Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Unmasking Ajebo..

Many of his colleagues probably don’t know his given name -- Steve Eboh. Many people are used to calling him Ajebo — the popular tag for spoilt brats. Indeed, that is the name the Enugu State-born screen personality has been known with since he joined the industry close to two decades ago. A native of Oji River, Eboh is a gifted and self-motivated practitioner. Moviedom caught up with the gangling actor of vast credit and a one-time member of the Ministerial Committee on the review of the nation’s film policy.

Why they call me Ajebo
It was actually in 1994 that they started calling me by that name Ajebo. And it was on the set of an Igbo movie, Frame Up, which we shot in Imo State. I recall that it was the first time that such a large crowd of artistes would be travelling out for a movie shoot anywhere in the East. I think it started with Ngozi Ezeonu and Bob Manuel. They walked into my room on location and discovered that I had everything that would make my stay on location comfortable. My fridge was well stocked with assorted beverages. That was how they named me the original Ajebo — what they called kids who are pampered; and that was because I had everything I wanted to eat in my room. Since then, the name has stuck.

Before Nollywood
Before 1992, I was working on television — NTA like occasional appearance in the popular Tales by Moonlight and then Telemovies. I was working in a private firm and so I would always return to my job after shoot. I was also involved in some politics. I was part of the group that was campaigning for Bashir Tofa to be president. But along the line, I went into movies and dumped politics. That was when I took part in Dirty Deal by NEK Video Links. After that, I stayed on and even gave up acting on television since home video was the in-thing then.

Growing up

I am from Oji River Local Council of Enugu State. I was born down there but I was brought up in the North, Zaria, to be precise. I had my early school in the north, in Funtua and back to Zaria. My brother, who was based in Zaria then, nurtured me. They never wanted me to stay with my mum. They felt she was going to spoil me. So, I grew up with a brother who taught me how to be self-confident and how to think through a decision. That is why I don’t regret any of my actions and I don’t blame people for my fault. But it was from my brother that I took the lead, I mean as an entertainer. He was involved in a lot of extra curricula activities such as serving as master of ceremonies in events and all that. So, I took a lead from him. I came to Lagos, moved to NTA and then the movie industry.

Parental objection

No. I come from a very humble family and a family that would not interfere in whatever you are doing. All they demand is that you must ensure that you don’t tarnish the image of the family. But some people frown at my involvement. I recall that one of my intimate friends asked me to name anyone that has made it as an actor. I am sure that they would not ask me that question now because I would count myself as those that have benefitted from acting. Today they are all happy for me and want to see me in every movie.

Movie credits

I would have done between 60 and 80 films. The first one was Dirty Deal, and then Taboo another Igbo movie followed and then Evil Passion. I was also a major part of Frame Up, August Meeting, Last Burial and a whole lot of other titles.

Regrets

I have never regretted being in this industry. It has given me so much. I am comfortable by the special grace of God. At least, I am not begging. The fact that I can take myself from point A to point B without asking for a loan gives me joy. The other thing I like is the fact that I have peace of mind. The only pain is the impression people have about you. You see, people think that you are the same character you play on television in real life. They see you and what you hear is ‘chief bring the money for us to share’ as if you own the film. If you go to the village and they have to task everybody, yours will be higher because for some of them a millionaire in a movie is a millionaire outside the movie. You can’t walk the street freely.

Happiest moment

My happiest moment was when I stayed in the same hotel with Nigerian international Kanu Nwankwo aka Papilo. He is one person I admire a lot. But on sighting me at the reception area, he asked someone to stop me so that he could have the privilege of shaking hands with me. So in my mind I was saying, I thought I should be the one running after Papilo. I was too happy to see him and he was also happy to see me too.
If I were not an actor
I would have been a journalist. My brother was a freelance journalist back then. I admired the way he wrote. I would have also loved to drive. I admired drivers particularly those that drive big lorries and buses. I am sure I would have made a good transporter if I had gone into that profession.

Challenging work

My most challenging work will be Narrow Escape. Because that was the first time I came face to face with anything that had to do with cultism. I have never been so scared in my life like when we started shoot for the movie. It was a set we created but I tell you that we had to pray so that we don’t get attacked. We almost didn’t enter the hall because everything appeared scary. We had to pray and bind whatever that was putting fear into us. But the movie came out well and was considered very successful.

Hobbies

I love football a lot. I love to play table tennis to. I like hanging out with friends. And I can stay on a football match for a whole day. I also love discussing politics. I am not married yet even though I have completed all the rites. My wife should be joining me soon. She is not an actress. And you see I don’t rush things in life. I take my time. I have always prayed to God to give me my wife and at the right time too. I have been under tremendous pressure from my family, age grade and even the press but it can only happen at God’s time and I have been assured that the time is not too far from now. I have found the person and to God be the Glory. No regret. Acting is life. It has given me so much joy and peace of mind. For food, I like yam and maize. I am on the quiet side, so I don’t like noisy music. But I am impressed with what our boys are doing with hip-hop.





Around and about Nollywood...


NOPA 2009 Honours Henshaw, Williams, Isong
DESERVING practitioners and stakeholders in the Nigerian motion picture industry were honoured at the 2009 edition of the Nollywood Outstanding Personality Award (NOPA) organised by the Association of Movie Journalist s(AMJ) and Stanword Media Group. The award, which is in its third edition, was held on Sunday December 6, at White House, Toyin Street, Ikeja, Lagos. It was chaired by ex-Executive Director of Programmes of the Nigerian Television Authority and current Director General of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission, Mr. Peter Igho, MFR. On the NOPA honour list were Adim Williams, Kate Henshaw-Nuttal, Dagogo Diminas, Emem Isong, Stephanie Okereke, Jonathan Gbemutor and the duo of Chinedu Ikedieze and Osita Iheme. Two journalists — ex- deputy editor of Thisday Newspaper, Oji Onoko and Shaibu Husseni of The Guardian were honoured given the Diamond Pen Merit Award for their outstanding contributions to movie journalism. Also, life time achievement awards were conferred on Sir Mike Adenuga for his passionate interest in the entertainment industry and Sir Dr. Walter Ofonagoro for his contributions to Nollywood and arts in general as former DG of NTA and Minister of Information and Culture. The Vanguard was honoured for its incisive coverage and reportage of Nollywood at the event that was spiced up with musical performances and stand-up comic act. The award with the theme ‘the seal of excellence in professionalism’ is an initiative of Stanword Media Group and hosted in partnership with the Association of Movie Journalists (AMJ), NOPA was actively supported by Nollywood, and Nigeria Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB), National Film Corporation (NFC), corporate bodies and the media. It has also enjoyed sponsorship from LIFF, Gold Angel, Orbit Audiovisual Studio, CLOUT Media and Super Max (Fuel Savers) and the management of White House.

Entries for AMAA 2010 still open
THE Africa Film invites filmmakers to submit their Feature, Short, and Documentary works for consideration by the 6th AMAA, the premier Africa film awards. Each completed entry form must be accompanied by all the supporting materials listed on the submission forms, including the synopsis of the film, the list of credits, marketing stills of the film, filmography of the directors and producers, 10 DVD copies of the film and proof of the right to submit. Only films produced and released between December 2008 and December 2009 would be entered for the 2009 celebration of African Cinema to be held in 2010. It will be announced in Ghana in February 2010. AMAA will hold on April 10, 2010 and will be televised across the world. Submission forms are downloadable from the AMAA Awards website. For further information, please contact AMAA at info@ama-awards.com.

Entries for Zuma Film Festival open
ALL is now set for the 5th edition of ZUMA Film Festival organised by the NFC. Scheduled to hold in Abuja from May 2 to 6, 2010. Call for entries opens on Tuesday, December 1 and closes February 28, 2010. The theme is Global Images, Global Voices, which according to the organisers, seek to consolidate on the gains of previous editions. Emphasis will be on bridging existing gaps between developed and developing film cultures as universal themes and global best practices will be adopted. The focus on the global nature and impact of the film medium will be encouraged during the film fiesta and at the same time platforms for filmmakers and filmmaking nations to globalise their films without losing the rhythms and practices that make their artistic cultures distinctively different will be provided. A statement from NFC said that entries should be accompanied with a two minute trailer must be submitted in three copies and must be on the DVD format with the typed synopsis on A4 paper-size. Submissions, the festival organizers said, would be accepted in the Competitive and Non Competitive categories. The Competitive category includes Feature film, Documentary, Children film, Student film, Animation/cartoon, Short film and Emerging talents while the Non Competitive category includes; films on Nigerian Panorama, Universal films, Diaspora & African films, Retrospectives /Tributes. Interested participants can make enquiries by e-mail to md_nfc@hotmail.com and md@nigfilmcorp.com. Similarly, entry forms can be obtained and returned to any of the Corporations offices in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Jos. ZUMA Film Festival, a major activity of the Nigerian Film Corporation is designed to provide a platform for the recognition and reward of excellence and creativity in the Nigerian motion picture industry and other film cultures around the globe.

24th Fribourg Film Festival holds March
THE 24th Fribourg International Film Festival (FIFF) will hold from March 13 to 20, 2010. Since it began, the festival has committed itself to the promotion of cultural diversity. Its programme features essentially work from Asia, Africa and Latin America. Each year, the event plays host to a hundred or so national and international premieres. Today, the FIFF carries the reputation of an unparalleled platform for creative and cultural exchanges; furthermore, the event distinguishes itself as a Mecca of cinematographic discoveries. The festival enjoys a good international reputation, and is also recognised as a national reference. The artistic director of the FIFF is Edouard Waintrop, a former film critic for Libération. In 2010, Waintrop presents his third edition of the Festival. The competition section introduces around 12 feature films and documentaries completed during the year preceding the current edition, and which have not been screened in Switzerland or in Europe. The Grand Prize carries a CHF 30,000 reward. There is also the Panoramas, Retrospectives and Short Films. In that section, the thematic programmes featuring 5-18 films are compiled by the artistic director or film specialists. These films approach and discuss current trends, question established genres, reveal uncharted episodes of film history and pay tribute to personalities of outstanding merit. The short film programmes present the work of young contemporary filmmakers. The Forum@FIFF platform is dedicated to film professionals and hosts conferences, debates and encounters that promote the exchange of experiences, deepening of knowledge and networking in general. Filmmakers can get additional information on the festival at www.fiff.ch.


Waka pass…
Producer- Amebo A. Amebo
Director- Mr. Gossip
Actors- Nollywood Celebrities

Nollywood absent at ION closing event
HOW come, one waka pass asked, as he looked around during the closing gala of the ION film festival in Port Harcourt. The waka pass said he could count the number of top Nollywood actors who were there. The waka pass, who said it was unbecoming for these celebrities to stay away from events that concerned them, was very furious when he said only three of Nollywood natural beauties — Genevieve Nnaji, Stephanie Okereke and Rita Dominic at the event and wondered what happened to Funke Akindele, Chioma Akpotha, Nkiru Sylvanus, and even Hilda Dokubo, who needed to take just a drop from her house to be at the event. Though a few actors made it to the event; the waka pass gushed that their presence didn’t equal Nollywood at all. I think he said he saw the deep actor and university teacher Sam Dede… then Alaso Woriboko, then Yibo Koko and then Julius Agwu. The waka pass was going to continue reeling out names but we stopped him because having mentioned Agwu, he was likely to add Ali Baba (who was compere) to the list of actors he saw at the closing gala just so as to make the list appear equal to Nollywood.

Emeka Ike is President?
WONDERS shall never end in Nollywood’ that was how one waka pass reacted when another of his kind hinted that star actor and school proprietor, Emeka Ike, has emerged President of the AGN from the back door. In fact, but for a published picture of his swearing-in- ceremony conducted by a fellow; a lawyer the waka pass described as ‘any weather’, he almost dismissed Ike’s emergence as one of those huge jokes told in some ludicrous movies. Anyway, this is how we were told Ike emerged: ‘In a bid not to appear used and dumped by the Ifeanyi Dike-led Board of Trustees (BOT), Kanayo O. Kanayo (KOK) insisted he must serve out his six months tenure as Interim President of the Caretaker Committee and to do that, he must conduct the election he had planned. Before the election, the BOT had unceremoniously dissolved the interim structure and in its place formed a contraption it called ‘Government of National Unity’ headed by embattled AGN president Segun Arinze. It was because of the manner in which he was sacked that KOK insisted on holding the election that saw the emergence of Ike as President. Meanwhile, KOK was there; body, soul and spirit when the BOT sacked the Ejike Asiegbu-led administration in like manner’. What this means is that there are two AGN presidents — Arinze and Ike — both of them illegally and unconstitutionally elected. Maybe it’s time to declare a ‘state of emergency’ in the actors’ folds... or what do you all think?

For Tricia, it shall be permanent
BY the time you are reading this, celebrated actress and television show host,Tricia Esiegbe, would have been married. For many who are familiar with the actress of many credits, yesterday was indeed the day the Lord made for Tricia, who has been linked with a number of people including football stars. A number of celebrities both in the field of sports and entertainment, we were told, showed up at her very colourful wedding, which held in Lagos. Waka pass couldn’t make it to the ceremony because we were busy with the rehearsals of the special number we intend to perform at the couples outing service in church today. The title of the special number? No, let’s just give you the first stanza and then you can join in the chorus…one …two… three… go: ‘It shall be permanent… It shall be permanent. What the lord has done for Tricia… must be permanent! To God be the Glory!

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