Entertainment
African ‘Oscar’ evades UgandaPublish Date: Mar 09, 2014
African ‘Oscar’ evades Uganda
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Wawuyo (r) with film maker John Riber and Tanzanian journalist Paul Owere. Photo by Nigel Nassar
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By Nigel Nassar in Lagos 

MICHAEL Wawuoyo Sr., Uganda’s only nominee at the 2nd AfricaMagic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCAs) in Lagos, Nigeria, Saturday evening came close to bringing home the award that is being equated to America’s Academy Awards (Oscars). 

But the Kenyan movie Nairobi Half Life did not give the Ugandan a chance. With its make-up artiste Elayne Okaya nominated for Best Make-up alongside Wawuyo for his make-up exploits in Felista’s Fable, the Ugandan lost out. 

Okaya beat Wawuyo, three Nigerians, a Tanzanian and two Kenyans – all six of them. 

Wawuyo had actually predicted this in a pre-award interview, saying: “If anybody should beat me, it will be Elayne, the lady who did make-up for Nairobi Half Life, for she did a good job.” 

Nairobi Half Life didn’t devastate only Uganda – it won just about every category it was nominated in, taking home four awards in all, the others being Best Lighting Designer (Mohamed Zain), Best Art Director (Barbara Minishi) and Best Cinematographer (Christian Almesberger).

 The Kenyan movie tied with Ghana’s Contract, which also won four awards, including the biggest of the night – Best Movie and Best Movie Director (Shirley Frimpong-Manso).

Best Actor went to Nigeria’s Tope Tedela for the movie A Mile From Home, while Best Actress was taken by Journey to Self actress Nse Ikpe-Etim, also from Nigeria.

Nigerian film veteran Pete Edochie, who has acted in just about every Nigerian movie as an elder for years and acted as Okonkwo in Things Fall Apart, won the Industry Merit Award, along with a brand new Hyundai IX 35, while the Trailblazer award went to Michelle Bello from Nigeria, who also took home a brand new Hyundai. 

In all, Nigeria took 16 awards, followed by Kenya and Ghana with five each, while Zambia’s got one. Tanzania, even with 10 nominations, walked away empty-handed too, which comes off as a consolation for Uganda, whose Wawuyo was fighting solo on a high-stakes stage.   

Wawuyo however looked at the up side of things when asked how he felt after losing.

“A nomination in itself is a win, so I cannot say I am disappointed. In fact, I am glad to have been given the opportunity to represent Uganda,” Wawuyo said, adding: 

“Ugandan movie makers however need to style-up and use the AfricaMagic local content promotion to their advantage. How can we have only one nominee? Our neighbour, Kenya, had a whole 23 nominations, which gave them a fair fighting ground.

Tanzania had 10 nominations. Are Ugandans the least creative of the East Africans? I highly doubt. Something needs to be done, this is the point where the government should come in and provide filmmaking infrastructure, as the rest of Africa is leaving us behind.”  

Biola Alabi, the M-Net Africa Managing Director Special Projects, who is also the powerhouse credited for being the main brain behind the AMVCAs, said they as a platform that showcases content can only do so much if the main industry players don’t pull up their socks. 

“We have facilitated workshops in Uganda and other parts of Africa in order to enhance generation of local content. Why Uganda is lugging behind, I don’t know. Let the people who have attended those workshops produce content; we shall license it like we have always done and showcase it, otherwise we cannot go so much as fund every film project, it’s not feasible,” said Alabi when asked how Uganda can pull up it socks. 

For a list of all winners, please visit www.africamagic.tv    

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