Olufunke Adepuji

Irecently stumbled upon this Instagram post. This was while trawling through the Instagram accounts of some media personalities. Actually, I was interested in the current state of affairs of Nigerian electronic media. And, specifically, I wanted to find out all I could about Mo Abudu. That is the founder and CEO of EbonyLife TV.

The post? It was entitled The EbonyLife Amazons and splashed the images of not less than 14 women of substance. Yes, these women – besides looking glamorous – were all senior managers or producers of the channel’s patented glossy content.

Apparently, this was all about highlighting the number of women calling the shots. Recall that it’s one cause that’s way Mo Abudu’s street. So, I set out to do some digging of my own. Was this, perhaps, an attempt at window-dressing? Or, does this reflect the behind-the-scene reality?

Well, this was no window-dressing, I soon found out. The only two male heads of department happened to be the Chief Financial Officer and Head of Technical. Also, there are two male directors on the board. But trust Mo Abudu to do some balancing act. The point is that women dominate the day-to-day running of EbonyLife TV. This is something its parent network, MultiChoice Africa (MCA) should be proud of.

I wouldn’t really know MultiChoice’s take on this matter But by throwing its weight behind Mo Abudu’s efforts to build a Nigerian entertainment powerhouse – one that churns out over 4,000 hours of high-quality, original programming in its four years of existence – it has not only empowered these female media executives and producers, but also hundreds of young people, who are desperate for opportunities and training.

Recall also that MultiChoice Nigeria has in recent times been vilified for serial price hikes and for seemingly excluding the average Nigerian from gaining access to its best products. Perhaps, one may wish to argue that this criticism is justified. Yet, can one discountenance the fact that success stories like EbonyLife would not have been possible without the platform and financial support of the South Africa-based network.

There’s no doubt about it: EbonyLife TV has upped the ante with its slick TV dramas like The Governor, Sons of the Caliphate, Fifty (the series) and its cavalcade of talk, reality and general entertainment shows. The viewers’ expectations of high quality from the home-grown television have thus been raised in a relatively short time-frame.
The fallout of this is evident wherever one looks, even with online channels. No one seems immune to the EbonyLife effect. Or…perhaps, with the exception of some change-resistant stalwarts of the terrestrial television.

An important aspect of my research was the awe-inspiring number of media personalities and actors, who owe much of their current popularity to EbonyLife TV. Many of these either launched their careers on the channel or gave their profiles a terrific shot in the arm through their work there. There are even many, who work all over Africa and relish impressive social media followings as well as command eye-popping endorsement fees as brand ambassadors. These include Zainab Balogun, Stephanie Coker, Ebuka Uchendu, Tosin Odunfa, Mimi Onalaja, Tallulah Doherty, Bolanle Olakanmi, Toke Makinwa, Lamide Akintobi, Michelle Dede, Kwame Bonsu, Oreka Godis, Appeal Ofoh, Cynthia Kamalu, Denola Grey and Denrele Edun among so many others.

Maybe I’m the lone voice in the wilderness singing the praises of MultiChoice. But is it possible to crow about the achievements of Mo Abudu and her “Amazons” at EbonyLife without acknowledging the input of MultiChoice Africa?
Long may this continue!

-Adepuji writes from Lagos