Mo Abudu, owner of EbonyLife TV recently signed a deal with Netflix to produce Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horsemen, Lola Shoneyin’s Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s wives along with two other originals.
Though there is yet no public mention of the figures involved, it could run into hundreds of millions of naira, based on Netflix’s acquisition of Nigerian movies in the past. This could have an impressive impact on Nigeria’s GDP as Nollywood is said to account for up to 5% of the country’s GDP.
The TV producer recently took to her Instagram handles to tell her 728k followers about how she secured the rights to the books.
Death and the King’s Horseman
About Soyinka’s play, the journey to secure rights to the book started in 2015 when Abudu approached Wole Soyinka to make an offer on the rights to produce the drama into a film series.
According to Abudu, this play was a first choice for her when she first decided to venture into production of produce IP related projects. It took 5 years of discussions and negotiations to finally seal the deal, which now involves global streaming platform – Netflix.
For Professor Wole Soyinka, he has no doubt that the product of this partnership will be of impressive global standards and quality.
“Mo Abudu’s incursion into this arena as film and television producer has been especially stimulating. It becomes part of one’s sense of achievement if one has contributed, however minutely, to the creation of an enabling environment,” he said.
Securing rights to Lola Shoneyin’s prose
Abudu revealed in her post that her desire to produce the book started from reading the book in 2017. She was immediately struck by the plot, she said, and she knew it would make a great film or TV series.
And so, for the last three years, it has been series of meetings and negotiations, eventually culminating in the Netflix deal.
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Good morning beautiful people. It's been such a glorious weekend ❤❤❤ Once again, thank you all so much for all your beautiful messages. I am so excited about our slate of projects with Netflix, and our first Netflix Original Series will be THE SECRET LIVES OF BABA SEGI'S WIVES. I had heard so much about the book and l only got round to reading the book in 2017. As soon as i finished reading it, I knew this had to become a film or TV series, my next assignment was tracking Lola Shoneyin down and convincing her to give me the rights to the book. 😂😂💃🏿💃🏿 Oh boy was I in for a ride or what 😂😂, my concerns ranged from would she trust me, would we get on, would we support each other as women and so much more was playing on my mind, but I kept an open mind and approached Lola with complete transparency and honesty about my intent and desire to acquire the rights to Baba Segi. One meeting led to another, this took a minute 😁😁, but I was patient, we have over the years become friends and eventually the deal was done 💃🏽💃🏽💃🏽. But I must add, that on meeting Lola we just connected, it was as if I had known her all my life. We have the most fascinating discussions and she cracks me up non stop 😂😂😂. Dear Lola, thank you so much for trusting me with this precious work. ❤❤ We are super excited about partnering with Netflix on bringing this story to millions of people around the world. Below is a quote from Lola, which forms part of the press statement issued on Friday : “I was thrilled when Mo contacted me about making a show out of my novel ,The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives. I’d turned down so many offers but this one felt right. It was an opportunity to see my work in the hands of a woman who pursued excellence in Africa in the same way that I did. I grew to trust her very quickly, so when she told me about the possibility of working with Netflix, I was overjoyed. Soon, people everywhere will have access to the story of Baba Segi. And that is more that I could have asked for as a writer.” #MoAbuduXLolaShoneyin #BabaSegiComingToNetflix #AfricaRiseAndShine #NigeriaToTheWorld #EbonyLifeChangingTheNarrative #netflixebonylifepartnership
About the deal, Lola Shoneyin said in her statement that she had turned down several other offers to make a show out of the prose, but Abudu struck her as the right person for the deal.
“It was an opportunity to see my work in the hands of a woman who pursued excellence in Africa in the same way that I did. I grew to trust her very quickly, so when she told me about the possibility of working with Netflix, I was overjoyed. Soon, people everywhere will have access to the story of Baba Segi. And that is more that I could have asked for as a writer,” Shoneyin said.
Casting begins for the Netflix original
Mo Abudu gave rundown of the plot of the book in a recent post, and asked for suggestions on characters for the book.
“I value your feedback and opinions. Who would you like to see play these roles from the most talented line-up of Nigerian actors you love and respect? Please do not forget, we need oscar winning performances o!!,” she wrote.
The role of Baba Segi got nominations like Jide Kosoko, Kunle Bamtefa, Akin Williams, while Rachel Oniga, Sola Sobowale, Eniola Badmus, Ngozi Nwosu were nominated into Iya Segi’s role.
Ireti Doyle, Bisola Aiyeola, Toyin Abraham was also nominated for the role of Iya Femi, the second wife.
Funlola Aofiyebi, Nse Ikpe Etim, Bimbo Akintola, Kate Henshaw were nominated to play the role of Iya Tope, while the role of quiet but sophisticated Bolanle got nominations like Omoni Oboli, Sharon Ooja, Kehinde Bankole, Kemi Lala Akindoju, and Adesua Etomi Wellington.
For Soyinka’s play, Abudu also summarized the plot and requested nominations from her followers.
Being a culturally intense plot with poetic lines, there is a need to use actors who understand the culture and can interpret it in the theatrics.
There were nominations like Femi Branch, Baba Wande and Richard Mofe Damijo as Elesin, Joke Silva and Iya Rainbow as Iyaloja, Hafiz Oyetoro, Seun Ajayi, Odunlade Adekola, Ronke Oshodi, Lateef Adedimeji Kehinde Bankole/ Bisola Aiyeola, Demola Adedoyin, Fausat Balogun among others.
Fans are sure looking forward to the screen productions, and there are hopes as well that the originals will not be star-studded but allow a few new actors in the industry.
FG hands over National Theatre to CBN, Bankers Committee, to create 1 million jobs
The Federal Government has announced the official hand over of the National Arts Theatre Complex at Iganmu Lagos, to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Banks under the aegis of the Bankers’ Committee, in order to commence the renovation of the facility.
This was contained in a tweet post by the Presidential Aide to President Muhammadu Buhari on New Media, Tolu Ogunlesi, on his official Twitter handle on Sunday, July 12, 2020.
UPDATE: The event has taken place.
“@NigeriaGov on Sunday officially handed over the National Theatre complex in Lagos to @cenbank and Banks under the aegis of the Bankers’ Committee, to commence the RENOVATION of the facility.” https://t.co/h2aWfuHyF8
— tolu ogunlesi (@toluogunlesi) July 12, 2020
It would be recalled that last year, the CBN in conjunction with the Bankers’ Committee unveiled the Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI), which was to enable businesses to obtain loans up to the tune of N500 million.
During the event which was attended by the Minister for Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed and the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said the bankers were targeting 1 million jobs from this project in the next 5 years.
In the tweet post, Tolu Ogunlesi said, ‘’The Nigerian Government on Sunday officially handed over the National Theatre complex in Lagos to Central Bank of Nigeria and Banks under the aegis of the Bankers’ Committee, to commence the renovation of the facility.’’
Emefiele said the handover of the facility to the committee was timely, considering the external headwinds facing the country’s economy at the moment. He said that the renovation of the facility which would be completed in 18 months, would have transformed the facility into Nigeria’s Creative Industrial Centre.
According to the CBN boss, the National Arts Centre will be comparable to other world-class entertainment and convention centres in any part of the world. He said the activities in the centre which would include music, movies, fashion and ICT, could be a very important source of growth and reduce the dependence on revenues from crude oil.
He pointed out the creative industry has the potential to generate over $20 billion annually for Nigeria with its human capital resources and an enabling environment that would harness the creative talents of her youths.
Emefiele said: “We must do more to encourage the innovative works of these young talented Nigerians as they can make significant contributions to the growth and development of our country.’’
“Secondly, given our growing population of close to 200m people, out of which 60 per cent are under the age of 35, it is imperative that we strive to create opportunities that will keep our youths engaged, as it would portend great dangers for the progress of our nation if we allow these talents go to waste”
Emefiele said that the Creative Industries Financing Initiative which was set up in December 2018 was to support startups and existing businesses as well as foster development of Nigeria Creative Industries Centre in 4 major cities in Nigeria. He said the bankers’ committee would support the creative industry with about N25 billion of initial funding.
He said upon the completion of the renovation works at the theatre with the supporting facilities, the committee intends to set up similar creative industries centres in Kano, Port-Harcourt or Enugu.
He also said that the theatre would support skills acquisition and job creation for over 1 million Nigerians. These Nigerians will be empowered with funds at a single digit interest rate, high-level training using state of the art tools and networks that will enable them to turn their ideas into a reality.
He revealed that the supporting facilities like retail outlets, hotels, entertainment centres and an international conference centre would also help to reposition the centre as a viable location for high-level international meetings and conventions.
Multichoice group adds live sports to streaming service, Showmax
Showmax Pro in Nigeria and Kenya will also have news and music channels.
In a bid to compete better with Netflix and Amazon, Africa’s biggest pay-TV firm, Multichoice Group Ltd, has started streaming live sports including Premier League soccer through an upgraded version of its Showmax service.
According to the head of the company’s Connected Video Division, Niclas Ekdahl, Multichoice is offering the new Showmax Pro in Nigeria and Kenya as of Tuesday and will add more sub-Saharan African countries over the next 2 months.
This business decision is designed to attract more subscribers and set Showmax apart from Netflix and Amazon Prime, which have both been expanding aggressively in Africa.
Multichoice had launched the video-on-demand service 5 years ago in order to halt movements from its more expensive TV service, thereby positioning itself as a better provider of more localized content than Netflix and Amazon.
However, in order to keep up with the trend, Netflix started to commission and screen Africa-produced dramas such as Queen Sono and Blood and Water, as part of its own strategy to attract viewers. Faster internet connections and cheaper packages on the continent have equally made online streaming a viable alternative to pay-TV.
The SuperSport unit of Multichoice is the most attractive of the media group’s broadcasts, showing live sports events like soccer, rugby, cricket and golf from all over the world. Sharing content with Showmax risks encouraging subscribers to move to a cheaper platform, although the Pro offering will be more expensive than the currently available service.
Showmax Pro, which will also have news and music channels, costs $19.66 a month in Kenya, compared with $7.11 for the sport-less version. DSTV packages in the East African country, with varying amounts of the sport, range from $39.32 to as much as $69.01.
According to Ekdahl, “A cheaper, smartphone-based version is also planned. With the mobile-only version, anyone with a smartphone in sub-Saharan Africa can access our content offering. This is something no other service is doing and we think it’s a game changer.”
It can be recalled that just last month, MultiChoice signed deals with Netflix and Amazon to offer their streaming services through its new decoder. The move is to help Africa’s largest pay-TV firm retain teeming subscribers and attract potential viewers.
Kanye West’s Yeezy LLC receives over $2 million PPP loans from US Government
Meanwhile, in Nigeria, SMEs and households are struggling to access CBN’s TCF loans.
Hip Hop billionaire, Kanye West, received over $2 million in government relief programmes for America’s small businesses through his Yeezy LLC sneaker company.
Details of the 4.9 million loans through the Paycheck Protection Program were released by the Small Business Administration. The loan would allow the Yeezy Company to retain as much as 106 jobs, assuming the company decides to spend most of the loans on payroll. Note that the Paycheck Protection Program loans are forgivable.
Kanye’s Yeezy sneaker business was valued at $3 billion last year. The Yeezy sneakers are manufactured and sold through licensing agreements with Adidas. The brand recently announced a ten-year agreement with Gap Inc, a development that caused Gap’s shares rise over 30% in one day.
The Paycheck Protection Program was created alongside the $2.2 trillion CARES Act signed by President Donald Trump to support American businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was recently extended for another 5 weeks.
READ MORE: SMEs can now access Access Bank loans from home
Other celebrity fashion brands that received loans of over $2 million include Vera Wang and Oscar de la Renta.
Meanwhile, over here in Nigeria, many Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and households have been struggling to access the Targeted Credit Facility (TCF) stimulus package that was announced by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
As Nairametrics reported, Nigeria’s apex ban introduced the N50 billion Targeted Credit Facility (TCF) as a stimulus to support households and small businesses that were affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. However, Nairametrics understands that many people have not been able to access these loans despite making concerted efforts.