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Genevieve Nnaji: Africa’s Screen Idol!
September 21, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Obed Boafo*

Despite Nigeria’s towering, social and economic challenges such as crime and chronic corruption, it has so far done a good job of keeping the continent entertained, in what could have possibly been an African society without fun, and thrill.

“Nigerians know how to throw a good party,” is the usual line you get from some of its people when you attempt a debate on who among Africa’s 54-state, is a grand “party maker”. With time, this assertion has become an established self-belief most hold on to – quite proudly – even though a tiny minority doesn’t want to be tagged, or come across as profligate.

Entertainment, a minor but crucial source of economic livelihood for thousands of Africa’s citizens – is on a grand take off, gradually beating off competition from attractive “professional jobs”

Few years ago, ten out of twelve African graduates settled for “white collar” jobs but that has changed. With time, Africa’s young and creative heads are shifting away from what used to be the conventional order, and challenging themselves with initiatives that had little or no appreciation a decade ago.

In a quick yet steady growth to the top, Nigeria’s entertainment industry has grown into a modern day screamer. The successes chalked over the years are as assuring as the quantum of revenue raked in by its subjects yearly.

Filmmaking, one of the country’s strategic units of economic growth continue to take an upward fine-tuning – putting food on the table of millions of households.

Not only has Nigeria’s entertainment industry fed its own people; across Africa, their homemade movies, is a major source of employment to hundreds of entrepreneurs.

Thanks to an early positioning, it has grown to become a force that cannot be done away with. Today, the Nigerian film industry, widely known as “Nollywood”, is the second largest in the world by volume.

Genevieve Nnaji, one of the early day saints who got this whole craze off to a start, is about the industry’s most respected and appreciated female act. Across Africa and even in more rooted and hard-to-break-through territories like the United States of America and Europe, the level of appreciation that greets her, is refreshingly awesome.
Nnaji, who at an early stage in her acting career defined what would later go on to be accepted as polished drama, took the industry by storm about two decades ago, when nobody really paid attention.

Gradually taking up roles in low and virtually non-existent budget movies, it was just a matter of time that she would explode into the big material that she is made of today. Role after the other, she proved her worth and managed to catch the eye of some notable producers who gave her subsequent roles in Unbreakable, Dangerous Sister, Not Man Enough, and Church Business among other titles.

Still a local idol after few scripts, it was the 2002 movie “Sharon Stone”, which got her a wider appeal – making her an instant hit in countries like Ghana, Cameroon, Liberia, and Kenya among other African countries.

And the widespread recognition came at a time when Nollywood had made a successful crossover into unfamiliar territories and was getting a lot of positive reviews.

Soon, she blew up. She’s been splendid thus far.
Nnaji, 33, (May 3, 1979), who was brought up in a middle-class environment in Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria, earned her first screen appearance in the television series “Ripples” as a teen actress.
A few television commercials also followed. She made her debut mainstream screen appearance at the age of 19 in the movie “Most Wanted”.

Her subsequent movies included “Last Party”, “Mark of the Beast”, and “Ijele”, which till date, remains one of her all-time classics
.
A multiple award winner at home and abroad, Nnaji is one of Nigeria’s most decorated celebrities in terms of brand endorsements, defending and projecting everything from cars, and toiletries. In June this year, she became a Range Rover Evoque Ambassador.

In 2009, she became the first Nigerian actress to be profiled on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

This, together with other achievements, has translated into exciting deals for her, as she continues to act in very challenging and well-packaged movies that has shot her stock up.

Tango with Me, (believed to have been shot on a 326,000-pound budget), is the latest of high quality movies she’s recently starred in.

Directed by Mahmood Ali-Balogun , industry stakeholders expect that the melodrama would achieve commercial success and would go beyond just the usual and conventional VCD and DVD-driven distribution channel, and opt for an aggressive roll out plan that would encourage appearance at film festivals, cinema releases and viewing openings that has the potential of bringing in watchers who aren’t necessarily Nigerians or Africans

Nnaji, a mother of one, also acted and excelled in The Mirror Boy; a film that tells the “uplifting story of a young teenage African British boy who is taken back to the land of his mother’s birth, but then gets mysteriously lost in a foreboding forest; and embarks on a magical journey that teaches him about himself and the mystery of the father he has never seen”.

Shot in The Gambia and England, the well-packaged fantasy adventure drama, written and directed by Obi Emelonye, received three nominations at last year’s African Movie Academy Awards.

It is fair to credit Nnaji for taking Nollywood to greater heights but part of that praise should also go to the industry for creating the platform for young and talented people, to nurture their talents.

But does the Nigerian film industry hold a lot of promise such that the likes of Nnaji can continue to have a cushion they can always lean on for growth and skills enhancement?

Phil Hoad of the Guardian thinks there is hope for the future. In an August 21, 2012, blog he suggested that:
“There’s certainly plenty of other evidence to suggest that it is moving on to a more established, professional footing: more film-makers shooting on film, not video; an increasing degree of international crossovers, like Jeta Amata’s Hollywood star-laden Niger-delta thriller Black November, Holly-Nolly co-production Doctor Bello, and the forthcoming Nigerian-UK adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Half of a Yellow Sun; the slick looking streaming-video library iROKOtv – supported by US money – giving ready access to Nollywood’s bottomless bargain-bin of titles”.

*Culled from http://african.howzit.msn.com

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Djimon Hounsou: Grounded, Firm And Deep!
August 19, 2012 | 0 Comments

Djimon Hounsou is taking the film world by storm

By Obed Boafo*

For most African actors actively involved in the global filmmaking trade, there are factors that motivate and keep them going. The inspiration may not be too far from the need to do good movies, and to have as many titles as would come, to their credit.

It is a tough market out there, and for some, the rule for getting busy, is even harder.

Beninois actor and model Djimon ((pronounced Jie-Mon) Gaston Hounsou, known for his adroit acting skills, and who has featured in numerous movies in and outside Hollywood, is a perfect example of an idea, which didn’t only take time to blossom, but also worked.

Soul Food, Gladiator, Blood Diamonds and Amistad are but a few of an impressive collection of productions he’s played key roles in.

A hardworking personality who took the world by storm with his debut mainstream film “Amistad” (1997), Hounsou has worked for, and with some of the best hands in the industry including Russel Crowe, Anthony Hopkins and Steven Spielberg among others, and continues to make his mark in the world of filmmaking.

Hounsou’s rise to the top of what is today, a successful career, is simply awesome and inspiring.

The story is told of how he left Cotounou, the Capital of Benin, at the age of 13 to the French Capital, Paris, with his older brother – to pursue a dream that looked too distant to be realized. Even at that young age, he persevered, hoping for a breakthrough that would exhume him from the shackles of hardship, pain and struggle.

“The dream was to escape that surrounding,’ he told CNN in an interview this year.

It was at a later date in the young man’s life that French fashion designer Thierry Mugler discovered him, offering him an instant platform to rise and shine.

Days after being spotted by Mugler, he saw himself working with and for industry giants like Herb Ritts and David Fincher, who is said to have given him roles in music videos. The relationship he had with some of the well known names in the industry in France, took him to the United States in 1990, where he also made his mark.

Subsequent cameo appearances and smaller roles in low, and sometimes “okay budget” films, led to his mainstream breakthrough in 1997 when he featured in Spielberg’s drama Amistad. In Amistad, Hounsou played Cinque, an African leader of a slave ship mutiny who leads an uprising to regain his freedom.

Amistad brought Hounsou some substantial fame as film earned him a Golden Globe nomination a year after its release. He also received a NAACP Image Award. For a young African in another land, this was too good to be true.

But Hounsou wouldn’t stop there as subsequent nominations including two Academy nominations, followed. Productions like Gladiator (2000) and Blood Diamond (2006) further exposed him to the outside world as that next big African actor to watch in Hollywood.

But before his 1997 appearance in Amistad, Hounsou had done Sandra Bernhard’s 1990 film Without You I’m Nothing.

He’s also starred in productions like Beverly Hills, ER, Alias and also in the science fiction film Stargate as well as, The Tempest, The Island, Constantine, Beauty Shop, Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, The Four Feathers, and The Black Panther, a BET animated series based on the Marvel comic.

A successful model before taking up acting, he became the new Calvin Klein underwear model in February, 2007, and also became a naturalized American citizen in 2007. He is however still a citizen of Benin.

In his early ages of acting, Hounsou like most African actors was constantly faced with fear of rejection by an industry that was all perfect, prim and proper, and wasn’t ready to gamble on novices like him. But he gradually worked his way up to the top to a point where he even got recognition as a talented act from some of the industry’s lading names.

 In finding a suitable character to play KRATOS in the God of War movie, creator David Jaffe said:

“You’d have to get past the fact that Djimon is black, and Kratos isn’t, but in terms of the way he looks and his acting ability and his physique — I can’t think of a better choice”.

Hounsou, 48, and father of three, is most remembered for his great display of acting in the movie – “Blood Diamonds”, which was set in Sierra Leone in the 1990s, and which depicted a time of civil war and a period when more than 4% of all African diamonds were sold on the black market”.

In the movie, which won him his two Academy nominations, Hounsou played a fisherman who joins forces with Danny Archer (LeoNardo Di Caprio), to “recover a rare pink diamond”.

It was directed by Edward Zwick and written by Charles Levitt. He took on a role that brought awareness to the world. He was quoted to have said that he felt “Black Diamonds” is the most powerful human story coming from Africa.

For someone who once scavenged for food through garbage and sleeping in the streets of Paris, it wasn’t hard to identify with the story.

A great philanthropist who spends most of his time doing charity work, Hounsou is an Ambassador for Oxfam, and also supports the SOS Children International.

“These organizations have opened my eyes to serious problems facing people on this planet, and the environment itself,” he says.

“I have had the blessing and opportunity to travel to various parts of the world as a result of my modeling and acting career.

“I have seen incredible cultures and spent time with wonderful people; however I have also seen the seemingly never-ending industrialization of our planet. Cities like Moscow, Bangkok, and Hong Kong, not to mention my home city of Los Angeles, have more congestion and contribute greater amounts of pollution than most countries put out as a whole,” he said in a blog for the Huffington Post.

A strong advocate on the need for society to take the environment serious, he’s been involved in several projects that seek to raise awareness on Climate Change. In 2009, Hounsou had the privilege and honor to open the ceremony of the Summit on Climate Change in New York.

“I read a moving passage, written by astronomer and author, Carl Sagan, about our delicate. In addition to the Summit, the Clinton Global Initiative was also hosting its annual event during the same week, which I was fortunate enough to attend as well. Following these two events I was inspired and motivated, and had high hopes as many of the world’s leaders were preparing to gather in Copenhagen in the fall to address the very issues that we were speaking about”.

Hounsou is married to Model Kimora Lee Simmons, a relationship that was recently rocked with rumours of a split.

One of the reasons I love Kimora is her eagerness to adopt my life’s work and passion for uplifting Africa”.

Two years ago, the couple was on a humanitarian trip to South Africa during the World Cup in 2010, where they were invited to meet Desmond Tutu, and also to leave their handprints on a mural for the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

“During our week in Cape Town, we participated in Puma’s African Unity campaign and also toured SOS Children’s Village visiting kids…”

“It was a moving trip to say the least”.

Hounsou’s trip to the top of a fledging career that continues to shine has also been inspiring to say the least.

*Source african.howzit.msn.com

 

 

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Koffi Olomide: Congo singer guilty of assault
August 19, 2012 | 0 Comments

Koffi Olomide, one of Africa’s most popular singers, has been given a three-month suspended prison sentence for assaulting his producer.

The rumba star, 56, was arrested after a fracas on Wednesday at a hotel in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Correspondents say the courtroom was packed to see the star, who leads the Quartier Latin band.

Olomide this year denied charges of raping three of his dancers in France.

The altercation with his producer, Diego Lubaki, was over a debt of 3,000 euros ($3,680, £2,345), the court heard.

‘Door damaged’

Mr Lubaki said he wanted to drop the charges, but the judge continued the trial.

“He wanted to withdraw charges in favour of social peace and peace between him and the one he calls his ‘big brother’,” one of his lawyers is quoted by the AFP news agency as saying.

The court convicted Olomide of assault and battery but acquitted him of malicious destruction to property, after the hotel room door was damaged in the fight.

The music he plays is known as “soukous”, which comes from the French word secouer, meaning to shake, and its dancers are renowned for their erotic moves.

Like other Congolese musicians, he is known for his extravagant lifestyle and flashy outfits.

Born in 1956, he won a scholarship to do a maths degree in France. On his return to the then-Zaire, he joined the band of musician Papa Wemba, initially as a songwriter.

He later struck out on his own and in the 1980s his soukous style gained popularity around Africa and he has won several Kora All Africa Music Awards.

However, his career has not been without controversy and the raunchy performances of some of his songs have been banned in some countries.

He sang in support of DR Congo’s President Joseph Kabila during the 2006 election campaign, angering many of his fans in the opposition.

Olomide has battled to hold successful tours in Europe since then, as opposition supporters disrupt his concerts, the BBC’s Patrice Chitera in Kinshasa says.

*Source BBC

 

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Producers thinking outside of the box with British-Nigerian family sitcom
July 28, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Jaco Maritz*

Two young entrepreneurial TV producers are following an unconventional route in pursuit of their dream to produce a successful sitcom.

Cast-members-from-Meet-the-Adebanjos

Cast-members-from-Meet-the-Adebanjos

Meet the Adebanjo’s is a series about the lives of a fictional British-Nigerian family living in the UK. According to the producers, the show “highlights the multi-generational and multi-cultural family dynamics that take place when traditional African parents raise British-born children. These families exist all over the UK, yet remain unrepresented on mainstream television”.

The show has been created by two 26-year-olds – Andrew Osayemi, a former trader, and Debra Odutuyo, an experienced TV producer. They operate as the South London-based MTA Productions.

After years of unsuccessfully pitching the concept to mainstream broadcasters in the UK, Osayemi and Odutuyo decided to raise their own funding and engage the world of the internet and social media.

Osayemi, who for five years worked as a currency trader in London and New York, managed to convince his friends in the financial sector to bankroll the first season. “After countless rejections, I resolved not to give up on my dream by spending the last two years doing everything I possibly could to raise money to film eight episodes. I eventually raised enough money from private investors to produce a broadcast-quality show,” he says.

So without mainstream backing, how will the show make money? “We have a two-fold strategy to generate revenue,” Osayemi tells How we made it in Africa. “We are hoping for the Meet the Adebanjo’s to transcend to the viewers in Africa. A comedy sitcom highlighting Africans living in the diaspora is unique and we are talking to many TV stations across the continent. In the UK and US our model is slightly different. We are currently showing two promotional episodes online and will then later in the year release the full DVD box set.” He says that merchandising and producing a theatre version could provide additional revenue opportunities.

The first episode was launched on the internet at the end of June. With over 9,000 Facebook fans and thousands of YouTube views, Meet the Adebanjo’s certainly seems to be gaining a following.

Osayemi explains that their target audience is “anyone who is a fan of African culture. Obviously Africans home or aboard will be able to relate to a lot of the situations, but it is written in a way which can appeal to a worldwide audience. We want to create a long running sitcom, which will entertain across Africa and also throughout the world.”

It is estimated that the UK has well over 100,000 Nigerian-born residents. A large number of this group lives in the South London neighbourhood of Peckham, sometimes called “Little Lagos” and also where the Adebanjo’s live.

But with Nigeria’s booming economy, are Nigerians living in the UK considering returning? “We respect the entrepreneurial drive that we see in Nigeria,” says Osayemi. “In the UK there are many barriers, but in Nigeria the sky is the limit. Many Nigerians in the UK wish there were the same opportunities for business here as there are in Nigeria and many are planning to move back to Nigeria as they can see the economy is really moving ahead and they want to be part of the growth. The older generation is longing to return home and many are building retirement homes in Nigeria,” he adds.

www.meettheadebanjos.com

*Source :www.howwemadeitinafrica.com

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Between D’banj and Don Jazzy: Who is winning?
July 27, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Adeshina Oyetayo*

. D’banj/Don Jazzy: On your marks, get set……go!

Gradually, the aftershock of former collaborators, D’banj and Don Jazzy’s bitter and unexpected split is wearing off. The acrimony has thawed or so. Fans have taken sides.

D’Banj-and-Don-Jazzy

D’Banj-and-Don-Jazzy

And their protégées like Wande Coal, Dr. Sid, D’Prince, Special Ed, Ikechukwu and Kay Switch have also pitched their tents where they believe the pasture is greener. Agreed, it is still early in the day to start taking an inventory of what they have done or conjecture how their careers would pan out eventually. But, in the last three months since their separation, both have been on a stealthy but concerted competition to outdo each other, especially as opinions are divided on who would attain more success quicker, and without the other’s usual backing. The consensus has been that D’banj, who has never laid any claim to being a talented singer, is a beneficiary of his estranged partner’s production wizardry and that his career would suffer without those beats. Another school of thought hypothesizes that despite all Don Jazzy’s genius, he still needs D’banj, more than any other artiste, to illuminate his works. Either way, there has been a separation, and the competition is now on a steamroller. E-Punch examines how far they have come in their post Mo’Hits odyssey, surmising that none of the parties, for now, is having a whale of a time.

Don Jazzy

The acclaimed producer was the first to hit the ground running, literally. Immediately after Mo’Hits was pronounced dead, Don Jazzy unveiled his new record label, Mavin Records, with a formidable line up of artistes including Dr Sid, Wande Coal, D’Prince and surprisingly, Tiwa Savage. Subsequently, he released the Mavin Records’ collaborative album, Solar Plexus.

If he thought the album would typically send music fans dancing a storm, Don Jazzy must be rethinking its timing, which has been panned and pilloried by critics as a hurriedly put together job. Not even Wande Coal and Tiwa Savage’s combined talents could rejuvenate the album’s stillbirth.

In view of the lukewarm reception Solar Plexus received, the producer has been reaching out to fans by, on one occasion, doling out money on twitter and visiting media houses in a sustained publicity drive.

For a producer who has built a lot of myth and reverence around his persona by evading the media, his visits to media houses and clamour for interviews these days smack of desperation.

In the intervening period, he has implied that his deal with Kanye West’s GOOD Music might no longer work out because he can not give his 100 per cent to his contract.

“Kanye has over 100 per cent lined up at his beck and call and it is not like I am priority. So, I will be spending a lot of money staying in the United States when I can return home and be making money as well as grooming more artistes. And it’s very easy these days, I can work here and once I’m done, and feel it’s something that would suit Kanye West, I’ll just email it to them.”

Things might be a bit bumpy now, but without undermining Don Jazzy’s genius and mastery of street hop, there is no doubt that he will still have his time in the sun. Whether he would still be as revered and financially buoyant is what is now subject to conjectures. But, it is just a matter of time.

D’banj

ne of the causes of the duo’s split in D’banj’s reckoning was that his partner edged when there was an opening for them to break into the international market. Now that the encumbrance of the other guy has been cleared, the Kokomaster is solely committed to realising his dreams of going international alone. And he has rapper, Ikechukwu, who has subjugated his own career to help push D’banj’s, seemingly; bulky hype man, Special ED and his younger brother, Kay Switch, to open up the frontiers of his music. With a home in Atlanta and London, D’banj now shuttles between Nigeria and these cities as he hopes to achieve what no Nigerian-bred artiste has – fostering a flourishing international career.

He has been lucky. His single, Oliver twist, has been such a cross-continental hit that its acceptance must have humbled the successful entertainer. As an artiste on Kanye West’s Good Music label, he has also been quite visible in the international showbiz circuit and has covered a couple of international magazines.

However, history is not so much in D’banj’s favour as even more talented acts like Majek Fashek (well, he did himself in with drugs), Ras Kimono and Mike Okri, who all scampered abroad at the height of their fame, are back home now with no breakthrough abroad and a loss of homeground.

But the circumstances are indeed different because D’banj has a deep pocket and he is still very much loved at home. He has performed at several concerts and shows where Don Jazzy’s artistes didn’t have a look-in; and even where they did, they were subsumed under D’banj’s halo.

In order not to lose his fan base at home perhaps, and with Don Jazzy gone, he recently signed producer, Jay Sleek, who has worked with Tuface Idibia, Sound Sultan, Wizkid and Timaya among other artistes, to his DB Records as in-house producer.

In just over five years, Jay Sleek has gained considerable popularity for producing great music for these artistes and many more. “This has been a long time coming so, we are really happy to see Jay Sleek join the D’banj family. It’s exciting to be working with one of the best in the game. Jay Sleek is a fantastic producer, hardworking, humble and immensely creative. I’m so certain that he will carve a niche for himself here and inspire us to even greater music,” D’banj says in a statement during the week.

This has resulted in the release of the single, O yato (The difference is clear). Unlike his last single, Oliver Twist, O yato got mixed reviews. That the song trended worldwide on twitter on the day of release was a pointer to people’s views about it. Many fans urged him to return to Don Jazzy, lampooning what they perceived as the wateriness of the lyrics.

In the midst of the conflicting and critical reviews of O yato, D’banj sneaked in with a sterling feature on the remix of Naeto C’s Tony Montana. And that swayed arguments again in his favour once again. With Let’s Get the Party Started, a Tuface Idibia song, featuring him, MI, Wizkid and Tiwa Savage, the entertainer rose to the challenge. He is not leaving his flanks open for potshots. But the ultimate barometer to gauge his post-Don Jazzy era would be the release of his album which had been in the works before the split. If it tanked, woe betide his career; but if it became a chartbuster, it would be a pointer to the fact that he knows what he is doing after all.

As he trudges on, D’banj is especially trying to launch KaySwitch’s career. The latter released a single, Sister Caro featuring D’banj recently. It is not doing badly. It is indeed a good start for the Covenant University dropout who never had a single to his name during his years in Mo’Hits.

*Source : www.punchng.com

 

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Africa’s Action Man in the West
July 21, 2012 | 0 Comments

There is a great deal of respect attached to being a successful African actor in the bigger leagues of filmmaking across the world, be it in Hollywood, Bollywood or any other established territory or market.

Down here in the African continent, most people feel at ease when they see their fellow African play a lead or supporting role in a major movie produced in say, Hollywood.

It is a good feeling for most people across the continent not because they are not used to seeing their stars get to the top in that field but because, it usually takes a lot of man hours, image-massaging, skill and diligence to achieve platinum filmmaking status in the West especially in a jurisdiction like Hollywood, where a lot of factors including race sometimes determine whether you would even get a cameo role or not.

These established markets are the highest points most African actors would want to get to in their careers. At that stage, everything falls in place, recognition is earned, and revenue is increased.

Across these leagues, there are a good number of African-born actors who are leaving nothing to chance, and are constantly battling for supremacy amongst the awesome lot of movie professionals.

Names like Idris Elba, who is half Sierra Leonean, half Ghanaian, Djimon Hounsou, and Borris Kudjo have over the years become almost synonymous with quality to an extent where they are now lords of their crafts

Elba and Hounsou for instance command a large chunk of respect available for grabs at that level of filmmaking, and duly recognized as such. Then of course, there is always a great storyline to how it all started for them. In most situations, the story goes like …. ‘He was born in somewhere in Africa but later found his way…’ into the streets of say New York or London or Montreal…and it goes on and on to how awesome they are.

Ghanaian-born actor Peter Mensah belongs to that tall list of actors of African descent and heritage, who are making it big out there.

Over the years, and still counting, Mensah has built for himself a cult following of ardent and loyal fans that pay to watch his collection of productions, whenever they are released.

Major roles in productions like the box-office platinum-selling hit Avatar, Incredible Hulk, Hidalgo, Tears of the Sun, Perfect Son, The Long Island Incident, Cypher, Jason X, Harvard Man, Bless the Child, Star Trek: Enterprise, Tracker, Witchblade, Blue Murder, Relic Hunter, Earth: Final Conflict, Highlander: The Raven, La Femme Nikita, 300, and The Seed among others, have kept his career on a high.

Conviction, Trigger Man, Flynn, Enslavement: The True Story Of Fanny Kemble, Once A Thief, Blue Murder, A Nero Wolfe Mystery, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, True Blood, FIX: The Series, Twich City, City Of Shoulders, Exhibit: A Secrets Of Forensic Science, The Golden Spiders: A Nero Wolfe Mystery, Bruiser, and Nancy Drew are some other productions he’s played major roles in.

Mensah’s acting skills is only matched by few others in the world he belongs. He has kept this credibility running for years, without showing signs of losing it or going out of tune or shape.

Turning 53 in August this year, Mensah surely has got some more acting years in him, which the world should watch out for. An incredible master of his trade, with two decades of mainstream acting, Mensah has almost become a name most producers in Hollywood can’t do without.

Largely a shy-looking but funny individual with a great aura of personal warmth that is appreciated by his colleagues in the industry, Mensah has found a way of making his acting do the talking.

On average, most movie watchers are wowed by his sense of precision and calculation in acting. Mensah some have said, is one of the very few actors who relate to a viewer anytime he is onscreen – and this, he’s done over and over with cheeky ease.

In the award-winning movie Avatar for example, he played the Horse Clan Leader, a role that was met on arrival at the cinemas with positive reviews. It was business as usual for him, you may want to say but certainly Mensah knows how to bring out his A-Card when it matters.

 For years to come, the trained engineer will continue to shine and prove his worth script after script. Widely seen across the industry as one of the most engaging, thought-provoking actors of the current generation, Mensah’s stock particularly begun to rise through his casting in most series including the very famous Spartacus.

Acting in a good number of all the Spartacus Series, he recently took up a recurring role in the Season 5 of the series True Blood.
In Season 5 of True Blood, Mensah plays the role of Kibwe, the Authority’s chancellor and an all around handsome slab, and a vampire from Africa who promotes mainstreaming under ‘Roman’s’ tenure.
Although a lot of reviews are coming in pretty fast for Season 5 of True Blood, Mensah’s biggest exposure apart from what Avatar offered him, is Spartacus, a series that traces the story of a famous leader of the slaves in the Third Servile War, against the Roman Republic.

The series has been largely interpreted by ‘some as an example of oppressed people fighting for their freedom against a slave-owning oligarchy’.
So how did Mensah get the opportunity to star on a project like Spartcaus? He tells the story of how just a phone call from a friend who was working on the project and thought he was the perfect gentleman the producers wanted for a certain role, got him to jump onto it.
‘I was very fortunate,’ he says in a recent interview.

‘A couple of years ago, I got a call while I was traveling up north in Canada from a friend of mine who’s a writer on the show, saying that they’re doing this project and there’s a role that would be perfect for me if I’m interested. So the project found me, I guess, effectively. It was brilliant: they knew the body of work, and they were interested in having me do it…and the next thing you know, you’re in New Zealand’.

Although concerns have been raised about the morality and storyline of the Spartacus Series, with most critics saying it is unnecessarily heavy on sex and violence, Mensah finds a very nice way to bury the argument by saying ‘Yes, (Spartacus) definitely has a different morality, but we’re reflecting the morality of the times’.

The violence and the sex Mensah says, ‘Is an integral part of that life and is viewed morally very different. Of course, we’re making it for the modern audience, but we’ve got to stay true to the story’.

He continues to defend it by insisting that Spartacus has ‘Really broad strokes, definitely fed by vague history lessons from the past’.

He tells of his experience in working on the project: ‘I was actually blown away by the culture. For some reason, I didn’t even know that the Roman army was made of auxiliaries for the most part, which is why there’s such a wide range of individuals in the villages and the towns: they basically took people from all over the world and brought them in. So, yeah, I learned quite a bit on the job.

‘There is no show like it, you know? And that’s one of the things that really hit me when I read the script. It’s challenging because there’s nothing like it… and it’s very physical. At the same time, it’s fun because of the speed of the action, the speed of the work itself. And it’s even more fun now that we’ve done a little bit of it, and people are really positive about it. So it’s been good,’ he adds.

He tells of his experience in working on the project: ‘I was actually blown away by the culture. For some reason, I didn’t even know that the Roman army was made of auxiliaries for the most part, which is why there’s such a wide range of individuals in the villages and the towns: they basically took people from all over the world and brought them in. So, yeah, I learned quite a bit on the job.

‘There is no show like it, you know? And that’s one of the things that really hit me when I read the script. It’s challenging because there’s nothing like it… and it’s very physical. At the same time, it’s fun because of the speed of the action, the speed of the work itself. And it’s even more fun now that we’ve done a little bit of it, and people are really positive about it. So it’s been good,’ he adds.

*Source :african.howzit.msn.com

 

 

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P Square: Big Boys, Deals, Dreams!
July 21, 2012 | 0 Comments

July 21, 2012 by www.msn.com

Most African musicians find it easy maintaining their form after they land mainstream success, while others simply lose grit, and slowly but regrettably, sink into complete oblivion after working hard to get to the top.

The Twins

The Twins

In this part of the world, there is a wide, blurred gap between underground acts and those in the A-List category. The setting is such that unsigned acts struggle to even get their demos played on radio. Plus, there is an accompanying pain of staying irrelevant as a yet-to-be-signed act for a very long time.

Underground acts always watch from afar, almost with a show of life in the fast-lane and how-sweet-it-will-sound while still being irrelevant. Half of the time, they never get to experience real mainstream status and how well the big boys and girls live. It’s a tough environment out here.

The features of persevering and keeping hope alive as an underground act often include being stripped of everything you’ve put together over the years or being taken for granted by a not-so-qualified producer who doesn’t have the slightest clue what the business of music is all about.

So when, through an artist’s hard work and persistence, he is able to penetrate into mainstream appreciation, it is important that the hustle that led him to the Promised Land must be protected or at least revered. Some respect this creed, others don’t.

Nigerian music duo P Square is one of the continent’s finest pair of musicians, who are protecting the years of hard work that got them into the top core of the continent’s most respected acts.

Recently collaborating with Maybach Music boss Rick Ross and fellow African-American Akon on songs off their current album The Invasion to wild global reviews, there is certainly no stopping them, as they take the competition to their contemporaries.

The duo, made up of twin brothers Peter and Paul Okoye, is Nigeria’s biggest and most successful musical duo of the past decade, winning multiple awards and being nominated by a good number of award schemes domestically and internationally.

P Square’s consistency and sense of force over the years has endeared them to a very large following that is almost becoming cult-like. Across the continent, and in most parts of the world, they sell out shows, command a lot of local presence, and are able to sell thousands of records apart from the ready-made sales in Nigeria – a rare occurrence in the life of an African musician.

The Invasion, a solid album made up of beautifully-calculated and well-composed songs produced with a global audience in mind, has proven to be filled with well thought-out material.

Chop my Money, a fast, up-tempo song off the album, is already topping the charts in most parts of the continent. The song and P Square’s ratings were both refreshed by the collaboration of Senegalese-born American singer Akon on it, which led to a remix version.

The union with Akon was the result of the duo signing with his Konvict Muzik label in a deal that will see P Square and other Nigerian acts Wizkid and Tuface acting as representatives of Akon’s label in Africa. P Square thus joins other international acts like Brick and Lace, T-Pain, and Lady Gaga who are also part of the Konvict Muzik family.

And just when the collaboration with Akon became the talk of the town, a video of a remixed version of their ‘Beautiful Onyinye’ track – also from the current album – featuring hip hop heavyweight Rick Ross started making waves. Social media networks buzzed with intense blitz about how awesome the video was.

The idea to have Ross, who is considered a modern day hip hop class act, chant a few lines on a track that had its own beauty worked a lot of magic, and the video has remained one of the most watched online.

For most African acts, this is the farthest and highest you can go.

However, the duo still shows no signs of letting up. They are clearly interested in spreading their wings, and have also signed a strategic deal with Universal Music Group of South Africa in an agreement that will see the music company handle P Square’s digital and CD sales all over the world.

The deal reportedly “covers P-Square’s past albums and DVDs, including, Game Over, their 2007 album,” which sold millions of copies worldwide.

“It’s a great pleasure and excitement to announce that from today onwards P Square is signing to Universal music,” The New Age newspaper quotes executive director at Universal Music SA, Lindelani Mkhize as saying.

“This is a platform that will allow our fans to get our music as it is released, anywhere you are if P-Square says our album is coming out … you’ll be able to get it,” said Peter Okoye.

From very humble beginnings, P Square has gradually matured into the duo every investor interested in music as a commercial venture would want to work with.

Through a lot of hard work, the duo has almost become synonymous with success. Their 2009 album Danger, for instance, sold some one million copies in just eight days after official release. That was a huge figure.

P Square started off as dancers during their school days, where they formed a group that mainly mimicked the steps of other iconic dancers like Michael Jackson and MC Hammer.

The twin brothers later found music a worthy experiment, and got their breakthrough with the 2003 album Last Night. The album made P Square an instant household name in Nigeria, and in Africa. Other albums like Get Squared (2005), Game Over (2007), and Danger have followed.

A talented duo with very danceable songs to their credit – the type most of their fans have got used to – P Square’s line of music usually focuses on the more afro-centric kind that combines Western and African rhythms to create a fine tapestry of eclectic, soulful, yet hard-hitting drum patterns, chord progressions, and lyrics of sampled songs.

The end result usually is a carefully-created electronic hook or rhythm, with a feel that can only be awesome, cutting across various age, gender, and geographical boundaries, hence their huge popularity base across the world.

That they are popular across the continent is known to them, and something they are ready to hold on for a very long time to come.

“When you become one of the biggest acts (on) a continent, you get to have many challenges in keeping up with and not disappointing your fans, because all eyes are on you. We’re the greatest for some time now in Africa and we working very hard to keep it that way,” the group said in a recent interview.

The inspiration to do more in music they believe comes from the likes of the late Michael Jackson and R&B and hip hop superstar R. Kelly, who they say have shaped what they do now.

“Our biggest musical inspiration is the late Michael Jackson and R. Kelly. Jackson, because we started off imitating his moves and R. Kelly because he’s a great song writer, producer, and composer all in one, just like we are. And he knows how to follow music trends,” they told Apinke Magazine.

For years to come, P Square will surely be making good music, and will be selling platinum albums. After all, that has been their trump card.

Nigerians and Africans to a larger extent can be proud of this unique group, as they continue to raise the flag of the continent high.

And like always, if we don’t appreciate the dark side of a continent that already has too many unresolved issues, ‘stuff’ like what P Square is offering, can always cheer us up.

Rick Ross gives a good picture of what would become of P Square years from now: in a line in his verse on that Beautiful Onyinye song he said “turn up the music, we are bumping with P-Square, number one in the game, we’re going to be here … always making it…”.

That they will continue to make it, as Ross suggests, will surely happen, and, when it does, Peter and Paul will always cast their minds back to the very first talent competition they won in 2001, which got this whole craze off to a squared and well-figured-out start.

Source:http://african.howzit.msn.com

 

 

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iROKO Partners closes on $2m funding
July 17, 2012 | 0 Comments

– iROKO Partners, the world’s leading online distributor of Nigerian movies and music, announces today that it has closed on a final round of funding, totaling US$2m, from Swedish-based Kinnevik, an early investor in Groupon. The additional investment will be used to grow iROKO Partners’ operations in New York, London and Lagos, as well as for purchasing more content for its platforms iROKOtv (movies) and iROKING (music).  The deal forms part of iROKO Partners’ second round of investment with US-based hedge fund, Tiger Global, in April 2012.

Jason Njoku, Founder & CEO of iROKO Partners commented: “We were already on our way towards becoming a world class company, but this investment is an awesome catalyst for us to increase our offering and solidify our market leadership.

“Kinnevik’s vast experience of working in emerging markets, combined with the momentum that iROKO Partners has gained in aggregating the African Diaspora is a winning combination. We’re extremely fortunate to have Kinnevik’s expertise on our board and we’re looking into new and innovative ways that we can bring incredible Nigerian entertainment to the world.”

Headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria and with offices in London and New York and a staff of almost 100, iROKO Partners was set up in December 2010 to bring Nigerian movies (Nollywood) and music to the African Diaspora. Its platform for showing Nollywood movies on demand, iROKOtv, has over 560,000 registered users and moved to a subscription-based model on 1 July 2012.

 Mia Brunell Livfors, President and CEO of Investment AB Kinnevik, said: “We are impressed by the growth and entrepreneurship of iROKO Partners. In two years it has become one of Africa’s top tech companies and a global leader in the distribution of Nigerian movies and music, one of the largest and fastest content categories in the world. The predicted growth for the sector is exciting and iROKO is delivering this content to a global audience and building an online entertainment hub.”

iROKOtv, has been groundbreaking in bringing over 5,000 Nollywood films to the African Diaspora, with viewers logging on from over 178 countries across the world.  To date, over 10 million hours of Nollywood movies have been watched on irokotv.com.

Launched in December 2011, iROKOtv is a subsidiary of iROKO Partners, Africa’s largest, legitimate distributor of Nigerian film and music entertainment with key partnerships with the likes of Facebook; iROKOtv viewers can login via their Facebook account, and is YouTube’s largest African partner. iROKO Partners is expected to increase its viewers to over 250 million in 2012 across its brands iROKOtv, iROKING (the “Spotify of Africa”), Nollywood Love and iROKtv, Africa’s answer to “E!”.

In April 2012 Tiger Global, a New York-based private equity and hedge fund run by an early investor in Facebook and Zynga, led two $4 million rounds of investment into iROKO Partners, in one of the largest ever fundraisings into a West African tech firm.  The funding will continue to be used to build iROKOtv’s library and to continue working directly with Nollywood production houses to buy the higher prices for the online licenses to Nollywood films which enables them to better monetize their content and to reinvest in making more, higher quality productions.

In May 2012, iROKOtv announced that from 1 July 2012, subscribers across the world will  have exclusive access to brand new and exclusive Nollywood releases, uploaded weekly for $5 per month and payable by SMS, PayPal or card.

www.irokotv.com | facebook.com/irokotv | @iROKOtv

Kinnevik

Kinnevik was founded in 1936 and thus embodies seventy-five years of entrepreneurship under the same group of principal owners. Kinnevik’s objective is to increase shareholder value, primarily through net asset value growth. The company’s holdings of growth companies are focused around seven comprehensive business sectors; Telecom & Services, Online, Media, Micro financing, Paper & Packaging, Agriculture and Renewable energy. Kinnevik has a long history of investing in emerging markets which has resulted in a considerable exposure to consumer sectors in these markets. Kinnevik plays an active role on the Boards of its holdings.

Kinnevik’s class A and class B shares are listed on the NASDAQ OMX Stockholm’s list for large cap companies, within the financial and real estate sector. The ticker codes are KINV A and KINV B.

For further information please contact:

 

iROKO Partners                                    
Jessica Hope jessica.hope@irokopartners.com
+44 203 176 2808
Pelham Bell Pottinger
Victoria GeogheganElizabeth Snow +44 20 7861 3821

 

 

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iROKO Partners takes legal action against Afrinolly
July 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

iROKO Partners is taking legal action against Afrinolly,  a self-styled mobile phone app focused on Nigeria’s entertainment industry, Nollywood. The app has built its business model on showing Nollywood feature films and trailers. The issue is that Afrinolly has never spoken to or been granted any rights to do so by iROKO Partners, whose entertainment library is in excess of 5,000 Nollywood  movies.

Afrinolly, a Nigerian company based in Lagos, has been streaming Nollywood movies and trailers, exclusive to iROKO Partners, and others, without any authorisation or consent from the content owners. Afrinolly has gone further and misrepresented itself with handset manufacturers and telcos alike.

Jason Njoku CEO of iROKO Partners says: “In an industry that is rife with misrepresentation, piracy and copyright infringement, we are left with no option but to begin legal action against Afrinolly, who have been illegally building their business on our content.

“We spend millions of dollars legally buying and organizing Nigerian content and hundreds of thousands of dollars every year in combating piracy and ensuring movie producers are remunerated properly for their content. It is simply unacceptable for Afrinolly to steal their work and profit from it. It has caused great harm to our Nigerian-based content providers and has placed great strain on the delicate balance and ecosystem that exists. Afrinolly, since its inception, has never bothered to even discuss with us or other content owners and has definitely not remunerated anyone to date.

“We have been approached by a number of Nollywood producers, who have expressed dismay that their movies are being exploited. As part of our commitment to the lifeblood of the industry, the producers, we see no other means than to seriously consider our options, look at how we can manage the damage done to our reputation and bring this extraordinary mass copyright infringement to a swift conclusion.”

iROKO Partners, the world’s leading distributor of African entertainment, has formally asked the owners of Afrinolly to remove all illegally sourced content from iROKO Partners’ platform- YouTube channel – (NollywoodLove) and other owned and operated channels.

iROKO Partners will be seeking N100Mn compensation.

 

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Up and Coming in Kampala Africa’s Growing Middle Class Drives Development
July 9, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Horand Knaup and Jan Puhl*

Africa’s growing middle class is fueling development across the continent. Ambitious entrepreneurs are creating growth with companies focusing on everything from fashion to pharmaceuticals. But poor infrastructure, corruption and political conflict are hampering their efforts.

Sylvia Owori is examining the photos for the summer collection, but she isn’t satisfied. “Much too much oil on the skin,” she says, pointing to a young woman. “We want to show off the dress, not her legs.” A click of the mouse, and the candidate is out of the running.

Fashion Show am LaBa Streetart Festiva

Fashion Show am LaBa Streetart Festiva

A new girl appears on the screen. She is wearing a yellow miniskirt, as she poses against a pale and misty backdrop of Lake Victoria. “This one is good,” says Owori, to an audible sigh of relief in her studio in the Ugandan capital Kampala. The photographers, designers and seamstresses surrounding her are relieved.

Owori is East Africa’s most successful fashion entrepreneur, the style icon of a growing middle class. She owns boutiques in Kampala and the Kenyan capital Nairobi, and the models in her agency can be seen on runways in Rome and Paris. She also publishes African Woman, a glossy magazine that showcases local fashion trends. “We want to celebrate Africa’s beautiful people,” says the designer.

Owori, who combines modern fashions with African colors, doesn’t shy away from making bold statements. “The fashion world currently has its eye on Africa,” she says. “This is our opportunity, and we should take advantage of it.”

Growing Domestic Demand

She is the epitome of a success story. And success stories are no longer a rarity in Africa, despite its reputation as a continent of poverty and suffering.

Africa’s economy is developing at a pace similar to that of Asian countries, including Japan. Five of the 10 faster growing countries in the world this year are south of the Sahara. Commodities like oil, natural gas, lumber, ores, gold and diamonds make up a shrinking share of economic output. In many up-and-coming countries, mineral resources no longer play the decisive role, as the service sector and manufacturing expand.

This growth is producing a middle class that’s growing from year to year. According to the African Development Bank, this middle class already includes 313 million people, or 34 percent of the total population.

Africa’s middle class lives in the cities, and its members are either salaried workers or, like Sylvia Owori, have their own firms. They are young and well-educated, and they want TV sets, cars and fashionable clothing. The continent now boasts 430 million mobile phone users. The growing domestic demand coming from the middle class served as a “buffer” when the West plunged into crisis in 2008, says Mthuli Ncube, chief economist of the African Development Bank.

Recycling What the West Throws Away

Owori has come a long way. She grew up in poor circumstances in Kampala, and she never knew her father. A relative eventually brought her to London, where she took fashion courses at the city’s Newham College. When she returned to Uganda in 1998, the country had fallen behind, even by African standards, after years of dictatorship and civil war.

She earned her starting capital by importing clothes from the West, but then she began designing her own collections, and soon “Sylvia Owori” was the most popular label among women in East Africa.

Owori has her collection produced by seamstresses in villages. She has trained 200 women and sponsors the purchase of their sewing machines. “When I receive a big order, I can deliver quickly and flexibly,” she says. On the other hand, she says, the women can stand on their own feet when she doesn’t happen to have any work for them.

Her latest creation is a denim laptop bag shaped like the map of Africa. “This bag was once a pair of jeans,” she says. “You threw it into a container for old clothing and sent it to Africa. We made something new out of it and will sell it back to you.” Swedish fashion giant H&M is interested in the bag, and two other Western fashion chains have asked Owori to meet with them in London.

It’s a question of finding new ways to stimulate economic growth. The corrupt oligarchies in many African countries have made money from the export of commodities, but only a fraction of the population has benefited from the proceeds. The growth being generated by Africa’s middle class is more sustainable, say development experts. Much of it is based on the processing of African fabrics, wood and fruits, and it creates jobs.

Small and mid-sized businesses need well-trained workers and political stability. Bureaucracy and corruption are obstructive, and civil wars are bad for business. Africa’s middle class is a “guardian of democracy,” says Ncube of the African Development Bank.

‘The Age of Entrepreneurs Has Begun’

Emmanuel Katongole is a typical representative of this middle class. He drives a shiny black Mercedes SUV and wears tailored suits. The African Development Bank awarded him a business prize for opening a pharmaceutical plant in Luzira, a suburb of Kampala. His company, Quality Chemical Industries, produces 6 million pills to treat HIV and malaria a day, half of which Katongole exports to neighboring countries.

Quality Chemical Industries is a joint venture with Indian manufacturer Cipla, which holds the license for the HIV and malaria drugs, and owns more than 40 percent of Katongole’s company. The company offers its 350 employees training, meals and medical care. “People like to work for us, and we have no disciplinary problems,” says Katongole.

“The age of entrepreneurs has begun in Africa,” says Katongole. When he began importing antiretroviral drugs in the 1990s, about 15 percent of the population in Uganda was infected with HIV. Today it’s only about 7 percent, a decline for which Katongole deserves some of the credit.

He convinced the Indians to come to Africa, and he won over both South African venture capitalists and the Ugandan government, which helped him start the project. President Yoweri Museveni, a mild autocrat by African standards, takes the fight against AIDS seriously — unlike other rulers on the continent.

The government had the ground cleared and leveled for the laboratories, installed the power supply and provided the company with tax incentives. “Quality Chemical Industries is a successful example of a partnership between the private and the public sector,” says Katongole. “Africa has to produce more finished products.” If the world wants to do the continent a favor, he adds, it should help companies like his with financing. “Classic development aid makes governments lazy,” says Katongole. In fact, the reputation of development aid has suffered considerably. African economists argue that it keeps millions of Africans trapped in poverty.

Juice Dreams

Richard Kimani, who lives in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, about 500 kilometers (about 300 miles) southeast of Kampala, is also banking on entrepreneurial freedom. His company, Kevian, earns about €25 million ($31 million) in annual revenues from the sale of fruit juice concentrates. His employees bottle 75,000 liters of concentrate a day, and about 30,000 small farmers supply Kevian with mangos and pineapple.

Kimani took out a low-interest loan worth millions with the Cologne-based German Investment Corporation (DEG), a state-owned institution that finances private-sector investments in developing countries. Kimani wants to expand Kevian, and new bottling equipment made by the Bavarian bottling machine manufacturer Krones is already on a ship bound for the Kenyan city of Mombasa. It could take a while for the equipment to arrive, however, because the customs agents at the port are corrupt and the roads in Kenya are miserable. “Shipping a container from Europe to Mombasa costs only a little more than transporting it by road from Mombasa to Nairobi,” a distance of 500 kilometers, says Kimani.

He got into the beverage business 20 years as a producer of mineral water. His Kevian bottled water, which comes from a well on the outskirts of Nairobi, filled a market niche. But there was a downside to his success. Kimani is a member of the Kikuyu ethnic group, but the country’s then president only supported members of his own tribe. Banks refused to lend him money, and hired thugs destroyed his plants. But Kimani was undaunted and moved his company farther away from the city. In 2002 he entered the fruit juice business, which had previously consisted of expensive imported products from South Africa and Israel.

Once again, his product was a success. In Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Zambia, more and more health-conscious urban workers are drinking his Kevian juices. Now Kimani even wants to expand into Europe, where he hopes to supply the Heidelberg-based company Wild, which makes the Capri Sun juice drink, with pineapple and mango concentrate.

‘Voter’s Know What’s at Stake’

But the next potential problem is already on the horizon. Kenya holds elections next spring. During the last election, five years ago, politicians incited violence between gangs of thugs, fueling ethnic hatred. As a result, 1,300 people were killed, hundreds of thousands were driven from their homes, the tourism industry was shattered and many businesses were destroyed.

“It won’t be that bad this time,” says Kimani. “Voters know what’s at stake now.” The middle class in Kenya has a lot to lose, he says. It won’t tolerate the same kind of chaos that erupted five years ago.

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

*Culled from http://www.spiegel.de/international/

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iROKOtv, the “Netflix of Africa”, reaches 500,000 subscribers in less than six months
June 15, 2012 | 0 Comments

14 June 2012. iROKOtv, the “Netflix of Africa” and the continent’s first legal online source of Nollywood films, is delighted to reveal that it has recorded over 500,000 registered users in less than six months since its launch. The news comes just months after the company announced that it had secured $8m in funding from US-based hedge Tiger Global, early investors in Facebook.

Headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria and with offices in London and New York and a staff of almost 100, iROKOtv has been groundbreaking in bringing Nollywood to the African Diaspora, with viewers logging on from over 178 countries across the world.  To date, over 9.3 million hours of Nollywood movies have been watched on irokotv.com.

Jason Njoku, CEO and Founder of iROKO Partners says: “What an incredible six months it has been for iROKOtv – 500,000 subscribers in under 6 months is an awesome feat for us. We are a relatively young start-up and are super excited to have built up such momentum in such a short space of time.

“The secret of our success to-date is pretty simple; we love what we do, we love Nollywood movies and so do our 500,000 registered subscribers. Content is king and we are unrivalled in what we can offer from our 5,000-strong movie library. The iROKOtv team uploads movies onto the site every single week, so our fans, who we know have a voracious appetite for all things Nollywood, have a constant stream of awesome content at their fingertips.

“Nollywood is a global phenomenon – our fans are scattered all over the world and had previously struggled to get hold of any movies. The iROKOtv platform enables them to watch classic and new films, on a safe, easy to use, beautifully designed site, whether they are on a computer, tablet or on their mobile phone – anywhere in the world. Nollywood has never been so accessible and this is only the beginning for us.”

iROKOtv’s largest markets are the US, UK, Canada and Germany – the site currently has more viewers in London than in Lagos. The West now has a reliable outlet to access Nollywood movies. However, as Africa comes online and broadband penetration surges, it is expected that the site will see considerable growth in traffic from across the continent, which will position iROKOtv as one of the leading sites for aggregating the African Diaspora.

As of 1 July 2012, iROKOtv is introducing a subscription service, where viewers will retain free access to the current catalogue of Nollywood films, but will also be able to watch brand new, exclusive Nollywood releases, uploaded weekly, for only $5 per month.

Launched in December 2011, iROKOtv is a subsidiary of iROKO Partners, Africa’s largest, legitimate distributor of Nigerian film and music entertainment with key partnerships with the likes of Facebook; iROKOtv viewers can login via their Facebook account, and is YouTube’s largest African partner. iROKO Partners is expected to increase its viewers to over 250 million in 2012 across its brands iROKOtv, iROKING (the “Spotify of Africa”), Nollywood Love and iROKtv, Africa’s answer to “E!”.

In April 2012 Tiger Global, a New York-based private equity and hedge fund run by an early investor in Facebook and Zynga, led two $4 million rounds of investment into iROKO Partners, in one of the largest ever fundraisings into a West African tech firm.  The funding will continue to be used to build iROKOtv’s library and to continue working directly with Nollywood production houses to buy the higher prices for the online licenses to Nollywood films which enables them to better monetize their content and to reinvest in making more, higher quality productions.

In May 2012, iROKOtv announced that from 1 July 2012, subscribers across the world will  have exclusive access to brand new and exclusive Nollywood releases, uploaded weekly for $5 per month and payable by SMS, PayPal or card.

For additional Information Contact

iROKO Partners                                     jessica.hope@irokopartners.com

Jessica Hope                                          +44 203 176 2808

 

Pelham Bell Pottinger                          +44 20 7861 3925

Victoria Geoghegan

www.irokotv.com | facebook.com/irokotv | @iROKOtv

 

 

 

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Piracy Is A Threat To The Entertainment Industry In Africa
May 12, 2012 | 0 Comments

-CEO Chima Movie Empire

By Pandita Njoh Eta

As the movie industry led by Nigeria surges by leaps and bounds in Africa, it faces a number of challenges. With marketing and quality as some of the concerns, the biggest of them all seems to be piracy says Augustine Chima head of the Chima Movie Empire. It is a veritable canker warm and needs concerted action from all stake holds to curb its nefarious influence on the sweat of the hard working men and women of the industry. In the industry for years, Chima Movie Empire is the all-in-one solution for movie production, celebrity networking, movie sales, marketing and much more. To its credit are several Nollywood projects driven to unimaginable heights with record sales and profits. We continuously evolve with Nollywood and other competitive markets and possess the required knowledge and experience to deliver distinctive masterpieces says Chima in a chat with Pan African Visions.

PAV: Could you introduce Movie Chima Empire to us and the kind of services that it offers?

Augustine Chima: We offer a variety of services to talented people out there, ranging from; managing actors, actresses, artists, models, to movie production. Also organizing events, premieres, beauty pageants, showcasing products throughout different models. Both home (Nigeria) and abroad.

PAV: In a world of competition, what makes the services offered by Chima Empire stand out from what others do?

Augustine Chima: The entertainment industry is a very competitive one, thus we never compromise quality, for that is what we strive for. We go for exceptionality and try our very best to get the best quality product needed by the consumers.  We reach for the needs of the consumers so we can be on the right track. We also, get feedback from the consumers, by carrying out surveys to self evaluate and be sure of what we do.

PAV: You are based out of the continent, how are your operations in Africa managed in a way that positive results are achieved?

Augustine Chima: We are able to accomplish this by partnering with home based organizations and production houses such as Dolce entertainment.  Also, we have a crew back in Nigeria that handles the affairs there. We also organize a yearly Miss Abuja pageant

PAV: A major threat to the entertainment industry especially in Africa is piracy, is there anything Movie Empire does to fight this, any solutions you have in mind on how to fight this and make sure the hard work of people in the entertainment industry is well rewarded?

Augustine Chima:Piracy is a ‘canker’ worm that is killing the entertainment industry especially the African movie and music industry. It is something that cannot be completely eradicated but can be reduced. It is like rat; the more you discover new traps for it, the more it discovers new ways of stealing your corn. Organizations have been created to bring producers and marketers together to help join forces in fighting against this particular problem that is deeply affecting us all. Some film makers have completely given up on the fight against it, but these organizations are there to help encourage them in the fight. Also joining forces with bigger industries such as Hollywood who are more advanced in doing this by giving awards to those fighting against this , and also forums to educate filmmakers on new strategies to benefit for this change, has been a great help. We really call on those involved in acts like this to be aware of the damage and loss they are causing on the industry, because some of them do this out of ignorance.

Chima at a movie scene

Chima at a movie scene

Also we want to inform them of the detriments and consequences involved when they are caught in such an act. There range from huge amounts of fines and jail time. Thus beware pirates!!!

PAV: May we know some of the biggest projects that you have worked on and who are some of the people who have impressed you most in the world of African entertainment?

Augustine Chima: Great faces in the industry such as Enebeli Elebuwa, Olu Jacobs, Pete Edochie, Ramsey Nouah, inspire me. I love to identify myself with people of great vision, image and, statue, they are a big encouragement to you even in your low moments. My first co-production was far from home, featuring, George Kalu, Fred Idika, Regina Askia and Ramsey Nouah. Subsequent productions include busted life, which is going to theaters in Nigeria this summer ,we are currently working on a new project called ‘ true life addictions’, great movie line.

PAV: How would you size up the African movie industry as a whole, there seem to be complains that there is a decline in quality with everyone doing their own thing from acting, to producing etc without adequate training, your take on this.

Augustine Chima: The complains are genuine. Nollywood and the rest of the African movie industry is struggling to fight these bad wolves in sheep clothing who don’t value good and quality work. Some people just do things and call it movie. As like every other career movie making, acting, entertainment as a whole is a calling, and when you are called, God gives you the potential for it. But people with no calling just want to do it, and that is the problem.

PAV: Based on your experience what are some suggestions on how the African movie industry could improve itself to the level where it can comfortably compete with the rest of the world?

Augustine Chima: Quality is what we are striving for. Movie makers should be able to attend forums, critics, summits, festivals and keep the training and learning process going. This is one career that is always evolving, and therefore all these work together to bring success. Partnering with other national and international companies to get bigger success than there is now. The government should continue to support us with the funds that are needed. Sponsors are also greatly appreciated, award shows such as the NAFCA, should continue, as it encourages all the movie makers. Producers should be involved with movies of good story line to keep the flag of the industry flying. Adequate training is what we all need in this industry, thus I encourage everyone to go get trained in their individual domains.

 

 

 

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