Al Jazeera to launch My Nigeria documentary series

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Al Jazeera has announced that it will launch the My Nigeria documentary series this month.

Premiering on Al Jazeera English on August 24, My Nigeria is a series of six half-hour documentaries that will “tell the human story” from Africa’s leading economy, according to a statement.

Featuring the likes of stand up-comedian Basketmouth, Nollywood star-turned-politician Kate Henshaw, information and communications technology (ICT) expert Gbenga Sesan, fashion designer Deola Sagoe, football coach Femi Bamigboye and female mechanic Sandra Aguebor, each film focuses on a central character who invites viewers into their world, sharing their story in their own words.

“The series was commissioned specifically to support Al Jazeera English’s brand, ‘Hear the human story’, to bring people’s stories directly to our screens, told in a first-person style without mediation, offering a range of authentic views,” said Ingrid Falck, head of documentaries at Al Jazeera English.

Award-winning South African directors Brian Tilley and Clifford Bestall shot the series across Nigeria.

“To get beyond the clichés of Africa, there isn’t a better place than Nigeria,” said Falck. “For every stereotype of corruption or extremism, there are millions of ordinary Nigerians making this African powerhouse tick. Our series focuses on these individuals to see first-hand how Nigerians are busy making a difference.”

The documentaries in the series are Basketmouth: Trash Talking, which will premiere on August 24; Kate Henshaw: Playing a Part, August 31; Gbenga Sesan: Connecting a Million, September 7; Deola Sagoe: Top Drawer, September 14; Femi Bamigboye – Local Man, September 21; and Sandra Aguebor: Lady Mechanic, September 28.

Basketmouth (real name Bright Okpocha) is arguably Nigeria’s most successful stand-up comic. Born and bred in the notorious Lagos slum Ajegunle, he discovered his gift for comedy by chance and has never looked back. His take on the Lagos elite is “upbeat, irreverent and challenging”.

Henshaw has always been known as one of the Nollywood stars with integrity. Having made over 70 Nollywood films, she decides to leave the fictional world and run for a seat in Nigeria’s House of Representatives. Henshaw wants to change how people are represented in her hometown of Calabar in southern Nigeria, but politics in Nigeria is not for the timid.

As a school student, Sesan was denied access to the computer room in his Nigerian school and told he was not clever enough to operate one. Years later, Gbenga is an ICT expert with international awards and a successful consultancy business. He is spreading his good fortune by teaching ICT and life-skills to young adults in Nigeria’s poorest neighbourhoods.

Nigerian fashion has broken out, gracing the catwalks of New York, Johannesburg and Monaco. Sagoe was one of the designers who led this Nigerian fashion expansion. The House of Deola Sagoe is on Lagos’ Victoria Island and caters to Nigeria’s who’s who. Sagoe’s father, prominent Nigerian businessman Chief Ade Ojo, never wanted his daughter to go into fashion. He discouraged her, wanting her to take over his business. But Deola had other ideas.

Bamigboye is the coach and founder of the Remo Football Academy in the small Nigerian town of Iperu. One has to really look for Iperu on the map, but Bamigboye has managed to produce a line of young players who represent Nigeria at age-group level, including two players who will represent Nigeria at the under-17 World Cup at the end of the year.bThis is some achievement in a country of more than 180mn people. Bamigboye is also a pastor with a loyal congregation who worship every Sunday in a lean-to church in the middle of the thick forest that surrounds Iperu. Bamigboye feels his job is not just to teach football; he wants to develop world-class young men.

Aguebor is Nigeria’s first lady mechanic. Growing up in Benin City in a polygamous family, Aguebor mother actively discouraged her from following her dream, sometimes beating her when she would be out tinkering with an engine instead of doing her kitchen chores. But Aguebor is the sort of woman who responds well to adversity. She has built a network of lady mechanics that is spreading in Nigeria by training former sex workers, orphans and victims of trafficking to be mechanics. Her Lady Mechanic Initiative has now spread to the north with its first project in Kano City, where the response from Muslim women has been unprecedented.

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1 Comment

  1. James Jukwey

    I’m looking forward to watching this. I want to see if Al Jazeera journalism on Africa will differ from the typical Western perspective.

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