UNTOLD PROFILE with FELIX NYAMBE
The success of Nollywood and indeed Africa Magic on DStv has led to a lot of interest in the film industry across the continent; Mzansi, Zambezi Magic and Maisha Magic.
The New York Times perhaps summarised the success of Nollywood well in a February article by Norimitsu Onishi titled “Nigeria’s Booming Film Industry Redefines African Life”.
The article reads: “The stories told by Nigeria’s booming film industry, known as Nollywood, have emerged as a cultural phenomenon across Africa, the vanguard of the country’s growing influence across the continent in music, comedy, fashion and even religion.
“Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, overtook its rival, South Africa, as the continent’s largest economy two years ago, thanks in part to the film industry’s explosive growth. “Nollywood – a term I helped coin with a 2002 article when Nigeria’s movies were just starting to gain popularity outside the country – is an expression of boundless Nigerian entrepreneurialism and the nation’s self-perception as the natural leader of Africa, the one destined to speak on the continent’s behalf.
“Nollywood generates about 2,500 movies a year, making it the second-biggest producer after Bollywood in India, and its films have displaced American, Indian and Chinese ones on the televisions that are ubiquitous in bars, hair salons, airport lounges and homes across Africa.
“The industry employs a million people – second only to farming – in Nigeria, pumping US$600 million annually into the national economy, according to a 2014 report by the United States International Trade Commission. In 2002, it made 400 movies and US$45 million.
“Nollywood resonates across Africa with its stories of a pre-colonial past and of a present caught between village life and urban modernity. The movies explore the tensions between the individual and extended families, between the draw of urban life and the pull of the village, between Christianity and traditional beliefs. For countless people, in a place long shaped by outsiders, Nollywood is redefining the African experience.”
It is the reason why many artistes are jumping on the ship to try their act at acting, directing or producing films.
There are a lot of them in Zambia.
One of them is Abraham Issacs Chipasha, a 22-year- former Lusaka West and Sesheke Secondary School pupil.
Abraham is simply an artiste.
This is evident by his love for the arts even when he was still in high school where he would explode in song and dance during the school variety shows.
“I used to mime a lot to the music of Slap D, NAZ, Pompi, Lacrea and Macky II and this certainly gave me some insight of the industry,” he shared.
But a year later, he put his ambitious music antics on hold as he joined a company known as Mana Business Consultancy. But that would only last for a few months as his passion was in the arts fraternity.
“After my brief stint with Manna Business Consultancy, I was withdrawn to the streets where I encountered a lot of challenges, including that of finances,” says Abraham.
A year later, he enrolled with Cyber Blitz Film School at Lotti House where he studied acting as a profession. That is where the idea to form Island Dreams Entertainment was birthed.
With his colleagues Titus Mayembe, Vincent Muwowo and Alex Mulebela, the quartet embarked on scouting for other untapped talent. They now have a cast of 50 members, mostly fellow youths.
Their maiden project was a feature film titled Jihad which the group struggled to market and promote. It never saw the intended market and audience.
Undaunted by initial failure, they went on to work on another project.
“In 2007, our series 2 AM, which looks directly at the plight of fellow artistes, was done and we are still looking for funds for the 10 series to be produced,” says Abraham.
In between his acting career and film production, Abraham is also the brand ambassador for Vodafone.
“Vodafone came on board and empowered youths through entrepreneurship programmes in both higher learning institutions and society. It has had a huge impact on youth developments and we as youths, we have utilised this opportunity and are now assets of society. We also urge other corporate companies to stretch their hands in getting involved in youth programmes and most importantly promoting arts in the country,” he says.
Abraham says he was happy to see MultiChoice Zambia getting involved in the Zambia Film, Television and Radio Awards (ZAFTAR) with a K700,000 contribution.
“It is incredible that one institution could pump in such an amount of money to stage the awards, we are truly grateful and hope more firms could emulate them,” he says.