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Meet Sam Okyere, Famous Black Man in South Korea

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Sam-Okyere Sam-Okyere[/caption] When Sam Okyere arrived in South Korea to study, he was met with racism. But he found a way to transform his negative experiences into positive ones, making a name for himself as a popular television personality. To many viewers in South Korea, Sam’s singing voice is hugely familiar. You can find him on some of the country’s most famous variety shows and he even has his own radio slot. He raps in English and South Korean and sometimes in his native Ghanaian language Twi. Although he was born and raised in Ghana, he has recently become known as ‘the most famous black man of South Korea.’ download Sam can hardly walk the streets of Seoul without being stopped by people asking for autographs. Luckily it is relatively quiet at the juice bar in the popular downtown shopping district of the capital where he agrees to meet. “It’s crazy,” he explains. “There are times that I have to wear a hat and a mask. People from different age groups are coming up to me. I have got grandmas coming up to me, I’ve got babies coming up to me, young adults, high schoolers, people from different age ranges coming up to me asking for autographs. If somebody would have told me a couple of years ago that that would happen, I would have said: No, that’s not possible.” Sam first set foot on Korean soil nine years ago. Back then he faced a totally different reality. Sam moved from Ghana to Korea as part of a scholarship to study computer engineering. In the beginning, life here wasn’t so easy. “Of course at that time, Koreans were not as open to different types of people from different places, they were not so exposed to different races and different cultures.” As someone who hadn’t really experienced racism previously, he says it was difficult for him to comprehend. “People would openly come up to you and say really bad stuff like ‘You black monkey, go back to where you come from.’ And sometimes you go to a place and people don’t want to sit next to you. Like, that was heart-breaking.” Sam says he really wasn’t prepared for this kind of treatment. “I was like, wow! It really hit me for the first time that racism is real,” Sam elaborates. “It was always sort of a concept that didn’t really exist for me. I read about it but never experienced it until I came to Korea. So that really opened my eyes to what racism is.” South-Korea is one of the most ethnically homogeneous countries in the world. Over 99 percent of South Koreans identify as ethnically Korean. Foreigners have only begun moving to the peninsula very recently. Sam thinks that that is one of the explanations for the racism. “In a way, because they are not used to that, they get intimidated and the reaction that they have makes them appear to be racist,” he says. “But sometimes it is not that, it’s just mere ignorance and lack of exposure.” At first Sam was very frustrated by this treatment. But he realized that wasn’t going to help him in the long run. He knew it was pointless getting angry and trying to fight back. He decided to learn the language because language is always a vital part of settling in to a new culture. And so he set to work. “Once you learn the language, you feel like you’re a part of the people and the people feel like you’re a part of them. Learning Korean really was the difference between ‘my black friend Sam’ and ‘my friend Sam’,” he says smiling. Once he had mastered the language, he quickly made lots of Korean friends. But his life really started to change when he entered the Korean entertainment business. He started off with small roles in commercials but he eventually got his big break on a variety show called ‘Abnormal Summit.’ After this, he appeared in more variety shows, got roles in TV and now even has his own radio show. At first he was surprised, then pleased, to discover that he had become popular. As his fame grew, Sam decided to use this platform to start addressing the problem of racism on national TV. Speaking in fluent Korean he told a story about the day when a lady on the bus raced towards him and took the empty seat that he was about to sit in. She blocked him with her legs, while swearing at him and telling him to “go back to his country.” He quickly realized this was a form of blatant discrimination. His story had the desired effect and touched the hearts of many South Koreans. He says for most people it was a wake-up call. “So many people wrote to me, saying: ‘Thank you for mentioning this, I feel like we are living in a bubble, but now we really understand that it is real, now that you’ve spoken about your experiences we can see it from your perspective.’ And I felt like it was such an important and iconic moment on Korean television. Because it was the first time something like that was spoken about openly and honestly.” Korean society is not used to dealing with these kinds of issues openly so Sam really noticed the difference before and after he decided to speak out. In the last nine years, an increasing number of black and ethnically diverse people have made their home in South Korea. Sam explains that lots of young Koreans have written to him telling him that their perception of Africa — or Ghana or even black people — has changed because of him. He tells another story to illustrate how deeply ingrained attitudes about the beauty of pale skin in Korea are slowly changing. “I remember a few weeks ago I did a show and this old Korean was like: ‘Oh my god, your skin is so dark, you must have been in the sun too long, apply something on it to make it lighter.’ But there was one old lady that said: ‘No don’t do it, your skin is beautiful the way it is. God made you like this.’ And I was so touched! I was like, wow, this is so unbelievable, a Korean telling me your black skin is beautiful, don’t change it for anyone, I love it… You know, people are really getting the message.” And he smiles broadly before he ducks back out into the crowd of adoring fans. Source: dw.com]]>

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KiDi’s 2020 tweet reveals he has already apologised for risky and risqué old tweets

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Vodafone Ghana Music Awards (VGMA) Artiste of the Year 2022, KiDi has topped Twitter trends since the resurfacing of his old tweets on the social media platform on Wednesday, September 28. (more…)

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Western Gospel Awards 2022; Full List of Nominees

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The organizers of the annual Western Gospel Awards (WGA22) have unveiled the nominees for the 2022 edition of the prestigious award. (more…)

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Dreams College of Creative Arts holds spectacular 5th convocation

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On Wednesday, September 28, Dreams College of Creative Arts, Ghana, held its annual convocation. (more…)

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We didn’t sanction the use of our music video – Fuse ODG hits at Ghana Tourism Authority

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Ghanaian musician, Fuse ODG has broken his silence on the copyright infringement issue involving the Ghana Tourism Authority using visuals from music videos for a promotional advertisement without artists’ permission.
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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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Delay responds to KiDi’s old tweet calling her an illiterate

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Celebrated Media Personality Deloris Frimpong Manso popularly known as Delay has responded to KiDi’s old tweet about her. (more…)

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