Q&A with Abba Makama on Africa's creative industries
Abba T. Makama is the founder and creative director of OSIRIS Film & Entertainment. OSIRIS is a Nigerian creative group that produces strategies for digital and traditional media. Makama's latest film, Green White Green, screened at BFI Southbank’s Nollywood Weekend as part of the BLACK STAR project. We chatted to him about the growth of Africa’s creative industry, and what it’s like to be an entrepreneur in the sector.
Can you tell me about your background?
I grew up in Jos Plateau State, in the middle belt of Nigeria. In 2004, I transferred from University of Jos to State University of New York Fredonia to continue my studies in Business Management. I couldn’t connect with most of the business students and always ended up hanging out with the Art and Music students. I even took art classes that weren’t part of my course requirements.By 2007, I moved to New York City and enrolled at NYU School of Professional Studies and took a 3-month extensive course in filmmaking.
Afterwards I served as an intern at a production company for couple of months before moving back home and settling in Lagos. From 2008 to 2013, I’ve served in almost every aspect of TV and Film Production ranging from cameraman, writer, editor, production manager, assistant director, director, producer etc. There was even a time my job was delivering tapes for MTV base to all their terrestrial partners.I’ve also worked with numerous brands from Blackberry, Google, Gtbank, Etisalat, Globacom, Nigerian Breweries etc.I’ve done it all!
What were the highlights and challenges of starting your own creative business?
For me truly defining what kind of production company I wanted my business to be was the biggest challenge. I didn’t just want to be a generic production company that did everything from event coverage to music videos.
I wanted to be a company that was creating something of substance, something no one else was doing. I wanted everything I touched to be edgy, entertaining and enlightening.
I wanted to create a business that would generate most of its revenue through original content that could be distributed worldwide. We are making progress towards getting there. Our film Green White Green will be available on Netflix early 2017 and will also be available on a couple of international airlines.
Another challenge is also getting your work out there, which really isn’t rocket science but its tough work, you just have to go out and network. Visibility is key! I feel after so many years my name and the brand are finally getting out there and that’s because my team and I made a conscious effort to do great PR. The PR for Green White Green was so good that we didn’t even look for a sales agent; they were coming directly to us.But I think it’s important to note that first you must have a solid product above all things.
How do creative industries contribute to the African economy as a whole?
The creative industries have created so many jobs for the young people. Nollywood is one of the largest employers of labour for people under 30 in Nigeria. It is also changing the stereotypical narrative of Africa the media has perpetuated for decades. It’s not all war and famine here, you know.
Is OSIRIS influenced by any other African creative businesses? If so, can you name them?
Influenced, maybe not, but I’ve been inspired by a lot creative industry leaders like Audu Maikori, Kunle Afolayan, Obi Asika, Remi Ogunpitan, Samuel Onyemelukwe. I’ve learnt a lot from the aforementioned.
Where do you see OSIRIS in five years’ time?
In the next couple of years OSIRIS will either have a hit TV show/film that will cross over globally. It will have both commercial and critical acclaim.
For more features on Africa’s creative industries, check out the November entertainment issue of African Business Review.
G7 Summit guide: What it is and what leaders hope to achieve
Unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand, you’ll have seen the term ‘G7’ plastered all over the Internet this week. We’re going to give you the skinny on exactly what the G7 is and what its purpose on this planet is ─ and whether it’s a good or a bad collaboration.
Who are the G7?
The Group of Seven, or ‘G7’, may sound like a collective of pirate lords from a certain Disney smash-hit, but in reality, it’s a group of the world’s seven largest “advanced” economies ─ the powerhouses of the world, if you like.
The merry band comprises:
- The United Kingdom
- The United States
Historically, Russia was a member of the then-called ‘G8’ but found itself excluded after their ever-so-slightly illegal takeover of Crimea back in 2014.
Since 1977, the European Union has also been involved in some capacity with the G7 Summit. The Union is not recognised as an official member, but gradually, as with all Europe-linked affairs, the Union has integrated itself into the conversation and is now included in all political discussions on the annual summit agenda.
When was the ‘G’ formed?
Back in 1975, when the world was reeling from its very first oil shock and the subsequent financial fallout that came with it, the heads of state and government from six of the leading industrial countries had a face-to-face meeting at the Chateau de Rambouillet to discuss the global economy, its trajectory, and what they could do to address the economic turmoil that reared its ugly head throughout the 70s.
Why does the G7 exist?
At this very first summit ─ the ‘G6’ summit ─, the leaders adopted a 15-point communiqué, the Declaration of Rambouillet, and agreed to continuously meet once a year moving forward to address the problems of the day, with a rotating Presidency. One year later, Canada was welcomed into the fold, and the ‘G6’ became seven and has remained so ever since ─ Russia’s inclusion and exclusion not counted.
The group, as previously mentioned, was born in the looming shadow of a financial crisis, but its purpose is more significant than just economics. When leaders from the group meet, they discuss and exchange ideas on a broad range of issues, including injustice around the world, geopolitical matters, security, and sustainability.
It’s worth noting that, while the G7 may be made up of mighty nations, the bloc is an informal one. So, although it is considered an important annual event, declarations made during the summit are not legally binding. That said, they are still very influential and worth taking note of because it indicates the ambitions and outlines the initiatives of these particularly prominent leading nations.
Where is the 2021 G7 summit?
This year, the summit will be held in the United Kingdom deep in the southwest of England, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosting his contemporaries in the quaint Cornish resort of Carbis Bay near St Ives in Cornwall.
What will be discussed this year?
After almost two years of remote communication, this will be the first in-person G7 summit since the novel Coronavirus first took hold of the globe, and Britain wants “leaders to seize the opportunity to build back better from coronavirus, uniting to make the future fairer, greener, and more prosperous.”
The three-day summit, running from Friday to Sunday, will see the seven leaders discussing a whole host of shared challenges, ranging from the pandemic and vaccine development and distribution to the ongoing global fight against climate change through the implementation of sustainable norms and values.
According to the UK government, the attendees will also be taking a look at “ensuring that people everywhere can benefit from open trade, technological change, and scientific discovery.”