News Brief
Still from music video

Watch Dr Sid's New Music Video for 'Good Time'

The energy in this video is incredibly infectious.

Sidney Onoriode Esiri or Dr Sid as he's popularly known, has finally dropped the music video for his first release of the year—"Good Time".


Mavin Records' Dr Sid brings the heat in this upbeat and energetic visual. The music video opens with shots of the ocean and then pans out with aerial shots of palm trees, giving us relaxed beach vibes. Dr Sid then appears and the scenes jump to a number of beautiful women hanging out by the pool.

In the music video, the prolific Nigerian artist sings about how he just wants to have a good time with his friends and of course, the vibrant scenes of a house party (both outdoors and indoors) only serve to drive that point home.

Still from music video

Dr Sid worked with the talented Ozedikus who produced the up-tempo beat which honestly makes "Good Time" such a banger. Unlimited LA, who directed the music video, ensured that the scenes are clean and the deliberate use of bold colors enhances that and makes it an enjoyable watch. If you're in the mood to just get down and groove, then this care-free and summery-sounding track and its dope visuals are for you.

Still from music video

Watch the music video for "Good Time" below:

Dr Sid - Good Time ( Official Music Video ) www.youtube.com

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Photo Credit: Netflix

The Stars of 'Blood Sisters' Talk About Becoming Netflix's Biggest Hit

We sat down with Ini Dima-Okojie and Nancy Isime, the actors who brought life to Sarah and Kemi, to talk about shooting Blood Sisters, acting in Nollywood, what's next, and more.

Earlier this month, Netflix's "first original series" from Nigeria was released. The limited series, Blood Sisters directed by Biyi Bandele and Kenneth Gyang, follows two friends, Sarah (Ini Dima-Okojie) and Kemi (Nancy Isime), as they go on the run after the death of Sarah's fiance, Kola (Deyemi Okanlawon).

The show explores familial dysfunction, murder, the meaning of sisterhood, and how valuable friendships can be, with its central premise around domestic violence, a theme known to many.

Since its release, the four-part crime thriller has received praises, with Variety calling its first episode "explosive" and "hard-pressed to walk away." After its first week of release, the limited series sat at number nine on the list of most-watched TV shows globally, with over 11,070,000 hours of viewing, making it a first for Nigeria. This comes after Netflix’s first Nollywood film of the year —Chief Daddy — faced harsh criticisms from viewers and critics alike.

The success of Blood Sisters shows that cinematography isn’t the only selling point of Nollywood. And for Nollywood content to thrive on Netflix, there should be an investment in all areas, from the storytelling down to the marketing.

For Ini Dima-Okojie starring alongside some of Nollywood's big names — like Kate Henshaw, Ramsey Nouah, and Uche Jombo — was surreal because these are the people she watched growing up. "But when it came to filming, it didn't matter if you've been in the industry for just four years or 30 years," Dima-Okojie said. "All that mattered was everyone was ready to work."

Like Dima-Okojie, Nancy Isime also loved acting alongside them, even though it wasn't her first time working with some of them. "I was there for work and understood that it was bigger than just being Nancy Isime. It was me at work."

We sat down with Ini Dima-Okojie and Nancy Isime, the actors who brought life to Sarah and Kemi, to talk about what it was like behind the scenes, acting in Nollywood, what's next for them, and more.

Blood Sisters | Trailer | Netflix

What's one thing you learned while shooting this series?

Ini Dima-Okojie: One thing I learned for sure is that Nigeria is ready to tell its authentic stories to a global audience. We're not just prepared; we're capable of standing behind any industry. I could feel that from being on set, with the professionalism I encountered. I also learned that it is good to be kind, deliberate, and mindful of what people are going through because what we do has an impact.

Nancy Isime: For me, I learned it's possible to have good production in Nigeria. I've been blessed to be in a couple, and this was one of them. And it's a highlight so far. I also learned about the characters.

Nancy Isime,

Photo Credit: Nancy Isime,

What was it like playing your roles, and how did you get it?

Dima-Okojie: When I got the audition file for Sarah, I went on my knees and told God, "I want this." You can tell from the size alone, and I think that has happened to me only three times in my career because it doesn't often happen as an actor. A week or two after I sent in my audition tape, I got an email telling me to send another tape, but this time, it was for a different character, Timeyin. Altogether, I auditioned for Kemi, Sarah, and Timeyin.

I was so excited playing Sarah. I felt so lucky because, at the end of the day, an actor is only as good as the opportunities they are given. So playing Sarah had me go deep into the character, asking questions and putting myself into her shoes.

Isime: It was wonderful playing my role. I had gotten an email asking to read for Sarah, not for Kemi. So I made my tape and sent it in. Then, I was called in for a private audition and read through with everybody. However, I was called back and was told that Netflix wanted me to play Kemi, and I was like, "What is a Kemi?" Because I never read for her. So I was reluctant to accept because I didn't know who the character was and if she'd have the opportunity to show her acting range. But I took it, and when I read the script, I was like, "Yes, Kemi. Yes, baby, let's do this."

What was your favorite scene to film?

Dima-Okojie: My favorite scene? That's hard. I had so many unforgettable moments. However, I think one monumental period I'd like to pick on is probably when Sarah stood up to her abuser Kola and told him, "No!" because that was very big. She barely speaks up and is so used to being bullied, whether for good or bad, even in her beautiful friendship with Kemi, where she's always being told what to do. But in that scene, she had found the strength and was finally able to speak up, even though she knew what his reaction was going to be.

She spoke up for herself at that moment, and I think it was a huge moment for Sarah. It was a huge moment for people who may have experienced [domestic violence] because if there's one thing I realized from research, it didn't matter where people who are susceptible to abuse are from. Whether they were black or white, old or young, it was a triumph for Sarah and everyone going through any form of abuse.

Isime: I loved every single scene of playing Kemi because, as you noticed, there's no scene she's in that is a usual scene. In fact, no scene in Blood Sisters could have been done away with if you noticed because every scene is putting you on edge the entire time. Coming to set every day, I was like, "we're h-a-p-p-y," because yes, I was happy.

Ini Dima-Okojie wearing white sneakers

Photo Credit: Ini Dima-Okojie

What was the most challenging scene?

Dima-Okojie: For the challenging scene, I'll like to break it into physical and emotional parts. It was very physically challenging for Sarah. From when they decided to go on the run, physically, we were in Makoko, running all over the community, jumping from canoe to canoe. We also went to Epe, where we were barefooted. It was grueling as an actor and a character because this wasn't a fit character. Emotionally, I had to understand everything that Sarah was going through. I had to chip away from who I am as Ini to connect with what she was going through, which can be draining. But thank God I was surrounded by amazing people and directors who eased the process and were there to pick me up anytime I was down.

The series is a global hit on Netflix; how does that make you feel?

Dima-Okojie: Honestly, it's surreal. It makes me emotional half the time because, as a performer, all you want is for people to watch your work and for it to resonate. Being an actor, people see the glitz and the glam, but it's a lot of work. You chip away part of yourself to give a character life, but it's worth it.

Isime: Floating. Floating in a bubble, floating in gratitude. It feels so good. Imagine having 11 million hours of watch time in five days? It's no easy feat. I don't think any African show has been able to do that. So for that to come from Nigeria, and for me to be lead? I don't think I'll ever come down from this high that I'm on.

You are both a part of a new generation of Nollywood actors doing amazing if I say so myself. What is that like?

Dima-Okojie: Generally, I think being an actor in the world today is incredible. Nollywood has gone through much because we were in a time where we didn't have financing and institutionally there's no backing. So being able to be in a world today where everything is global, and I can do something here in Lagos, while people from Japan, Belgium, and Qatar, are sending texts telling me they watched me and loved it, I don't think there's a better time to act than now. It's a fantastic time to be a Nigerian actor.

Isime: It feels good to be recognized for something I'm passionate about and love. I feel blessed because Nollywood is bigger than I am. It goes beyond ego and wanting to be the best because we're all part of something way bigger than us. And I'm so happy to be able to contribute to this industry, leave my prints in the sand of time, and say that yes, there was a time I was not just a Nollywood actor, but every single person can confirm. I mean, it's one thing to say you're an actor, and people start asking, "which film you act?" "this one too na actress?" but you can't say that when it comes to me. And it also feels good to be recognized by the AMVCA, which is a huge organization.

Netflix

Photo Credit: Netflix

Now, let's go behind the scenes: did anything funny, sad, or surprising happen while filming?

Dima-Okojie: There were so many exciting moments, not necessarily sad moments. We filmed for over two months at the height of COVID-19, so you can imagine all the craziness that must have happened.

I remember while filming the dinner scene after we had our COVID-19 test, they told us a cast member had the virus, causing us to reschedule. Another moment was when Ramsey Nouah brought a crocodile for us to eat while filming in Epe, and it was delicious. I honestly had lots of happy moments.

Isime: I feel like all these emotions happen naturally because I was happy every day I was on set. But something interesting that happened was the fact that Ini and I got so into the characters that we took it just beyond acting. We felt every emotion that the characters went through. We had one crying scene together, and I promise you that they cleared the room for us because we had to cry to get it out for a while. Because in reality, when something happens to you and you cry, you don't just cry for a bit. You have to let it out, and that was us. We were Kemi and Sarah and needed time to grieve. To let it out. It was an interesting event, and I had so many times I was tired, mentally and physically.

What's next for you? Any upcoming projects?

Dima-Okojie: There are so many exciting things in the works. First of all, I am getting married. Immediately after that, in June, I am going right back to set for the second season of Smart Money Woman. There are a couple more projects in the work that I'm not allowed to speak about yet, but there are exciting times ahead.

Isime: I love that question, and I also don't love that question because I don't know what's next. I'm just living my purpose, taking one day at a time, and grateful for every part of my journey. If you had told me five years ago that I'd be here, I would say it's a lie because I was probably sure that I knew where I was going. So what's next for me is a beautiful life, more projects, and more fantastic performances.

My show, The Nancy Isime Show, is also doing very well and happens to be one of the most-watched talk shows in the country, so I'm hoping that expands better. I'm also hoping to bring about a few more creations to life.

Arts + Culture
Image courtesy of the artist

Spotlight: Timi Nathus Is Making Digital Art Mainstream

The Nigerian artist NAZQUIAT is on a mission to make his futuristic collection of NFTs the norm in his home country.

In our 'Spotlight' series, we highlight the work of photographers, visual artists, multimedia artists, and more who are producing vibrant, original work.

In our latest piece, we spotlight Nigerian multidisciplinary digital artist, Timi Nathus aka NAZQUIAT. Nathus's shares his #Afrotroves NFT collection with us, and explains it as "Each NFT was made from sacred artifacts that were previously stolen and haven't set foot in Africa hundreds of years". Nathus and a cohort of digital artists are reclaiming the images and stories that were stolen, and instead using them to empower and inform his own communities. By breaking the mold of traditional art and storytelling, Nathus's decision to establish this collection as a series of NFTS is shifting the power struggle and encourages the celebrations of the old and new.

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Music
(YouTube)

The 4 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Black Sherif, Omah Lay, Focalistic, L.A.X and more.

Every week, we highlight the top releases through our best music of the week column. Here's our round-up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks.

If you like these music lists, you can also check out our Best Songs of the Month columns following Nigerian, Ghanaian, East African and South African music.

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Photo Credit: Rashad McCrorey

How a Black American Became the Tourism Chief of Elmina, Ghana

We spoke with Rashad McCrorey, the Tourism Chief of Elmina, about what the title represents, his identity as a Black American integrating back into Africanness and the state of the Black diaspora.

The first time Rashad McCrorey was in Ghana, it was in January 2015. Visiting the West African country wasn’t planned. His school in the U.S., Drew University, where he was getting his Masters in Theology, had a course titled “Cross-Cultural Experience” that prepared him to go to Cameroon. But the Ebola outbreak at the time had disrupted the itinerary.

McCrorey then proposed Ghana to the group leader. There was no report of the virus there. Further, there was the appeal of Ghana as a haven for Black Americans historically, linking Civil Rights struggles and anti-colonial efforts in Africa. The political movement of Pan-Africanism opened Ghana to the Black diaspora. At a young age, McCrorey’s father told him stories about Africa, featuring rulers, spirituality, and culture.

When he arrived for the first time, at 35, Ghana exceeded his expectations. Little did he know that years later, he would be enstooled as a chief in Elmina, a town located south of Ghana that reverberates with a dark history. The castle of Elmina was a passage that offloaded enslaved Africans into the ships during the slave trade. What kept McCrorey rooted in this town was the community he found.

McCrorey launched his tourism company Africa Cross-Culture, a nod to his course title, in 2016. As a tour operator, he organizes trips to African countries like Egypt, Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria, Uganda and Ghana. With the government initiative of Ghana’s Year of Return in 2019, the country has been using tourism as a tool for cultural diplomacy and national branding. Last month, he was bestowed as chief of tourism. He’s the first person to hold such a title.

OkayAfrica recently spoke with McCrorey about what the title represents, his identity as a Black American integrating back into Africanness, and the state of the Black diaspora.

Rashad McCrorey crown

Photo Credit: Rashad McCrorey

Any Black person could have been enstooled as Chief of Tourism. Why do you think you were chosen for this title?

The royal family and the village of Iture explained that their desire to make me one of their chiefs was based on my consistent presence in the family and in the community. When I moved to Iture in May of 2020, I joined the royal family. I did my traditional naming ceremony, which many Black Americans take part in when they return to Ghana. But, I also took it a step further than many other Black Americans. In addition to already living in the community, I immediately began attending the monthly family meetings.

I have paid all my family monthly dues. I paid all my funeral dues in addition to any contributions needed to support. I visit our king and family members weekly. I help in the community, attend events and even have disagreements in the subtowns as nothing is ever always perfect. When you live somewhere and interact with people consistently for close to two full years conflicts will arise, but our conflicts have brought us closer, created boundaries, and helped us develop a sense of trust and mutual respect. They continued to explain to me they didn't want to give me a ceremonial, non transferable stool such as developmental chiefs with the titles of Nkosuohene or Impuntuhen.

These titles at any given time one can be destooled and moved on from. When meeting with the Omanhen of Elmina Nana Kojo Condua Edina VI, he also spoke of my reputation as one of the first Black Americans in the Town of Elmina to have seemed to have chosen to fully integrate himself with the community. In return he has made me a part of the Ednia Traditional Council.

What are your duties in this role?

In terms of my title of Nserahwehen, or “Tourism Chief,” I have a successful tourism company where I take clients to different countries in Africa. Iture is the first subtown of Elmina. You can’t get to Elmina Town, or Elmina Slave Dungeon from the Accra-Takoradi Rd. without going through the village of Iture. The location is ideal for tourists and visitors. Hospitality centers such as One Africa and Mable’s Tables are staples in the African American community in the United States.

I have been sharing that tourism is more than just taking guests from one place to another. Tourism is planning, budgeting, marketing, branding, security, research, people management and more. With over 10 years of event planning experience this is a stool that I have been groomed for.

\u200bRashad McCrorey camel

Photo Credit: Rashad McCrorey

What made you come to Ghana during a pandemic?

I was already in Ghana when the pandemic arose. I arrived in Ghana February 27th 2020, for a tour group where I was hosting Americans for Ghana independence day festivities. Once news of the pandemic broke out in the United States and travel bans and border closings started to take place around the world, I decided to stay and not return home.

Did you start your tourism company before or after you came to Ghana?

I started my tourism company after my second trip to Ghana in March of 2015. I was previously a relatively successful New York City event planner. When deciding what business I wanted to invest in while in Ghana I said to myself, if I can get 30 to 50 people a week to party in New York City, I can get 30 to 50 people a year to visit Mother Africa. I came up with the idea in 2015, started working on the business in 2016, and hosted my first trips to Ghana and Egypt in 2017.

The Elmina Castle is historically known as a holding passage for enslaved Africans who were shipped to the Americas. How does it feel to be in close proximity to this significant place?

I have mixed feelings about being enstooled in a town with such a dark history. Elmina is historically known as the first place in West Africa that the Europeans colonized. Elmina slave dungeon is also known as the oldest and largest slave dungeon in West Africa. To have such an important role in a place where many of my ancestors had their worst nightmares take place, I feel honored and blessed to know that I am someone who firmly honors them and have all the best interest at heart to turn this former dark hole into a beacon of light for their descendants to return home to.

There’s a sentiment amongst some Black Americans that part of the revenue from hosting the Year of Return in 2019 by the Ghanaian government wasn’t directed to helping Black American communities. Their grievance is that it was used only to better the Ghanaian economy. In your opinion, is this a reasonable complaint?

Yes, it is a reasonable complaint. As Black Americans we are constantly looked at by other races and groups of people as cash cows. There is a secret financial war over the “Black dollar’’ that Ghana is also taking part in by their amazing outreach to Black Investors. It is up to the Black American community both home and abroad to not only advocate for more opportunities to leverage our money in other countries but also to create more business and opportunities in the states where we can practice group economics and develop more black owned businesses and resources.

Do you have a strategy for building positive, community-building relationships between Africans and Black Americans?

I believe communication and patience are the most important practices we can have during these early stages in our integration with each other. I consider 2019 the first official year where there is a boom in tourism and migration to the continent of Africa in these massive numbers. This is the first time in history an African country is a mainstream option for Black Americans to visit and move to. We are a multiplicity of different cultures fusing together. If we choose not to express patience and communication with each other many disagreements could spiral out of control and irreconcilable differences could occur. I believe the government, chiefs, community leaders need to meet with diasporan community leaders, investors and key people of influence in order to assure all parties involved get their needs met.

Do you miss America and do you ever think of going back to your family?

As we speak I'm currently home in New York City. I have been home for two weeks and will be returning to Ghana within the next month. Part of my position of Chief of Tourism is to bring Black Americans and diasporas home to Africa and in this case Ghana. So returning home to the United states to campaign, network and build relationships is a key part of my duties. Yes I miss my family very much. I miss my mom, my two girls, my family friends and I plan on visiting my father’s grave while I'm in the states.


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