By Ayo Onikoyi
Africa Magic: Africa is a continent of stories. From previous generations who passed down oral history to their progeny, to the new age obsession with documentation, the continent has always been obsessed with storytelling. All around us, there are countless stories to be told. Stories of triumph that warm the heart, tales of extreme sadness, of new beginnings, and the complexities of life.
But what makes a good story? What is the hallmark of great content? What is the common denominator of local content that resonates within the territory that it is produced, and can garner followers and massive interest from foreign spaces? Where is this treasure trove of raw materials that holds all these stories?
It’s all around us. The typical African experience is a never-ending rollercoaster of highs and lows. While the continent is diverse with an abundance of tribes, countries and culture, there are a number of experiences that traverse these lines. Content creators are tasked with locating these unifiers and matching them with the best talent to bring it to life.
Africa’s most loved storyteller, Africa Magic launched in July 2003. It broadcasts in more than 50 African countries, and not only creates different platforms for sharing the wide range of African stories, but also continues to invest in the development of local content and local talent. It is this dedication to unique local content that has given birth to shows which encapsulate the human experience and appeal to a wide range of audience across the continent.
BBnaija is a great example of content that carries through the human experience and ushers exceptional talent into a life of visibility. BBNaija is popular for its heavy dose of escapism. Everyday, Nigerians are faced with multidimensional challenges, putting a strain on the mind. As society has long discovered, we humans tend to forget about our own problems by involving ourselves in other people’s problems. Reality TV shows like BBNaija offer this crucial escape by commodifying and unfolding the overdramatic lives of others. Watching these people’s struggles makes us believe that our own problems aren’t as severe, or we can connect with their challenges and vicariously live through them. BBNaija provides this escape for Nigerians to relax and engage with housemates.
You can exchange ‘Nigeria’ and ‘Naija’ with any other country in Africa, and the same holds true. There’s a need for escapism, and locally sourced and produced content like BBnaija handles solves that.
BBNaija is produced by MultiChoice Nigeria, another powerhouse of local content and talents that commissions and amplifies the best content in Nigeria and beyond. In 2020, they are going further, with the introduction of new shows that aligned with local expectations, and feature a new cohort of stars.
It begins with Date my Family, a reality dating show with a twist follows the unique story of a suitor who goes for dinner with 3 different families of potential dates and eventually has to choose a date based on their experience with the date’s family members. In Date My Family, the suitor only gets to see his pick at the eventual couple dinner.
New show Dr Laser brings the reality of people who undergo plastic surgery in Nigeria to your screens. You’ve seen iterations of this show in Western content. Now at home, you get to connect with people like you, who want body enhancement for numerous reasons. The show explores the motivations and emotions behind the choices people make to enhance or repair various body parts. It’s joined by Confessions, a reality show where people confront their fears and secrets that have been eating them up. Viewers get to see real-life confessions between friends, siblings, and love interests. These confessions might be good or bad or both. The person being confessed to is not aware until the camera begins to roll, so viewers get to see real-life reactions and situations.
And there’s Ultimate Love, starting February 2020, which is centred around single male and female strangers living together in an isolated location with the hopes of finding life-long love. They are paired based on their mutual attraction to one another as they compete to emerge the ultimate couple of the competition. The winning couple is rewarded with a lavish traditional wedding ceremony, a fully furnished home amongst other prizes. The couples, who are continuously monitored by live television cameras and personal audio microphones, will interact daily with a counsellor fondly referred to as ‘Auntie’ as they embark on their journey to love.
With all of these offerings alone from one company, 2020 already appears to be packed with enough content already. And if it isn’t, then what does the next level hold for us.
A crucial part of these releases is the focus on local content. The shows are staffed and cast full with a new cohort of talents from Nigeria. Think of what success means for these people. Apart from finding work for creatives, any hit show is bound to produce stars, increase their value and set up that person for a lifetime of stardom and success. Dr Laser is a medical reality show helmed by Dr Abayomi Aranmolate, an experienced and distinguished expert who is turning his work into content, and himself, a star. It’s a great example of what the country needs for the entertainment business.
Ultimately, the prize is to resonate with new audiences, and bring everyone in with entertainment, education and inspiration, all by focusing on content that connects locally, and represents the pulse of the people. MultiChoice has the year in a chokehold already. We hope to see more creative houses in the arena.