News Brief

Chief Eddie Ugbomah, Veteran Nigerian Filmmaker, Has Passed Away at 78

The filmmaker, whose work addressed social and political issues, died days before his scheduled surgery.

Veteran Nigerian filmmaker Chief Eddie Ugbomah passed away Saturday at a private hospital in Lagos, Vanguard Nigeria reports.

Ugbomah was days away from undergoing a surgery when he died, according to Shaibu Husseini in a statement.

He was 78 years old.

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari released a statement extending his condolences to the filmmaker, who made a significant impact on the film and entertainment industries.


"The President believes Chief Ugbomah was not only a gifted story teller but a social commentator and activist, as the themes of his stage and tube presentations explored narratives that directly impacted on many lives and advocated better government policies and programs," the statement says. "President Buhari affirms that the departed, who served as Chairman of Nigeria Film Corporation, understood film as a veritable tool for communication, and used it positively for national development."

After his primary schooling, Ugbomah went to university in London where he studied journalism, drama and film. Upon finishing college, he worked with the BBC, playing minor roles in Dr. No, Guns at Batasi and Sharpeville Massacre. He also was part of an Afro-Caribbean drama ensemble and was the director of a few of the group's plays including This Is Our Chance—which was presented at the Stoke Newington Theatre Hall.

Interview Chief Eddy Ugbomah youtu.be

Ugbomah then returned to Nigeria in 1975 to work in concert promotion before developing his film production company, Edifosa. Ugbomah, who hailed from Delta State and then raised in Lagos, was a director and producer known for films loosely adapted from real life events including: 1979's Rise and Fall of Oyenusi (based on the life of notorious thief Ishola Oyenusi), The Boy Is Good from the 1980s, as well as Apalara (based on the life and demise of Alfa Apalara from Oko Awo, Lagos).

His work is also known to give commentary on social and political issues. In The Mask, also released in 1979, Ugbomah touches on the looting of African artifacts by the colonizers and the longing for the return of such precious items home. This conversation and quest is still ongoing today. Ugbomah plays the lead character, Obi, who sneaks his way into the British Museum to take the Benin ivory mask and return it to Nigeria. Vanguard notes that this character is known to be likened to James Bond. Ugbomah was named chairman of the Nigerian Film Corporation in 1988.

In his later years, Ugbomah has struggled with health issues related to the brain and the funding of treatment—forced to sell his autobiography, films, documentaries, his house, car and other valuables to raise 50 million naira—and he fell short.

Nigerians have taken to social media to mourn the loss of Ugbomah.




News Brief
Image: Getty

Eswatini Is Trying To Dethrone Africa's Last Standing King

Africa's last absolute monarchy is being challenged by pro-democracy protests and an army of youths ready to fight back.

Pro-democracy protests in Southern African country Eswatini (previously Swaziland) have intensified as police and army forces meet unarmed protesters with tear gas and water cannons. National anger and dissatisfaction with King Mswati III are not revolutionary and have been building up for years. Advocates say that the 53-year-old ruler has consistently ignored cries for reform and a move towards a democratic political system. Protests have been going on since June, however, the violence has increased in recent weeks.

For years, King Mswati has boasted a lavish life filled with private planes, expensive vacations, and designer clothing. He has ruled over Eswatini since 1986. King Mswati has denied the accusations of autocratic rule and of using public money to fund his lifestyle for years. In July, he called protests against his ruling "satanic" and bemoaned that the protests have taken the country backward.

This year's protests were sparked by Eswatini students, who wanted better learning conditions, free education, as well as a demand for political reform. The army was sent to "intimidate, but that has not deterred the students," Lucky Lukhele, spokesman for the pro-democracy Swaziland Solidarity Network, told the AFP news agency. On Saturday, the government shut down its schools "indefinitely with immediate effect" as the country faces a wave of protests. At least 28 people have been killed with countless arrests having been made throughout the weeks.

The King owns shares in all of the country's telecoms Eswatini shut the internet down for 2 hours over the weekend, and MTN Eswatini and other mobile network operators revealed that they have been told to suspend access to Facebook and its messenger app until further notice. "The business has implemented the directive and access to Facebook and Facebook Messenger has been suspended. ... We will continue engaging with the relevant stakeholders to minimize the impact and duration of the service disruption," MTN Eswatini said in a statement. They did not say why it had been told to suspend access to Facebook.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who currently chairs the security organ of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), has ordered high-level representatives to fly to Eswatini to meet with the King to discuss "security and political developments".

Young Swazis have taken to Twitter to share their views on the matter:

Photo by KOLA SULAIMON/AFP via Getty Image

#EndSARS: 1 Year Later And It's Business As Usual For The Nigerian Government

Thousands filled the streets of Nigeria to remember those slain in The #LekkiTollGateMassacre...while the government insists it didn't happen.

This week marks 1 year since Nigerians began protests against police brutality and demanded an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The #EndSARS protests took the world by storm as we witnessed Nigerian forces abuse, harass and murder those fighting for a free nation. Reports of illegal detention, profiling, extortion, and extrajudicial killings followed the special task force's existence, forcing the government to demolish the unit on October 11th, 2020. However, protestors remained angered and desperate to be heard. It wasn't until October 20th, when soldiers opened fire on demonstrators at Lekki tollgate in the country's capital, Lagos, that the protests came to a fatal end. More than 56 deaths from across the country were reported, while hundreds more were traumatized as the Nigerian government continued to rule by force. The incident sparked global outrage as the Nigerian army refused to acknowledge or admit to firing shots at unarmed protesters in the dead of night.

It's a year later, and nothing has changed.

Young Nigerians claim to still face unnecessary and violent interactions with the police and none of the demands towards systemic changes have been met. Fisayo Soyombo the founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, told Al Jazeera, "Yes, there has not been any reform. Police brutality exists till today," while maintaining that his organization has reported "scores" of cases of police brutality over this past year.

During October 2020's protests, Nigerian authorities turned a blind eye and insisted that the youth-led movement was anti-government and intended to overthrow the administration of current President Muhammadu Buhari. During a press conference on Wednesday, in an attempt to discredit the protests, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed hailed the Nigerian army and police forces for the role they played in the #EndSARS protests, going as far as to say that the Lekki Toll Massacre was a "phantom massacre with no bodies." These brazen claims came while protesters continued to gather in several major cities across the country. The minister even went on to shame CNN, Nigerian favorite DJ Switch as well as Amnesty International, for reporting deaths at Lekki. Mohammed pushed even further by saying, "The six soldiers and 37 policemen who died during the EndSARS protests are human beings with families, even though the human rights organizations and CNN simply ignored their deaths, choosing instead to trumpet a phantom massacre."

With the reports of abuse still coming out of the West African nation, an end to the struggle is not in sight. During Wednesday's protest, a journalist for the Daily Post was detained by Nigerian forces while covering the demonstrations.

According to the BBC, additional police units have been set up in the place of SARS, though some resurfacing SARS officers and allies claim to still be around.

Young Nigerians relied heavily on social media during the protests and returned this year to voice their opinions around the first anniversary of an experience that few will be lucky enough to forget.



How CKay's 'Love Nwantiti' Became the World's Song

Nigerian singer and producer CKay talks to OkayAfrica about the rise of his international chart-topping single "Love Nwantiti," his genre-defying sound and the reasons behind this era of afrobeats dominance.

What a year CKay is having. "Love Nwantiti (Ah Ah Ah)," a track recorded two years ago, is — without a doubt — one of the biggest songs in the world right now. It's hard keeping up with its phenomenal and unprecedented chart success, but we'll try: it's the number one song on YouTube's Global Chart, getting an all-time Nigerian record of 73.7million views in a week. It's also the most Shazamed song in the world, number 35 on the Billboard Hot 100. and number 3 on the UK singles chart, ahead of Drake and Billie Ellish. Plus, a continental record of 25 million monthly followers on Spotify confirms this: the 26-year-old artist born Chukwuka Ekweani is having an incredible moment.

It's fairly easy to get caught up in the numbers, but CKay maintains a grace of humility. "I just express myself," CKay mentions to OkayAfrica. "It's not like I'm calculating anything. I'm literally just vibing, telling my story and giving my energy to the world."

When we last spoke to CKay earlier this year, the Lagos-based musician had just released Boyfriend, a lush project detailing the eccentric moods of a youthful relationship. It was also his first project as a signee of Warner Music South Africa. On a recent Friday afternoon, CKay and I connect again on Zoom. He dons a fly basketball jersey, its blue and orange stripes complemented by his pink dreadlocks. His calm demeanor inspires an easy way of speaking as he ponders his song's success.

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