October 15, 2018

#Naija58


On the 58th anniversary of Nigeria's independence, Nigerian citizens both home and abroad will hold celebrations to commemorate the event. In many places it's a whole long weekend in pageantry and the display of everything green-white-green, it's quite elaborate. Nigeria's independence held a promise of a great nation, possibly one of the most powerful nations in the world in terms of both natural and human resources. Yet this expectation is yet to be realized. Her dream has been derailed by gross misuse of its resources, ethnic genocide, corrupt leadership that won't invest in her future. As Nigerians come together this year as they've always done, the recurring theme is clear: can Nigeria be made great again?

Nigeria has upcoming elections in 2019 with promising candidates. They all have a vision of what a great Nigeria would look like. Will they succeed? With the same politicians in control and re-circulating power within themselves, can change be possible? Is change possible with supposed rigged elections? Inspiring fear and discouraging ordinary citizens to have a voice and suffer in complacency? Every Nigerian has an idea of what someone needs to do to fix things, few are taking active steps to attempt them. Those with good intentions get discouraged at the complexity of the situation, sigh in resignation of it's supposed hopelessness. "There's no hope for Nigeria." Someone once said.

On the 58th anniversary of Nigeria's independence, once thing is clear: Nigerians are resilient, talented, strong and powerful people. There may be uncertainties and roadblocks to attaining greatness, yet it will never dissuade them to soldiering on. A great majority of her nearly 200 million citizens would carry their heritage proudly, they would never stop dreaming of a great Nigeria. #Naijanodeycarrylast

July 30, 2018

Africa Fashion Week Houston is set to bring back the sizzle this Fall.

Magic takes over African Fashion Week Houston’s Fifth Season this Fall


HOUSTON— If the third time's a charm, just call the fifth time magic! The world of fashion and culture will soon collide on the runway in Houston as African Fashion Week Houston, one of the world’s most exclusive cultural fashion week series, celebrates five years of showcasing the very best of African inspired works from around the world. The stunning fashion affair will take place October 22nd through October 27th, 2018 at various locations throughout the greater Houston area.

Many of AFW Houston’s signature events, runway shows, beauty demos and marketplaces will make a grand return this year, including the socially savvy ​Art, Wine & Culture ​series​, the colorful and electric Ankara-4-Seasons ​runway showcase​, ​social media favorite Bosses-in-Heels ​Marketplace​, ​and the high-anticipated Kitoko Fashion Show​. A pairing of exciting performances, VIP events and after parties will also add to the flare of this very exhilarating week! A full list of events and locations will be announced beginning in mid April.

Furthermore, AFW Houston will continue to support the advancement of aspiring fashion designers, stylist and runway production professionals through notable partnership programs, including ​Project AI(in partnership with the Art Institute of Houston). The fashion week series will utilize its platform to support the opportunity for future fashion industry protégés to gain direct experience into the world of the fashion.

Tickets for African Fashion Week Houston 2018 will go on sale beginning April 1st online at www.AFWHouston.com and at selected locations across the state of Texas. AFW Houston is now accepting inquiries for event sponsors, fashion designers, vendors, volunteers and community partnerships. For information on this year’s fashion week series, please visit our website online, or contact us directly at ​1(800) 920-4655 and ​info@afwhouston.com​.

About African Fashion Week Houston


African Fashion Week Houston (AFWH) is the city's premier international fashion experience, highlighting the essence of African culture and aesthetics through a series of fashion shows, networking and social events, seminars, and industry-focused workshops. Our annual week-long experience aims to promote world-class designers & labels that push the envelope, while staying true to the traditions and inspiration of the African continent and diaspora.


July 28, 2018

Who is Fela Durotoye?

Fela Durotoye speaks in an open town hall in Houston Texas, images by Msada's Creative Studio
You may refer to him as a consultant, motivational speaker, in some cases an untraditional pastor. He's also the 2019 Nigerian presidential candidate aspirant. Many have lost faith in Nigerian politics, thought of as an institution that has abandoned Nigerian citizens, fraught with corruption, enriches the lives of those that choose it while leaving the country in abject poverty, in decayed infrastructures, high inflation, high unemployment rates, encourages crime and more corruption.

"It's time to arise and build a new Nigeria."
Mr. Durotoye vows to change all of that.

" The time has come for our generation to build a coalition of ideas around a strong ideology of a New Nigeria where things work and everyone is working to make things work. A new Nigeria is every country that we're currently struggling to get Visas to... where things work, and people are able to find opportunity to dream and to pursue their dreams." Fela Durotoye aspires to build a new Nigeria that can compete with countries like Dubai, the USA or Singapore, the Nigeria that its founding fathers had in mind post independence. Asked about his ongoing campaign through Alliance for A New Nigeria (ANN) his chosen party, he states that his party is involved and arousing constituents at the grassroots with no government or god-father funding. Mr. Durotoye is actively rounding up different regions of Nigeria and the diaspora, holding open town halls where many are invited to meet him, hear him speak and are free to ask him questions. His recent visit to Houston Texas was met with a decent turn out by many that were at least curious.

Click for more images of Fela Durotoye in Houston

A gifted motivational speaker that he is, his audience soaked his words up. "I came to take sleep away from you, even though you have constant power; I came to put the pain in your heart, for every life that is lost in Nigeria even though you feel safe where you sleep in Houston." He is appealing that Nigerians in the diaspora take responsibility for the new Nigeria, we should all own this cause, for it's not just his cause, but ours. Asked how Nigerians in the diaspora can contribute or become part of his campaign, he states that it starts by first taking ownership of it, even though they cannot vote, they have the power to influence those that can. Since this is a grassroots effort, donations are essential. "He who pays the piper dictates the tune." The the people at the top have always influenced Nigerian elections with their large donations and they expect a return on their investment, with an agenda that would not benefit the country. He also notes that the majority of educated Nigerians do not vote, the less educated could be swayed with a few Naira, as a result, Nigeria is left with career politicians with no interest in the country. A GoFundMe has been set up for donations and can be accessed here
Conversing with the man who wants to make a new Nigeria a reality, photo by Msada's Creative Studio

He realizes there are skeptics out there that would question his intentions for wanting to run for president. "So what if I don't run for president? Does that make you feel better? I lose nothing, I'm living a great life." He decided to run because if he had done much of the things that he had been known for  - a sought-after business strategist with the exceptional ability to transform big corporations' leadership structure and culture, then with position and authority, this impact can be multiplied. 

Asked about the position of women if he were to win and assume the presidency, he believes the role of women to be vital, he's a champion for women empowerment. "Women empowerment is not a nice thing to do, it is a great thing to do, when we do it, the nation gets the benefit of it. Women are equal value creators, deserve equal seat at the table with men." He is willing to run with a woman vice president. In his administration, women and men would have a 50% seat at the table, not 35%.

Fela Durotoye is from Ile Ife from SouthWest Nigeria, part of Obafemi Awolowo university alumni as well as Harvard, Yale and the Leadership Institute in Arlington, Virginia. Wife is famed Nigerian cosmetics mogul Tara Fela Durotoye. 

More on Fela Durotoye can be found here.


IT IS TIME TO ARISE AND BUILD A NEW NIGERIA
IT IS TIME TO ARISE AND BUILD A NEW NIGERIA

October 28, 2017

The Festival of Exodus

Image: Travel with April
Hogbetsotso festival takes place on the first Saturday of November each year, commemorating the migration of the Anlo Ewe people from Notsé town in Togo to Anloga town in Ghana. Legend has it that these folks escaped a wicked king back in the day by traversing backwards, so their footprints would be deceptive to observers that would only conclude that the people were going into town.
Image: Vindice 101
Image: N D C
Agbadza, also known as "the chicken dance." Image: JY Midey
Celebrations are marked by a peace making period, marking a new beginning and a time of harmony for the Anlo's; a purification of ceremonial stools, a general cleaning of the villages, a pageantry display by the village chiefs in colorful regalia, with villagers paying homage to them. This is also a time to see the Agbadza at its best—a music and dance routine popularized and trademarked by this group, seen in parts of Ghana, Togo and Benin.

October 10, 2017

Houston's top designers grace the runways of Africa Fashion Week Houston.

Houston designers showed out early this Fall in an unprecedented fashion show, creating one of a kind designs that pays ode to the African continent. The showcase at Africa Fashion Week Houston this year demonstrate what these designers can whip up and then some. More designers are experimenting with the juxtaposition of the ethnic and contemporary. Some of the pieces I wanted for my closet. I'm reminded of the fact that fashion is an extension of personality, not just a piece of cloth on your body. A well put together outfit for me has always made a signature statement. A well curated set can define my mood. Only if I can take the designers home to make me an outfit everyday of the week. I'm also reminded that days are becoming long gone when you simply fit into defined standards set by big fashion industries, and not fitting meant changing who you are and how you viewed your self worth. Anyone can wear beautiful clothes. The runway showcase presented wearable pieces for many shapes and sizes as represented by the models.

You'd be hard pressed to observe a runway dedicated to African fashion without its main show piece—the Ankara. Ankara is an inclusive print, the beautiful thing about it now is it has become universal, appearing on countless runways and this show is no exception. There's the element of exoticness in them that appeals to many and happily, anyone can pull off an outfit made in this African inspired print. The material presents with endless possibilities and has become a fashion designer's colorful canvas of creativity.  Designs in Ankara made repetitive appearances, infused in collections as part of a piece or a stand alone piece making for designs that are either exotic chic or refined glamour.
The folks at Fall Of Signature Essence have steadfastly presented Africa Fashion Week Houston since its inception four years ago with special guest, top model Nneka. Since then, they have helped launch the careers of some Houston designers and models. Houston has taken notice, giving the platform a proclamation, attracting major sponsors and patrons of fashion. This alludes to the platform's goal of making this a widely accepted fashion event on par with other mainstream platforms. This year, they ambitiously took out a whole week in display of art, culture and fashion. They created opportunities for both upcoming designers to well known ones. Although the upcoming designers still have a long way to go in honing their craft, they do show some promise. I especially enjoyed the designers that showcased at the grand finale, namely House of Takura, Nma Couture and Rocky Boston. These designers are clearly talented, being able to pull off a coveted collection in less than a week. 

AFWH 2017 Designers

  • The Cultured Market
  • African Queen Fashion
  • Effects Couture
  • Kachi Designs
  • Classic Beginnings
  • House of Detola
  • Masterpiece Boutique
  • Adeara
  • PR Customs
  • The Art Institute of Houston
  • House of Takura
  • Adot Designs
  • Nma Courture
  • Rocky Boston

Check out event photos on Facebook.

September 11, 2017

Houston AfriFEST

The fifth annual Houston AfriFEST took place September 9th 2017 pulling together vendors and performances celebrating the rich and diverse cultures of Africa, organized by NAMC Houston
This event attracted a diverse group of people of all ages. It was a day of family friendly fun and educational, and of course, no there's always the authentic African cuisine and the latest in Afrobeats to get the crowd going.
More photos are on Facebook.

September 5, 2017

African Houstonians still have love for Davido

August 18th. Davido fans in Houston came out in droves to catch a glimpse of the artist's performance at Ayva center. It would be another leg of his 30 Billion World Tour.  The event was met with much anticipation following his Dallas show where a record number of fans turned up. They would wait until the early hours of the morning when the artist finally emerges on stage to perform current crowd favorites such as If and Fall as well as long standing hits like Skelewu and Tchelete. Tour dates have been slated for a number of cities in North America, Europe and Africa and he's performing to sold out crowds at each location.

The artist's success is an indication to how far Afro musicians have come, contemporary African pop music, also known as Afropop or Afrobeat have become a well known genre in mainstream music is enjoyed by a variety of audiences worldwide and with the latest collaborations by some of the artists with mainstream musicians, there's a glimmer of hope that one day, these musicians will become household names beyond the African continent. Some argue that these musicians should not be quick to embrace the mainstream so as to not get lost in a space that would otherwise take them out of their musical identity and while not fully embracing them as mainstream artists. Some are willing to embrace a new musical climate where a new generation of music lovers are dictating what they like and shifting the industry's perception of a musician's success. Were preceding artists may have had little success, artists such as Davido himself and others like Mr. Eazi and Wizkid are reshaping the cultural perception of the genre and are making Afro pop more acceptable, appearing on platforms like Beats One radio and Apple Music.

Davido have come a long way since his university days, recording popular hit songs and winning numerous awards. He's signed endorsement deals with MTN Group and Guiness Nigeria.

Photos from the concert can be found on Facebook.

August 13, 2017

The Art of Fufu...

What is fufu?

An artist and restauranteur has taken it upon herself to educate the novice about a certain African delicacy—the fufu. I can't tell you the countless times my non-African friends have imagined it.  How do you eat it exactly? You eat it with your bare hands really? Well yes you do, and it actually tastes better that way! It's even more fun watching the well-travelled folks that have been to Africa try to describe it, it's like listening while your new best friend gush about you to her friends like you're not even present. I chuckle now everytime that I have to think about it. Eating fufu is certainly an art form that a lot of us from Africa take for granted, you must think about that for a minute, have you tried to describe how you eat fufu to someone unaccustomed to the dish?

This past Friday I observed The Art of Fufu take center stage, in a gallery style art exhibit in Midtown Houston. An artist has expertly curated the event, with blown up photographs on the white walls and people streamed down the open space taking in what they see and talking amongst one another. It was quite refreshing to see, not just the fact of the subject matter, but because it was an anomaly. Usually, African, specifically Nigerian events are concentrated in one area of town here in Houston and most in the community know where it is. To be able to bring this out of the familiar area otherwise known as "Little Lagos" meant you needed to think out of the box, hence the crowd that gathered was not typically African, but many were curious to learn the art of fufu.
"We want to be the United Nations on a Plate" Kavachi waxed lyrical about taking The Art of Fufu mainstream. Her book "Come Chop" comes out later this year.

Eba, amala and pounded yam had been molded in bite-sized portions and served as hors d'oeuvres with at least two different kinds of soup, fancy enough for the most distinguishing palette. The crowd gathered for a demo on how to make fufu, they ate it up. "My mission is to make international food mainstream," Kavachi, the Creative Director and a third-generation food owner raved. She had been to Great Day Houston prior to demonstrate The Art of Fufu on television. She plans to educate novices across the country about fufu. Finally people can stop asking how you eat it and just enjoy it. Good thing it's healthy for you (in moderation of course).

I have some pictures from the event on my Facebook page.  Enjoy the video below.

See ya later.

August 7, 2017

Event recap: The African Film Festival

TAFF Awards ceremony
The second installment of The African Film Festival concluded with a keen sense of optimism that's made for a hopeful future. Filmmakers gathered once again in Dallas, Texas on 4th of July weekend in 2017 to watch a marathon of independent films about Africa by independent filmmakers that are not necessarily all African. A total of 43 independent films in all, served up by filmmakers from 25 different countries to include The USA. Films addressed a range of issues; from Uganda came pertinent topics addressed by American filmmakers. One was about the Northern Ugandan genocide—the restructuring and rebuilding of lives after much have been lost, another addressed the journey to rebuilding a broken Ugandan justice system, while another highlighted a man's journey leaving his American dream to fulfill that of many orphans to the HIV/AIDS epidemic by building schools and homes restoring hope to the children that are otherwise victims.

From Ghana came a dance movie that's probably the first in the African Independent filmmaking history, a refreshing change from the usual plot lines centered on infidelity and spiritism. From Ethiopia came an adaptation of one man's true life story as a refugee, he stars in the heart wrenching film where he escapes his homeland as an orphan in the midst of turmoil to make a better life for himself in the Western world. The journey to a better life is not without peril, which he must get through to see the light at the end of the tunnel. From Nigeria came the story that touches on a piece of its history, a critically acclaimed film that sheds light on the detrimental effects of corruption. All of the above were just highlights of the many meaningful films screened, proving that these filmmakers have only scratched the surface when it comes to the dynamics in the fiber the shapes the African continent.
Film screenings took place at the Texas Theatre, African American Museum and Dallas City Performance Hall, each screening ending in a Q&A session with filmmakers.
Film screenings where just a part of the full weekend, The festival began effectively with an Acting Masterclass taught by TAFF Film Legend Award winner and gala host Richard Mofe Damijo. The class was made up of filmmakers and enthusiasts who came to learn from the screen veteran with at least twenty years under his belt. He didn't disappoint as he delved effectively into his role as teacher and sometimes sinking into a character or two. The audience were more than delighted to have him in their midst as he reflected on his experiences, even indulging them in some scene practice sessions.

The Symposium on African Cinema was also one of the festival's highlights. Held at the Dallas Public Library, filmmakers headed the panel to discuss the evolution of African cinema over the years, the challenges and the breakthroughs. African cinema continues to face challenges of adequate funding and the commercialism of the industry where filmmakers feel the need to make a marketable film over a meaningful film. As aforementioned, Africa is a continent full of untold stories and rich in history and just a handful of filmmakers are delving deep into them. Concerns raised by the non-African filmmakers on the panel were the lack of filmmakers willing to put their resources together to continue to raise the awareness of issues that stare them in the face everyday, pointed out by Debi Lang. She gathered film students, most without any experience and traveled to Uganda to help make her documentary film. Just like her, other non-African filmmakers made their films, partly because no one else was making them. There are still limited screening outlets in Africa, with the exception of Nigeria and South Africa, most cinemas in most African countries can be summed up in one hand. This is a far cry from the rest of the developed world and due to this challenge, most filmmakers are limited by way of distribution. Most countries do not have regulatory agencies that protect filmmakers' intellectual properties, as a result piracy is rampant. A lot of filmmakers are hard-pressed to recoup their production costs considering the above factors. It truly becomes the survival of the fittest. There are many factors that can discourage even the most courageous.
The festival brought many filmmakers together in one place to celebrate African independent films.
The festival season would eventually come to an end, but not without the much anticipated gala. Thirty-four filmmakers were nominated in sixteen award categories. The trophy this year had been dubbed the "world cup" of African films by the festival organizers as it was inspired by the biggest sports trophies—the World Cup and the Super Bowl. The idea was to recognize some of the finest filmmakers and encourage them to continue to set the example. In all, sixteen film awards and one honorary award were given, see the chart below:

 TAFF Nominees and Winners

Notable winners were the makers of Remand, its stars Tumusiime Henry and Jim Gash as well as producer Randy Brewer accepted the award for Best Documentary Feature. To them the award represented a triumph in more ways than one. Henry is a young man whose life was hanging on a balance of justice in Uganda, convicted of two murders, he was looking at a possible life sentence on remand in a juvenile home were he would spend years with others, many of them without any substantial criminal convictions. Jim Gash is a Lawyer from Pepperdine University from Los Angeles California who came for a different project in the country when they crossed paths and the rest of the story would lead them to Dallas City Performance Hall on July 3rd 2017.  Read more about their heart wrenching story here. Another touching narrative centers around another young man named Zekarias Tibebu Mesfin, a young Ethiopian refugee that adapts his life story for the big screen. He produces and stars in Ewir Amora Kelabi, another story about the realities of many refugees in Africa that meet various hardships while fleeing war zones and civil unrests only to end up in other predicaments to include death. The film accurately portrays a young man's struggle for survival against the odds. Mr. Mesfin won the Best Emerging Filmmaker Award of TAFF 2017. More on his film can be found here.

 Mr. Damijo was honored during the finale for his outstanding achievements and contributions to the African cinema. He became the second TAFF African Film Legend award recipient, after Ms. Patience "Mama G" Ozokwor who received the award in 2016.

More on The African Film Festival can be found here.

July 16, 2017

Umu Igbo definitely show off in Houston

June 24th second generation descendants of Nigerian immigrants from the Southeastern region of Nigeria in the diaspora gathered in a soiree to celebrate their culture in Lighthouse Hall, Houston Texas. Umu Igbo Unite (UIU) is an organization formed to keep young Igbos and professionals connected to their roots in the motherland through networking and social advocacy. Since its inception in 2005, the platform has grown to ten chapters across the United States and is expanding. This banquet would be the first for the Houston chapter since its inception nine years ago.

The chapter went all out on the June 24th weekend with three days of events that brought together so many Igbos, many from other states to one place. The impressive turnout could be easily attributed to the tireless work by the chapter's executive board, campaigning for months on end, reaching out to the community as a whole and raising the awareness.  You can always tell when you're in a Nigerian event when you hear Afrobeats reverberating in the background and you suddenly find yourself with the urge to roll your waist even just a little, the environment takes a familial tone only recognized by the people gathered, it becomes home away from home. It is not uncommon to hear me breakout in what I call "the bush girl" character (an inside joke only known to a friend). Igbonics and pidgin suddenly becomes the only language I know, and because the environment had become so familiar, I felt right at home. Another familiarity within the community is the tendency to live up to the stereotype of arriving fashionably late where an appointed time only means its time to start getting ready and the majority don't start to arrive to an event until about three hours later. I do however have to admit that we did better this weekend for the banquet in starting on time.
Eze and Lolo Igbo
The start of red carpet on the day of the banquet seemed like a brief abbreviation on a party that carried on all night, with everyone deciding to touch base with home to freshen up, arriving in their colorful best—mostly traditional garb designed specifically for the occasion. Ladies didn't disappoint with hair and makeup on "fleek." The gentlemen did good too. The evening held a promise of a long awaited chain of events advertised for months—good music, food and drinks, performances, special guests and a chance to meet and mingle with new people. MCofLife and Prince Kalu moved the evening along smoothly keeping the audience entertained in their light-hearted, yet rough comedy and jabs at each other. There was enough on the evening's itinerary to ensure an engaged and a well-entertained audience with performances and special guest speakers to include some comedy and traditional dance performances. A notable act to mention is the performance by the author and poet Mr. Ben Amushie, taking the audience on a journey back to the motherland even if just for a moment with his conscious-raising drama ensemble and poetry.


The evening was mostly fun, however serious issues where discussed by some keynote speakers. Notable was mental illness in the community that can be overlooked or stigmatized due to lack of awareness or long held traditional values that prohibit seeking help. The overall mission of the event would not be complete without discussing ways to move forward as a community both in the diaspora and back home to ensure a better future for those that come after us. One can only hope that an event such as this one moves the needle forward.
#MCofLife & Prince Kalu
UIU Dancers 
Ben Amushie's performance
Traditional dancers
No Nigerian Occasion is complete without the spraying of money
UIU Houston's E-Board

Enjoy the video below, you can find videos like this and more on Youtube, find me as MsadakuMsadaphotography on Facebook.

May 8, 2017

TAFF premieres a brand new trophy inspired by the World Cup

The brand new trophy was inspired by TAFF Executive Director's love for sports.
The African Film Festival is at its second inception this year. There will be at least 25 countries participating and 40 forty films according to the festival’s executive director, Mr. Kelechi Eke. Planning a film festival in not without it’s unique challenges, even more so, planning a festival that uniquely caters to films made by African independent filmmakers or filmmakers of the African decent. Be it as it may, Mr. Eke is beating the odds. Response has been outstanding across the continent of Africa as well as the USA, Europe and Australia. The film festival is now attracting the likes of Academy Award nominee Angela Bassett who Executive produced and narrated a film to be screened during the closing night on July 3, 2017 at Dallas City Performance Hall (DCPH). Oscar caliber films have also been selected to be screened during the festival. African Film Legend, Richard Mofe Damijo is slated to host this years festival awards gala.

The highlight of this year’s festival is the brand new trophy that filmmakers will covet, inspired by Mr. Eke’s love for soccer. The golden masterpiece is born out of the need to inspire African independent filmmakers to continue pursue cinematic excellence. To demonstrate just how they are doing that, award categories include “Best Poster” and “Best Trailer” to encourage putting more thought to the overall finished work. TAFF has opened a world stage for quality African films and now, the world is watching. In a recent interview, Mr. Eke shed some light on the making of the new trophy and what’s in store for this year’s festival.
Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe Winner Angela Bassett's film Remand will screen on the closing night on July 3, 2017 at DCPH, Dallas Texas.

The African Film Festival is gaining momentum this year, how do you feel about that?
Great. Feels good. The excitement, the anticipation by filmmakers and film lovers is quite encouraging. All the work that we put in last year is paying off going into the second year—the quality of films, the caliber of filmmakers that we’re able to attract this year, makes it even more exciting.

This year, you have a brand new trophy, what’s the inspiration behind it?
Well, the direction we’re going with TAFF is to make it one of the biggest, (pure) African film festivals in the United States and in that effort, what comes to mind as the biggest and the best, as a sports aficionado is the World Cup or the Super Bowl. I dubbed the trophy as the World Cup of African films. As a soccer player, what really inspired that trophy is looking at the World Cup itself, I spent quite some time, lots of nights thinking of how to bring out Africa and film at the same time in that trophy, you know—like the World Cup. I was able to do that with a film strip at the base of the cup, then springing out the map of Africa. It was quite a unique concept. Finally, when the vision came to me, I drew it out back and forth with the manufacturers to make sure they got my design exactly as I envisioned it. After 2 months of trial and error, they got it right and once they got it I said “Yes, this is it. This is what I designed, this is what I was looking for” and you know, something to encourage filmmakers to work hard and anticipate lifting one of those trophies. That’s really the inspiration. 

Did you experience any challenges in the making of this year’s trophy?
One of the challenges is actually accepting the weight of the trophy, as the winners will find out. It’s weight is just like a dumbbell, you know, but Africans are strong and picking up a 5kg dumbbell wouldn’t be a big deal to them and of course when they’re holding on to it, they feel like they’re holding something. But, 5kg is roughly 10 pounds. It was kind of a challenge on whether to reduce the size or leave it as is. Its about 14 inches tall, so a little over a foot, you know, so it’s something that you wouldn’t put in your back pocket and move on. Once [filmmakers] fly into Dallas and take that trophy across the airport, everybody that sees them will stop and say “hey where did you get that trophy?” That was part of the motivation and will be, for the filmmakers to feel the same way and carry that good-sized trophy home. The challenge was the size decision and I don’t think I want to make it any smaller than it is.

Amazing story! So, what has been the response to this new trophy?
Overwhelmingly great, and I welcome constructive criticism but I’ve had none. A poll out of a thousand people and one hundred percent responded with two thumbs up. All the feedback has been positive, everybody is excited to see it. It was pretty much the same design as last year, but the difference was trying to bring out the cultural African roots, we actually had a sculptor carve each of those trophies by hand so those were pretty unique. This time around, in manufacturing this design, people actually said that we’ve upped our game, that’s the best film trophy that they’ve ever seen and that’s actually what I want out of it. So, it’s not about the trophy, it’s just one of the motivating factors for filmmakers to want to win one and when I heard one of the seasoned filmmakers actually make that comment that “hey, this trophy will motivate me to want to make a good film to get one” I said “yes, that’s exactly the purpose of this trophy.”


Very interesting. We can’t all wait to see who takes this trophy home this year. So tell me, what are the plans for this year’s festival, do you have any special guests or events?
Yes, we have a special guest, Richard Mofe Damijo will be hosting the show and we have filmmakers such as Lancelot Imasuen coming, and quite a few filmmakers from across the globe: Ghana. Gambia, Senegal, South Africa, Nigeria etc. There are American filmmakers as well that are making African films that will be in the house. We have a couple of them here in Dallas, the makers of Cornerstone, for example with be here. The makers of Massai: 10th Tribe of Israel, a Kenyan story plan to be here. They are all Americans telling African stories, so we call them African filmmakers (laughs), so they’ll be here. There’s so much diversity, we have films from the Cape coast, South Africa to Cairo, Egypt. We have films from Senegal all the way to the horn of Africa—Tanzania. So, it cuts across the continent and that’s exactly our mission—to bring these films together and unite people and bridge cultures. It’s exciting, it’s hard to pinpoint any one of the filmmakers without mentioning the others because all of them are equally important to the organization. So we look forward to having a great time with those that finally get to make it.  

Any special events?
For the first time in film festivals history (I can boldly claim), instead of a workshop this year, we will actually do practical workshop to shoot a film. So, we’re looking forward to that from June 24th, before the festival opens to the general public on June 30th, we will be shooting a short film called “4” and “4” is only four minutes, and it dubs the question “what will you do if the world where to end in four minutes?” So, we’ll be carrying out an audition for that starting May 20th, that’s exactly 2 weeks from today and then on June 24th, we will shoot the short film leading to the festival. The short film covers our networking, seminars, workshop where seasoned filmmakers will be there early to actually guide budding filmmakers to accomplish this task and if we’re able to do that, that would be quite a feat. Now we’re taking it from just film screenings to practical filmmaking, so it’s a revolutionary effort in our second year, a great vision and we’re looking forward to pulling it off.

This is all amazing! And, I have say that now I can’t wait for this festival, we’re all anticipating it at this point. So how can one purchase tickets to this year’s festival?
The tickets are available at Ticket DFW. It is also available on our website. Another exciting thing coming up on the closing night is the showing of Remand, a short film executive produced and narrated by Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner Angela Bassett. We’re hoping she can join us on the closing night to kind of see people’s excitement or reaction on the film the she was part of. That’s how far we’ve gone, when we’re getting the attention of the likes of Angela Bassett whom we all respect in the film world, it says a lot about the direction of where The African Film Festival is going. We’re quite excited.

And we are excited for you! We’re proud of what you’ve accomplished and we say keep it up! We look forward to what unfolds int he near future.
Thank you.


The African Film Festival is slated for June 30-July 3 2017. Don’t miss it. Get your tickets now.

April 27, 2017

RMD is hosting TAFF 2017!

Legendary actor Richard Mofe Damijo will host The African Film Festival in its second year.

The legendary actor is slated to grace the stage on the closing night on July 3, 2017 at the Dallas City Performance Hall (DCPH) in a black-tie/traditional event that will be marked by glitz and glamor and guaranteed to bring out the best in the film industry. The best in the African independent film industry will be awarded with a golden trophy reminiscent of a great Egyptian fortress. "The inspiration for this year's trophy is my love for soccer." TAFF Executive Director gushes excitedly, "I can't believe how wonderful it turned out." We share your love too Mr. E.D and we can't wait to see who takes home this golden trophy this year. For this year's selected films, click here

About Richard Mofe Damijo

Richard Mofe Damijo is from Warri, Delta State. He always had a penchant for acting right from childhood belonging to his school's drama club and majoring in Theatre Arts in the University of Benin. He would star in many popular films, theatre and TV shows. He gained major popularity in the highly acclaimed soap opera RipplesOut of BoundsScores to Settle, Private Sin, are just a few notable films under a long resume that spans over twenty years. Some of his latest work are The Wedding Party and 30 Days in Atlanta.

He dabbled into politics becoming the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism in Delta State, Nigeria.

Get your tickets now. Go here.

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