the way I framed the prayer and Richard, ran to me right away asking me: “Esoh”, (meaning Buddy), “do know why you are chosen to give an intention in church every Sunday?” “No”, I said, “The form five students use that to learn new words and expressions from your writing”, he concluded. We laughed over and sure that encouraged me to do more.

About the album launch itself, can you share some more details on the event, venue, cost of participation, guest appearances and what participants should expect?

This Premier Album Launch is a red carpet mega event. It is the most important event in my life all things considered. I believe in celebrating life unlike death. Everyone that could come to my funeral should show up at this event. Another story; about thirty years before my father died, he summoned all his son-in-laws to give his burial clothing rites. In Lebialem culture, when your father-in-law dies, you are obliged to give a blanket for his burial. His philosophy was that out of his 25 children, the majority were girls and he did see how useful those many blankets would be on his passing on. They gave the blankets; he summoned his friends, shared most of them among them and kept two for himself. That is a great example of celebrating life as opposed to death. There are so many celebrities and VIPs attending this great event. Beauty pageants, like Miss Africa USA, Miss Guinea North America, Miss Cameroon USA, as well numerous actors, actresses, film makers, artists, designers, entrepreneurs, and people of all works of life and cultures are confirmed attending.

The event takes place on March 26, 2016 at the West Bowie Event Center, 13711 Old Annapolis Road, Bowie, Maryland, 20720, USA. From 6 PM – 8 PM, Red Carpet and champagne time. 8PM – 3 AM, Show time. Free all you can eat buffet and beverages. There will be a cash bar with a professional Bar Tender to Mix and Brew all kinds of drinks like you would find a standard bar. I will perform with dancers and backup singers. Featuring artists are Roxana Tazifor, MC Chido and Jaajo Mbadi. The DJ is I MEDI run by Mr. Amstrong Ikoh Awani. The videographer is Mr. Ako Richie of Cyber Globus all the way from Dallas TX. We plan on Live streaming the event so people can watch it worldwide over the internet. We will make the link available by the event date on the Minka Systems facebook page, e-groups and so on.

The Regular admission fee is $25.00 and VIP will donate at the event. There are other great options like the early bird registration package available on Event Brite link where people can register in advance online and bring their receipts to the event. Here is the link:

What next for Oliver after the music album?

After the launch, Oliver Asaah and the Minka Systems is ready for bookings and tours, We perform at cultural and business conventions, anniversaries, birth days, weddings, graduations, and all kinds of events. We already have four bookings in May and June 2016. We will do events in cities in USA, Canada and Europe in 2016. We are doing concerts in Cameroon in December, 2016 starting in Menji, charity begins at home. We plan on doing East and West Africa tours in 2017. I am already working on the next album, I have 300 songs composed. I am currently working on 6 books and plan to publish one book in 2016. Starting March 26, 2016, the Wealth Pool Industries triple plate is open for business: Speaking, Writing and Music. We need your support because we cannot do this alone.

Good luck with the launch and thanks for granting the interview

The pleasure is mine and I hope you come with your media friends to join us at the event.






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Opinion piece: Kenya and South Africa in the arts
November 11, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Ms Zukiswa Wanner*

hqdefaultA fair share of both of South Africa and Kenya’s taxes come from artists. Beyond artists themselves, there are also many people who may not be artists but are employed because of art be they curators, printers, publishers, instrumentalists and even weavers. As part of my research for the presentation, I talked to artists from both countries.

I realized that our problems are similar. In both countries, artists are taxed as full-time employees while unable to access the sort of perks that full-time employees like insurance or loans because they earn in an irregular manner. There is also a lack of appreciation and a constant need for ‘free’ stuff from artists as though artists don’t eat and don’t need a roof over their heads for some animal allegedly called ‘publicity.’

The good news is, despite this, the artists have not been dissuaded from creating. Between Kenya and South Africa, collaborations have, in fact, been happening. The main fields that artists in the two countries have been working together on are in literature, visual arts, music, performing arts, fashion and there seems to be room for working together in film, as I shall explain further. Our two national public relations companies, Brand SA and Brand Kenya have unfortunately not been as aware of it as they should be so that they can amplify the message to art lovers in both Kenya and South Africa from our two different countries.

Kenyan writers have participated in literary festivals in Durban, Franschhoek, and Open Book in Cape Town.  I suspect as Kenyans continue to write, this will continue happening. There is also a reciprocal relationship with Storymoja with South African writers coming through for the last three years through funding from the South African High Commission. Beyond attending literary festivals, Kenyans have participated in pan-African literary initiatives that are of South African origin. One that comes to mind is Short Story Day Africa (SSDA) which was first won by Kenya’s Okwiri Oduor who went on to win the Caine Prize with her winning SSDA story. This year, two Kenyans, Wairimu Muriithi and Florence Onyango are on the long list for SSDA while the judging panel of three includes Billy Kahora of Kwani.

In visual arts, Kenyan artists such as Michael Soi and Magdalene Odundo have previously done workshops or residencies in South Africa.  I recall a conversation with Ms. Odundo, who incidentally helped me shape the main character in my last novel London Cape Town Joburg, where she informed me that she had done some workshops in Durban and had also visited spaces like the Walters Gallery in Franschhoek.  South African artists have also been guests of Kenya and I am selfish enough to hope that one of my compatriots wins the residency that Kuona Trust is currently advertising for fellow Africans.

This year alone, Kenyan music fans have danced to South African musicians Simphiwe Dana, Jonathan Butler (yes. Contrary to what an opposition newspaper stated last week, he is not American but is in fact South African) and most recently Mi Casa. Prior to this, at least half the participants of Muthoni DQ’s Blankets & Wine have been South African participants.

South Africa has also been lucky to have Eric Wainaina as one of the headline acts for Africa Day celebrations previously. But, as one of the participants at the Dialogue mentioned, there is room for more collaboration in this particular field. Beyond once-off performances by artists in our respective countries, our musicians can have the type of musical collaborations that have been happening between South African and Nigerian musicians. The same participant also suggested that artists could also stay beyond their event dates and do workshops at the two Kenyan universities that offer music – Daystar and Kenyatta universities.

Last year, I was honoured to see Mshai Mwangola perform at a literary festival in South Africa. This was despite the fact that I have known Mshai in Kenya for a while and had never seen her perform. As we share some similar stories as Africans, one hopes we can see more Kenyan stories performed on South African stages and vice-versa, particularly now that the Kenyan National Theatre is available to artists again. Currently there is an initiative called LongStoryShort in South Africa where writers from all over the continent have written short stories that are performed by South African artists monthly to a non-paying public.

The performers have included Renate Stuurman, Hlubi Mboya and Lindiwe Mashikiza, among others. Curated by Yewande Omotoso and Kgauhelo Dube, this initiative has made literature accessible to an audience that may otherwise not know of all the writers included. While LongStoryShort currently doesn’t have any Kenyan writers, hopefully, they will have some next year.

In fashion, South Africa’s clothing chain store Mr Price, in partnership with Elle Magazine’s Rising Star Design Search engage home-grown talent to produce for their shops. If this chain is going to work for Kenya’s fashion industry, perhaps they can suggest that the owners of the local franchise to do the same with local designers. It does not do the Kenyan fashion industry any favours.

As mentioned before, there is room for work to be done in the world of film. Although Kenyan filmmakers have participated in South Africa’s Durban International Film Festival and the movie Nairobi Half Life won an award, more can be done. As I understand it, Kenya Film Commission (KFC) and South Africa’s National Film and Video Foundation signed an agreement to work together at the Cannes Film Festival over a year ago.

Unfortunately this is the sort of deal that many of my filmmaker friends in Kenya and South Africa do not seem to know anything about. I wonder whether there is any way that an initiative like this one could be publicized so that more filmmakers get to know about it.

.*Author is a South African journalist and novelist.This presentation was given during the Dialogue session that Brand SA hosted in Nairobi. The Dialogue was held under theme, Towards Agenda 2063: The Ties that Bind Us.

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Ailing Artist Lisa T receives Support from Cameroon Musicians In USA
November 1, 2015 | 1 Comments

Docta Washiwara on scene at the Lisa T solidarity concert Docta Washiwara on scene at the Lisa T solidarity concert[/caption] The Cameroon Musicians Association of USA (CAMUSA), threw its support behind ailing Makossa star Lisa T with a solidarity concert on October 30th that raised $2,250:00. Based on the current exchange rate, the sum of  cfa 1,314,178  was wired to Liza T whose deteriorating health had become a cause for concern. Backed by a live band, Nelly Luv, Adèle Clarice, Annie Vadivas, Sister Comfort, B-1, Alexis, Amisa Assima, Ngando Black le Bukan, Paco, Tof Gone, Fifi Ribana, Aristide, Aloys, Yenikah, Kobo, Pregnon, and Docta Washiwara were amongst the musicians who took turns to thrill the public with scintillating music at the Maison Africaine Lounge. “CAMUSA thought it wise to express solidarity with an accomplished artist like Lisa T in her challenging moments,” said Docta Washiwara the President of the group.  Docta Washiwara described the evening as a success and in a bid to ensure transparency, the contributions were tallied in full view.   [caption id="attachment_22035" align="alignright" width="300"]Talented singer Adele Clarice was part of the event Talented singer Adele Clarice was part of the event.[/caption] Asked why CAMUSA was organizing such an evening even when Samuel Eto’o is said to have volunteered to foot the medical bills of Liza T, Docta Washiwara said beyond the medical bills, Liza T needs support with feeding, lodging and other sundry expenses to help her get back in shape. The CAMUSA President also announced that the group was working on a common a project to release an album as its contribution in the fight against Boko Haram. In a facebook post two days after the event, Washiwara confirmed that the amount collected was effectively wired to Lisa T. Supporting CAMUSA in the solidarity event were PJM Productions whose promoter Marechal Tiano was the MC, and the Maison Africaine Lounge .        ]]>

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Arts and culture, an alternative to grow African economies
October 28, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Dasmani Laary*

  [caption id="attachment_21929" align="alignleft" width="480"]A woman poses in Brett Bailey's art installation A woman poses in Brett Bailey’s art installation[/caption] Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) governments have been urged to shift their focus from timber, cocoa and minerals exports, and introduce relevant polices and funding into arts and culture to rapidly expand their economies. “Giving meaning to the role of arts and culture manifested in traditional music, dance, clothing and drama can earn countries billions of dollars to spur growth and create jobs,” culture experts meeting in Ghana’s capital, Accra said. The stakeholders from Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Gambia and Cote d’Ivoire are discussing the status of culture and arts sector in West Africa and the potential for growth and development under the EU-ECOWAS economic partnership agreement. The culture and creative arts industry is said to be the fastest growing sector of the world economy, with estimated growth rate of 7 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product. “This growth is accounted for by rapid techno-economic change in products manufacturing distribution and marketing and the increasing commercialising of intellectual property in the digital world,” director of the Centre for Cultural and African Studies of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Vesta Adu-Gyamfi said. “Member countries ought to strengthen exchanges and co-operation between cultural entrepreneurs and artistes from West Africa and Europe to promote trade between the two regions.” The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Culture Organisation (UNESCO) also reports that world trade of creative goods and services recorded $624 billion in 2011, more than doubling between the years 2002 and 2011. The growth in developing country exports of the sectors’ services averaged 12 per cent annually between 2002 and 2011, but analysts say West African governments pay lip service to that area and failed to exploit its economic benefits. “Culture is a powerful tool for poverty eradication, helping to meet the ambitious goal to reduce the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day to 3 per cent of the population by 2030,” UNESCO said in a statement to welcome participants from the West African sub region. “Governments have been paying lip service to the cultural sector, but it is very important they see the cultural sector the same way as they see agriculture, mining industry or crude oil and to come out with relevant policies,” team leader of ACP Cultures Plus Culture Policy project told The Africa Report. “If you are investing in the mines to get value out of it or crude oil or oil ore to get value, you should also similarly invest in the cultural sector to get value, so governments should come up with relevant policies as well as provide funding to grow the sector,” Chris Addy Nayo said. “Our culture is rich, very rich, more than some of these foreign products we tend consume,” he said, but the problem had been about the quality stemming from standardisation and packaging issues. “The same way governments invest in other products in the market, they must also respond to these challenges (faced by culture and arts) to ensure our culture and creative arts are packaged nicely to attract foreign taste and bring in the necessary income,” Nayo said. “Foreign cultures attract us not because they are better than ours but because they pay attention to these things.” ECOWAS members were called upon to support artistes with training and offer them opportunities to collaborate with international partner organisations to help quality, standardisation and packaging. Cultural and creative industries offer countries the opportunity to diversify, expand and strengthen national economies, thereby contributing to the reduction of social inequalities. The experts claimed that with over 1 billion people travelling around the world in 2012, the relationship between tourism and culture provides a unique opportunity to contribute to inclusive economic growth. *Source African Report

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Launch of an International Artists’ Coalition for the General History of Africa
October 6, 2015 | 0 Comments

downloadAn international coalition involving artists in the promotion of the General History of Africa will be launched at UNESCO on 7 October (6 p.m., Room IX). The coalition will help young people use the unique instrument that the History represents in recounting the continent’s past from an African perspective. Participants at the launch will include the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, Cameroon’s Ambassadeur and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, Lejeune Mbella Mbella, and Ray Lema, musician and spokesperson for the Coalition of Artists for the General History of Africa. The international coalition aims to mobilize artists from all fields of creativity and have them contribute to the promotion in the media, online and through their social networks, of the work carried out within the framework of the General History of Africa. The members of the coalition will sign a Declaration in which they will undertake to disseminate the teachings of this History among the general public, take part in UNESCO activities concerning the programme and favour cooperation among the fellow artists within the coalition. Launched in 1964, the General History of Africa project was established to disencumber the continent’s narrative from stereotyping linked to slavery and colonialism. Over the years, the project has enjoyed the contribution of some 350 experts from different disciplines: history, linguistics, anthropology, musicology, archaeology and more. Their work has been published in eight volumes to date. *Source APO/UNESCO]]>

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Ghana's anti-corruption blockbuster film draws crowds
October 4, 2015 | 0 Comments

Investigative reporter Anas Aremeyaw Anas remains incognito by covering his face in public Investigative reporter Anas Aremeyaw Anas remains incognito by covering his face in public[/caption]

It has all the ingredients of a Hollywood blockbuster but the tale of sex, money and corruption that is gripping Ghanaian cinema-goers is a three-hour documentary that purports to expose judicial corruption.

The film has led to arguably one of the biggest scandals in the country’s history and has shaken the foundations of the judiciary. Investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas made it after two years of undercover work in which he gathered 500 hours of raw footage. It appears to show judges and court workers taking bribes from litigants, as well as some demanding sex, to manipulate justice.

Free screenings

Allegations have been made against 34 judges, as well as dozens of other court officials, in evidence that was handed to President John Mahama and Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood. The chief justice launched an investigation into the 22 lower court judges, and is considering what to do about the 12 high court judges. Lawyers for 14 of the accused judges have denied the allegations and the High Court has dismissed their attempt to get the investigation suspended. The other accused judges have yet to comment in public. The film – Ghana in the eyes of God; Epic of Injustice – has been shown in the capital, Accra, and is now being screened for free across the country. [caption id="attachment_21203" align="alignright" width="624"]The screenings have filled auditoriums in the capital and it premieres in Kumasi on Friday The screenings have filled auditoriums in the capital and it premieres in Kumasi on Friday[/caption] Mr Anas has opted for public screenings rather than a television broadcast because media companies have been threatened with legal action if they do show it. But he wants as many people as possible to see the work as he told me he believes “justice is for the people, let them see what justice means in this country”.

Who is Anas Aremeyaw Anas?

  Anas Aremeyaw Anas is something of an enigma, as he is never seen in public without a disguise. His fans call him a modern-day folk hero or the “James Bond of journalism” for his work in exposing alleged corruption and malpractice in Ghana and beyond. In his 15 years of undercover journalism he has among other disguises, posed as a female investor in high heels, sunglasses and lipstick, and a janitor in a brothel. He has also secreted himself inside a fake rock placed at the side of the road with a peep hole for his eyes. In his work he has exposed a human trafficking racket, corruption in the police and malpractice in a food processing plant. He argues that “there is no point in doing journalism, if it does not lead progress in your society”. Before becoming a journalist, Mr Anas worked as a lawyer for two years. Unsurprisingly, the judges featured in the film are not keen for it to be shown, and a case has been filed to restrain cinemas and other venues from allowing their facilities to be used to screen the film. But this has so far been ignored.

Mocking laughter

Justice Paul Uuter Dery has filed a new suit at the Supreme Court seeking to stop the investigations into the judges. He wants the court to declare that the material gathered cannot be used, as Ghana’s constitution guarantees that evidence in a case relating to the removal of a judge should be heard in camera – in other words behind closed doors – and Mr Anas has already shown it in public. The documentary itself is taken from Mr Anas’s hours of secret filming, hence the shaky camera work and poor sound quality. _85629071_apesr9-_vp4mjk22nepfx9qtghtzc_lbe_kkzmzg1hggIt shows various judges talking to litigants, sometimes in a car and sometimes in what appears to be an office or a home setting. Money is seen changing hands and there are also scenes showing people having sex. What cannot be confirmed is whether the people being featured are being bribed or whether they were offered sex in exchange for a favour in court. When I saw it, the audience greeted much of what they saw with shouts of anger and mocking laughter, especially during the sex scenes. There were also long periods of silence as the viewers were digesting the implications of what they were seeing. As screenings of the film are set to continue and Ghanaians eager to see the film, this scandal is not going away. Given that some of the judges are fighting back using the courts, this could also be a long-running saga of courtroom gymnastics. Meanwhile Mr Anas is being feted by some as a national hero, his critics see him as a lawless citizen invading people’s privacy and unfairly tarnishing their reputation. *Source BBC]]>

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Award Winning Actor Kang Quintus x-rays health care travails of Undocumented immigrants in latest movie
September 25, 2015 | 0 Comments

REJECTED Set for World Premiere on October 24th By Ajong Mbapndah L [caption id="attachment_20950" align="alignleft" width="300"]Kang Quintus Kang Quintus[/caption] Being an undocumented immigrant is often times  miserable, in the midst of that you are diagnosed with cancer and with no health insurance , how do you cope? Get the answers from REJECTED, the latest production from Quinsia Films and Award winning actor Kang Quintus. Set to premiere on October 24th, the movie offers insight into the untold stories and traumatic experiences that many illegal immigrants go through when it comes to health care in the USA. “This has been my most challenging project so far,” said Kang in an interview with PAV on the movie and the upcoming premiere. A lot of people will relate to the experiences as there originate from a real life story, says Kang, who assembled an international cast for the movie. The World Premiere of your latest movie REJECTED is set for October 24, what is this latest movie about? “REJECTED” is the story of KUM – an undocumented immigrant who is diagnosed with cancer in the most powerful nation on earth (USA). Undocumented with no social security and health insurance, he is rejected by the system and left to die. His struggle for survival takes him into a soul searching process which stirs up extraordinary capabilities in him that he never imagined. “REJECTED” is a movie that will serve as a voice for the voiceless. A voice for a lot of immigrants in this country who are going through similar situations. What message does REJECTED send and is it just another work of fiction or it ties it with daily realities people live today? 11930814_1481447215514171_6827624726183152583_o“REJECTED” is a story that a lot of people will relate to. It is a real life story but I added a little bit of fiction to it, to create some suspense and adapt it to the screen. A lot has been said and written about medical insurance in the USA but there is also the need to look at it from the angle of undocumented immigrants. What happens when you are undocumented and you get diagnosed with a deadly diseases? These people have no jobs or are probably doing underground jobs to survive. They barely struggle to provide for themselves or their families and most of them have no medical insurance or social security. When they are diagnosed with a deadly disease like cancer, what happens? This and many more would be answered in REJECTED. Can you introduce the cast of the Rejected for us? The main cast of REJECTED are: John Dumelo, Kang Quintus, Sahndra Fon Dufe, Donald Imm and Fatima M Cisse. So the cast is international, people from different nationalities and racial backgrounds, how important is this in helping movies like Rejected break into new markets? We wanted this movie to have a multinational cast because it is a story that everyone would relate to, be it; White, Black, Hispanic, Asian etc. REJECTED is an International movie with a diversified cast. Hopefully this will act as a springboard to help us break into new markets. How long did it take to complete the movie and what were some of the challenges that you faced? I must confess that this is my most challenging project so far. It took us about 4 months to complete the filming of “REJECTED”. When we picked up the script, we had a very huge vision for the movie but our resources were limited. We wanted “REJECTED” to match up with many International films or Hollywood films but our financial resources were limited.  It is all thanks to God and to a strong and dedicated team that we were able to complete the filming of “REJECTED”. The trailer we see looks exciting and there is no much difference between the trailer of REJECTED and Hollywood trailers. What strategy will you use in terms of promotion and marketing after the premiere? We have a very strong marketing plan for the film after the first official screening on Oct 24. Hopefully and by the grace of God “REJECTED” will be on Netflix and other distribution channels. On the world Premiere itself, any information on the venue, formalities and side attractions that fans would be treated to? We are inviting everyone in the USA or CANADA to come have fun with us during the screening of “REJECTED” on October 24, 2015 at the AMC Magic Johnson Theatre in Largo, 800 Shoppers Way, Largo MD 20770. Red carpet will run from 6PM to 7:50PM and the viewing of the film will begin at 8PM. What next for Kang Quintus after Rejected? Any other projects for the rest of the year? We are just getting started. We have a lot in store for our fans and for the world. You will be the first to receive the press releases for our future projects as soon as they become available. Thanks you much for granting this interview Sir. No, thank you for giving me the opportunity. I am very humbled. Keep up the good work PAV and God bless the entire PAV team *Tickets for the premiere of Rejected are available online]]>

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Kenya: Lupita Nyong'o on Raising Children, Embracing Fashion and Being Kenyan
September 19, 2015 | 0 Comments

rtx17b4rThe ’12 Years a Slave’ actress – who has been single since splitting from rapper K’naan last year – has fond memories of her childhood in Kenya, but also loves her life in New York . The Oscar winning actress graces the Vogue cover for a second time for the October issue and talks to Vogue writer, Plum Sykes, about her recent trip to Kenya, family and fashion. Asked whether she’d prefer to raise her family in America or Africa, she said: “This is my conundrum. When I was back in Kenya this past week, I would be driving along with my mother and she would say, ‘That’s a nice school for children’ and look at me like…” However, the 32-year-old star won’t worry about making that decision until she finds the person she wants to have children with. She added in an interview with America’s Vogue magazine: “But I think that will all be determined when I have that moment. When I have that man.” For the time being, Lupita is content with her low-key life in Brooklyn. She said: “I live alone there. I lie quite low. I take the subway. I do yoga. I meditate.” However, she will always feel “a child of Kenya”. She added: “I definitely feel there’s a lot of America in me. “The idea that you can be self-made is very vibrant in America. You can do anything that you want to do. That spirit pushes you on. But it took me leaving Kenya to really appreciate the glory of the place. Ultimately, I will always be a child of Kenya.” *All Africa/Capital FM]]>

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From Claudio Oben Comes “The Portrait”
August 22, 2015 | 0 Comments

Claudio Oben Claudio Oben[/caption] Fans may know him more as a talented actor and Claudio Oben’s  stock may soar even higher when his talents as producer go public with the world premiere of “The Portrait,” on September 5th in Largo, Md. Ahead of the premiere, the multi-talented , hardworking actor, and producer found time to answer a few questions from PAV on his latest film ,and perspectives on the African movie industry. Your latest movie “The Portrait” is set for its world premiere in the days ahead, can you tell us about this latest production “THE PORTRAIT” is a story about learning to love, appreciating our partners and the little things they do for us. What message did you seek to send to your audience with The Portrait?  The message I wanted to pass across with this film was for us to remember that we don’t know what tomorrow holds so, lets hold on tight to those we love, other than live with regret. Can you walk us through the cast of the film? Yes we have a very concentrated cast with the lead actress being Berlinda Nahbila who played Lucy, Kyle Burgess who played Jason Anthony, Debbie Hartner who played Jessie Anthony, and finally Winstina Taylor who played Dr. Taylor. 11750648_10207029929725046_1345309253277514036_nWhat were some of the challenges that you face in the production of The Portrait?  The main challenges producing “THE PORTRAIT” was mainly funding because being an independent filmmaker gets challenging getting locations, paying the actors and the entire management of the film. Claudio Oben is better known as an actor, how did you transition into production?  It was a fun transition for me because I have always been fascinated about how the craft of filmmaking goes. So that alone fuelled my obsession to get into production.   What is your overall take on movies produced by Africans, the talent is there, the market is there but people feel there is something still missing, you are a professional in the setting, what is still missing?  In a few words, what is missing in the industry this far is support and financing.  Support in the sense that we can do all the films but if we don’t the basic support from the community, them the question is why are we making these films. And for the financial aspect, making these films are becoming more expensive so the financial support from sponsors and potential executive producers so we can make these films the way the public wants to see them.   As you become more established in the movies what lessons have you learned and what advice do you have for aspiring actors and actresses seeking to make a break through? Make every scene you are offered or you have to play your first and your last because you never know who is watching or who will catch interest in you craft. And never ever let anyone tell you, you can’t do it. Any additional information on the world premiere, where to get tickets and any other side events that would accompany the event? 10972_10202538264688934_6067543207882278629_n The event will be filled of fun I guarantee you. We will have various performances to say the least, from super talented artist in the DMV area. For the rest you will have to come attend to see for yourself. What next for Claudio Oben after The Portrait?  Two things: “CAPTIVE” the series and “WHO KILLED MARY JANE?” Good luck Sir and thanks for the interview It was great talking with you and hope to see you at the premiere.   The link to purchase the tickets is below:]]>

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Uganda’s Tarantino and his $200 action movies
May 15, 2015 | 0 Comments

_82975056_rolling624A Ugandan film company that makes low-budget action movies in the slums has found a cult following online – one US fan liked their films so much, he abandoned New York to become an action movie star in Kampala.

It was December 2011 and things were not going well for Alan Hofmanis. “My girl dumped me the day I bought the wedding ring,” he says. So a friend took him out to a Manhattan bar and, to cheer him up, showed him a video clip on his phone. It was the trailer for Who Killed Captain Alex? billed as Uganda’s first action movie. The minute-long video showed bloody gun battles, speeded-up kung fu fights and computer-generated helicopters bombing Kampala. If you looked closely, you could see that the machine guns – replicas of Rambo’s M60 – had been welded from scrap metal, and the bullets carved from wood. Much of the action took place in mud. A high-pitched voiceover announced this was the work of Ramon Productions, and gave a phone number. The clip had an electrifying effect on Hofmanis. “Around 40 seconds into it, I decided: I’m coming to Uganda,” he says. “I realised what I’m looking at makes no sense – but it’s complete genius.” As programme director for the Lake Placid Film Festival, Hofmanis was used to spotting emerging talent, but he says what he saw here was “off the charts” in its ambition. “In the West, when you have no money, you shoot two people having a conversation… You don’t make a war film.” Two weeks later he travelled to Uganda. He didn’t bother to call ahead, his mind was made up. On his first day in Kampala he was at a busy market, when, far in the distance, he spotted a man wearing a T-shirt that said Ramon Film Productions. He immediately gave chase. “I just start running, and I’m chasing him… so he starts running, but we eventually catch up, and we calm down, and I say: ‘Look, I’m just a fan from New York City – can you take me to the film-maker?'” The answer was, “Yes,” so Hofmanis jumped on the back of a motorcycle and 30 minutes later arrived in Wakaliga, a slum on the outskirts of Kampala. “There are goats everywhere, there are chickens everywhere… That’s raw sewage that’s going right in front of the house – and that actually plays a major role in the films, because it’s life here – it’s dust, it’s heat, it’s children, it’s animals… and it’s pure joy,” he says. Isaac Nabwana, the film director and brains behind Ramon Productions, was not fazed by the unexpected arrival. “I asked him, why didn’t he call me? He said: ‘I am a friend, I had to reach you.’ That’s when I realised that he’s a true friend,” he says. Nabwana offered his visitor some tea, and they spoke for five hours. “I thought I was going to meet someone like myself – a little crazy with a camera and some friends – and very quickly I realised this is the real deal,” says Hofmanis. He had arrived in “Wakaliwood“, where over the past decade, self-taught film maker Nabwana has shot more than 40 low-budget action films. He is not sure how much each one costs to make, but guesses it might be around $200 (£130). “It is passion that really makes a movie here,” Nabwana says. The volunteer cast and crew source props wherever they can. The green screen is a piece of cloth bought at the market, draped over a wall. The camera crane is made from spare tractor parts – Dauda Bissaso, one of the regular actors, is a mechanic and builds all the heavy gear and weapons. “He’s just a genius with a blowtorch, he makes everything,” says Hofmanis. Another key member of the team is Bruce U, a Bruce Lee fan who choreographs the fight scenes and runs a kung fu school for the children of Wakaliga. [caption id="attachment_18155" align="alignright" width="624"]The replica of Rambo's machine gun, welded from scrap metal The replica of Rambo’s machine gun, welded from scrap metal[/caption] To recreate gunshot injuries, they use free condoms from the local health clinic, filled with fake blood – they burst quite realistically. They used to be filled with real animal blood, but when one of the actors got sick with brucellosis, a disease passed on from cows, they switched to food colouring. Fake blood is needed in vast quantities because the films are violent – but in a cartoonish way, and quite unlike the real violence Nabwana witnessed growing up during Uganda’s 1981-86 civil war. “I don’t put that in my movies, what I saw in the past,” he says. “I include comedy – there was no comedy in the violence which I witnessed.” His cinematic hero is Chuck Norris, although he also likes Rambo and The Expendables. Hofmanis, on the other hand, compares him to directors like Guillermo del Toro, Robert Rodriguez and Martin Scorsese – “in terms of creativity and what they’re contributing to cinema”. Nabwana’s love for films began long before he was allowed to watch any – his older brother Kizito would return from the local cinema hall and describe what he’d seen in vivid detail. “I remember the gestures he used… there was a guy who used to crush people, so I liked that,” says Nabwana. “Even now I see them in my head.” At senior school, Nabwana decided he would make his own action movies one day. “I had that art in me, I wanted to make a movie – I had to fulfil that dream,” he says. But there was not enough money for him to even finish school. “So I started making bricks and digging sand to sell to people around here,” he says. Finally, in 2006, at the age of 32, Nabwana had saved up enough to pay for the first month of a six-month course in computer maintenance. “That was enough to know how to assemble a computer,” he says. He then taught himself how to use editing packages such as Premiere Pro and After Effects, and borrowed a camera from a neighbour. “And with that I started… I did not know how to write a script. But then I thought of these drama actors, how do they do it? And I started figuring it out.” Tebaatusasula was one of his earliest successes – the name translates loosely as “They never paid us.” It mixes comedy, action and witchcraft – one character bewitches a man who has stolen his wife. “In Tebaatusasula things jumped out of the house… chairs, the TVs and everything, and people loved that very much,” says Nabwana. But his biggest challenge was yet to come. Unable to find a distributor, Nabwana came up with an ingenious solution: the actors and crew work for nothing, but get to keep half the profits from any DVDs they sell. “We do man-to-man, door-to-door all over the country to sell them,” he says. The films can sell for up to 3,000 shillings – about $1 – but the team only has a window of about a week before they are pirated. They sometimes wear full costume to maximise sales. It was on such a sales trip that they had bumped into Hofmanis. As soon as they met, Nabwana agreed to write a role for Hofmanis, who felt like he was 10 years old again. “When I was a child, I would go through my father’s closet, find two belts of his, tie them together, and now I’m Indiana Jones. And the trees are Nazis. That’s what this is,” he says. So, two days after arriving in Uganda, he found himself filming a fight scene. It didn’t quite go to plan. “I grab someone in the scene and we fall into the raw sewage and we start fighting there.” He says everyone was amazed to see an American rolling around in sewage. “That in some ways was my baptism here. Only people who are from the slums behave this way – because they grow up with sewage it doesn’t mean much to them.” They honoured him with a Ugandan name: Ssali. Sewage plays a part in all of Nabwana’s movies. He purposely includes such details because he wants to reflect his surroundings – his films are from the slums, by the slum. It’s part of their appeal. “What I’ve found out… is that people want to see what they live in. They want their life to be put on DVD. They like it very much,” he says. But he admits that this puts off distributors, whom he has accused of “trying to copy exactly what is done in the West and exactly what is done in Bollywood and Hollywood”. “I’m going to show the world the kind of life we enjoy or we grew up in,” Nabwana said in an interview for the 2012 documentary Wakaliwood. “It’s called a ghetto life but you know it’s good… and it’s hostile.” [caption id="attachment_18156" align="alignleft" width="624"]Isaac Nabwana and his biggest fan, Alan "Ssali" Hofmanis Isaac Nabwana and his biggest fan, Alan “Ssali” Hofmanis[/caption] After that first trip in December 2011, Hofmanis visited six more times. Then in March 2014, the 45-year-old sold his possessions and moved to Wakaliga. “Back in New York I got rid of everything. I had put my stuff in storage but I couldn’t even afford the $22 (£14) per month it cost,” he says. “I’m all in.” “He’s now part of my family,” says Nabwana, 42, who lives with his wife Harriet and three children. Hofmanis moved in next door. They have big plans for the studio. A Kickstarter fundraising project launched in March exceeded all expectations. “All we asked for was $160 (£105) to make a movie, but we got $13,000 (£8,500),” says Hofmanis. They immediately went on a shopping spree, buying toy cars and trucks to blow up – the trick is to match them to what Bissaso can find in the local scrap yards, so they can be used for stunts. The team spend a lot of time discussing weapons. Nabwana now plans to build a full-scale helicopter from scrap. He has a fondness for choppers, and remembers being chased by one during the civil war when he was about 12 years old. His brother’s cinematic knowledge kicked in and they tried to outrun it – the helicopter followed. He chuckles at the memory. Wakaliwood currently has six films in production, including Bad Black, a kind of reverse Karate Kid, starring the children of Wakaliga. And they are inviting fans from around the world to submit scenes for “the world’s first crowd-sourced action film” – called Tebaatusasula: EBOLA. Hofmanis describes life in Wakaliwood as a “lazy country afternoon punctuated by the unpredictable”. As one of the few white men around, he’s in demand as an actor. He has played Jesus in a chart-topping music video. For another role he had to crawl into a fresh goat’s carcass “so when the cannibals plunge a knife into my chest they’re pulling out the goat’s intestines and not my own.” But on his personal blog – Mud, Blood & Wooden Guns – he hints at darker moments. He has lost 55 lbs (25kg) in weight since he arrived 15 months ago. In October last year he compared his situation to the 70s cult thriller, Sorcerer: “I wound up in a third world country with no way to get home… It does not end well.” He has swapped a comfortable Western existence for life in a slum – without running water or plumbing, no sewage system and with barely any electricity. “People can be confused that they see us with internet – a 3G modem that I brought here – and making movies, so the default is it cannot be a slum,” says Hofmanis. “But that’s the whole point. Wakaliwood should not be able to do what it does. But it’s happening. “The story is still being written. This is just the beginning, or the Beginning of the Beginning, as Isaac says.” [caption id="attachment_18157" align="alignright" width="624"]Selling DVDs in full costume can improve sales Selling DVDs in full costume can improve sales[/caption] But in the end, it may be Hofmanis’ story that attracts Hollywood’s attention. Watching a movie can be a raucous affair – films are translated into local languages such as Luganda by VJs, or video jokers, who add their own jokes and improvised commentary, live. “When you are translating the movie you have to feel like you are in the movie,” says VJ Emmie, whose video hall can attract an audience of up to 200 for a live show. “We normally do not change the meaning of the film, but we spice it up.” Emmie wanted to be a VJ from the age of six, because he realised it would make him popular. “I went to the cinema hall and watched this guy translating a movie and the first benches around him – it was women. When I went back home I told my mother, ‘I want to be a VJ’ – mother wanted me to be a tailor.” Wakaliwood has now re-released Who Killed Captain Alex? with commentary by VJ Emmie. *Source BBC]]>

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Nairobi’s Matatu Culture Makes it To Hollywood in Upcoming Netflix Series
May 15, 2015 | 0 Comments

nawakucarter-710x434From Tomb Raider being shot on Kenyan soil to Lupita Winning an Oscar to the ever constant Edi Gathegi, Kenyan talent and abilities can be ranked up their with the best if the potential is factored in. it so happens that Kenyan talent is only recognized after one makes it big anywhere else but not here In an upcoming series, Sense8, that will air on Netflix, a number of Kenyan talents have been. Not only that but actual shooting was also done locally, at least some of it. The definitive matatu culture is featured briefly in the trailer albeit in an understated manner. The synopsis:

Sense8 will tell the story of eight strangers from different cultures and parts of the world, who, in the aftermath of a tragic death, suddenly find themselves mentally and emotionally connected – an evolutionary leap of technological origin. While trying to figure why this happened and what it means for the future of mankind, a mysterious and powerful man named Jonas will try to bring the eight together, while another stranger called Mr. Whispers and his organization will attempt to hunt them down to capture or assassinate them. Each episode will focus on one character and their story.
The series will be available on Netflix by Jun 5th and of the Kenyan faces on it are, Biko Nyongesa, Chichi Seii who’ll reportedly play Capheus’ mother, Lwanda Jawar as Githu, the leader of Superpower, a vigilante gang, Paul Ogola as Jela, Peter King Mwania as a crime lord named Silas Kabaka.   *Source]]>

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An African version of Spartacus ballet to hit the stage
April 30, 2015 | 0 Comments

By CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA* JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Spartacus is getting an African makeover. [caption id="attachment_17826" align="alignleft" width="300"]South African choreographer Veronica Paeper, right, watches dancers rehearse for the show "A Spartacus in Africa" in Cape Town, South Africa, Thursday, April 2, 2015. A new South African production of the ballet, "A Spartacus in Africa," will incorporate African dance styles with classical and contemporary dance for a story that its producers say resonates on a continent with its own history of oppression. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam) South African choreographer Veronica Paeper, right, watches dancers rehearse for the show “A Spartacus in Africa” in Cape Town, South Africa, Thursday, April 2, 2015. A new South African production of the ballet, “A Spartacus in Africa,” will incorporate African dance styles with classical and contemporary dance for a story that its producers say resonates on a continent with its own history of oppression. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)[/caption]

In the 1960 movie “Spartacus,” Kirk Douglas played the gladiator who led a slave revolt against the Romans. A ballet version with music by composer Aram Khachaturian was first staged in the 1950s and has also been a crowd favorite over the decades.

A new South African production of that ballet, titled “A Spartacus in Africa,” will feature Khachaturian’s music and will incorporate African dance styles with classical and contemporary dance for a story that its producers say resonates on a continent with its own history of oppression.

“It’s almost totally new,” said South African choreographer Veronica Paeper, who first worked on a Spartacus ballet in 1984, when the white minority ruled South Africa.

The sets and costumes of that earlier version followed the ancient Roman theme, while the production starting in June is inspired by West African dance, East African designs and other aspects capturing the continent’s diversity in a “mythical” setting, Paeper said.

“I’m not setting it in any specific area or any specific genre of Africa,” she said.

The story features conflict between African tribes, according to its producers.

Ballet scenes include a triumphant march and a big battle. During a Cape Town rehearsal, couples moved languidly during an “orgy” scene, and male performers soared and stomped through a war dance.

Brooklyn Mack, an American with The Washington Ballet, will play Spartacus in the cast of about 120.

“I love the story, and his tenacity and perseverance and bravery, and it’s just extremely powerful,” said Mack of Elgin, South Carolina.

Mack will alternate in the role with South African dancers Andile Ndlovu and Casey Swales. Marcus Licinius Crassus, the rebel’s Roman foe, is among other ballet characters.

The ballet opens at the Joburg Theatre in Johannesburg on June 4 before moving to the Artscape Opera House in Cape Town. Each city will host 12 performances with an orchestra.

Paeper said “A Spartacus in Africa” would be something different.

“I’m going to tread on a lot of toes and I’m quite prepared for that,” she said.

*Source AP/Yahoo]]>

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