Uganda: Multichoice On the Spot Over Nigeria's Dominance


It looked like a Ugandan affair when singer Bebe Cool attacked DJs for sidelining Ugandan music in favour of Nigerian and Jamaican music.

However, the just-concluded MultiChoice Africa's "Only the Best" content showcase proved that it is not just about Uganda; the rest of Africa is as equally groaning about Nigeria's dominance of the airwaves. At least, that is the picture that was portrayed by journalists from different African countries.

It all started on the second day of the extravaganza, during the Africa Magic showcase that was hosted by Big Brother Africa's IK. On the panel was Nigerian actress Rita Dominic, actor Chinedu Ikedieze, director Mildred Okwo, Ghanaian actor Majid Michele, former Big Brother housemate Uti and MultiChoice West Africa regional director Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu. The panel of seven didn't amuse journalists since it comprised of four Nigerians and three Ghanaians.

"Generally, Africa Magic is a West African affair," argued a Zimbabwean journalist.

Like he had opened a can of worms, journalists tasked Mba-Uzoukwu to explain whether, besides Nigeria, there are no films being produced from the rest of Africa. In the heat of the debate, Mba-Uzoukwu explained that she represents West Africa, not the continent. She just apologized that other African countries feel sidelined.

Her actions left the MultiChoice Africa general manager, Caroline Creasy, in the frying pan, equally facing the music. Creasy is credited for having put together the Africa Rising project. However, the project, which was launched with a song, caught the journalists' attention by the fact that of the six artistes that featured in it, three were Nigerians.

"How important is the rest of Africa to DStv?" questioned a journalist from Botswana.

Others decried the various syndications that Nigeria has enjoyed over other countries.

"They took Africa Magic but that wasn't enough; they created Africa Magic Yoruba, Nigerian Idols, Big Brother Nigeria, Naija Sings... what's in for the rest of Africa," questioned one journalist.

Different discussants attempted to explain why Nigeria is DStv's favourite but no one satisfied the media. Not even Ebony Life TV made things any better. This is a channel billed to be the BET of Africa. However, 99 per cent of their content is Nigerian and is produced in a small state of the federal country, for the rest of Africa. The station runs with a tagline, "Everything you know about Africa will change".

A Kenyan journalist questioned the relevance of the tagline, noting that it should be changed to "Everything you know about Nigeria will change."

When it came to MTV Base, the questions were the same and there were no straightforward answers. People still questioned Nigeria's dominance on the channel to which the MTV Base representative argued that West Africa is their biggest market.

Ironically, some Nigerian journalist expressed his detest towards the kind of music the channel plays.

"When I tune in, I see Nigerian and South African-American wannabes. Where's the vision of promoting an African sound using your channel?" he asked.

Creasy reaffirmed that the entire continent is within the plans of MultiChoice and hinted on a new development that will see East Africa too, get a channel dedicated to its cinema.

Source: The Observer (Kampala)- Andrew Kaggwa, 6 July 2014