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NIGERIA’S EJIKE IN UGANDA TO LIBERATE MOVIE INDUSTRY

By Vision Reporter

Added 16th November 2006 03:00 AM

THE first time a Nigerian-Ugandan film collaboration was mentioned, there was a lot of excitement. Unfortunately, this was short-lived.

THE first time a Nigerian-Ugandan film collaboration was mentioned, there was a lot of excitement. Unfortunately, this was short-lived.

By Gilbert Mwijuke
THE first time a Nigerian-Ugandan film collaboration was mentioned, there was a lot of excitement. Unfortunately, this was short-lived.

Zack Orji, one of Nigeria’s most cherished directors, was here early this year on a visit that culminated into the making of the first Ugandan-Nigerian film, Roses in The Rain.

But this movie hardly made any serious attempt at prodding the evolution of the film industry in Uganda. Worse still, most Ugandans who featured in Roses in The Rain were left complaining over non-payment.

Subsequently, local actors have developed a phobia for Nigerian directors whom they envisage as mere exploiters.

But the arrival of the famous Nigerian film actor, producer and director, Prof. Bob Ejike, promises what the Nigerian calls “the liberation of Uganda from the cultural imperialism of Hollywood and Nollywood.”

The legendary associate professor, who jetted into the country a few weeks ago, has already set up an audio-visual studio called Probe Studios in Buziga on Munyonyo Road that will soon start churning out Ugandan-made movies. “Rather than spending money on importing films, I instead want to see Ugandans earning foreign exchange from exporting their own films; this is the sole reason I am here,” he says.

Bob is credited for prodding the renaissance of the now incredibly lucrative Nigerian movie industry. He was an actor and associate producer in the first Nigerian movie, Okpuru Anyanwu, released in 1987.

“I think this is my greatest achievement. I am very proud to be one of the pioneers of the world’s third biggest movie industry — Nollywood,” Ejike says..

Between 1987 and now, Ejike has acted in, and directed over 30 Nigerian films including Tears in Heaven, Sharon Stone 2, Outcast 2, Polygamy 1 and 2, Wasted Years, Homeless, Maximum Risks, Confusion, My Cross, Wanted Alive, Aba Riot 2, Nightfall, Next of Kin, Scores to Settle, Computer Girls, Deadly Proposal, Sakobi, Aba Riot, Executive Crime, My Cross, Next Of Kin, Silent Thunder, Homeless, Nightfall, Campus Girls, Amadas, and Narrow Escape. So, this is what he wants to extend to Uganda.

Ejike believes his wide Nollywood experience will help him contribute to the development of Uganda’s ‘Ugawood’.

The celebrated actor describes Nollywood’s road to success as a rough one. He says when they started making their own movies in Nigeria in 1987, 99% of Nigerians were by then watching Hollywood movies. Nineteen years down the road, it is a different story — today, 99% of Nigerians watch Nollywood movies!

The movie industry in Nigeria is the second-best foreign exchange generator for the West African country after oil and gas. But won’t the Zack Orji disappointment disfavour Ejike’s adventures Uganda?

He argues, “I don’t think Zack Orji was the problem because the Orji I know is a gentleman who commands a lot of respect back in Nigeria. Besides, you don’t expect a first effort to be a major success.”

NIGERIA’S EJIKE IN UGANDA TO LIBERATE MOVIE INDUSTRY

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