Nollywood dominates Africa Magic awards

IT was obvious on Saturday night that the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA) had an Oscar awards sheen or affectation to them.

I would suggest that most actors there had a wanna-be fantasy in their heads. That was not hard to decipher..

The second AMVCA were held in Nigeria in a glittering affair that saw some of Africa’s acting and musical talent showing out their stuff to millions of television viewers who are subscribed to Multichoice’s DStv platform Africa Magic channel.

African celebrities put on their finest threads on the night which was co-hosted by Vimbai Mutinhiri and two other Nigerians.

The night was mainly dominated by Nigerian talent which has been spawned from the Nollywood Naija film industry juggernaut.

Nollywood is best known for its prolific output of content of sometimes slapdash movies. Yes, the movies have their bright moments, but the Naija industry appears to thrive on the stories rather than on the technical or aesthetic brilliancy thereof.

Numbers don’t lie.

Zimbabwean entries were Munya Chidzonga’s The Gentleman, Rumbi Katedza’s Playing Movies and the soapie Legacies.

Sadly, the Zimbo entries failed to make the grade on the nominees’ list. One may surmise that the numbers don’t lie and that pitted against the Nigerians, few can beat them in a competition in which vote tallies matter.

A sure thing
The jury is still out on whether the Nigerian movie formula augurs well for the future of the film industry in Africa in the long run.

What we do know is that many of the streets in most African countries carry thousands of vendors flogging many of these movies on pirate discs or are they ?

In the end, it is the market that decides and the AMVCA seems to be a vindication of the success of the Naija concept as the winners are selected after a tally of viewers’ votes as audited by the South African firm of Ntsaluba Gobodo.

Dark horse
Kenya proved somewhat of a spoiler for the Naija movie machinery as it took home five awards out of 27 categories including best make-up artist (Elayne Okaya — Nairobi Half Life), best indigenous language movie/series (Swahili) (Njoki Muhoho — Mama Duka), best lightning designer (Mohammed Zain — Nairobi Half Life).

A significant award was given to Pete Edochie for the industry merit award. The actor has appeared in numerous movies and is a long standing industry pioneer and stalwart in Nigeria which was the dominant winner in most of the categories.

Elsewhere, at the Oscars
Across the seas, a Mexico-born Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o won the best supporting actress’ Oscar for her role in Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, at the 86th Academy Awards held at the Dolby Theatres in Los Angeles, California.

The Harvard educated actress related remarked upon winning the award : “It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is due to so much pain in someone else’s” referring to the slaves whose story is narrated in Solomon Northup’s memoir, on which the film is based.

She plays the slave girl Patsey in the movie 12 Years a Slave. The movie won the Oscar for best picture in a hotly contested category featuring the likes of Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity and The Wolf of Wall Street.

Nyong’o joined a select group of winners who scored big with their first outing. They are now 18 in the awards’ history. She grabbed the award ahead of pundits’ favourites Jennifer Lawrence and Julia Roberts.

Nyong’o is not a friend of Nigerian pop singer Dencia if ever she was! The singer (whom I have mentioned in this column) is notorious for her skin lightening cream which is making her a fortune by turning melanin rich girls into white or yellow skinned fairies.

In her speech, Nyong’o read a section of a fan letter she received from a dark-skinned girl inspired by her to embrace her blackness and not buy Dencia’s “whitenicious” skin bleaching cream.

Nyong’o told the crowd that the letter reminded her of “a time when I too felt unbeautiful” and how witnessing the super success of Sudanese supermodel Alek Wek helped her make peace with her blackness.

Her mother, she says, used to tell her that “you can’t eat beauty”. Clearly Nyong’o is as black as they come and by her own account used to pray to God to make her white ! In the widely acclaimed speech on beauty she said, as quoted by an international news agency:

“I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful. I put on the TV and only saw pale skin; I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin . . . And when I was a teenager my self-hate grew worse, as you can imagine happens with adolescence. My mother reminded me often that she thought that I was beautiful, but that was no [consolation], she’s my mother, of course she’s supposed to think I am beautiful. And then . . . Wek.

“A celebrated model, she was dark as night, she was on all of the runways and in every magazine and everyone was talking about how beautiful she was. Even Oprah called her beautiful and that made it a fact. I couldn’t believe that people were embracing a woman who looked so much like me, as beautiful. My complexion had always been an obstacle to overcome and all of a sudden Oprah was telling me it wasn’t.”

Torching a storm
The speech has ignited a heated discussion around diversity in Hollywood and around the world whilst tackling the black woman’s struggle for self acceptance in a world in which beauty’s paradigms are defined by the money men who rule the entertainment industry.

Mad as Dencia
But Dencia, with her eye on her business, has uncharitably lashed out at Nyong’o via tweeter alleging that the Oscar winner had attempted to call her out. She wrote a grammatically mangled tweet: “And oh while you claim she isn’t thinking of me, I’m on Her brain 4 her 2 mention me in a speech she should have thanked u stupid fools.” she tweeted. “& oh @Lupita_Nyongo cln’t talk abt the bleaching creams white people (Companies) make cuz the white man pays her, they own her!(sic)”

Of course, many commentators have rallied to Lupita’s defence. Dencia now considers that the controversy is actually pushing her sales. What a world.

Since Culture Beat is generally alert to the juicy showbiz tid bits, I can intimate that word on the streets says that the Bulawayo Arts Merits Awards are coming soon. This may be a response to the hoopla surrounding the National Arts Merit Awards.

In Harare, Davies Guzha and his Rooftop Promotions announced the Wene Music Awards last week. So we will see how this all plays out at year end. Later folks.

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