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.


May 30, 2016

The Chocolate & Art Show at Spring Street Studios


This Memorial weekend, Houstonians were indulged in a taste of Los Angeles underground arts scene in a two-day art show with established and up and coming artists featuring their latest work, there were live music, live body painting, face painting, live portraits and free fountain of chocolate! There were certainly something for everyone to enjoy.

Venue: Spring Street Studios
1824 Spring Street, Houston, Texas

above: Maura Lucchese, a collage artist that creates beautiful things out of junk, the artwork above her is created out of recycled magazines (strictly), her work is commissioned by the big organizations in the country. I couldn't help but take some of this work home for myself.

May 3, 2016

TAFF has a host! Veteran Kenyan Hollywood actor, Benjamin A. Onyango

TAFF is proud to present its host for this year's festival, a seasoned actor with a laundry list of credits in Hollywood. Many of you may recognize him in Tears of the Sun with Bruce Willis, The X-Files or The Other Tribes by Kelechi Eke. He's played both major and minor roles in film and television, a big supporter of African independent films. Be prepared to see this funny man in action during the Awards Gala on July 3rd, 2016.

All About Benjamin

Benjamin Alfred Onyango left his native country, Kenya in 1987 to pursue further education in the United States of America. He has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science from California State University, Stanislaus in Turlock, California. He relocated to Los Angeles, California to pursue a career in Music and Acting. He currently performs with his band ‘In Lieu Of’ in Hollywood Clubs and is the bass player for his church choir.
His TV credits include TWO WORLDS, DYSFUNCTIONALLY ORGANIZED, GENERAL HOSPITAL, THE SHIELD and the X-FILES. 

His Film credits include: FATHER AFRICA, GOD’S NOT DEAD, ROAD TO REDEMPTION, DEFAULT, KWAME, in which he won the 2009 Best Actor Award, CHAINS, THUNDER CHANCE, THE DISCIPLE, AMERICAN CRUDE, THE TERMINAL and TEARS of THE SUN. 
His fluency in the Swahili language has landed him many voice acting and ADR roles in big budget Hollywood movies including the following: NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM III, RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, MACHINE GUN PREACHER, INCEPTION, THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, PRIMEVAL, NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM I, PATH TO 911, A LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, MIGHTY JOE YOUNG, video games RESIDENT EVIL V, MASS EFFECT 3 and the TV series, E-RING.
He founded UPENDO LEARNING CENTER (ULC), a non-profit Organization that provides tutoring and mentoring services to students on the Autism spectrum. ULC also runs Summer and Winter Camps where the students on the Autism spectrum learn how to create and record music from scratch, write scripts, shoot and edit them. 

His writing credits include: a short thriller, MIND TRICKS, a dark comedy feature, HELL HATH NO FURY, a drama feature, CHEZA, TV Pilot projects TWO WORLDS (Drama) and DYSFUNCTIONALLY ORGANIZED (dramedy) and is currently working on two feature documentaries, ERIC’S RISE and JAJUOK. He is a member of SAG-AFTRA and BMI.
Mr. Onyango is one of the lead actors in the God's Not Dead film franchise. More on him can be found here. Check out God's Not Dead 2 the movie, now in theatres.

April 13, 2016

Introducing: TAFF 2016 Selected Films

Happy new month every body! I hope you enjoyed April fools? Many of you might have something to celebrate this month and so does my team at The African Film Festival.  Have you checked us out yet? You should, go on over right here.

It's been a grueling past few months and at long last, I am proud to present selected films for this year. It's overwhelming the amount of submissions received, I wondered how we can screen them all, but not to worry, our panel of judges have been hard at work through the selection process. I can confidently say from our selected films, you're in for a treat! Our filmmakers went deep with the topics explored, they addressed the many issues on our minds. I'm really proud of the quality of the films too, in my opinion, they would easily compete with films in other recognized film industries, in other words, industry standard. I wouldn't mind streaming them on Netflix. African filmmakers must be recognized for their hard work. TAFF is screening films from at least 15 African countries, many of these countries with multiple films. This indicates to me the abundance and availability of talented filmmakers all across Africa, many now see the value of this platform and appreciate its mission. In time, we hope to have the whole of Africa. So far, we're starting out strong. 

This platform can unite our brothers and sisters—we are one, we have similar issues and circumstances, there's something about our geography that unites us, from one place to another, you'd start to notice, from our films, that there's little that differentiates us. It is time to blur the dividing lines and recognize that, indeed we are one. Together, we can make for a better Africa.

That's all for now. You can preview some of the selected films trailers below. Check back next week for more.

Be sure to like my Facebook page and stay updated of the details while it unfolds. You can also head on over to TAFF Facebook page and YouTube to see the Trailer of the Day.


Title: A People at Sea
Country: Cameroon
Filmmaker: Samson Tarh
Synopsis: ANAN, a young fisherman dreams of owning an engine boat in the future. These dreams gradually become a fantasy when the government announces his plans to relocate the people of the sea to the city.Unlike ABIGAIL one of the rare privileged to go to school, All that matters to Anan and most people of the dogyard is the daily catch of fish that sustains them.Relocation to them may mean the end of living and the beginning of existing.



Title: Waiting for the (T)rain
Countries: Burkina Faso, France
Filmmaker: Simon Panay
Synopsis: Waiting for the (t)rain explores life in a rural village in Burkina Faso. The village survives by the generosity of passengers in transit on a commuter train that runs through it, throwing out food items and water bottles. Its inhabitants, young and old would reminisce and dream of their colonial masters - France. The older generation remember years of servitude to France, while the younger generation dream of escaping to France for greener pastures. 




Title: GENDER & NUMBER
Countries: Ethiopia, Spain
Filmmaker: Ines Poggio
Synopsis: Women in Ethiopia have to face unpleasant situations everyday in order to fulfill other peoples' expectations. But they keep fighting, trying to be the change they want to see. This film transmits their way of living from a positive perspective. It shows their energy, strength, courage, and their will to fight.




Title: My Gallery
Country: Cameroon
Filmmaker: Enah Johnscott
Synopsis: A devoted husband and artist struggles to provide for his family, amidst the poverty and death plaguing his community. After the sudden death of a well respected philanthropist, his life takes a different turn as a wicked mayor attempts to frame him for murder.





Title: Wings of my Dreams
Country: Nigeria
Filmmaker: Ike Nnaebue
Synopsis: A teenage girl growing up in the slums of Makoko believes there is a better life out there for her. She is determined to chase her dreams despite all odds.



March 8, 2016

Happy International Women's Day

Image courtesy of tribe
The purple ribbon
International Women’s Day is celebrated in many parts of the world today, focusing on women’s achievements in history, recognizing the social struggles women continue to face in our modern society with the hope to change the general perception of women.

It’s only in the last century that women attained equal rights lawfully in most civilized societies—the right to employment, the right to vote, to equal taxes, the right to their own property, their marital and reproductive rights. In many ways there are leaps and bounds made in the fight for gender equality, thanks to the feminist movement, while in some ways it seems stifled, much is yet to be done. A woman still earns 75 cents compared to a man’s dollar in wages for the same employment with the same job requirements, is subject to sexual discrimination in the workplace. Gender equality is still a distant dream in many societies where a woman is denied an education, the right to her own body, suffer genital mutilation, traded in marriage by the time she’s twelve; her voice is silenced and she’s expected to remain in subservience to a man, who believes her sole purpose of being is to reproduce. In such societies woman has two choices, obey tradition or be killed. Women continue subject to violence and discrimination. 35% of women all around the world have experienced some form of violence in their lifetime according to WHO (that's 1 in 3 women).

The prevalence today continues in the face of perceived inequality and lack of education. We all know too well, the atrocities committed by the militant group Boko Haram, kidnapping 276 young girls right out of school in Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria, making them cooks, sex slaves, even killing them. Ever wonder why they kidnapped only girls? Boko Haram, meaning “western education is evil.” To groups like this one, girls are not to receive a formal education. Known atrocities like this have caused some brave young women to continue to fight against oppression at a risk to their lives. We salute the activists such as Nobel price winner Malala Yousafzai—a brave 15 year old Pakistani who survived 3 gun shots by militants for advocating her rights to an education; Miriam Makeba (Mama Africa), Funmilayo Ransome Kuti—the first woman in Nigeria to drive a car and the mother of the famous political activist and musician Fela Ransome Kuti and Winnie Mandela for her activism against apartheid. Despite the precedence set by these and many brave women in our history, much is yet to be achieved in the matter of gender equality.

Are you a feminist?
In a discussion once, a well distinguished man asked, "are you a feminist?" He must have overheard a debate I was involved in nearby with a handful of men and women of African decent discussing gender roles in a modern day African society. He must have noticed how passionate I felt about the topic, eyes wide open, overt gestures, voice echoing through the banquet hall as I insisted that boys and girls must learn how to cook and clean just the same and there's no such thing as only girls belonged to the kitchen, like we were taught growing up. I paused and pondered over that question, looked up at him, smiled. "Matter of fact I am, we all should be feminists."

I wear my purple ribbon today with a badge of honor—for being a woman.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Msadaku.

January 30, 2016

Films on TAFF


Films on TAFF
Enjoy the progress we have made so far with TAFF with clips from some of the films we have received. We commend all the filmmakers from various countries involved as we work together to take African films to the next level.
Posted by The African Film Festival - TAFF on Friday, January 29, 2016
Enjoy the progress we have made so far with TAFF with clips from some of the films we have received. We commend all the filmmakers from various countries involved as we work together to take African films to the next level.

Submission Deadlines

Earlybird Deadline: November 1st - November 30th
Regular Deadline: December 1st - March 31st
Late Deadline: April 1st - April 15th

More info:

Website: www.theafricanfilmfestival.org
Facebook: facebook.com/TheAfricanFilmFestival
Twitter: @TAFFOfficial
Instagram: TheAfricanFilmFestival

Msadaku.

December 26, 2015

#AfropolitanHOU December 2015

December 18, 2015, the latest Afropolitan event took place at Q Lounge, Houston, Texas. Houstonians have slowly been warming up to this event since its inception, this time, it attracted a much younger crowd, more than likely heard the buzz from its soft launch.

The Afropolitan franchise is known for showcasing some noteworthy events like fashion shows, performances by some of our talents here in the diaspora, only time will tell what's in store for Houston.

A much more diverse crowd were noted at the December event, I got to interview quite a few. What brought them to this event? One common thread - social media and word of mouth. If you haven't heard yet, Afropolitan Houston will be taking place every 3rd Friday of the month, the first Houston event was November 2015. Afropolitan is known in cities like DC, Baltimore, New York and Maimi.

Enjoy the video below and I'll see you in one of the upcoming events.

Brought by Drumpulse entertainment, more info can be found at www.afropolitanhou.com, photos at Facebook.com/msadaku.


Msadaku.

December 7, 2015

Calling all African independent filmmakers

Did you hear about The African Film Festival - TAFF? If not, read on.
TAFF is "Bridging Cultures through Films," a non-profit organization, the first of it's kind to benefit the African independent filmmaker, set to premiere 4th of July weekend of 2016 in Dallas, Texas. A lot is ridding on the coattails of this event. There are planned seminars for filmmakers and enthusiasts, performances by your favorite artists and a gala honoring longstanding African filmmakers. With a vision to make available African films in schools and public libraries beyond Africa, TAFF would screen only the best African films for the world to see.

TAFF is now accepting submissions from African indie filmmakers worldwide. Do you have a non-released, newly finished film this past year? Then this message is for you. Submit your films now, we are now in the Regular submission timeline - December 1, 2015-March 31, 2016, prospective filmmakers should read the submission guidelines before submitting. Filmmakers will be honored with an award in fifteen categories, more on that here.

Filmmakers should register here, acceptable media formats include Blu-ray and DVD. You can also submit via FilmFreeway.

There have never been a better time for African indie filmmakers to showcase their work. Their work will gain a global exposure, as TAFF will welcome other film industries. This, in turn ensures submitted films would be seen by highly respected industry professionals around the globe (that includes Hollywood).

It is important to note that African films have a unique genre, not to be assimilated with already existing film industries. TAFF will celebrate African films and filmmakers and give the rest of the world an inside glimpse on the artistry involved in cultivating this unique genre.

Can you give your time?
TAFF is seeking passionate and enthusiastic volunteers that share its vision. Ever wanted to volunteer at a film festival? Are you passionate about African films? Then here is your chance to become part of the movement. Together, we can truly "bridge cultures..."and make the festival a success!

Keep it here, I'd keep you posted.
Msadaku.

November 28, 2015

Afropolitan Houston

November 20, 2015

Ever heard of the largest Afro-Caribbean mixer in the diaspora? Check out a new event in Houston.

#AfropolitanHou had a soft launch, attracting young African, African-American and Caribbean professionals to one place in Downtown Houston where they mixed and mingled over cocktails and unwound from their hectic schedules. Quite an impressive crowd turned up for this event.

Brought by Drumpulse Entertainment, Afropolitan mixers have been around a while in cities like New York, Miami, DC and Baltimore, serving up the hottest young professionals who want to network, some you won't find in your typical nightclubs. Folks I interviewed appreciate what this event had to offer, something different from the norm, these folks are tired of the same places like Belvedere and Zanzibar, they also appreciate the very diverse crowd from different parts of Africa and the Caribbean. There's nothing soft about this launch, I'd go ahead and presume this event is here to stay and would match the success of cities like New York and Miami.

Afropolitan Houston will take place every third Fridays of the month, be sure to check out their Facebook page and website to R.S.V.P.

More photos from November's mixer on www.facebook.com/msadaku

Keep it here. More in video below.


Msadaku.
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