Netflix and Nigerian media entrepreneur, Mo Abudu, have entered into a multi-title partnership that will continue growing the company’s investment in Nigerian content. Under this partnership, Ms Abudu, through her production company, EbonyLife, will create two Netflix Original series, as well as multiple Netflix, branded films and a series that have been licensed to the service.
This is according to a statement from Netflix made available to PREMIUM TIMES on Friday.
A major highlight of this partnership will be the on-screen adaptations of literary works by two critically-acclaimed Nigerian authors.
A series based on contemporary author, Lola Shoneyin’s best-selling debut novel, ‘The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives’ and a film adaptation of ‘Death And The King’s Horseman’, a play by Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka.
“Mo is at the forefront of creative storytelling in African television. Her passion for creating high-quality, riveting multi-genre films and TV shows that capture the imagination while showcasing the diversity and richness of Nigerian culture is evident in her impressive body of work,” said Dorothy Ghettuba, Netflix’s lead for Original Series in Africa.
“We’re thrilled about this first-of-its-kind partnership in Africa that will bring some of Nigeria – and Africa’s most iconic storytelling to screen. We look forward to supporting Mo as she brings all these diverse Nigerian stories to the world.”
Netflix said the film adaptation of Death And The King’s Horseman will be among the newly-licensed Netflix branded films. One of the films will premiere on the service in 2020.
“We believe that more people deserve to see their lives reflected on screen and for that to happen, we need to make sure there’s a wide variety of content that caters to our members’ diverse tastes,” said Ben Amadasun, Netflix Director of Licensing and Co-productions for Africa.
They added that further details on the two Netflix original series and the slate of Netflix-branded projects that will be licensed from EbonyLife will be shared at a later date.
“As a Nigerian storyteller, my biggest motivator has always been to tell authentic and untold stories that resonate with every person, regardless of where they’re from in the world while showcasing our culture, heritage, and creativity,” said Ms Abudu.
About both projects
Mr Soyinka’s ‘Death and the King’s Horseman’ is based on a real incident that took place in Nigeria during British colonial rule: the horseman of a Yoruba King was prevented from committing ritual suicide by the colonial authorities.
In addition to the British intervention, Soyinka calls the horseman’s own conviction toward suicide into question, posing a problem that throws off the community’s balance.
Mr Soyinka wrote the play in Cambridge, where he was a fellow at Churchill College during his political exile from Nigeria.
He has also written a preface to the play, explaining what he sees as the greatest misconceptions in understanding it. In particular, he says that the play should not be considered as a “clash of cultures.
The ‘Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives’ illuminates the struggles connecting the experiences of women in the country while detailing the practice of polygamy in modern-day Nigeria.
Additional Comments by the authors
Mr Soyinka said, “In a creative industry which, even in pioneering countries, is so male-dominated, it is always a delight to see robust challenges offered by the female gender, and of attestable quality.
“Mo Abudu’s incursion into this arena as film and television producer has been especially stimulating. It becomes part of one’s sense of achievement if one has contributed, however minutely, to the creation of an enabling environment.”
Ms Shoneyin said, “I was thrilled when Mo contacted me about making a show out of my novel The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives. I’d turned down so many offers but this one felt right. It was an opportunity to see my work in the hands of a woman who pursued excellence in Africa in the same way that I did. I grew to trust her very quickly, so when she told me about the possibility of working with Netflix, I was overjoyed. Soon, people everywhere will have access to the story of Baba Segi. And that is more than I could have asked for as a writer.”
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EbonyLife is Nigeria’s foremost media group, dedicated to telling a full range of African stories to a global audience, through a range of co-production deals with leading Hollywood studios.
As a feature film producer, EbonyLife has produced six titles, three of which are the highest-grossing movies of all time at the Nigerian box office.
Netflix is the world’s leading internet entertainment service with 183 million paid memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries, and feature films across a wide variety of genres and languages.