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Catalysts of Change in Nigeria’s Entertainment Scene – THISDAY Newspapers

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Cover 2022

The year 2022 came with the promise of the pre-pandemic era. COVID infections were ebbing and normalcy was restored. The good old COVID-free days were almost here. For the entertainment industry affected by the pandemic, the year tested its resilience, given the economic hardships that marked the year. Will they bounce back successfully or retreat to square one? Some launched new projects, others landed more deals, awards received and breakthroughs attained. But it was not all joy and cheers. It was a year of loss and grief.  And of course, scandals! Vanessa Obioha takes a look at some of the individuals who hugged the headlines.
Femi Odugbemi
The year has been a celebratory one for the Academy Awards voting member Femi Odugbemi. He was particularly celebrated for his election as a member of the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (IATAS). Thus, Odugbemi now belongs to the pantheon of African creatives who are voting members of the Oscars and the Emmys. The cerebral filmmaker also was inducted into the Lagos Advertising and Ideas Festival (LAIF) Hall of Fame by the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN) as well as received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Guild of Photojournalists of Nigeria.
Known for his riveting television shows, the year saw Odugbemi bring to the screen a captivating political drama ‘Covenant’ starring Nollywood greats like Clarion Chukwura, Antar Laniyan and Funso Adeolu.
Bolanle Austen-Peters
The Nigerian theatre-wonder woman continues her shine this year with more wins. She was selected for the fellowship programme of the Legatum Centre for Development and Entrepreneurship of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston, USA. Two of her films ‘Collision Course’ and ‘Man of God’ were released on Netflix and received rave reviews.  The latter scooped two awards -Best Nigerian Film and Best Costume Design – at this year’s Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA). To end the year, the renowned theatre and film director is presenting a musical featuring performances from Temi Otedola, Tosin Adeyemi, KelvinMary Ndukwe and Uzo Osimkpa to name a few.
Linus Idahosa
In a landmark achievement, Linus Idahosa, the renowned creative entrepreneur and founder of Del-York International signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Lagos State Government to build a film city in Lagos. The project will be executed in partnership with Storyland Studios, a famed US-based design and production outfit. The proposed Lagos Film and Media City will sit on 100 hectares of land in Epe, part of the touted new Lagos, and will house a studio city with residential and commercial real estate; a film and media academy, studios, a theme park, a Nollywood Walk of Fame, and front and backlot infrastructure for different film projects, multiple sound stages, dining and entertainment hubs. The project is christened ‘Kebulania’, an expression coined from the word Alkebulan, the ancient original name for Africa. The name is pronounced ‘Alkebu-lan’, which means  ‘Mother of Mankind’ or ‘Garden of Eden’ — a reference to a place of vast potential, new beginnings, and new possibilities. Construction is set to begin in the first quarter of 2023.
Davido
Barring the painful death of his son, 2022 was a remarkable year for the singer Davido. It was the year Nigerians celebrated his marriage to his longtime girlfriend Chioma as well as other remarkable milestones such as his performance at the just concluded World Cup in Qatar. A picture of him and his wife Chioma before his performance posted on his official Instagram account became the most-liked Instagram picture of any Nigerian celebrity, garnering more than one million likes. Davido recorded other World Cup moments such as his performance at the 2022 FIFA World Cup draw ceremony last April and became the first Nigerian singer to be featured in a FIFA World Cup single.
The year saw the singer scooping awards such as the Beatz award for ‘Best Songwriter’ and fetched accolades such as ‘Man of the People’ following his support for his uncle, Ademola Adeleke, who is now the governor of Osun State. At the 2022 NET Honours, Davido emerged as the Most Popular Musician (Male); Most Searched Musician (Male), and The Most Popular Fandom. Davido also won the Humanitarian award at the Headies 2022.
A brand ambassador of PUMA, the global sports brand, this year saw the brand release a collection Between the Lines as part of their collaboration. Another collection  ‘We Rise By Lifting Others’ earlier slated for November was postponed to 2023.
Tems
The ‘Free Mind’ crooner, Temilade Openiyi, better known as Tems had a successful run this year. Besides scoring her first Grammy nomination, she won the BET Awards for Best Collaboration alongside Wizkid and Justin Bieber. She was named Billboard’s Number One Top US Afrobeats Artist of 2022. One of the crowning moments for the singer was her Golden Globe nomination for ‘Best Original Song’ for her collaborative effort on Marvel’s ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ soundtrack. Tems also made history at the American Music Awards by clinching two awards at the American Music Awards (AMA). She won awards for the Favourite R&B Song for Wizkid’s 2020 album, ‘Made in Lagos’ with ‘Essence’; and Favourite Hip Hop Song for her contribution to Future’s ‘Wait For U’ which also features Canadian rapper Drake. Still, on international acclaim, Tems was nominated for the 65th Grammy Awards in the Record of the Year category for ‘Wait For U’.
Funke Akindele
Funke Akindele made a few headlines this year. From her foray into politics when the PDP governorship candidate Olajide Adediran unveiled her as his running mate in the upcoming elections to her separation from her husband Abdul-Rasheed Bello, better known as JJC Skills. The couple however seems to have a cordial relationship irrespective of their status. Akindele recently announced that she was leaving the Nollywood spotlight to focus on her political ambition as she is keen on becoming the next Deputy Governor of Lagos.
Jude Abaga
Whether you call him The Guy or M.I., the rapper delighted fans with his latest album The Guy, which featured other artists like The Cavemen. It was in July that Abaga announced that he would be dropping his stage name Mister Incredible (M.I.). Since he burst into the limelight in the aughts, his stage name had stuck to his skin like a tattoo such that even after choosing to be known as The Guy, not a few still clung to M.I.
Besides his name change, M.I. was also in the news for tying the knot with his fiancée, Eniola Mafe. They had their traditional marriage on Thursday, September 22 and a church ceremony on Saturday, September 24.
Baba Ijesha
The one-year trial of Baba Ijesha, the disgraced Nollywood actor, accused of allegedly assaulting an underage girl sexually came to an end this year. On July 14, an Ikeja Special and Sexual Offences court convicted and sentenced him to five years imprisonment over the sexual assault of an underage girl. Lagos State Government found prima facie evidence to charge him under five provisions of the criminal law of the state. He faced six counts of child defilement that include indecent treatment of a child, sexual assault, attempted sexual assault by penetration and sexual assault by penetration which the prosecutor argued contravened Section 135, 137, 261, 202, 262 and 263 of the Lagos State Criminal Law 2015, that stipulates life imprisonment for offenders.
Mike Dada
If there is any honour to be awarded to individuals who throw the spotlight on African music, Mike Dada would be the right recipient. Since 2014 when he partnered with the African Union to establish the All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA), Dada and his team have helped to bring the music of unknown parts of Africa to the mainstream, discovering new creative talents.
Perhaps, due to his efficiency, he was this year appointed the Chairman of the Creative And Cultural Committee of the Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC).
Burna Boy
Burna Boy’s ‘Last Last’ was one of the national anthems of 2022. The song made it to his sixth studio album ‘Love, Damini’ which dominated Boomplay Nigeria, Apple Music Nigeria, and Spotify Nigeria. He is also recognised as the Most Streamed Artist of the year on these streaming platforms.
His international stardom continues to rise with more wins and nominations. He won Best African Act at the 2022 MTV Europe Music Awards (EMAs) and took home the MOBO awards for Best International Act and Best African Music Act, among others. Still soaring on the international scene, Burna Boy was nominated for the 65th Grammy Awards in the Best Global Music Album category for his album ‘Love, Damini’, and Best Global Music Performance for ‘Last Last’.
Away from music, Burna Boy was fingered in a shootout that occurred at the premium nightclub, Cubana last June. It was alleged that the police escort attached to the singer allegedly inflicted bullet injuries on 27-year-old Irebami Lawrence and his friend Tolu after Lawrence attacked the singer for making advances on his wife. He was criticised for encouraging such action given his stance on police brutality.
Charles Okpaleke
Often called the King of Remakes and Sequels in Nollywood, the creative entrepreneur made headlines with the release of ‘Glamour Girls’, a nostalgic film of the old Nollywood. While many were confused about the status of the film, that is, if it was a sequel or a remake, Okpaleke made history on the streaming platform Netflix. The film became the first Nigerian film to reach Netflix Global Top 5.
This year also saw him landing a collaboration with the United Kingdom for his upcoming film ‘Hijack 93: The Mad Men and the Aircraft’, based on the annulled June 12, 1993 elections.
Rita Dominic
It was a year of love for veteran Nollywood actress, Rita Dominic. After unveiling her lover last year, the media businessman, Fidelis Anosike. The duo had a colourful traditional marriage in April and in November, took their wedding vows in a white ceremony in North Yorkshire, England.
 Kemi Adetiba
The wedding bells started ringing this year for Nigerian filmmaker and music video director Kemi Adetiba. She started the year with the news of her engagement to Oscar Heman-Ackah, a creative entrepreneur. The duo finally said ‘I Do’ to each other in April.
Kunle Afolayan
One of the top movies that excited fans this year is Kunle Afolayan’s ‘Anikulapo’. The film received rave reviews for its impressive storytelling and cinematography. That was not all. His film ‘Citation’ won the Best International Film award at the 2022 National Film Festival (NFF) in the UK.
However, Afolayan was among those who spoke about the Nigerian Oscars Selection Committee (NOSC) for not considering his film for the prestigious Academy Awards as well as failing to submit any Nigerian film for the competition.
Chineze Anyaene-Abonyi
Although her passion was to see a Nigerian film represented at the Oscars, the Nollywood filmmaker found herself in a debacle following her decision not to send any film to the Oscars. According to her, it was based on a voting pattern that showed eight out of the 15-member committee voted to not have any film submitted. However, their decision did not augur well with Nigerians who felt there were more eligible films to contest in the Oscars next year. A back-and-forth ensued, including speculation that the Oscars organising body, the Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences, wrote to her to have a re-vote. The action that however cast Anyaene-Abonyi in a bad light was when a now-deleted YouTube video of her being rude to members during a virtual conference with members of the committee to cast votes on whether to uphold the committee’s rules and regulations. It resulted in calls for a review of the NOSC structure to avoid non-eligibility drama in the future.
Don Jazzy
The music producer and his talents made waves this year despite the criticism that greeted his indecent social media videos with younger girls. Nonetheless, Don Jazzy delved into the food business this year with the launch of his Jazzy’s burger. This sort of signalled to fans that he is expanding his businesses beyond the music industry.
Asake
The self-acclaimed Mr Money with the Vibe — also the title of his debut album that fetched him viral acclaim —  is arguably the breakout star of 2022. From breaking records such as amassing over 330 million streams on Audiomack to making its debut at No. 66 on the Billboard 200. The album’s performance on Audiomack made Asake, born Ahmed Ololade, the highest-charting debut album from a Nigerian artist ever as well as the streaming platform.
However, the stampede at his London concert has left a bad taste in the mouth. Two victims reportedly died from the incident.
Pretty Okafor
The president of the Performing Musicians Employers Association of Nigeria (PMAN), Pretty Okafor under his administration broke a 40-year jinx by acquiring a corporate office for the body in Lagos.
Located in Lekki, the multi-million naira facility boasts different modern components including the president’s office, digital music library, conference rooms, VIP lounge, membership registration booth provided by Zenith Bank, and other necessary offices.
Mo Abudu
2022 is a year of wins for Mo Abudu, the CEO of EbonyLife TV and Films. Since she forayed into filmmaking, the media mogul has been sealing deals and producing blockbuster movies for both local and international audiences. The year saw her produce a TV series ‘Blood Sisters’, a film adaptation of Wole Soyinka’s ‘Death and the King’s Horseman’ among other productions.
She was also appointed an executive fellow at the Harvard Business School and was on the list of Forbes World’s 100 Most Influential Women List 2022. Mo was among Nigerians who received a national honour this year. She was bestowed the Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON).
Wizkid
The Afrobeats superstar continued his musical stardom with the release of ‘More Love Less Ego’. The latest album stars Ayra Starr for Skillibeng and Shenseea, Naira Marley, Skepta and Don Toliver. Four songs from the album dominated Billboard’s Hot Trending Songs chart.
On the international scene, he made history as a first-time nominee to win the Favourite Afrobeats Artiste category in the American Music Awards. He also shared a Favourite R&B Song with Tems for their collaborative effort  ‘Essence’.
D’banj
Earlier this month, famed Nigerian music artist Dapo Oyebanjo, better known as D’banj was arrested for alleged fraud. It was reported that the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, (ICPC) arrested the singer for allegedly diverting funds allocated for the N-Power project. The singer would later clear his name from the allegations.
Yet, he was again accused by On-Air Personality and celebrity hypeman Dotun of tarnishing his image. Dotun’s marriage to D’banj’s sister, Omotayo reportedly hit the rocks after the latter filed a report for separation, accusing her husband of forceful abortion, domestic violence and emotional abuse. Dotun on a social media post vowed to reveal to the entire world “how wicked, deceitful, ignorant and despicable you and your entire family are.”
Kizz Daniel
2022 was certainly the year of ‘Buga’ for Afrobeats sensation Kizz Daniel. His ‘Buga’ hit was one of the most loved anthems of the year, transcending regions and social status.  By the time he dropped his ‘Cough (Odo)’ hit, the artist again became a viral sensation.
Nevertheless, 2022 brought its share of problems to Daniel. He was last August arrested in Tanzania for failure to perform at a concert he had paid for. Notwithstanding, Daniel still recorded a successful international tour and is still embracing the spotlight with ‘Buga’.
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