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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Project Fame – Another Type of Sport

The judges have their say...

Last weekend would have been like any other weekend in the country. However for sports lovers (most especially fans of the round leather game) it was no ordinary weekend.

The weekend marked the beginning of the English Premier League and even a stranger in Lagos knows that the English Premier League is the most popular and most watched soccer league in the country. Soccer lovers adorned the jersey of their favourite clubs and headed to the numerous viewing centres in the country to watch the kick off of this season’s league competition.

The EPL has over the years entrenched itself into the very fabric of the Nigerian society that it is now more fashionable to be a fan of one the Big Four (Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United) than be an avid supporter of the Super Eagles of Nigeria whose fortunes over time has declined sharply from its glory days- Tunisia 94 and Atlanta 96. As the stock of Nigeria’s millionaire footballers have continued to plummet that of the Premiership has continued to rise thereby becoming the defacto football event in the country.

Therefore by the mere principle of substitution, the EPL has been able to grip the hearts of soccer lovers just like the way the Super Eagles did in their heyday. Whenever there is a hot league fixture it’s a sure thing that streets will stand still for the duration of the match. Such is the popularity of the Premiership where millions will leave everything they are doing to watch some good ole’ football.

The opening week of the premiership is one of those days where every other programme on TV fades to the background. TV shows that coincide with the Premiership are usually neglected by millions, who will rather watch their favourite team slug it out for 3 points. This is a scenario that had occurred for over some time now so even the most seasoned gambler would have put his money on the Premiership stealing the show once again. Well this was not the case this time as around.

As this season’s EPL kicked off, many expectedly rushed to watch the beginning of another nerve-wracking 6 months of near misses, brilliant goals and agonizing defeats. But when it was time for MTN Project Fame West Africa to be on air many of these soccer crazy fanatics flipped their remote to see which contestants were going to get evicted.

Surprised? No need to be! Now in its third season, MTN Project Fame has quietly but steadily gone on to become one of Nigeria’s most watched shows. Attracting over 50 million viewers across the sub- continent, PFWA has become so popular that it vies for attention with football matches, a move that most TV pundits couldn’t dare think of. Of course PF isn’t the first music competition that makes the bold statement of taking wannabes and transforming them into superstars. Several have been on this worn path but the hallmark that distinguishes Project Fame from the litter is in its format which is the underlying reason why it attracts millions.
Every day people get to watch the contestants in the Academy through 30 minute episodes shown all over the nation. This gives the viewer a sort of bird’s eye view on the happenings in the Project Fame Academy which makes them feel closer. Much as how entertaining footballers are on the pitch I sincerely don’t thin people will like to see them on a daily basis talking about football tactics. But with PF you get to see how the contestants grow and learn the intricacies of music- think of it as a musical version of Big Brother.

As for the roller coaster of emotions that watching football can give you, Project Fame can also equal that. Soccer viewers grow grey hairs whenever their team grabs a late winner or gets defeated by a lowly club side. Such a similar experience is faced by Project Fame fans whenever their favourite contestant gives a good performance or is eliminated. Soccer is a cauldron of so many extreme emotions so also is PF. At any moment you can be taken from ecstatic to sad in just a matter of seconds depending on the success of your contestant.

And in the aspect of audience participation, feedback is high up there with the numbers the EPL can boast of. EPL is just a weekend thing so it’s safe to say that audience participation in terms of sending in text messages to predict the winner of the match (and match betting only happens on Saturdays and Sundays). But audience participation in regards to Project Fame is a daily thing as a high number of people send in texts to encourage the contestants and vote for their favourite contestants. With that scenario it is safe to say that Project Fame involves a whole lot of people than any other platform on TV right now.

As this season’s EPL continues to progress expect the third season of Project Fame to compete with it. With so much drama coming, it won’t be surprising for for the music competition to even overshadow it a times. Am sure the folks behind the Premiership will be happy that Project Fame runs for only three months and not six. If it were, music might just become our new sport.

The Presenters keep it interesting...

Mike Anyasodo PF Season 2 Winner

Iyanya won the Inaugural Edition of PF

Nigeria's Ex-beauty Queen Ibinabo Fibresima Goes Into Ushering Business

Popular Nollywood actress cum ex Beauty Queen, Ibinabo Fibresima who has maintained a very low profile for some months now, has taken up a new profession. The beautiful light skinned actress now own an outfit that supply ushers for A class events around the country, she has good number of beautiful girls with unique and special uniform that makes them so different from the normal ushers people are used to seeing.

CHECKPOINTS OF DEATH: When Will Onovo Stop This Carnage?

Nigerians have expressed their anger over the carnage policemen always cause at checkpoints on the nation’s highways and they are asking when the Inspector-General of Police, Ogbonna Onovo, will call his men to order and dismantle the checkpoints

The outrage came in the wake of another avoidable tragedy caused by a police checkpoint mounted on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway yesterday.

The accident left over 25 people dead, some burnt beyond recognition. Several vehicles were also burnt.

According to eyewitnesses, immediately the accident occurred, the policemen who mounted the road block fled the scene and were pursued by people around the scene but the cops managed to escape.

At the time of writing this report, the policemen had not been fished out by the Lagos State Police Command. Some of the witnesses said the policemen came from Isheri Police Station while some claimed they were a team from the Rapid Response Squad, RRS.

When we called at Isheri Police Station this morning, a senior police officer said officers from the station don’t mount road blocks.

“We don’t mount road blocks. We do not have the capacity to mount road blocks. The accident was not caused by us even though the place is within our jurisdiction,” he said.

The officer said the information they had was that the truck driver was on top speed, lost control of the vehicle and it rammed into a commuter bus. The impact, according to him, was what caused the fire outbreak that ignited other vehicles.

The Police Public Relations Officer for Lagos State Command, Frank Mba, also debunked the claim by eye witnesses that the incident was caused by the police.

“You know that where the incident took place is a slope and it is a disaster for any vehicle to lose its brake in that kind of place.

“There was no policeman at that place before, during and after the incident. We do not know why people are going about with such stories. That conclusion is hasty and unnecessary. We are investigating and after our investigation, we will come out with our findings,” Mba said.

But eyewitnesses would not agree with Mba. A driver identified as Rasheed Adeniji explained how the incident happened.

“ We were again in a serious traffic here on this spot this morning where the police officers usually collect N20 from us and pursue people coming with second hand cars. All of a sudden we just heard a big bang at the back. Before I knew it fire had engulfed the whole place.

“I quickly ran out of my vehicle and ran to the other side where I saw a trailer that rammed into the long queue of vehicles waiting to be cleared by the police officers. People started running helter-skelter. I looked around here and there and did not see the conductor, my own brother.

“I rushed back to the bus and which at this time was in flames with many other vehicles. I started shouting for help from people to rescue my passengers, about 18 of them, including my brother. As I am talking to you now, they could not come out, they all burnt to ashes.”

Another survivor, Isaac Ejiwere, said, “I heard bashing of cars from behind. When I got out of the vehicle to observe what was happening, suddenly I saw a trailer engulfed in fire. We managed to escape.

“We would have been like one of these ones, if not for God. My vehicle is burnt beyond recognition and the car behind me over there has the charred body of a person trapped inside. What baffles me most is the fact that the policemen who mounted this road block disappeared immediately the accident happened.”

Another eyewitness, who gave his name as Christian, said a five year-old boy and his mother died in the tragedy.

“The woman, who was driving the vehicle cried out to people to rescue her son. But nobody could go near the vehicle as the fire was intense.”

Accidents caused by police checkpoints across the country are numerous and the authorities as well as the inspector general of police don’t seem to be bothered about bringing the culprits to book.

In January 2008, the Principal, Ansar-ud-Deen Junior Grammar School II, Iseyin, Oyo State, Mr. Bolanle Balogun, was crushed by a mobile policeman who was driving a vehicle with registration number Lagos AR 04 AAA.

The name of the mobile policeman was later given as Gideon Adepoju. The policemen were said to be chasing a defiant commuter bus driver who failed to stop at a checkpoint mounted close to a sharp bend. While the bus driver escaped, the policemen lost control and hit the principal.

A senior teacher, Mrs. Riskat Sanni, described the late Balogun as God-fearing, gentle and peaceful. Chairman of the NUT, Mr. Waheed Gbadegesin and his ANCOPSS colleague, Mr. A.O. Adeogun, called for justice.

Similarly, confusion reign on the streets of Effurun and Warri, Delta State on 14 August, 2007 when a lorry ran over an okada rider near a police checkpoint. What actually transpired between the lorry driver and the policemen could not be ascertained.

Four others were killed in similar circumstances in Effurun. Okada riders, therefore, went on the rampage in Warri and Effurun to protest the killing of their colleagues.

On 14 July, 2009, five students of Government Secondary School, Tunjga, Maji were killed while travelling on the Zuba-Gwagwalada (Abuja)-Lokoja road.

Reports said a police van gave their bus a chase after the driver allegedly failed to stop at a checkpoint. But the students’ bus ran into a gully on the road and crashed. Four policemen on the chase also sustained injuries.

The Abuja-Lokoja highway was blocked for more than three hours after the accident as students of College of Education, Zuba protested the killing of the students who were said to be going for the end of their school’s session prize giving day ceremony when the accident occurred.

Similarly, police road block accident was reported in Oba, Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State in June 2010 when 20 commuters on Enugu-Onitsha road died.

Motorists protested the accidents when they blocked the Onitsha-Enugu road for many hours. The peaceful protest was later resolved by a joint team of policemen and the military.

However, the state Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Emeka Chukwuemeka, denied the loss of lives in the accident.

As a result of the accident, the Senate Committee on Police Affairs summoned the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ogbonna Onovo, the AIG Zone 9, Umuahia, Hafiz Ringim and the state Police Commissioner, Philemon Leha, to appear before it in Abuja.

Meanwhile, the General Manager, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, Dr. Oke Osanyintolu, has said that his men reacted swiftly to yesterday’s accident that occurred in front of the Jubilee Estate also known as Otedola Bridge.

In a SMS message to us, Osanyintolu confirmed that 20 vehicles were burnt while several persons were burnt beyond recognition. 18 other casualties, he said, were taken to a trauma centre for attention.

The Nigerian Animation Film Making Industry Gets a Boost: A Childhood Dream Materializes

SHRINKFISH Ltd, a newly incorporated Animation and Media Studios in Abuja, Nigeria has just one long standing intention: to substantially bring a change to the animation film making industry in Africa starting from Nigeria.

In 2009, the UN cultural organisation UNESCO, said that the Nigerian film making industry known as Nollywood was now the second-biggest film industry in the world thus pushing it one more rung up the ladder from the statistics of the previous year. Despite that, one can legitimately ask: "Where is Animation?"

This question is the major reason why Shrinkfish® was born. The company's 'history' goes back more than three decades before its incorporation in 2009. The driving force is Mr. Ifeanacho Okoye, who though without a film-making background, has gone that extra step to support a childhood dream and passion as embodied by Ebele Okoye.

Listening to the background information as being told by Mrs. Okoye, one cannot but say that the emergence of the company is a true result of perseverance and hard work. Mrs Okoye who grew up in the south eastern part of Nigeria says that Story-telling had always been part of her 'communal life'. Hear her:

"These stories were mostly handed down orally. As a child whose biggest companions were the characters in 'Charlie Brown' comics, I developed a very strong urge to extend this companionship to involve the heroes in my orally‐handed‐down stories told mostly by moonlight or around a crackling fire. I yearned for a medium through which I could share these heroes with "the rest of the world". These yearnings solidified my dreams of going into animation film‐making. However, due to the absence of film schools in Nigeria at that time, this dream could not materialize, so I studied Graphic design/Illustration after which I started looking for ways and places to gain knowledge in animation film‐making"

This knowledge was finally found more than three decades later at the International Film School Cologne, Germany through an intensive training in 2D Animation under well-known Names in Animation like Jimi Murakami ('A Christmas Carol') and the Oscar winning Michael Dudok de Wit ('Father and Daughter').

Through a strong urge to put motivation, experiences and goals in one basket, Shrinkfish® was founded in October 2009 by group individuals who share the passion and conviction of animation being a great channel for a cross‐cultural exchange.
According to Mrs. Okoye, the main goal at Shrinkfish® is to contribute to the African film‐making industry through animation and create cultural and creative awareness through cinematographic interpretations which lie within the realms of the current globalized social lifestyles while finding inspiration in the African folk Tales and the African society as a whole.

Asked how they intend to bring this through in a constellation like Nollywood where Animation has not yet received recognition, Mrs Okoye says:
"We know that it is not easy to promote animation -especially 2D- in this part of the world where people are more likely to relate with things that 'glitter', yet we are taking it step by step in seeing that we reach our goals. We have finished two shorts since October 2009 and are currently developing our first major production titled "The Legacy of Rubies", a 25-minutes short film inspired by African Folk tales"

The very first of such numerous planned productions titled "The Legacy of Rubies", will be kicking off in February 2011 using 100% local manpower. The production will be preceded by a hands-on training for 2D Animators. They hope that the production will inspire other film makers of African origin but specifically Nigerians to take bolder steps towards Animation, as a means of expression, which has a promising future in the African film‐making industry, especially in consideration of the fact that in film festivals in places like Europe, Asia and North America, animation films which are based on African stories or are playing in the African environment are either underrepresented or totally missing.

Having put into good consideration the numerous hurdles in the Nigerian social environment which do affect the productivity, Shrinkfish is structured in a way which allows the independent producers work at their own pace, yet with non-stop motivation and support under the supervision and management of a top African and European team whose experiences in film, television, Internet and print media go back to over 15 years.

Shrinkfish® is also involved in other aspects of animation like Music Videos, Dynamic content animation for Corporate Identity, Branding, Advertisement solutions, Internet,Training Films and Multimedia Presentations, not leaving out Personalized Packages.

In partnership with other bodies, they are also engaged in sustainable Training initiatives for children of very poor backgrounds, who are talented in the art of visual story-telling. The Pilot Project CCDI (Children Content Development Initiative) is being run globally in partnership with Nondyk Ventures based in South Africa.