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.




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Photo (c) John Liebenberg

'Stolen Moments' Uncovers the Namibian Music That Apartheid Tried to Erase

The photo exhibition, showing at the Brunei Gallery in London, highlights artists from Namibia's underground scene between 1950-1980, a time of immense musical suppression prior to its independence.

Before its independence in 1990, a whole generation of Namibians were made to believe that their county had no real musical legacy. Popular productions by Namibian artists from previous eras were systematically concealed from the masses for nearly 30 years, under the apartheid regime—which extended to the country from South Africa following German colonization—depriving many Namibians of the opportunity to connect with their own musical heritage.

"Stolen Moments: Namibian Music Untold," a new exhibit currently showing at London's Brunei Museum at SOAS University of London, seeks to revive the musical Namibian musical traditions that the apartheid regime attempted to erase.

"Imagine you had never known about the musical riches of your country," said the exhibit's curator Aino Moongo in a statement of purpose on SOAS' site. "Your ears had been used to nothing but the dull sounds of country's former occupants and the blaring church and propaganda songs that were sold to you as your country's musical legacy. Until all at once, a magnitude of unknown sounds, melodies and songs appear. This sound, that roots your culture to the musical influences of jazz, blues and pop from around the world, is unique, yet familiar. It revives memories of bygone days, recites the history of your homeland and enables you for the first time to experience the emotions, joys and pains of your ancestors."

Photo (c) Dieter Hinrichs

The 'Stolen Moments" project began in 2010 in an effort to champion Namibia's unsung musical innovators. For the collection, Moongo and Assistant Curator, Siegrun Salmanian—along with a group of international scholars, artists, photographers and filmmakers—curated a large-scale photo exhibit that also features a 120-minute video projection, focusing on the dance styles of the era, along with listening stations, a sound installation that features "100-hours of interviews with musicians and contemporary witnesses," and displays of record covers and memorabilia from the period between 1950-1980.

The musicians highlighted, produced work that spanned a number of genres—a marker of the country's vast and eclectic underground scene. Artists like the saxophonist Leyden Naftali who led a band inspired by the sounds of ragtime, and the psychedelic rock and funk of the Ugly Creatures are explored through the exhibition, which also centers bands and artists such as The Dead Wood, The Rocking Kwela Boys, Children of Pluto and more.

"There are many reasons why you've never heard this music before," Moongo continues. "It was censored, suppressed, prohibited and made almost impossible to listen to. Its creators are either long gone or have given up on music making, by reasons of adversity, death and despair. And yet this beautiful music exists with a liveliness, as if it had never stopped playing. It is still in the minds of the few who can remember, with the ones who played it, and on those rare recordings that have survived in archives and record collections scattered around the globe. Allow me to share these stolen moments with you."

Photo (c) Dieter Hinrichs


Photo (c) John Liebenberg

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"Stolen Moments" is now showing at the Brunei Gallery in London and runs through Sept 21.

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