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A Diverse And Culturally Rich African Continent Is A Bedrock For Storytelling

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More than 1000 languages are spoken across the continent and this diversity means we have great stories to tell. Yolisa Phahle, the CEO of General Entertainment for the MultiChoice Group, explains how the time for African voices to receive the exposure and representation they deserve, is now.

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Today, Africa has a population of 1.1 billion as well as the youngest population. By 2050 that will have doubled and is expected to generate 10-15% GDP growth in the next 15 years. These fundamental shifts are also reflected in a key figure of special interest to us: the amount spent on entertainment and media (E&M). 

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According to research conducted by PwC South Africa last year, E&M spend in South Africa is expected to reach US$12,3 million by 2022. Nigeria saw a 25.5% rise in E&M revenue in 2017 to US$3.8bn. Ghana’s E&M industry has more than tripled in value since 2013. Total E&M revenue in Tanzania rose by 28.2% to half a billion dollars in 2017.

That is substantial growth, and it raises the following set of questions: as entertainment consumption increases, what can we say about the nature of that consumption? Where is that entertainment produced, and whose stories does it comprise? 

Well, for a start, a lot of that media is television. We watch a lot of TV. Kenya watches twice as much as the world average. South Africa and Nigeria aren’t far behind. Secondly, a rapidly increasing amount of that television is produced by African production houses and is telling African stories. The reason for the increase is simple: the demand is there, and its exceeding supply its currently sitting at nearly double of the minutes available for broadcast. We, as a continent, are hungry for local storytelling. 

There’s clearly a market to support the continued, and increased, investment in local content, and there’s also a clear business case for doing so. The ability to effectively support these African storytellers will certainly differentiate competitor offerings.

This all means that the increase in local content is going to continue. Right now, MultiChoice, as the largest local content creator on the continent, produces 4,500 hours of African content, and spends US$173,8 million on this content, each year. It produces content in 17 languages for distribution via 22 channels tailored to specific African markets in 50 countries. In 2013, local content spend as a percentage of total content spend was on average 30%. In 2018 it averaged 39%. By 2022 it will potentially sit at 45%.

The effects of this expenditure, apart from satisfying the demand of viewers, include the development of local storytelling talent, an increase in the number of independent production houses across Africa, and the growing contribution of local content production to employment and economic growth. 

Even as the expenditure on local content increases MultiChoice contributed over a billion rand to South Africa’s local entertainment industry between April and September last year, recently upgraded its Nairobi office to a regional hub and launched three other offices, in East, West and Central Africa the barriers to entry in terms of the cost of equipment and processes continue to fall sharply. 

The result is tremendously heartening: a multiplicity of stories told in a creatively diverse way, reflecting our rich cultural background and unique position globally. For content creators, distributors, and viewers across Africa, this is a good time to be a part of the African television revolution.  

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All You Should Know About Showmax’s First Nigerian Original Limited Drama Series, Diiche!

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Showmax’s first-ever Nigerian original limited drama series, Diiche, premieres exclusively on the platform today, September 29, 2022. (more…)

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African fantasy series Blood Psalms premieres on Showmax with glowing reviews

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Khanya Mkangisa as Nymph in Blood Psalms
The first two episodes of Blood Psalms, the first Showmax Original fantasy series, are now streaming. Early reviews are glowing, withTVMzansi calling it, “Without doubt, the best TV show ever created in Africa”; Leon van Nierop “the biggest and most spectacular production of a local series yet” and TimesLive “African fantasy at its finest.”
Set in ancient Africa, the action-packed epic follows Princess Zazi (Bokang Phelane) as she battles a world-ending prophecy to navigate her people through ancient curses, long-standing tribal vendettas and the wrath of the gods.
“Watching it feels as thrilling as being an astronaut exploring new worlds,” says Genevieve Terblanche from tvplus. “The sheer scope of Blood Psalms is breathtaking.”
On TVSA, Movies And Things With Tha-Bang writes, “What Jahmil XT Qubeka and Layla Swart have achieved with Blood Psalms is something that will go down on SA TV history books like the Yizo Yizo and Intersexions of the world, series that came and changed the game when folks least expected it.”
Swart and Qubeka were responsible for South African Oscar entries Knuckle City and Sew The Winter To My Skin. Qubeka also directed Of Good Report, which won seven SAFTAs, including Best Film and Best Director, and Stillborn, which won the SAFTA for Best Short Film.
They’ve assembled an incomparable cast, with nine SAFTA winners – Bongile Mantsai, Hamilton Dlamini, Hlubi Mboya, Mothusi Magano, S’dumo Mtshali, Siv Ngesi, Thishiwe Ziqubu, Warren Masemola and Zolisa Xaluva – and all your faves, from Enhle Mbali Mlotshwa to Lemogang Tsipa, Faith Baloyi to Faniswa Yisa, Mandisa Nduna to Niza Jay, Richard Lukunku to Sello Maake Ka Ncube, Thabo Rametsi to Thando Thabethe, Thembikile Komani to Zikhona Sodlaka, and many more.
We caught up with the most ambitious filmmakers in Africa to find out more about Yellowbone Entertainment’s first Showmax Original, which is already topping the charts on Africa’s homegrown streaming service:
Where did the idea for Blood Psalms come from?
Qubeka: I was just always extremely curious about our continent. The question mark around the history of Africa, and where we come from, has been a great platform for us to be able to build this world.
Swart: I think Blood Psalms is a yearning more than anything else. It’s a look at a history that has never been depicted before, that we always wanted to see.
When is Blood Psalms set?
Qubeka: 11 000 years ago. Blood Psalms is an action adventure series that invites us into a world that no longer exists, a time before the Great Flood changed the world.
Swart: Blood Psalms draws from elements of a multitude of African mythologies and looks at various different tribes in Season 1 – the Akachi, the Uchawi, the Ku’ua, the Chini, and Great Nziwemabwe – as they migrated south from Kemet, which is now Egypt, and formed their cultures.
Qubeka: These tribes moved southward, running away from the calamity that was happening in Kemet and Kush, which is what we now know as northern Sudan. There are remnants even today that show that there was a great civilization and a great culture that comes from that space.
Which tribe do you focus on the most?
Swart: The tribal focus in season one is House Akachi, run by the eccentric King Letsha [four-time SAFTA winner Mothusi Magano].
Qubeka: We look at this world through the eyes of his daughter, a young Akachi princess by the name of Zazi [Bokang Phelane], as she goes on her own quest to find a sense of self in a rapidly evaporating world.
How do you feel about the inevitable Game of Thrones comparisons?
Qubeka: If they want to call it the African Game of Thrones, I’ll take that mantle on. If you love Game of Thrones, you’re gonna love this show.
But what we really want to do is create heroic archetypes for the African child. If you look across the entire landscape of cinema and television, there are no archetypes for the African child.
Swart: It’s a pioneering show that attempts to redefine our very perception of our identity as Africans. What we’re trying to do is to reclaim the continent’s history from an African perspective. The goal, for us, is to ensure that the golden thread of Africa’s stunning history really shines.
Qubeka: If we don’t start to project an image of how we see ourselves, someone else is going to do that for us.
There are very few references for Africa 11,000 years ago. Was this freeing or challenging? 
Swart: Building a world that doesn’t exist has been enormously creative. Doing something set 11,000 years ago has really given us all collectively the scope to just play.
But it’s also enormously challenging. Every single costume, every single piece of the set had to be conceived and made from scratch.
Qubeka: I’m very excited to see how audiences engage this world. There’s a lot of things that people are going to look at and be like, ‘What are you talking about? Did they have guns in that time? Do they have electricity?’ There’s all sorts of things that we challenge in terms of conventions, of what people understand of our glorious past.
Where did you shoot in the Eastern Cape?
Qubeka: So the Akachi Citadel actually sits above the Hole in the Wall but we shot parts of the Citadel in different locations. For example, the big dam in Graaff-Reinet is incorporated as the Citadel dam, situated at the back end of the city.
What I really loved about shooting in the Eastern Cape is that it just brought a whole other dimension to what we were intending to achieve.
The epic scale of places like Coffee Bay and the Valley of Desolation – just the size and scale of these places – makes you feel so insignificant, so small, so we’re able to get an essence of what it could have been like 11,000 years ago on this continent.
Why should audiences watch your show?
Qubeka: It’s a sweeping epic adventure that doesn’t hold back. It is definitely a large canvas, one that I personally have not seen from this continent. This thing is big.
Now streaming, first on Showmax
Shot in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng and North West provinces, Blood Psalms is a Showmax Original in partnership with CANAL+, the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, the Eastern Cape Economic Development Corporation (ECDC), the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) and the MultiChoice Innovation Fund, which supports South Africa’s most exciting entrepreneurs, enabling them to bring their unique, innovative and creative business ideas to life.
Showmax will drop new episodes of Blood Psalms every Wednesday until the end of November 2022.
Join Swart for an InstaLive on producing as part of the Showmax x Actor Spaces masterclasses at 6pm on Thursday, 29 September 2022 at https://www.instagram.com/actorspaces/.
Watch Layla Swart’s Showmax x Actor Spaces masterclass on producing:
Add Blood Psalms to your Showmax watchlist:
Watch the new trailer:
Join the conversation:
#BloodPsalmsShowmax
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Showmax confirms The Real Housewives of Nairobi, slated to begin production in September

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African streaming service Showmax, in partnership with NBCUniversal Formats, is bringing The Real Housewives to Nairobi.
The Real Housewives of Nairobi, which will debut in 2023 as a Showmax Original, is the 22nd international version of The Real Housewives format and the sixth to be adapted in Africa.
The Real Housewives of Nairobi builds on the success of other African franchises like The Real Housewives of Johannesburg, which was one of the 10 most streamed domestic series on Showmax in 2019, as well as Durban (RHOD) and Lagos (RHOLagos), which both broke records on Showmax and were trending #1 on Twitter in their respective countries.
Denise Mwende, Showmax Content Specialist in East Africa, said: “As an African streaming platform, Showmax is dedicated to telling diverse African stories, and celebrity reality TV remains a genre that excites our viewers across Africa. We love to watch other people’s lives, and The Real Housewives of Nairobi is a chance to get a much closer look at Nairobi’s elite.”
The Real Housewives of Nairobi is being produced by Eugene Mbugua’s D&R Studios (formerly Young Rich Television), the production company behind Kenya’s biggest docu-reality shows and Showmax favourites like the 2021 Kalasha nominee Sol Family; the 2021 Kalasha nominee and 2022 Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice (AMVCA) nominee This Love; 2022 reality series Kyallo Kulture; 2018 Kalasha nominee Stori Yangu and 2019 Kalasha winner Our Perfect Wedding.
“The team at D&R Studios is very stoked about the opportunity to produce The Real Housewives of Nairobi,” said Mbugua. “We’ve had a long and good relationship with Showmax, and are very excited to now be working together on an international format. We’ve gone through a very rigorous process of being shortlisted and are now geared up and ready to start production.”
“D&R Studios already has a portfolio of celebrity reality content like Sol Family, This Love and Kyallo Kulture under their belt. They understand the structure, and are willing to work hand in hand with our local teams and NBCUniversal to bring the Nairobi franchise to life,” added Denise Mwende.
On what the audience can expect with Nairobi, following the success of other African franchises, Mbugua said, “There’s quite a bit of pressure from the audience to deliver a stellar show but if what we’ve seen in the casting process is anything to go by, Nairobi promises to hold its own. Fans can expect surprises in everything, from the choice of the cast to the storylines. The Real Housewives of Nairobi is going to be the show to watch.”
As you wait for The Real Housewives of Nairobi, you can binge-watch these African franchises on Showmax: The Real Housewives of Lagos, The Real Housewives of Durban S1-2 and The Real Housewives of Johannesburg S1-2.
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This Week On Miss Malaika Ghana – Our Culture, Our Heritage!!

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This Week On Miss Malaika Ghana – Our Culture, Our Heritage!!

In an immature society culture is an import; for a mature one it is a native manufacture which eventually becomes an export. – Northrop Frye. (more…)

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Apple Music’s Africa Now Radio features K.O this Friday !

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This Week’s Episode Features a Conversation With K.O, the 5 Hottest Tracks of the Week, Africa Rising and Dadaboy Ehiz’s Favourite Track of the Week! (more…)

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Spotify’s Fresh Finds Africa taps Preyé for September

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Preyé, Nigeria’s emerging soul powerhouse, has been selected as Spotify’s Fresh Finds Africa artist for September. (more…)

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