‘To be human is to be a storyteller’ – Barbara K. Walker.
Storytelling is defined as the interactive art of using words and actions to convey the elements and images of a story while encouraging the listener’s imagination. Stories are shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation, and to instill moral values.
The first story ever told is considered to be The Epic of Gilgamesh, an ancient story addressing some of the basic premises of existentialism, which dates back to approximately 3,000 B.C. Besides offering guidelines on how humans should live righteously, the Christian and Muslim holy books – Bible and Quran – which are about 2700 and 1410 years old respectively, are also just as popular for telling the best stories.
Across the world, storytellers are kings. They are revered for their ability to effortlessly tell stories that evoke emotions and create memories. Indeed, it would not be implausible to say that storytellers, not money, make the world go round. In Africa, a new wave of promising storytellers are emerging and MultiChoice right at the heart of it.
On Saturday, March 14, 2020, thousands of people assembled at the Eko Hotel & Suites for the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA) to once again celebrate the best talents on the continent who have played exceptional roles in contributing to excellent works in the past year. That evening, a total of 24 African actors and 44 filmmakers from various countries all vied for top prizes for 43 films released between April 1, 2018 and November 30, 2019.
The AMVCA is an evening of celebration and through it, MultiChoice is inspiring thousands of African storytellers.
When it launched nearly three decades ago in 1993, MultiChoice sought to deliver matchless content rich in exceptional storytelling to millions of homes in Africa. And through its multiple channels and huge broadcast network, the pay-TV company broadcasts unequalled programme content to 50 countries in sub-saharan Africa, with many of its content available in diverse languages from around the continent.
By providing premium entertainment to millions of people across the continent through its channels, especially Africa Magic, MultiChoice is also providing talented African storytellers with a platform to thrive and shine. Storytellers are reaching an unprecedented audience with their works on Africa Magic, which has been expanded to seven channels – Africa Magic Family, Africa Magic Showcase, Africa Magic Yoruba, Africa Magic Igbo, Africa Magic Hausa, Africa Magic Epic and Africa Magic Urban – with a focus on African programmes including movies, television shows and general entertainment.
As a need to further demonstrate its commitment to recognising and celebrating the best talents, as well as keeping with its core values of enriching lives in Africa, the pay-TV company launched the first class awards ceremony named Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA) in 2013. In 2018, it also launched the MultiChoice Talent Factory, a 12-month fully-funded Corporate Social Value programme to boost the quality of local film and create great stories. These initiatives, the company says, are targeted at helping Africa’s creative industries grow into vibrant, economic powerhouses.
Since the launch of the AMVCA, African storytellers – writers, filmmakers, directors and actors – have been handed more incentives to tell better stories and produce world class content. This in turn translates to mainstream visibility, credibility and an income boost.
These incentives were reflected in C.J Obasi’s statement following his win in the ‘Best Writer in a Movie or TV Series’ category at the 7th AMVCA, in which he said ‘One of my lifelong dreams has been to see my mother walk up the stage when I receive a prestigious award. Last night this was fulfilled.’
As a result of these initiatives, the improvements in film and television content in Africa have never been more evident.
Storytellers who had hitherto struggled to reach a wide audience are telling excellent African stories through short films, feature films, and documentaries, and are making good money while at it. It is no coincidence that the highest grossing African movies such as Ayo Makun’s 30 Days In Atlanta, Kunle Afolayan’s October 1, Steve Gukas and Charles Okpaleke’s Living In Bondage: Breaking Free, Kemi Adetiba’s The Wedding Party and King Of Boys, and Genevieve’s Lion Heart have all come in the last six years.
Works out of Africa have also begun to gain widespread recognition and exposure across the world, with script writers, filmmakers and producers striking mouthwatering partnership deals with international companies like Netflix.
John Ugbe, Managing Director for MultiChoice Nigeria, attributed the tremendous growth of Africa’s film industry in the last few years to Africa Magic channels’ content distribution. “The growth witnessed in the industry can be linked to the impact of the Africa Magic channels in operation across 53 countries on the continent. These channels have also consistently proven to be a platform for the unearthing, promotion and celebration of existing and up and coming film and TV talent,” Ugbe said during the channel’s 15th year anniversary in 2018.
Through the AMVCA, MultiChoice has recognized over 170 African talents over seven editions for their outstanding achievements in film and television. This year, for its seventh edition, the AMVCA even went a step further to honour the trailblazers in fashion, having contributed immensely to the fashion industry with its stellar pre-award red carpet show-offs in the past seven years.
Having now been armed with the tantalising prospect of reaching a wider audience and an opportunity to win top honours at the AMVCA, storytellers in Africa are being inspired to put their best foot forward when creating content for consumers and it’s beautiful to see.
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