Tuesday, January 26, 2010


2009 was an eventful year for Nigeria’s dynamic entertainment scene. From music, movies to comedy shows, it was a new level of acceptance and recognition for many a Nigerian artiste, actor and comedian. M.I, D Banj, TuFace and P Sqaure proudly flew the Nigerian flag once again at the 2009 MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMA) held in Kenya where they all carted home awards. Nneka Egbuna won the coveted Music Of Black Origin (MOBO) awards in the UK and then, Femi Kuti got another Grammy nomination (maybe he would finally win the coveted Award too).

For Obi Asika, CEO of Storm Records, one of Nigeria’s foremost recording labels, music would still define the country’s entertainment scene in 2010. “In 2010, I believe you would see quality music coming from a number of places. Some of us are working hard to unlock the opportunities for Nigerian talents this year” he noted. “I’m very excited that Femi Kuti got nominated (for the Grammy Awards) and I pray that he wins it because it would give a big boost to Nigerian music.” Not only that, he believes music still holds the key to the other channels of entertainment; TV, movies, events, fashion and merchandise. “In 2010, I believe you would see quality music coming from a number of places,” he said.

Despite that fact that Nigerian music has become a dominant force on the African continent, Asika believes that most artistes still have to improve their acts if they want to be significant in 2010. ‘There were a lot of music albums in 2009, but to be frank, there was a distinct lack of originality, where artistes were chasing hit records instead of hit music,” says Asika. For most music buffs, the usual suspects, the likes of Dbanj, Asa, Wande Coal, P-Square, to mention a few, may still be musical forces to reckon with, but the new year would also witness the coming of age of budding talents and an unleashing of more musical creativity, including the likes of General Pype, GT the Guitarman. Renowned names such as Naeto C, Sasha, Asa, and Tosin Martins are also putting finishing touches to their albums.

The New Year might also present a drawing board for some already established acts to get their acts back together, or a springboard for them to consolidate on their successes so far. But, like Asika asserts, “What we are looking for is higher ground, the content of the music and the production and the rhythm,” he said.

Apart from the issue of originality and quality of music, the industry might just need restructuring if it has to consolidate on whatever gains it had in 2009. “It needs proper structures in terms of marketing and distribution,” says veteran entertainment journalist, Kunle Ayeni. “The quality control at radio stations and all the record labels must improve and the artistes should be much more Pan-Nigeria in their lyrics and all that,” he noted. The music industry, he said, would be much stronger if the government sorted out the issues of copyright matters so that more people in the industry could be rewarded for their efforts.

On the other hand, the 2010 edition of the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria (MBGN) pageant, organized by Silverbird Communications, would be another major entertainment highlight of the year. The MBGN beauty pageant in Nigeria produced the first African Miss World (Agbani Darego) in 2001. Some entertainment buffs also hold the opinion that TV reality shows, cinema culture and comedy might reach a new level in 2010. But the major question on the lips of many is if Nollywood could make a significant bounce back, after a lull in the last couple of years. Ayeni thinks so. “If you look at what happened last year, with movies such as Through the Glass and The Figurine, you would see that Nollywood is (gradually) moving from the direction of quantity to that of quality. It looks like producers have taken contents, cinematography, and scripting more seriously. If they can also put the crises of the AGN (Actors Guild of Nigeria) behind them and sort out their distribution, I think Nollywood would eventually breakaway from the shackles of yesteryears,” he said.

2010 is also significant because it is the year that marks Nigeria’s 50th Independence anniversary. For Asika, entertainment is going to play a major role in the celebrations. “Without entertainment, there would be no Nigeria at 50, because what are we going to talk about?” he asked, while adding that his company, Storm 360, is currently working on a 13-episode TV drama series called ‘Nigeria, the first 100 years’ (1860 – 1960). “We have not told our story, so why do we complain when they tell our stories for us? So in the 50th year, we’re going to tell our own story,” he said. Entertainment might be one significant channel to do just that.

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