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This Nivea Ad Promising "Visibly Lighter Skin" Is Reigniting a Conversation About Skin Bleaching On the Continent

Nivea has come under fire for an advertisement promoting skin lightening, but the incident also opens up a broader discussion about marketing trends and consumer demand on the continent.

German-owned skincare brand, Nivea, is facing intense backlash over an ad promising "visibly lighter skin" with the use of their moisturizer.


The company released a television advert for their "natural fairness" product, which features former Miss Nigeria Omowunmi Akinnifesi applying the cream. Her skin instantly appears lighter once the moisturizer is applied.

The product is being promoted with billboards across Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon, with the slogan "for visibly fairer skin."

While the issue of skin lightening on the continent is a complex, and sometimes psychological one—with roots largely stemming from colonialism—it's offensive, to say the least, that Nivea would assume that Africans would be collectively heedless to the racism and self-hate which the ad promotes.

A number of folks have criticized the ad on Twitter, reprehending Nivea and calling out a widely irresponsible beauty industry which continues to push harmful skin products to Africans.

There's also a discussion taking place around the demand for such products on the continent, and how advertising often caters to what companies believe is "trendy" in specific localities.

As we all know, this conversation is not at all new. The same companies which sell skin bleaching products across Africa and Asia are the same ones boosting messages of self-acceptance to consumers in North America—both in attempt to capitalize off perceived consumer trends.

But we aren't all as oblivious to their bullshit as they'd like to think. More and more, we see people taking a stand against such patronizing messaging both on and off the continent.

Check out the video below via, AJ+ to see how women in Ghana are fighting skin bleaching.

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Watch FKA Twigs & Rema's New Video For 'Jealousy'

The fire collaboration from FKA Twigs' Caprisongs mixtape.

Post updated on January 25th, 2022.

FKA Twigs dropped her new mixtape, Caprisongs on January 14

Ealier this month, she's shared "Jealousy," a fire new collaboration with none-other-than Nigeria's buzzing young gun Rema. The Nigerian artist hops in on the second verse of the song to drop a laidback verse about a girl who's too much in her feelings.

The pair have now shared the new Aidan Zamiri-directed music video for the Caprisongs single. The clip upbeat and dance-heavy clip features choreography by FKA Twigs’ frequent collaborator Kash Powell.

"Jealousy" is Rema's first drop of 2022, following last year which saw him release the standout tracks "Bounce" and "Soundgasm," both of which made it onto our Best Nigerian Songs of the Year list.

"Jealousy," and the whole Caprisongs mixtape, was executive produced by FKA Twigs alongside El Guincho, the Spanish producer behind Rosalia's El Mal Querer album and single like "Con Altura."

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Photo Credit: Screengrab from Chief Daddy 2: Going for Broke

How This Netflix Film Sparked A Fierc​e Conversation About Nollywood

Since its release on Netflix, Chief Daddy 2: Going for Broke has received a scathing reaction from critics and users on social media. The movie sparked all kinds of conversation about the future of Nollywood films.

On the first day of January, Netflix released Chief Daddy 2: Going for Broke, the sequel to the 2018 dramedy about the gilded household of Chief Beecroft (whose death leaves members of his family scrambling over his wealth.) Even with its many flaws, the original was a major hit, making N385.7 million at the Nigerian box office. So it wasn't surprising Netflix acquired the second installment.

However, reviews have been overwhelmingly negative. The tone was even more unforgivingly scathing on social media, where criticism was rampant. On Twitter, fans savaged the editing, acting, and thin plot. One of the viewers who shared their disappointment with the film was Joyce Alao, who expressed her sentiments on Twitter from a burner account.

“It was a pointless film and I couldn’t believe what I was watching,” Alao told OkayAfrica. “ I was speechless from scene to scene, looking for something or anything redeemable but couldn’t find it. My main issue is why this film is on Netflix?"

Alao said the online outrage was nothing like she had seen before. Nigerians were uniting to not just criticize a film but to demand better from the Nollywood industry. And the pushback became so fierce it dominated coverage around the film. “It was an interesting moment and I hope this trend continues," Alao said. "We can’t continue to accept everything from these filmmakers.”

The criticisms of Chief Daddy 2 was a Nollywood viral moment. Oba Kosi Nwoba, a producer-director known for projects like Umoja and Iko Ndu: The Palmwine Story, hosted a room on Twitter Spaces titled Nollywood: Enough is Enough! #WeWantNewNollywood.

“A lot of people on social media who I believe represent a significant percentage of Netflix users have come out to complain they didn’t like the story. That is something to take home,” Nwoba said. “People make films for different purposes, there’s always that arm aimed at commercial viability. Is it commercial success? We can’t tell yet. If it was released in the cinema, the numbers would say. I share a little sentiment with the audience with regards to the cohesiveness of the story. Let us call it a failed experiment.”

Nwoba has a vantage position as a filmmaker, but he holds himself to the unspoken cardinal rule of not critiquing another filmmaker’s work. At the same time, he feels these conversations are vital to have. The problems with Chief Daddy 2 aren’t new, even for a production from EbonyLife Films, a huge studio. The problems aren’t isolated, either. So why did it take this film to see that the industry was in crisis?

“First, I don’t think it took Chief Daddy for people to come to the realization,” Precious Nwogu, a film journalist for Pulse, said. “Its timing, however, played a crucial role in the collective backlash it received. Prior to the call out, there have been pockets of negative reviews of titles released on the streamer but this time, the holidays plus maybe high expectations from EbonyLife following the countless announcements of international deals fueled the collective criticism.”

One glaring issue with mainstream Nollywood movies is how they look the same, a formulaic recipe involving many popular actors, affluent suburbs, and drone footage of landmarks. It’s a production of empty calories. And since officially entering the Nigerian market, Netflix hasn’t left any tangible impact on filmmaking appetites. The desire to be “marketable” is strong as ever, and the streamer has only strengthened the impulse.

“Yes and no,” Nwogu said, on whether Netflix can be held accountable. “These guys are just business owners that ultimately seek to make profit. Their initial hosts sold them the narrative that box office figures reflected what the Nigerian audience wanted.”

“Where I can fault Netflix is not in licensing but in commissioning. It makes no sense recycling filmmakers and commissioning multi-year deals... Why not commission one or two, see how that goes then do the work of seeking out other talent heads in the industry?"

In a video, Mo Abudu, the CEO of EbonyLife Group, publicly acknowledged the backlash the film received. Furthermore, she promised corrections will be made in the future. (The film’s director, Niyi Akinmolayan hasn’t made any public statement.) While there’s some sincerity in Abudu’s apology, she diplomatically positioned the idea that Chief Daddy 2 had mixed reviews. She didn’t state the actual flaws of the film, which honestly would have been a self-flagellating exercise on her part. But the implication of stating the flaws would have been profound, an indictment of how other Nollywood pictures have been made.

In addition, actionable steps weren’t indicated, which suggests things will be done on her studio’s terms and shouldn’t warrant public pressure or micromanagement. In this state of affairs, what’s stopping the next random Nollywood film on Netflix from being like Chief Daddy 2?

“Nollywood needs a lot of money,” Nwoba said. “I don’t mean the survival money — the type you don’t count, you only weigh. Nollywood, since inception, has been a self-sustaining industry. Between 2011-2017, the federal government brought a meager sum... to support the industry. We can tell that it barely did anything, if not we most likely won’t be talking about the industry being this poor.”

Nwoba sees the industry as moving parts that need to function properly, from production to distribution and management. All these require financial support. Film funding is intentional business. Funding through film journalism, film schools, festivals, community cinemas, actual brick and mortar structures, and strengthening guilds could have serious impact on Nollywood. This doesn’t mean bad movies would disappear.

“It simply means that we won’t keep making a specific genre of movie because of its commercial viability,” Nwoba said. “Filmmakers will be more willing to take risks and explore the taste of the audience.”

Photo: Sundance Film Festival

South African Director Oliver Hermanus on Remaking a Classic

The award-winning director behind Skoonheid and Moffie tackles his first film set outside his home country -- a reworking of auteur Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru -- which is premiering at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

In Living, Oliver Hermanus’ latest film, Bill Nighy takes on the role Takashi Shimura earned a BAFTA nomination for playing in the 1952 classic, Ikiru. Except Nighy's not Mr Watanabe, he’s Mr Williams, a British version of Shimura’s workaholic who finds out he only has a short time left to live. Revered auteur Akira Kurosawa’s film made its premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1954, where it would go on to win him a special prize of the senate of Berlin, before garnering acclaim for many more years to come. So, too, is Hermanus' remaking of the story bowing at a film festival, and so far, it's also been earning the South African director high praise.

Born in Cape Town, Hermanus has steadily built his career on South African-centric stories. Whether it’s the portrait of a Mitchell’s Plain mother caught between poverty and violence in Shirley Adams or the experience of gay recruits conscripted into the army in Moffie, Hermanus’ films speak to various realms of South African life. Living is his first venture outside of South Africa – not just in storyline, but in cast and crew too. The screenplay is by Nobel and Booker Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro (The Remains of The Day) and Hermanus was brought on as director by the producers.

From debuting his first film Shirley Adams in 2009 in competition at the 62nd Locarno Film Festival, followed by Skoonheid (Beauty) at the 64th Cannes Film Festival, and The Endless River at the 72nd Venice Film Festival, where it was the first South African film to be invited to the main competition, to his fourth feature, Moffie at the 76th Venice Film Festival in 2019, Hermanus has cemented his reputation as a filmmaker to watch.

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AFCON Stampede Leaves 8 Dead, 40+ Injured In Cameroonian Stadium

The unfortunate event took place Monday, ahead of the host country Cameroon's match against Comoros.