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 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.

November 19, 2016

The Trump story: The tale of two Americans

America is a die-hard hippie. America is also a conservative right-wing idealist.

America is at odds with itself since the Trump train crashed on its parade.

Like many of you this year, I paid close attention to this election cycle, well, sort of. If you were like me, you probably started paying very keen attention after the primaries, i.e for the entertainment value of Donald Trump. I mean, seriously, like many out there, this guy wasn't for real, right?

I have had no real interest in politics, until now. I've never been more intrigued by the USA's last two candidates, not even when the first black man ran for office in 2008 and 2012. This last election cycle was like a train wreck and you knew it but it was hard to look away. Where do I begin? The inflammatory rhetoric, the sometimes delusional surrogates on both sides, the scandals, the list goes on.


How did we get here? I'm still reeling from the reality of it all. How did "The Donald" do it? What does it all mean now to have a new President Trump (mind you, those words do not exactly roll easily off my lips). One thing is sure, America deeply underestimated him. While America joked, laughed and mocked him, America remained glued to his antics, couldn't get enough of him. You've gotta give  the guy some credit. While America thought they had him all figured out, America was merely a game piece. Mainstream media became interesting once again. What better reality show was on compared to "The Donald" show? It is estimated that he racked up billions in free advertising, while the politicians spent a comparable amount. There's something about him that we admired and wanted more. America was listening and paying close attention. America put him in the White House.

What did America see that America didn't?

In Trump, America saw a non-politician, a vehicle of radical change. A person not left wing or right wing, not-easily influenced, didn't read off a script. To America Trump was real, tangible, so when he said we are going to build a wall and protect our borders, that's exactly what he was going to do. When he said we are going to bring our jobs back, that's exactly what he was going to do. When he said "Let's make America great again!" he'd do it, only there's a problem. He echoed the voices of the majority of American people. He gave a voice to factions of America that have been long suppressed. They came out of the woodwork in droves and come-what-may, they stuck by him. Even I thought there was no way his supporters could be in the majority—so called "deplorables." I thought, when he looses they could just form a cumbaya village somewhere in remote America where they can be allowed to roam free. It turns out America wanted a person of Trump to help expel long suppressed convictions of anti-semitism, bigotry and intolerance. It also turns out America is tired of the establishment and wants change, they no longer believed it, it reflects in the diversity of people that voted for him.

In Trump, America was uncomfortable. Oh no! He didn't! "There was no way this man will have access to the keys to America's nuclear weapons—this unhinged individual with very thin skin and access to 140 characters that goes nuclear every time that he drops them."  "There was no way this guy is getting to the White house—the non-tax paying, pussy grabbing intolerant racist bigot whose namesake university is a sham, what example are we setting for our kids?!!!" (the kids! the kids!! Poor kids.) Let's not forget the women! ooh shucks! Trump could not exactly walk back his "locker room" statements even if it occurred 11 years ago. His opponent clearly won the election as it reflected in the polls and the popular vote.

Trump has shaken our belief systems and what it means to be American. To Trump. America was the untrained dog that has finally learned to heel. America is the one walking back on its standards, for those whose reputation could not be tainted by Trump are now all rallied behind him. For those with daughters, wives, mothers, sisters who have some explaining to do, please don't. It's okay to admit that you're now living in the 21st century and not in the era of our founding fathers.

Trump is now the 45th president of the United States (did that sink in yet?)


Trump's victory is nothing short of a Cinderella story. If Donald J. Trump can be president then:

Truly anything is possible

You've got to fake it until you make it

Have a ridiculous, unwavering belief in yourself

That's all it takes folks.

September 21, 2016

A women's empowerment event not to miss


AWIEF is bringing together the best of African women leaders under one roof at this year's forum in September


AWIEF is here again! The 2016 edition of the Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum is around the corner and it is billed to make unprecedented strides in AWIEF’s Pan-African campaign to accelerate the economic empowerment of women in Africa’s best interest.

AWIEF Founder and CEO, Mrs. Irene Ochem, speaking to reporters at AWIEF offices in Lagos confirmed the participation of Lagos State as Official Partner and Host State Government with the Governor of Lagos State, His Excellency Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode giving the keynote speech and welcome address at the opening ceremony on the 29th of September 2016.

AN EVENT FOR AFRICAN WOMEN LEADERS

Mrs. Ochem went on to say that a major highlight of the event has been occasioned by AWIEF’s partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB). The AfDB in a special dedicated high-level panel will be unveiling the modalities and details of African Development Bank’s USD-300 million Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) program. AWIEF is committed to not just talking about the issues affecting African women’s economic empowerment but, most importantly, AWIEF is committed to taking action and engaging in programs and initiatives through AWIEF NGO and social enterprise that will create that positive impact and actually change the African Woman’s economic fortune for the better.

The event is holding on the 29th and 30th of September at The Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos. Pre-conference workshops powered by GOOGLE and LEAP Africa to be held on the 28th of September 2016. Registration is ongoing online at www.awieforum.com or by email to: info@icoconferences.com.

For Sponsorship, registration or other participation call +234 814 376 9875/+234 814 760 7909/+234 818 570 1455.


September 17, 2016

Myra Maimoh's sophomore album is one of hope

MYRA MAIMOH HEALS THE WORLD WITH HOPE, AN EMPOWERING NEW VIDEO AND A VOICE YOU WILL NEVER FORGET


Myra Maimoh is like a flower in full bloom always radiating a sweet contagious essence. You just seem to always find a smile emanating from her mouth and the most inspiring words from her lips but altogether life has never been this picture perfect for her. In fact, Myra as she tells it has gone through a lot of experiences which have helped shape her to the positive person she is today. As they say with life, you can choose to be bitter or you can be better with your experiences and Myra Maimoh certainly chose the latter.

Myra Maimoh was born in Bamenda, the North West Region of Cameroon (in West Central Africa) where she grew up in an average Christian family home with her parents and siblings. With her mother being her greatest musical influence through the records she owned, Myra Maimoh grew up with artists such as Skeeter Davies, James Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong. She was also heavily influenced by her Mother’s love for African blues through to Country music, traditional African music to Jazz and pop and it was no surprise that Myra started singing and dancing, while still in preschool at the age of 3.

Myra Maimoh was not only a high profile studio vocalist recording in some of the country's greatest studios for the biggest artists, she was among the most hired doing everything from background vocals, lead vocals to jingles for national and private radio stations.

When Myra Maimoh released her debut album “Answer’d Me” in 2010, she was ready to put aside all her negative experiences and to embrace hope. She was ready to inspire her audience to believe in themselves, to come out from their shadow by “sharing her generosity of spirit wrapped up into a perfectly packaged unit.” “This 11-track testament to the sheer joy of Myra's music is the perfect introduction to a young woman who uniquely combines the passionate music of her African roots with the pop, rock, soul and Jazz sensibilities of the West.” Stated Funk Sanctum Radio.

Myra Maimoh then took almost 5 years off to live life. During this period, she got married and had 2 children. Through 2015, Myra Maimoh was ready to get back to work and to focus on her music by embarking on her sophomore album Uniq. The album was recorded in the US and sent off to the UK and Cameroon to be perfected and immersed through mastering in the sounds which Myra and her team wanted to offer to her audience,

Uniq incorporates her RnB and African influences. On this 6 tracked album she brings to the table a plate full of positive inspiration and a cup filled with hope, patience and faith speaking to audiences battling terminal illnesses, depression or low self-esteem in the song Uniq which is also a girl power anthem with an empowering stance (link attached below). A message of encouragement is sent to fans to emerge with power from whatever crisis they may be in and not to be defined by their status quo as in the song Feh Vitavivi. Myra also adds some light entertainment and jiving as in On Va Danser which has a celebratory upbeat vibe.

You only have to listen to the unforgettable voice of Myra Maimoh to understand why Célia Faussart of Les Nubians stated she was inspired by Myra and also stated “Myra Maimoh, she’s like the Cameroonian Jill Scott, and Franck Biyong.”



        FIRST PUBLIC REVIEWS

The Uniq album is exactly what it says it is. Every track is different and unique from the one before. Love that it has so many different slants on life. Great music and great lyrics. Well done!” 
I got the album CD on the website and I can't stop playing the instrumental version of A No Go Tire. The music is Masterfully put together! A No Go Tire and Uniq for me; the former for the soul in Myra Maimoh's voice and the amazing musicality, the latter for its inspiration, hiphop jive and how Myra Maimoh stretched and showed her vocal prowess with adlibs.” 
Well done petite sœur. The whole album is wonderful but like my better half the song that stands out for me is Far Away. It’s very soulful and is very deep and uplifting at the same time. You are a true talent and l really hope this Uniq album propels you to the heights that you deserve.” 
The album as a whole takes you through life journey and various faces and stages of life. It's a Uniq mix of afro pop, afro soul, RnB. The diversity in the songs and use of languages and musical expressions shows the the level of exposure of the artist as one who has so many cultural influences. "Beau Parleur" is my personal favourite song on the EP. It has almost all the characteristics of a [hit] song, it has that catchy chorus. The beat is some good afro pop and it is appealing to ladies which is what they want to hear.”

Uniq is now released and available on all major online platforms

Connect with Myra 

September 12, 2016

Vreezy Ville's latest track features Askia


Vreezy Ville Features Cameroon’s Rap Diva Askia in “Shakiti -Dab” Collabo.


US based Franco Records protégé Vreezy Ville teamed up with Cameroon’s female rap diva Askia on this hit collabo titled “Shakiti-Dab.” Talking to fans in Maryland, Vreezy Ville told fans he is very excited about this track as it brings out another aspect of his lyrical power.

This track is actually a blend of African and western culture via their various music trends in which Shakiti is a song and dance created by Nigerian artist Olamide and Dab is an American dance currently trending all over the world. The song also has a little bit of hip-hop, jazz and reggae not forgetting the afrobeat in it which makes it unique in style and content. This could easily be a club banger. It is written and recorded by Vreezy Ville and it features Cameroon female rapper Askia. Track is produced by Big Joe and mastered by Salatiel.


Follow VILLE on twitter @VreezyVille237 and on Instagram @Vreezy_Ville.
For Bookings contact: info@francorecords.com / +011-281-728-4374.
@Vreezyville237 @Francorecordz

August 22, 2016

Clinton versus Trump, who's better for Africa?



If you've been paying attention lately in the media, it's laced with political rhetoric coming from Democrats and Republicans of the U.S. Spotlight stealer though I have to give to Donald Trump. He's a true Gemini: a master at exaggerations, an attention seeker, big talker, a controversy magnet with very short attention span, a charming, egotistical narcissist, with no filter and plays by no one's rules. He's on a mission to "make America great again" by his own definition and by any means necessary, even if it alienates his own political party. He's spent most of his campaign lately doing damage control (or should I say his surrogates are) than discussing important issues about exactly how he plans to make America great.

Like previously mentioned, the business mogul and now presidential candidate plays by no one's rules. That could be a good or a bad thing. He states what's on his mind and doesn't sugar coat it, somewhat a refreshing change from the usual political rhetoric of scripted speeches, maybe that's really what gravitated many of his supporters to him. Now it seems that will unravel him. Now everything he says is taken with a grain of salt and leads any reasonable thinking human being to do the due diligence and fact check. He's made assertions that while in the past might have been endearing now leads one to give him the side eye. It's kind of hard to take him seriously when statements he makes with deadpan assurance he cannot uphold when they are questioned, but instead deflates them by changing the subject, injecting further controversy or reducing them to a mere joke or sarcasm or passing blame. By all indications he has the majority of Americans scared and running for cover and other nations by the edge of their seats. Many think he's dangerous and bad for America, especially his own political party. He makes factual statements that he can't back up most of the time. In Donald Trump's true nature, he is unapologetic, incapable of conceding, even when now we can see through his propaganda. To understand "The Donald" would be to understand the undertones of his speeches and decipher through them, they are meant for controversy which he craves like a camel to water, he loves the attention. He claimed to be unscathed by all the media criticisms but could recite quotes from most of them and then lashes out at them on his social media or in his next public speech. You have to wonder how this candidate will perform when he is Commander-in-Chief and leader of the free world, when he lacks the common decorum essential for the job. I've never met another 70 year-old with the mastery of 140 characters. True to his nature, he lights the match but can't stand the heat.

Maybe that's just it, he's in there for the long haul just for the entertainment value, with his unpredictability, no one will ever know. So far until now, we have our ears to the ground waiting to hear how he'd make America great again. From an August 8th economic policy breakdown, he's managed to recite what his opponent have termed "trickle down economics"— same old rhetoric of the Republicans that puts more money in the pockets of wealthy Americans and leaves the poor even poorer. A three-tier breakdown of the tax code looks good on paper, it doesn't seem like a bad idea especially for the middle class, but is it practical? Can it be implemented realistically? How does he plan to implement it? He has instructed us to visit his website for updates. Basically for once, he followed a scripted speech and didn't really have the answers. His website listed some changes (now updated) that would be STAT upon taking office such as immigration reform, tax reform, taking care of veterans, getting rid of Obamacare, safeguarding the Second amendment for American citizens and most importantly, that pesky wall that must be built to keep the "Mexicans" away. A lot of what's listed really sounds good on paper but think as you read this article how much of it affects the African immigrant.

It is of the opinion that he would get along well with African political leaders as they share common appetite for lavish things, he would fit right in at their parties.

"US business magnate Donald Trump has expressed his deep disgust for Africans by referring to them as lazy fools only good at eating, lovemaking and thuggery."

Think about his planned immigration reform. First on his agenda in the White House will be cleaning house—of all illegal immigrants and that will not just be Mexicans. It also means Madam Koi koi in an estate on Banana Island, Lagos, Nigeria can kiss her potential children's American dream goodbye. "The Donald" will do away with automatic citizenship by birth. As if the strict immigration laws were not strict enough. It also means if you borrowed all that money, sold your father's property, shut down your business and jumped at the idea of escaping to the land of opportunity without proper documentation just to be stuck in a rut for the last ten years assuming another person's alias working that security job, you're in for a rude awakening. If you're illegal alien in America, better keep your bags packed and one foot out the door because "The Donald" and Uncle Sam will be sending you back home! He believes African immigrants at best are case studies for bad examples of how illegal immigrants are ruining America and to make America great again, he must get rid of them. But perhaps in his true flighty nature, we may not be discussing this topic by November.


What about Hillary?


On the other hand you have Hillary Clinton, a WOMAN. She has made history already for that reason alone. I for one would like to see a woman Commander-in-chief in my lifetime in America. While I do recognize the bias in that statement, it would be worth a try for a nation that have perpetuated a forward movement in many aspects of governance but are still backwards in the fundamental issues of human rights.

Trump has asserted that Hillary Clinton does not have the temperament to handle important issues because she's a woman, accused her of playing the "woman card," in turn, she clapped back stating "deal me in!" Of course understanding "The Donald" now would be to count that notion as laughable, recognizing the former First Lady and Secretary of State's long resume in American politics. You have to wonder in the year 2016, why a supposedly forward moving and a world leading nation such as America still continues on a discussion on whether a job would be done better based on a person's gender while other less powerful nations have embraced female leadership. Women have long worked twice as hard to refute that theory. Voting her in will be a finite move to shutting that notion down as many African woman are looking forward to it as their beacon of hope.

This is not at all to say that Hillary Clinton is the perfect person for the job, as that has never been the opinion of many by any stretch of the means (you can ask Bernie Sanders' supporters), but faced to choose between the two candidates, who would be the lesser evil? That is the question.

For one, the Clintons have the reputation of upholding the ideals of political juggernauts that have been detrimental to the minorities and especially the poor, making it especially hard for any African immigrant to attain the American dream within a reasonable amount of time. Many worry that a vote for Hillary would be recycling the wheel of Bill Clinton's presidency which saw disproportionate numbers of poor minorities and racial inequality rise and continue to plague America till this day. It is also worthy to note that of the many trips made by Hillary Clinton as the Secretary of State to Africa seemed to benefit the rich American interest than it actually did for poor Africans.


In conclusion


Trump takes no prisoners when it comes to speaking his mind, which means he is more likely to stick to what he says by choice and not by influence, that could be a good thing in the long run especially now that he's campaigning more for the minority vote, promising an overhaul of the the burdens they have faced for many years under an unchanging regime. Clinton has a long record of advocating for women and children, accomplishments dear to her heart. Chances are she would continue to advocate for women and children, working to fix the gender disparities in wages and income and opportunities afforded to women. This by and large, would inspire many women, especially African women leaders to do the same.

August 7, 2016

Africa's biggest cultural convention in the diaspora celebrates with Kumbo's own Chilli

Cameroonian Cultural Ambassador and singer Chilli delivered a mesmerizing performance at the 28th annual Bui Family Union National convention, a four-day cultural fête that took place on July 21-24, 2016 at the Hilton in Westchase. The singer mesmerized the audience in her signature dance moves and lyrical style with masterful use of the local dialect. Chilli is from the grasslands of Kumbo, Cameroon.
For four days, the Ambassador and singer kept delivering hit after hit, to an impressed crowd that all agreed that the next cultural crossover has already happened. Most delegates argued that Chilli is the next big thing in contemporary traditional folklore music from Africa.

At the welcome ceremony on Thursday July 21, 2016, Chilli thrilled the crowd with her signature song from her debut album titled “My Heritage”, so many convention delegates remarked “ It was awesome putting a face to this great track.” Friday was the cultural night where she again delivered on a rare energetic and crowd pulling style. Saturday night at the gala was another surprise performance of “Mbaya” from her recent album titled “Bih Wo” filled with stylized acrobatic dance from Kumbo. Chilli shared the stage alongside the Zouk legend Guilou and other great performers in the likes Dj Skeeper, Lanre Manuel, Banla and Ventura, Young Flo and Myra Maimoh.

Chilli has attained her long lasting dream of exporting original traditional music from the grass fields of Kumbo to the world stage. "I am more than happy I have achieved one of the biggest dreams of my career" she said smiling while thanking BFU-USA organizing committee on this rare opportunity. The theme of this year’s convention was “Development through Education with focus on information Technology.” 

The 2016 BFU-USA National Convention in Houston was a great success, the next edition of the convention has been scheduled for Atlanta Georgia in July 2017.

Please enjoy this video titled “Hayo” from her latest album “Bih Wo”


"Hayo" is an inspirational song calling on us to have faith in ourselves because when you believe, you can. The video was directed by Yibain Emile.

Follow CHILLI:

On twitter @ClaudetteChilli, Instagram @ChillyChilli, Facebook: Claudette Chilli 
For Bookings contact: info@francorecords.com / +011-281-728-4374.
Twitter: @Francorecordz, Facebook: Franco Records LLC

July 11, 2016

The African Film Festival has established a landmark in Dallas

Last July 4th weekend was the longest day that I have had in a long time as the days ran into each other. It was a whirlwind at The African Film Festival in Dallas, a three-day marathon of events that included screenings of African films that terminated at the closing night Awards Gala. It was a non-stop meet and greet of filmmakers, special guests, attendees and volunteers that had me feeling like Bobby Fischer. I could tell that the attendees really enjoyed themselves by the look of satisfaction and happiness on their faces.  One patron said to me, "Wow! I wasn't expecting this, I am very happy I came." "I definitely will be coming back... With my friends!" They all applauded the effort and vision it took to put this together.

The city of Dallas became the epitome of cultural diversity. To put it in perspective, TAFF received almost eighty films this festival year and selected forty-two. Twenty-five countries participated to include filmmakers from non-African countries that told African stories. Now that is outstanding for a platform starting out its inception year. 
Kelechi shows a 10 minute preview of festival screenings after receiving a proclamation by the mayor from the city of Dallas and addressing the crowd, Regina Onyeibe stands by (above top l)
I also heard from many Dallas residents and film enthusiasts who were merely curious, when they learned the platform's mission to bring the African continent to this city, they were excited. Many wanted to lend their support however they could, we are still getting volunteer requests! Many wanted to buy our t-shirts as a way to support. The love had become overwhelming. In a conversation with a friend, I eluded to the fact that one can be busy putting things into place as part of one's vision not realizing the many lives that are being affected.

Friday, July 1st started out like any other normal day. Then in the late afternoon, filmmakers and guests all gathered on the 6th floor, in the flag room at Dallas City Hall. They were greeted by tribal dancers (Djeli Kunda West African Dance Company of Moussa Diabate Dance Group) that really turned the ambience and gave the feeling that Africa has come to town. We were all fascinated by the dance group as they beat their drums, sang and danced to the rhythm of their song. We all made long videos and took pictures. There was media presence, I met Greg Flakus, correspondent for Voice of America, my good friend Tosan Aduayi of Trendy Africa was there, as well as Victory media. We were all excited for this event that has finally crept up into our time.  Then came the ushering in of the guests of honor. Ms. Patience Ozokwo, who came straight from Nigeria for the event, our host for the gala—filmmaker and actress Uche Jombo, led by our Executive Director, Kelechi Eke just in the knick of time as West Africa Liaison for Dallas, Ms. Regina Onyeibe, began her speech and properly ushered in TAFF 2016 along with some of her friends and colleagues, notable was a Liberian businessman from JP Morgan and Chase. The Mayor of Dallas delivered a proclamation to Kelechi, The African Film Festival had become a Dallas landmark. The audience got a taste of the genius of Ben Amushie reciting some of his poetry. Finally Kelechi addressed the crowd giving them a little glimpse of his journey getting to this particular day and a taste of what the audience were in for in a 10 minute preview of films to be showcased at the festival. Looking into the audience, I could tell they had become enthralled, no one moved until the end of the clip, I heard whispers of wonderment under their breath. I realized then and there that peoples' lives were going to be affected.  Friday, July 1st left a big indication of what the weekend was shaping up to be.

The celebration continued on to Texas theatre for the Short films showcase. Eight short films were juxtaposed into a feature length showcase approximately 3 hours long. Films were from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Nigeria, South Africa and South Sudan.
Clockwise from top L: Ms. Patience Ozokwo addresses the crowd after receiving TAFF African Legend Award, screening at Pan African Connection, Filmmakers Arthur Iyok, Arthur Musah and friend, Mr. Eke and Best Actress winner and filmmaker Constance Ejuma, TAFF Leadership recipient Yeharerwerk Gashaw and TAFF Host and actor Benjamin A. Onyango, representing Cameroon on the red carpet.
Saturday, July 2nd began early as patrons lined up at our various screening locations—Aldeez, Cardillac Dream Studios, Pan African Connection and Texas Theatre. Some of our filmmakers brought along their audience, our special guests had arrived from various parts of the country as well  as abroad, locals were there to take part of the movement after they learned about it on Kera art + seek: the Big Screen days earlier. Saturday was the feature length screening of 22 films from countries of Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, The Gambia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania; a combination of Narrative and Documentaries. Each screening was followed by a Q&A session and the audience had the opportunity learn more about the filmmakers.

It looked like a scene from an invitation-only exclusive African conglomerate party that evening at Kelechi's home. There they were, filmmakers from across the African continent and beyond. The likes of Ike Nnaebue, Honeymoon Aljabri, Mike Wargo, Jacqueline Farris, Deyemi Okanlawon, Tola Olatunji, Kang Quintus, Arthur Iyok, Claudio Oben, Uche Jombo; each came with their entourage. Mama G was the special guest for the evening and no one could get enough of her, (dare I say, #SelfieOvereload??). Everyone was honored by her presence. Kelechi and family graciously hosted the evening with never ending food and drinks. Guests had a good time, "gisting." In his true form, Kelechi's filmmakers dinner would turn into screening time, everyone settled into Uche Jombo's latest film "Lost in Us."
Sunday, July 3rd our filmmakers were hosted on a boat ride along Lake Travis where they enjoyed the camaraderie of their colleagues, BBQ and fresh air from the lake. Locals enjoyed more screenings  of what was left of Saturday. Not long after, Dallas City Performance Hall would be transformed into sheer elegance with red carpet and backdrop that welcomed guests into the closing night gala. Guests honored us for the evening in colorful pageantry of African regalia. DCPH is a venue no one would forget in a hurry—a state-of-the-art architecture made for performances, galas such as ours, encourages interaction from the outside in, guests were enveloped in a 750-seat proscenium theatre with multi-level seating that accommodates viewers at every angle, and an impeccable sound system.

"Wow! I wasn't expecting this, I am very happy I came." "I definitely will be coming back... With my friends!"

I learned a few things on July 4th weekend as a first time event organizer. The beginning is always rough, no matter how well or well-in-advance that you plan. Many of us are familiar with instances when things just won't work right or "corporate," like when you've spent countless hours working on media that won't finalize and render up till the day of event, losing movie files slated for a scheduled time and you're faced with patrons expecting a scheduled film to begin in the auditorium, specialty envelopes ordered with One-day shipping didn't arrive until 7-days later, winner cards designed to specifications that could not be printed by an office supply store after 24 hours of trying and wasted materials. My biggest challenge I'd say would be not being familiar with the City of Dallas, it took some extra time locating the addresses. Timing is everything. You have to be on top of your timing or events can start to unravel. Once the gala started, events went by in quick succession, a lot of preparation ahead of time is vital. I have my presenters and volunteers to thank for their assistance in moving things along, they all did their part in anticipating when they'd go on stage and making note to be ready, many assisted in carrying the trophies to designated areas backstage. They were a good sport even though they didn't have a copy of the program, they all congregated back stage to copy and screen shot my master copy. At first having all of them at the same time seemed overwhelming as they all asked questions at the same time and wanted answers, but it all worked out as we all figured it out together.  They were all just happy to be there and help wherever they could. Communication is absolute. Members of your team must be on the same page to be able to coordinate events in a timely manner. That way one could avoid sending out a presenter that was both one of the nominees in a category being presented and the winner! When I realized this at first (one day later) I was flabbergasted, but then I laughed. Mr. Eke came back stage to ensure we still had the same version of the evening program and I didn't quite understand why. Roll with the punches. You've got to. You've got to resort to the last resort up to plan Z, so have them. For me, there were presenters I had to send to the stage more than once to replace those that couldn't make it. I ended up using unscheduled presenters and they all graciously accepted the task. Not having winner cards prepared ahead of time, I had to improvise and it worked just fine. Not having the finalized visual program meant hauling a heavy equipment to the venue and guess what? It was perfect to operate from the source and not risking having a corrupted file or potential hard drive problem. The work was never done for Mr. Eke up till the last minute that day.
Listening in the Flag room
Still reeling from the now concluded TAFF 2016, the past year now seem like a blur. To think of the start of this journey from the beginning, I'm very proud of the outcome. TAFF received mostly positive reviews. I listened to the audience speak about how pivotal this platform is for Africa, a platform that unites not just the continent but with the rest of the world. African film art have been in existence for decades, yet it had been only a small part of international mainstream. I can echo the sentiment of many when I say the TAFF has been a long time coming, the magnitude is felt far and wide. TAFF managed to introduce me to other African cultures that now I'm looking forward to learning more about. TAFF is part of Texas Film Commission, Dallas Film Commission and Dallas Arts District.  I can't thank the city of Dallas enough for taking us in, Kera art + seek for propelling it further, Voice of America for opening its platform to us, Victory media and Trendy Africa for its exceptional photos and video coverage, many others that lent their support, and of course our many volunteers.

Congratulations to the winners of 2016 TAFF awards:
  • Papa'z song by Ror Akot Ft. Michelle Norbido for Best Soundtrack in ROR from South Sudan
  • The Shadow Boxer from South Africa for Best Cinematography
  • Rejected from Cameroon for People's Choice - Best Poster
  • Nico Piro as Best Emerging Filmmaker for Documentary Killa Dizez from Sierra Leone
  • Constance Ejuma as Best Actress for Ben and Ara from Cameroon
  • Okey Uzoechi as Best Actor for Lost in Us from Nigeria
  • Rob Schermbruker for Best Director in Good Business from South Africa
  • Alma from Cameroon for People's Choice - Best Trailer 
  • Nowhere to run from Nigeria for Best Documentary Short
  • Fakeh from Cameroon for Best Narrative Short
  • The Vanished Dream from Guinea Bissau for Best Documentary Feature
  • Aisha from Tanzania for Best Narrative Feature

Congratulations Mrs. Patience Ozokwo for receiving the African Film Legend Award for her many years contributions to the Nollywood industry. You deserve it Mama G! Franco Bonghan is a true pioneer who has used his platform to groom many young artists and aid in the fight for Ebola. His music video, Africa for Ebola Orphans harnessed great music talents from four African countries - Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guniea and Cameroon for an awareness initiative through music. The two phase initiative included making a music video and holding a musical concert in each country. The result is a moving musical tribute that became a vehicle that would bring support to children orphaned by the ravaging disease. Congratulations on your Humanitarian award! Yeharerwerk Gashaw have long been an activist for Africans for many years, advocating for education, the fight against drugs and injustice. Over the years, she single handedly raised money for schools and awareness campaigns. Her campaign against drugs led her to work with several Heads-of-State, notable is her meeting with Nelson Mandela and President Mobutu of Zaire. She is the first Black Model to grace the runnways of Christian Dior and Guerlain Paris, the first Black actress featured in Soap Opera Dallas. Congratulations on your Leadership Award.
Filmmakers and patrons enjoyed a festival full of activities
Kenyan Hollywood actor and filmmaker extraordinaire Benjamin A. Onyango held down the floor for us with Nollywood actress Uche Jombo, keeping our guests entertained throughout the night, ushering in the presenters. Between the dynamic duo, they wear many hats as filmmaker, comedian, actor, actress, masters of ceremony, the list would go on (I covered them here and here). I have to recognize the visionary who had the guts to put this together, TAFF Founder and Executive Producer, Filmmaker, Director—Mr. Kelechi Eke, watching your vision unfold is inspiring and gives us hope! Judging by the reception of TAFF this year, there's already anticipation for what next year will bring.

Well, "that's all folks!" (The famous words of bugs bunny) Until next year.

Pssst: The African Film Festival 2017 dates have been released: June 30 - July 3!

Images courtesy of Victory Media Pro

July 6, 2016

Houston International Hit DJs

Meet Houston's Hottest Hit DJs

At least once a month, the hottest Afro DJs in Houston are getting together to deliver the latest in hits and hooks they can muster. Stay tuned for updates on this conglomerate.

Where: Zanzibar, Houston
9003 Westeimer Rd, Houston, TX 77063

Zanzibar is an urbane lounge with contemporary decor featuring DJs, Comedians and happy hour in a laid-back locale.

June 15, 2016

Uche Jombo to host The African Film Festival

Credit: Uche Jombo
Uche Jombo is easily the most recognizable face in Nollywood with a long acting resume—60 films to her credit to include many under her production company Uche Jombo Studios. She has endeared our hearts on screen with notable films like Games Men Play, Damage, Oge's sister. Her strong work ethic has propelled her to the top of her game with millions of fans worldwide.

Uche embodies the epitome of TAFF's mission as an avid African independent film trailblazing Director, Writer and Producer believing in the talent and ingenuity that can only be from the motherland. Under her production company, she has produced many quality films and procured distribution rights to international markets and online streaming houses such as Netflix, an online streaming platform.

The African Film Festival is honored to have Nollywood's darling Uche Jombo as host for its 2016 festival year. The sentiment is mutual as she eluded to her excitement, believing this platform is what the African independent film industry needs. She has been a supporter of this platform from its inception, graciously accepting the invitation despite her busy schedule. 

As an actor and a filmmaker, it's imperative to go to film festivals. I have always done that over the years, it's always a pleasure to be a part of anything that shines light on the continent. You have no idea how many Americans that still think Africa is a country, its an opportunity to see other filmmakers from other African countries...  I am looking forward to seeing the different films from African filmmakers, plus Dallas is my 3rd town after Aba and Lagos, yes in that order.
Uche will join Kenyan Hollywood actor, Benjamin A. Onyango in the inaugural presentation of The African Film Festival, 2016. We can only expect a lightening powerhouse from the duo.


African Film Festival is now 18 days away! Can you believe it? Get your tickets now.

July 1-3, 2016
Dallas, Texas
25 countries | 42 Films
Parade of Flags | Red Carpet | TAFFest Boatride | Shorts Screening 
 Feature Screening | Networking seminar | Dallas City Tour 
Awards Gala | Afterparty

June 5, 2016

Portrait of a true legend

image courtesy of Today

Mohammad Ali: January 17, 1942-June 3, 2016


His immortal words will resonate with millions forever:
"I'll be the ghost that haunts boxing." 
"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, his hands can't hit what his eyes can't see."
"It will be a killer and a chiller and a thriller, when I get the gorilla in Manilla." 
These and many others have been associated with the three-time heavyweight champ as he taunts his opponents to the ring.

There are few lessons I took away from this true legend:

He was fearless

He rose to fame during the civil rights era, in the time of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, famously changing his name and converting to Islam, denouncing segregation, racism and the Vietnamese war. His in-your-face attitude both amused and angered his audience. He was quick-witted and loud. Even when he faced prison, his boxing license and heavyweight titles were stripped, his strong convictions would not let him falter. He would often taunt his opponents to the ring, many, undisputed heavy weight champions during his era (Joe Frazier and George Foreman comes to mind). His taunts became a self-fulfilling prophecy. The lesson here? Believe in yourself. Courage is not the absence of fear, he'd later admit. Always stand for what you believe in, especially yourself. His strong convictions and courage is the reason above all that he truly became a Legend. He was convinced he was The Greatest, The Champ. He became #theGOAT - The Greatest Of All Time.

He had a lot of heart

He might have been brash and brazen on and off the ring, but he was a kind and gentle soul who wanted world peace. Most passionate people are often high-stung on their own causes because they believe in the greater good. He was very outspoken against injustice in an era when he could easily be annihilated just like his fellow counterparts. He continued to fight for justice and speak up for those that didn't have a voice, working with many countries and dignitaries around the world long after his boxing days and crippling illness. He set an example that many could use today, especially those bestowed with fame. 
"For all kids and people around the world -- if you want to be The Greatest -- stand up for each other. Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves and always be true to yourself. When you reach the mountain top, try not to look down on any one. Treat all people with kindness and respect. No matter how famous we get, no matter how wealthy we become, it is only the heart that makes us great or small. Remember the responsibilities that come with fame. There will be little boys and girls looking up to you. Lead them well." — Mohammad Ali.

 As his soul departs this earth, he is eternally immortalized in all of us.

Rest In Peace, Mohammad Ali — The Greatest Of All Time.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...