Nollywood actress Adesuwa Etomi is voicing the lead role in new Nigerian animated series Malika: Warrior Queen.
Written by Roye Okupe, founder of YouNeek Studios, and produced by Niyi Akinmolayan of Anthill Studios, the series is an adaptation of the graphic novel by Okupe which was published in 2016.
It is the story of a strong black African queen fighting for her kingdom, which is under threat of invasion by foreign cultures. The story is inspired by the 12th century Oyo empire although the characters are fictional.
According to Okupe: “You basically get to see how an African queen lived her life back then.
“I have to give credit again to Niyi, who’s also the director of the highest-grossing movie in Lagos, The Wedding Party 2. We discussed about who we would like to bring to this and Adesua was the first person I had on my mind to voice it. Not only is she a huge star, she’s also super-talented. After both of us went through the proper channels to present the idea to her, she basically said it would be a dream for her to do it.”
Other Nollywood actors taking speaking roles include Femi Branch (Chief Dogbari), Deyemi Okanlowon (the Windmaker and King Bass), Blossom Chukwujekwu (Abdul) and Sambassa Nzeribe (General Ras).
The series, which will be produced in Nigeria, consists of episodes featuring three scenes with a total runtime of 15 minutes.
Etomi has starred in movies including The Wedding Party, Knocking on Heaven’s Door, The Arbitration and Couple of Days and she won the Best Actress prize at the 2016 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards for her role in 2015 film Falling.
“I hope that YouNeek Studios and all the other studios in Nigeria and Africa as a whole can start to bridge this gap between acquisition and trying to tell our stories through Nollywood as much as we’re doing it through Hollywood,” Okupe said.
Working Title TV in the UK has acquired exclusive rights to the first television project by Nigerian-born Inua Ellams, writer of the acclaimed Barbershop Chronicles, performed at London’s The National Theatre.
The prodco, a joint venture between Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner of UK-based Working Title Films and NBCUniversal International Studios, is working with Ellams on a four-part miniseries, titled Black T-Shirt Collection.
Set in Nigeria, Egypt, England and China, it follows two Nigerian foster brothers whose handmade t-shirts become a global streetwear brand.
Their success happens against a backdrop of tragedy as their personal lives and growing business empire cross the lines of globalised capitalism, sectarianism and homophobia, according to the producers.
Surian Fletcher-Jones, head of development at Working Title TV, said: “Inua is a searingly original writer whose work has been a huge draw for theatre audiences. We are thrilled that he has entrusted us with his first television project.”
Ellams added: “Black T-Shirt Collection was a joyful, painful and intensely personal story to write. I loved performing it as a play across the world. Adapting it for television is an opportunity to introduce a bigger audience to the fragile, beautiful brothers, their impossibly complex relationship and the worlds they precariously negotiate. I am excited and looking forward to developing this with Working Title.”
Ellams is a poet, playwright and performer. His first play, The 14th Tale, was awarded a Fringe First at the Edinburgh International Theatre Festival.
This was followed by Barber Shop Chronicles, which completed two sold-out runs at London’s National Theatre and is now touring the UK and the US. His play Half God of Rainfall opened at Kiln Theatre in London in May. He is also currently writing a new adaptation of Three Sisters for The National Theatre.
The 2019 Nigerian International Film Summit (NIFS) is set to be held in Lagos from September 3 to 5, following the theme ‘Developing and creating original and appealing content for Africa and beyond.’
This year’s event will be an opportunity for people to connect with TV and film executives as well as network and do business together. It will also explore the Nigerian film and TV content business landscape.
In addition, film producers and current or past students of any film school also have the opportunity to be part of NIFS 2019.
By taking part in the NIFS challenge, they stand to enjoy benefits including a free badge to the Film Business 101 Summit, free access to the opening days of NIFS and NITV 2019 and an upgrade to the Executive Gold Badge at half the regular fee.
To be part of this, send a message with the link to one of your movies via Instagram (@nifsummit), including your full names and email address. Re-post your entry to their feed @NIFS. Tag 20 film lovers you know in the comment section and ask them to like your post on their feed and to follow them.
The first 10 producers to complete the steps will win the challenge, which ends on May 31.
Nigerian animator Mbuotidem Johnson, CEO of Basement Animation, tells Content Nigeria about his new series DownTown Lagos, why he created it and the challenges he faced during production.
What inspired you to create DownTown Lagos?
At Basement Animation, we believe in responsible business practices. DownTown Lagos was created because we felt the need to use animation to address relevant social issues. This way, when we capture our viewers’ attention, we can pass across relevant, relatable information that addresses the current issue, albeit with a humorous tone.
What message is the show passing across to its audience?
DownTown Lagos is the story of two friends, Olajide Dollar and Chike Chicago, who despite their daily struggles are determined to ‘make it’ in Lagos after relocating to the city. Each episode will use animation and comedy to illustrate how they constantly come up with new and, more often than not, silly schemes to make money and become successful in the city. The show also touches on real issues affecting their community and Nigeria.
What challenges did you face during production?
The main challenge was a lack of constant power supply during the production process as the production of animated content requires constant power. Also, in the course of producing DownTown Lagos, we were transitioning to a new animation software to meet up with market and innovation demands. Finally, Basement Animation is a relatively small team, therefore we did not have a dedicated team focused solely on the project, and as such, a few of our projects had to be put on hold to enable us finish DownTown Lagos.
What shows do you have in the pipeline?
Our other upcoming animated content includes Tech Timi Out, Raga Shaga Mama and Adefellas. These are all currently in production. Basement Animation is one of the fastest growing animation studios in Lagos and is focused on producing qualitative kids, teen and family entertainment content.
In 2017, Basement Animation was mentioned as one of the top five Nigerian animation studios by Discop. That same year we had the opportunity to produce a TV commercial for Fupitoons Festival that was broadcast on Cartoon Network Africa.
In 2018, we coproduced the pilot episode of l’Arbre à Palimpseste, which won the Gulli Prize in Animation du Monde/MIFA pitch at the Annecy Animation Film Festival and was subsequently pre-bought by Gulli, the Lagardère-owned kids’ network. Basement Animation and two other African animation studios will kick off production in the third quarter of this year.
The pilot episode of DownTown Lagos, titled Do As I Say, was released just in time for the recently concluded election cycle in Nigeria. The episode encourages everyone to become more proactive as regards every aspect of nation-building, politically and service wise. It is not enough to be newspaper analysts or social media activists or everyday mourners of bad leadership. Our actions must follow our words and we must do as we say.
Hong Kong-based IT company NetDragon Websoft Holdings has partnered with the Nigerian government to promote the development of digital education in Africa.
Xiong Li, CEO of NetDragon, and Ife Adebayo, special assistant on innovation and entrepreneurship to the Nigerian vice president, have signed a memorandum of cooperation for N-Power Junior Smart Classroom Cooperation and a framework agreement for Initiative of Digital Education in Africa-Nigeria (IDEA-Nigeria) Cooperation.
The signing took place at the second edition of the Digital China Summit, themed Digital Maritime Silk Road Empowering High-Quality Development, in Fuzhou.
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and yet it faces the problem of inadequate educational resources and infrastructure. The N-Power Project is aimed at enhancing the scientific knowledge and skills of children and young people in the country.
Under the agreement, NetDragon will supply 10,000 smart classrooms and will help Nigeria build a national education resources public service platform, national teaching community network platform, national digital talent training platform and a national future education experience centre.
These will help Nigeria accelerate the development of digital education and improve basic, lifelong and future education across Africa.
The smart classrooms, which will benefit 500,000 students in Nigeria, will be equipped with NetDragon’s educational products and platform resources.
In order to tackle a shortage of classrooms and uneven distribution of educational resources, the Nigerian government is considering deploying NetDragon’s new digital education project, the Pop-up Classroom, which can be set up easily in remote areas.
Xiong Li said the collaboration will become a model for digital education in Africa and is expected to be followed by similatr agreements in other countries, such as Kenya and Ghana.
“In the future, NetDragon hopes to see more African countries joining the IDEA family to jointly promote the development of digital education in Africa,” he said.
NetDragon also aims to echo the United Nations’ sustainable development goals, “to ensure an inclusive and fair-quality education and provide everyone with the opportunity of lifelong learning.”
At the Digital Maritime Silk Road Sub-forum, Ghana’s government also signed a memorandum of cooperation for digital education with NetDragon, which will provide technical support to develop future education in the country.
NetDragon was established in 1999 is a developer, operator and publisher of online games in China, and is also the first Chinese game company that successfully expanded into overseas markets.
In recent years, NetDragon has also started to scale its online education business on the back of its strategy to create the largest global online learning community and to bring the “classroom of the future” to every school around the world.
Pan-African networking platform MultiChoice Talent Factory is on the look-out for 60 aspiring film and TV creatives from 13 African countries to join the MTF Academy 2019.
The countries involved include Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, Angola and Mozambique.
Aimed at igniting Africa’s creative industry through TV and filmmaking, this is another opportunity for young filmmakers to hone the skills they have in television and film production under the mentorship of industry experts like Berry Lwando, Njoki Muhoho and Femi Odugbemi, respectively.
Set to join in October, the selected students will be part of the fully funded programme at three academy hubs in southern Africa (Lusaka, Zambia), East Africa (Nairobi, Kenya) and West Africa (Lagos, Nigeria).
They will have hands-on training in the film industry, storytelling, cinematography, production, audio and directing. They will also be able to work on live sets during local TV productions and create original content that will be aired on various local M-Net channels across MultiChoice’s platforms DStv, GOtv and Showmax.
In an effort to invest in Africa’s creative industry, MultiChoice Talent Factory recently introduced the MTF Masterclass series as well as the MTF Portal, which brings together talent and opportunities on one platform.
A statement on the company’s website reads thus: “At MultiChoice Africa, the African entertainment industry is at the core of who we are and what we do. This social investment programme shows our commitment – alongside long-term partnerships with government, stakeholders and creative organisations – to develop Africa’s creative industries into vibrant, economic centres. This is how MultiChoice uses the power of entertainment to enrich lives.”
The implementation of the switch from analogue to digital television has almost been completed in Benin City.
About 80% of the territory has already being covered and most of the sites are now operational, thanks to the use of equipment provided by StarTimes.
The platform can accommodate up to 18 channels and already 14 of the selected 15 that will show on the platform are tested on 150 StarTimes trial decoders.
Although 15 free-to-air channels have been allocated to viewers in the West African country by Satellite operator SES as directed by the Benin government, there is still delay in the creation of the Beninese broadcasting company, the distribution of decoders and the roll-out of the communication campaign regarding the switchover to digital TV.
These FTA channels are said to be the first ever high definition channels to be made available through digital-terrestrial TV across Africa.
The chairman of the DTT steering committee of the presidency of the Republic of Benin, Darius Quenum, said: “The ground-breaking deal with SES was an essential milestone as Benin moves closer to its deadline for the analogue switch-off.”
The new CEO of StarTimes Nigeria, David Zhang, has revealed plans to make the digital pay TV broadcaster affordable to all subscribers.
At a press briefing at the Radisson Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos, yesterday he said: “As the new CEO, one of my goals is to make StarTimes a product affordable to all.
“Since we launched in Nigeria in 2010 our mission has remained the same – to provide affordable quality entertainment to every African home. We do this through innovation, integrity, diligent and devotion. This has helped us to get closer to our vision, to become one of the most influential media groups in the world.
“That is not all. Our most recent business offering is our OTT business StarTimes ON. It is the next generation of StarTimes streaming service. It introduces new features such as video-on-demand, live TV and lots of movies, sports and entertainment content, all on the mobile app and free of charge.”
There are also plans to introduce a solar panel power system by this July, according to Qasim Elegbede, brand and marketing director at StarTimes.
“You can watch all your programmes at any time of the day,” he said. “If you already have the TV and input decoder, all you need is the solar panel. We also have 10 projects that will be unveiled, local series and movies.”
Zhang’s experience has included working as the CEO of StarTimes in Kenya for four years and about 30 years at StarTimes Group in China.
The top prize in reality singing show Hymnodia has been awarded to Kenneth Ekhuemelo, who beat 13 other participants.
Kenneth took home the specially designed top award, known as the prize of the Asaph.
The grand finale took place at the MUSON Centre in Lagos last week, when the ‘hymntestants’ displayed their talents in various hymn and worship renditions.
Kenneth said: “Firstly, l am grateful to God and have to really thank Him for this opportunity to showcase and enhance my talent. I commend Hymnodia for this great opportunity. I am also grateful to my family and those that appreciate me.”
Music director and judge Sunday Olawuwo told him: “l must confess, you added fuel to the stage that has already been set on fire.”
In addition to the Asaph award, Kenneth also received a cash reward of N5m, a new car and an award for Best in Arrangements.
Olumide, Mobolanle Oladimeji, Abigael Nnadi and Rachael Darley came second, third, fourth and fifth respectively.
Recipients of other awards include Uduakobong Akpan Jnr for the Most Improved Male, Jemine Edukugho as Most Improved Female, and Dada received two awards: the Most Consistent in Performances and Best Behaved Male. Nnadi received the Best Behaved Female, while Oladimeji secured the Most Prolific in Hymnwriting.
African entertainment platform Kwesé Iflix has partnered with entertainment company Flytime Productions to offer subscribers more local content.
Viewers who missed watching the just concluded live comedy show Bovi Man on Fire can now watch the show by registering on the app without paying a subscription.
This partnership came about to re-emphasise Kwesé Iflix’s commitment to make more local content available to its viewers.
Ngozi Madueke-Dozie, general manager of Kwesé Iflix (West Africa), said: “Local content remains a key component of our content strategy. That’s why we have partnered with Flytime Promotions to bring this show to our audience. We are very excited about this collaboration and our audience can only expect the best.”
Kwesé Iflix is available in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mauritius, with operations extending to Rwanda, Botswana, Lesotho, and Malawi.
MultiChoice Nigeria is preparing to launch a special pop-up channel for muslim subscribers on DStv and GOtv throughout the month of Ramadan.
This channel is dedicated to take care of the spiritual needs of Muslims by broadcasting local Ramadan-related content.
The pop-up channel will run from May 5 to June 4 and will air Ramadan content including talkshows, music, lifestyle, cooking shows, docuseries, daily calls to prayer, children’s programmes and conduct and obligations of Muslims during Ramadan.
John Ugbe, CEO of MultiChoice Nigeria, said: “We are delighted to launch the Ramadan Pop-up Channel, which is a platform carefully created to provide faith-nourishing television content for every member of the Muslim family, including the young ones.
“The month of Ramadan is an important one for Muslims worldwide, as it provides an opportunity for physical as well as spiritual purification through fasting, increase in worship and recitation of the Holy Quran. The Ramadan Pop-up Channel provides a platform for our subscribers to have access to programmes that increase their faith and trust in Allah.”
He further explained that the channel will provide programmes that will strengthen the beliefs of Muslims and also entertain them throughout the Ramadan period.
Active subscribers on all DStv packages including DStv Now, as well as GOtv Plus and GOtv Max Muslim customers, will have access to the channel.
The specific channel codes have not yet been announced.
It has been revealed that the contracts given to move Nigeria from analogue to digital broadcasting were approved by former president Goodluck Jonathan and not by information and culture minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed and the director-general of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Modibbo Kawu.
Claims had been made in the past that the two were involved with the approval but a source has suggested they only implemented the white paper approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) under President Jonathan.
In 2014, a deadline was set by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) for Nigeria to move to digital broadcasting, which would make Nigeria the biggest digital television market in Africa, positively impact the Nigerian film industry and contribute to the growth of the economy.
The digital switchover budget was later approved by the FEC and contracts approved by the Jonathan administration.
“The allegation that the NBC DG also awarded contract to Pinnacle Communications is also false as the contract was awarded before the Muhammadu Buhari administration. It is also not true that the minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, claimed he was misled by the NBC DG into approving payment,” said the source.
“The mischief makers have cleverly hidden the fact that the minister also authored payment – based on the approval by the Jonathan administration – to other players in the Echo System, such as Inview, CCNL, ITS and set-top box manufacturers.”
Nigerian agency Mace Entertainment and broadcaster Zee World have held a press screening for Deceptive Measures, their Nigerian adaptation of an Indian scripted format.
The show runs to 104 half-hour episodes and is the first local version of successful Indian drama Pavitra Rishta.
The cast and crew come from Nigeria and the show was shot in Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria.
The new show will star Nollywood actor Mike Godson who signed a deal with Bollywood producers last year to feature in an English-language TV series on Zee World, the South Africa-based Bollywood channel.
He later met Rani Rajesh, director of Spectrum Film in Indonesia, Ijeoma Onah, founder of NIFS and Manoj Jagtiani, Mace Entertainment’s CEO, and Deceptive Measures was launched.
The show will air soon but the exact date has not yet been announced.