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By BENJAMIN NJOKU

While the 8th edition of the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards, AMVCA, which was held last Saturday night, in Lagos, is still generating buzz in different quarters, it’s safe to say that the biggest attraction of the night was not the presentation of awards to the winners.

Rather, it was a combination of the red carpet style provided by celebrities of all stripes and activities preceding the night which were not captured on camera.

The stars not only set the show on fire in their show-stopping ensembles and flawless makeup but also, stepped out on the night to play and perhaps, to showcase their latest wardrobe acquisitions. However, the real takeaway of the night was the happenings within and outside the venue of the show. From the commencement of the show till its closing, the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, the venue of AMVCA suddenly became busier than ever with many guests flooding the place in their tens of thousands to capture a glimpse of the night.

Hosted by IK Osakioduwa alongside South Africa’s Bonang Matheba, the star-studded show has set a new standard for the organization of award shows in Africa.

Lagbaja makes a comeback AMVCA stage

Many of the guests at the show were there because of Lagbaja. The masked musician had been missing on stage in recent times, and his comeback performance on the night provided his fans with the rare opportunity to feel his vibes again.

Performing alongside Afro-fusion sensation Rema, Lagbaja set the whole place agog, when he sang songs like “Are you there,” “Konko Below,” and “Gra Gra.”

Dressed in his signature attire, Lagbaja delivered a breathtaking performance, barely singing as the crowd finished the verse and chorus. Just as Lagbaja and Rema, Afro-pop queen, Yemi Alade and music heavyweight, D’banj who closed the show, commanded the stage on the night, showing their versatility in song and dance to the delight of the crowd.

Okey Ogunjiofor makes another point with ‘Amina’

One of the pioneer producers in Nollywood, Okey Ogunjiofor popularly known as Paulo is best known for making movies that set new standards in the industry.

After his 1992 pioneering movie, “Living in Bondage”, the multiple award winner stunned yet the world with another blockbuster movie, Ämina”, which ruled the night at this year’s AMVCA.

The historic movie which tells the story of the legendary Queen Amina of Zazzau whose daring courage and conviction set loose a series of upheavals that altered the fate of her people won four awards out of 13 nominations, including the Best Overall Movie.

Ogunjiofor walked away with the sum of N2 million and his joy knew no bounds.

In a chat with our reporter backstage, the once actor-turned-producer said the 2021 historic movie has put the Nigerian movie industry in the global limelight, having made the top 10 movies in the world in a recent survey.

“I feel elated and grateful to God for this gesture. In September this year, Nollywood will be 30 years old. God gave us Nollywood through the production of Living in Bondage. And after 30 years, we have produced another blockbuster movie called Amina,” Ogunjiofor enthused.

Speaking further, he said that he would keep making sacrifices needed to move Nollywood to the frontiers of the world, adding “I never produced a movie to use it to win an award.”

“I make movies to express myself the best I can,” he added.

Osas Ighodaro, Stan Nze’s tears of joy!

It was a double win for actress Osas Ighodaro, who won the Best Actress in drama and Best dressed female at the glamour show. The mother of one couldn’t fight back tears as she received her coveted award, dedicating it to her late mother, whom she revealed passed on, while she was on the set of the movie.

The same was the experience of Stan Nze, who became emotional while receiving his Best Actor in a drama award. Flanked by his wife, the actor thanks to the producers of “Rattlesnake: The Ahanna Story” for giving him the platform to showcase his talent to the world. Both actors won their awards for their roles in the Ramsey Nouah’s directed movie, “Rattlesnake: The Ahanna Story.”

Funke Akindele, hubby shut down breakup rumours!

Actress Funke Akindele and her husband JJC were the cynosures of attraction at the show. The couple shocked rumour mongers after they stormed the award night together and sat beside each other alongside actress Chioma Akpotha. While the show lasted, they were captured on camera, enjoying each other’s company and acknowledging compliments from friends, colleagues and fans. When they won their first award for their movie ‘Omo Ghetto’, they stepped out holding hands and walked to the stage to receive the award. In her acceptance speech, Funke, who won the Best Actress in a comedy for her role in her movie, dedicated her award to her husband and their twins. She recalled how she shot the movie during her COVID-19 drama, urging people never to give up in any circumstances they find themselves in. The couple set tongues wagging after they reportedly arrived at AMVCA’s nominee party in separate cars and left the venue the same way they came, without posing for shots together nor sighted cuddling themselves.

Pretty Mike shows up with a lamb

Popular socialite Pretty Mike was the talk of the night. The socialite who dressed in a weird outfit stormed the show with a lamb. He’s known to storm events in unique ways and on the AMVCA night, he didn’t disappoint. But rather than getting applause, he received a lot of bashing for showing up with a goat wearing diapers.

Traffic jam barrier

Despite the glamour and glitz that made the night an experience of a lifetime, an unusual traffic jam around the Eko Hotel and Suites venue was a big setback of the night. The show commenced a little after 7 pm, but many guests who left the comfort of their homes on time to be part of history couldn’t make it after all due to heavy traffic on Adetokunbo Ademola Street, on the island.

To make matters worse, if you were able to beat the traffic, and arrive at the venue late, chances were there that you would neither find a space to park your car nor gain access into the hall as fierce-looking bouncers were on hand to send you back. “The whole place is filled up to the brim, there’s no more space. Step back,” the bouncers would thunder. And truly, it was the situation that night.

Revellers take over the space

For the time in history, the Eko hotel parking lots were filled to the brim and the once deserted five-star hotel, which is gradually recovering from the effects of COVID-19 suddenly came back to life as every nook and cranny of the resort was bubbling throughout the night. Unarguably, the show turned into a carnival of sorts as revellers took over the space, gallivanting and clubbing from dusk till dawn. The guests outside, it was noted, far overwhelmed those who were in the convention centre venue of the sold-out show. The after-party was another aspect of the show that made many wish ‘it lingers endlessly.”

Meanwhile, feelers revealed the rowdiness of the night as a result of the repackaging of the show, which saw the attendance of movie stars across Africa and beyond, including Hollywood actors. But despite the shortcomings, this year’s AMVCA was nothing short of a new dawn for the African movie sector. And one hopes that the organizers will do everything to sustain the cloud.

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