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When Nollywood Tells Our Story

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When dealing with whom you know, always apply the laws first. Pardon the fellow when the law entangles him. By so doing you would live in peace with those you know!

Ghana’s Tourist, Villas offers an unforgettable holiday and business experience in Accra.

Each time the swashbuckling Minister of Information and Communications (read Re-branding), Mrs Dora Akunyili shares a podium with Nollywood practitioners or adventurers, she takes her time to give Nollywood a good dressing down. She cuts the picture of a stringent headmistress cautioning errant school children.

Daily Triumph Newspaper of November 2009 carried just an ounce of Minister Akunyili’s peppered vitriolics against the forces aligned against her mission to rescue Nigeria’s image. She blamed Nollywood for Nigeria’s poor image and charged her to tell our own stories. She said the same thing few weeks into her appointment as Minister at an interactive workshop with Nollywood practitioners in Lagos. And I suspect, she says it everyday. She’s after all a Minister; all they do is say things.

Had Dora Akunyili not being a Minister, she might have understood the inanity of her assertion but as I fear the cordial distance Nigerian public officials maintain with reality has a way of deodorizing the embarrassing stench of empty reason. But that is hardly surprising as it emanates from a Ministry where trite ideas are routinely granted a new lease and executed with zeal that borders on mania.

How on earth will anyone blame Nollywood for Nigeria’s sorry image? Did Nollywood invent Juju or 419? Is the President of Actors Guild of Nigeria operating from Aso Rock? Pray, are Aki and Paw Paw Senate President and Vice President? Is Genevieve the Minister of Power or is Desmond Elliot the Minister of Works and Housing? Even Pete Edochie, a strong advocate of re-branding was kidnapped by a bunch of renegades the police cannot find even if they were to raise their hands in a gathering.

Minister Akunyili keeps charging Nollywood to tell our own stories, frankly, I would be very disturbed the day Nollywood begins to tell our story. The reason is that our story, quite frankly, without putting too fine a point on it, is a glorified mess.

In President’s Yar Adua’s Independence Day speech the dearth of concrete, measurable achievement led him to urge Nigerians to at least be grateful to still be alive. This is a government that returns to the treasury half of the year’s budgetary expenditure at the end of each fiscal year because it is peopled by charlatans of the first order who are so dumb they don’t even know how to spend money!

Isn’t it an irony that Nigeria is on the list of countries with the highest immigration rate to other countries only rivalled by Afghanistan and Iraq  countries at war? Sundays, a maze of crowd so thick you won’t even recognize your mother flood churches and Fridays, normal activities are grounded because Nigerians have gone to find God. Yet God hardly factors in their thoughts and actions. Our politicians swear with the bible or Koran and it is common knowledge that they hold the key to the squandering of our hope. The clowns at the National Assembly have spent more days deciding how to amend the constitution than it took to write the damn document.

And come to think of it, how many times have the budget made provision for the Benin-Ore road and why is it still a death-trap? How come university students sat at home for four months due to a protracted strike and the education Minister’s children school abroad? How come we still have a ministry of health when public officials travel abroad to treat catarrh? How come we are one of the leading oil producing nations in the world and we still import fuel? How come after almost 50 years after independence we can’t even light our streets? Indeed, I’d be very worried the day Nollywood begins to tell our stories.

It is ironical that while Madam Re-branding wants Nollywood to lead the campaign to re-brand Nigeria, she is unfazed with the teething challenges confronting Nollywood. To get funding for movies is difficult even before the current global economic crises, now its impossible. The government’s film fund has not left the paper it was written on. Movie pirates now sell more copies than marketers as Nigerian Copyright Commission only proclaims her tigertude on paper. In spite of this, Nollywood has done more to promote Nigeria’s image than all the gaggle of nincompoops who parade themselves as leaders throughout the country.

Minister Akunyili is still fuming over a Sony advert that implied that Nigerians are scammers (our favourite past-time anyway) and some air-headed people too wanted an apology because District 9, a South African film purportedly claimed that Nigerians were cannibals and scammers. Emeka Mba’s Censors board and Madam Re-branding were outraged because for the first time somebody had enough balls to tell our story.

Minister Akunyili advices Nollywood to focus on the positive things and I wonder how many positive things are we reputed for? Yes, we produce a world class literary genius in Chinua Achebe but we left him in a wheel chair just because someone felt the allocation to fix the road will sit better in his private account. We sent out our soldiers to stop other people’s war (while ours rages unabated) and when they return some higher officials stole their monies and we hound them in jail when they shouted too loud. Yes, we are 150 million strong and yet we awarded the highest office in the land to a man we’ve all been asked to pray that he lives as a matter of national priority.

Studies suggest that behaviour is patterned after media content. At the same time media content reflects the value pattern of the society. And when it comes to the issue of values, ours is reeking like an open sewer. Greed, nepotism, ethnicity, corruption and the politics of the belly have eroded our value system. Successive governments have elevated corruption to a pedestal so high, its beginning to assume the character of state policy.

Minister Akunyili will be outraged at the level of support serious governments give their film industry. In Nollywood we have to rent even the shabby police uniforms we use! Freedom of Information bill remains a mirage stalling investigative journalism and critical research to produce historical films that can help our sorry image. When public officials wish to get their hands dirty, they call up consultants to draw up harebrained designs for the movie industry which they can’t even explain if their lives depended on it.

Minister Akunyili should be grateful Nollywood is not telling our story.

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Ray’Em Releases New EP, Nostalgia

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Raymond Okoro, better known as Ray’Em, a budding musician has released another EP, titled “Nostalgia”, which is a follow up to his previous EP, “In No Particular Order”.
Ray’Em, in a chat with newsmen last Sunday in Abuja, said he wanted to release music that would evoke a nostalgic feeling in his fans and listeners.
The singer who also goes by the moniker, “Ovie Reezy, said “while we all have different life experiences, music is something that places timestamps on those experiences.
He stated that it was possible to travel back in time to those fond memories through music that was made in that time, noting however that it was not the conventional style of making music to feel like old times.
“Where it is obvious that the artist is sampling old sounds, rather the songs on the EP have made use of various elements of music of times past in a subtle and inconspicuous manner.
“From the beats to the chants, the vocalisations, and of course, the lyrics. The feeling is meant to be subconscious,” he stated.
He said that the main idea that drove the project was that he worked with beatsbyMayor, his producer, to make the songs in that way.
“We even used some current trending sounds selections and styles to bring the past to the present. So that what we are doing is not immediately apparent,” he said.
On the importance of this particular “EP”, the Musician said it was important because for the first time “I am boldly claiming my roots as an Ughelli-born artist, and to mark this significance, on one of the songs.
He stated that the subjects of the song are very relatable as they have to do with ambition, individual personality, and money.
”On this project, I truly embraced my personal experiences, my roots and identity, on one of the songs I did a creative rendition of Wizkid’s “Holla at Your Boy” because it’s one of the songs that inspired me to start making music.
”And I wanted to remind myself of that. I am excited to share this project with the world and I do hope people find ways to connect and relate with these songs even beyond the sound,” he said.

 

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Spotify Launches Ad Studio In Nigeria, Jamaica, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda

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Spotify, a music streaming service provider, has launched a self-serve advertising platform, Ad Studio, in Jamaica, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
The innovative advertising medium has been made available to even more artists around the globe.
Christopher Li, Director of Digital Planning and Products at Live Nation and Spotify Ad Studio, disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday.
Li said Ad Studio is a tool on the Spotify platform that allows artistes, brands and businesses to easily run audio and video adverts.
He said advertisers can create a campaign within minutes, and the platform provides flexibility and control to set up and manage campaigns in real time.
“ Never made an audio ad? Spotify makes it easy, you can build a custom audio ad for free, right in Ad Studio, in as little as 24 hours,” he said.
Li said Spotify had already launched Ad Studio in other markets, including America and Europe, and looked forward to the impact this will have in emerging markets like Sub-Saharan Africa, where audio streaming is on the rise.
He noted that in order to advertise with this tool, advertisers needed to spend a minimum of N100,000.
According to him, Ad Studio provides advertisers with free audio creation tools including background music mixing, voiceover talent, audience targeting and real-time reporting.
“ Reaching audiences with Spotify Ad Studio is efficient and easy, you can decide to target listeners by genre preferences, interests, and context.
“It only takes us a few minutes to create a campaign, and the free voiceover service saves a lot of effort too,” he said.
As the world leader in audio streaming, Spotify brings music and podcasts to nearly 365 million users in 184 markets, across hundreds of devices.
This is where young people are — and where young people go, marketers follow, 71 per cent of Spotify free listeners are under 35 and the median age of podcast listeners is 27.
In Nigeria alone, over 100 million citizens are active internet users. Of this number, 57.9 per cent use music apps- up from 54 per cent last year.
The median age in this market is 18, meaning that the majority of smartphone users are Gen-Z.
Similar to Ghana and Kenya, the Gen-Z market is increasing, and many young people are streaming audio.
The launch of Ad Studio is another way Spotify is leading the way in audio innovation globally, and providing advertisers with the opportunity to grow their audiences in these emerging markets.

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Ebenezer Obey, Shina Peters To Grace 2021 National Festival

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The organisers of the National Festival of Unity on Friday said eminent Nigerian musicians such as Chief Ebenezer Obey, Sir Shina Peters, Mike Okri and Yinka Davies would grace its 2021 edition.
The host and General Manager of the National Theatre, Prof. Sunday Ododo, named other musicians to be on stage to include Stella Monye, Kola Ogunkoya and Dayo Kujore.
He said the musicians would be on hand to mentor and give guidance on live band entertainment.
Ododo said the Festival of Unity tagged “Thrillerbandz@theater” with the theme entitled: “Enduring Optimism” is a collaboration between the National Theatre and Evergreen Music Company and would be held from December 10th to 12th.
“The second National Festival of Unity is particularly apt this period of time for us as management of this place, for Nigerians and indeed the entire world.
“We have remained optimistic and that is why we have seen (opportunities) where others might have seen insurmountable challenges.
“We have kept the theatre alive so much that a lot of people wonder at the paradox of the National Theatre being busier now that the complex is locked for renovations than before.
“We have held a series of programmes such as staff trainings, round table engagements with industry stakeholders and corporate partners and other activities,” he said.
Ododo maintained that not minding the challenges confronting the complex, the management had put up courage to forge on and accomplish its mandate.
“This year’s National Festival of Unity will be bigger, bolder, and richer, as we have more time to crystalise the vision, engage more people from the entertainment space and got positive feedbacks.
“There are state art councils are awaiting our invites, while Lagos State Council of Arts and Culture has volunteered to come in as a principal partner.
“On the menu for the grand event, we have music exhibition, dance, drama, comedy, street carnival and more,” he said.
The Special Adviser on Arts and Culture to the Lagos State Governor, Mr Solomon Bonu, said the state saw the need to support the event given its mandate as an avenue to engage the youth.
“Lagos State Government will always identify with things that will have positive impact on its youths hence we are proud to be associated with this event.
“We will always support things that will be beneficial to the youth and help them grow, we have seen many positives in this programme,” he said.
One of the main partners, Evergreen Musical Company, through its Managing Director, Bimbo Esho, noted that the National Festival of Unity was important to the music industry.
“The primary objective of the programme is to showcase the important aspect of our musical heritage for development into a viable cultural product.
“It is to ginger our local musicians who perform gigs at several entertainment rendezvous that dot the national landscape to up their ante.
“The initiative is to boost the composition of meaningful lyrics and lively songs, quality dance styles, stage appeal as well as excellent performance to delight music patrons even beyond Nigeria.
“It is a fact that the entertainment industry is one of sub-groups of our economy defying the recession and meltdown,” he said.
Esho disclosed that the 2021 edition of the National Festival of Unity would be laced with several side attractions that would delight Nigerians.
“As major stakeholders in the development of Nigerian culture, we are duty bound to inspire the expansion and improvement and grow our burgeoning music and entertainment industry, as well as the economy.
“With the competition, where outstanding performers shall win laurel, fantastic cash prizes and musical instruments, many talents shall also be exposed to the record labels.
“No fewer than 50 live bands are expected to showcase their talents to thrill and dazzle the audience and African music aficionados in a relaxed environment.
“We promise an enchanting 12 hours back-to-back session of delights to the audience on the days of the event,” he said.
Event Compere Yinka Davies said she was delighted to be back in the public space after the unfortunate death of her son.
“My fans all over the world should expect something big coming out from me this time after a long period of inactivity,” she said

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