Photo: Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu
By Steve Maduka
I am not a believer in awards. Perhaps I am of the school of thought that thinks winning an award is not a testament of who you truly are or what you can achieve.
However, when at the recently concluded Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA), the organizers bestowed on veteran television producer, Peter Igho the prestigious Industry Merit Award at the seventh edition of the award, I started having second thoughts about awards, because the award given to Igho, who is best known for his achievements with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) in the promotion of local television content was well-deserved.
This worthy Nigerian television veteran has produced and directed television classics like ‘Cockcrow at Dawn’, ‘Village Headmaster’, ‘Samanja’ and many others. These are local television content that Nigerians born in the 60s and 70s could relate to.
But in the 90s, there was a shift among television audience as they became more interested in watching foreign television content. But this was short-lived because the viewing experience of foreign content all changed when Africa Magic which was established in 2003 with just one channel started promoting indigenous television content.
Like Igho, Africa Magic promoted and advocated for local television content that promoted Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage, customs, and traditions. Today, Africa Magic which started with just one channel now has over seven channels on the DStv and GOtv platform. The channel owners went further to establish dedicated channels for the three major Nigerian languages namely, Africa Magic Yoruba (Channel 157), Africa Magic Igbo (Channel 159) and Africa Magic Hausa (Channel 156).
Besides having more channels on the DStv and GOtv platform, Africa Magic has been committed to the production of home-grown television content. For example, they produced content such as ‘Doctors Quarters’, ‘Edge of Paradise’, ‘Big Brother Naija’ the biggest reality show in the sub-Sahara Africa, ‘Tinsel’; which today is unarguably the longest-running soap opera on Nigeria television, ‘Hotel Majestic’, ‘Hush’, ‘Battleground’, ‘Do Good’, ‘Jemeji’, ‘Forbidden’, ‘Eve’, ‘The Johnsons’, ‘Ajoche’, and in recent time ‘Flatmates’, ‘The Mercy and Ike Show’, ‘Judging Matters’ among others.
These wholesome family content has not only brought laughter, tears, joy, anger, and entertainment to our homes, but it has also created employment opportunity for young Nigerians in the supply chain of television productions.
Some may not understand that the cost of producing content locally, especially if it runs for a number of years as Tinsel is currently doing, costs more than some international content. In a report compiled by Accenture; a global management consulting firm of repute, it was reported that Africa Magic through its parent company MultiChoice Nigeria, has invested over N32.6billion from 2015 to 2019 in the nation’s creative industry.
Also, Africa Magic has spent over 177.459 hours of content and has spent over N47.3billion in commissioned content and production infrastructure and in job creation over 9,955 jobs have been created within the creative industry. This is indeed commendable!
In showing commitment to these financial investments, Africa Magic has built a multi-million-dollar state-of-art multi-purpose studio in Lagos where they produce these local television content such as ‘Tinsel’ and ‘BBNaija’.
In addition to the huge financial investment that Africa Magic has made to promote local television content in Nigeria, the organization has used its platform as a vehicle for the promotion of Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage across the continent.
With the support of Africa Magic, the creative industry in Nigeria has cultivated a massive African audience. For example, in African countries like Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and even South Africa some of their citizens can speak the pidgin English which is synonymous with Nigeria and this makes it easier for them to relate with Nigerians when they encounter them.
Whether we accept it or not, in the Nigeria creative industry, Africa Magic holds up a candle to future generations who are eager to find the pathway to success in the creative industry. They have fully supported the ongoing training programme for young creative talent at the MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF) as they provide participants of the MTF Academy practical skills and training they would find useful in the industry.
For the creative industry in Nigeria to make a more positive impact in the global market, stakeholders in this industry need more collaboration with Africa Magic as the organization has set out on a mission towards building the nation’s creative industry into a global brand.