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Nigeria: Mosunmola “Mo” Abudu wants EbonyLife TV to inspire Africans

2013/08/12

A woman who could be considered Africa’s Oprah Winfrey is launching an entertainment network that will be beamed into nearly each country on the continent with programs showcasing its burgeoning middle class.

Mosunmola “Mo” Abudu wants EbonyLife TV to inspire Africans and the rest of the world, and change how viewers perceive the continent. The network’s programming tackles women’s daily life subjects — everything from sex tips to skin bleaching.

“Not each African woman has a pile of wood on her chief and a baby strapped to her back!” the glamorous 48-year-old told The Associated Press from a hotel’s penthouse floor against a backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean and high-rise buildings flanked by palm and almond trees.

“We watch Hollywood as if all of America is Hollywood,” she said. “In that same vein we need to start selling the good bits of Africa.”

Months of work to provide original content includes the flagship program “Sistaz!” about two Greek-Nigerian sisters and a British-born Nigerian friend who check into the Eko Hotel for a holiday reunion and rediscover the passion of sisterhood and the vibrant city of Lagos.

r a holiday, you can go to Nigeria on holiday, you can go to Lagos” and enjoy a vacation, Abudu said of the much-maligned Nigerian financial capital that is much improved since the country transitioned from military dictatorship to civilian policy in 1999.
The characters are as cosmopolitan as Abudu, a tall and elegant woman with sculpted cheekbones. She was born in London, came to Nigeria at the same time as she was a youngster and returned to Britain next her father died at the same time as she was 12. She returned to settle at the same time as she married a Nigerian at age 28.


Once her children were in their teens, Abudu, a former executive with the oil giant Exxon-Mobil, abandoned a 20-year career in human resources in 2006 to become a self-taught television talk show host. “Moments with Mo” became the initial syndicated daily talk show on African regional TV and as well is aired in Britain on a Sky TV channel.


She has interviewed celebrities from Hillary Rodham Clinton, former African presidents F. W. de Klerk of South Africa and John Kufuor of Ghana, former England soccer skipper Rio Ferdinand, musician R. Kelly and American fashion icon Diane Von Furstenberg.
A telling moment for Abudu came she was standing at London’s Marble Arch and decided, on a whim, to ask people what came to their minds at the same time as they heard the word Africa.


The answers ranged from Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s dictatorial ruler of 33 years, the British charity Oxfam and famine to babies with flies on their faces. “The nicest thing I heard was ‘sunshine,’” said an appalled Abudu.
Years later, she is setting out to transform that vision by shining a bright light on the so-called “dark continent’s” riches — its super-talented young entrepreneurs, fabulous art scene, up-and-coming fashion designers, provocative authors and sassy musicians.


One program is hosted by rhythm and blues artist Banky W and singer-songwriter Tiwa Savage. Their initial program discusses why additional and additional Nigerian women are bleaching their skins and whether men prefer lighter-skinned black women.
So the network will not ignore some of the darker sides of Africa’s realities, though Abudu promises “a different reality.”
It will feature a specially commissioned movie, “New Horizons,” from award-winning filmmaker Tope Oshin Ogun that bares the plight of women across the continent subjected to domestic abuse, a prevalent crime that is not often addressed.


And radio host Oreka Godis stars in “Love Lounge,” where she will ask the cheeky questions for which she is known of sexologists, life coaches and psychotherapists.

While Nollywood movies as well are notorious for often poor quality, though this is improving, Abudu aims for the highest quality in a network she hopes will from presently on be broadcast beyond Africa to the millions in the diaspora.
“What we say is ‘Everything you think you know about Africa is about to change,’” Abudu said.

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