The Nigerian in South Africa Making Waves Across Africa

Some people have a great presence the way they talk, phrase their sentences and the way they are sincere, even when they are saying things that may hurt you.

Fabian Adeoye Lojede is one such person. He is one of the few foreign filmmakers that have visited our country and not lied to us about our film industry to make us feel better. He’s answer is as simple as his persona.

“I have not watched any Ugandan film so far,” he says in a mixture of sarcasm and honesty.

Lojede is a contrast to the man who swung from one corner of the room to the other in rage.

“I will not let anyone take Abayomi Incorporated, or even get closer to my money. That man is sick he is mad.” The man he was referring to was actually his father.

This is a scene from a popular pan-African TV drama series, Jacob’s Cross, in which South Africa-based Nigerian actor Lojede was the antagonist, Bola Abayomi, the evil one. The series was so compelling and the story so universal that even when it was mostly produced in South Africa and Nigeria, just like with Africans, had a following from Americans and Europeans.

Meeting Lojede is, indeed, as surprising as his almost free-spirited performance in Jacob’s Cross. He is the kind of actor that gets into a role and the role becomes him, so much that it will stick in one’s mind for a long time to come. Talking to him is even harder, because you keep going back and forth, fighting the urge to call him Abayomi.

Then after a few embarrassing moments of doubt, you face the reality that it is not Abayomi, but Lojede in the flesh.

Aert beginnings:

Clad in a grey jacket and matching shirt, Lojede is composed and very soft-spoken. He has his usual signature look a bald head and goatee beard, which is loved by many of his lady fans – guess it is one of those features that make his face memorable as well as give him the bad-boy look.

Actually shorter than he appears on TV, he describes himself as a writer, actor, producer, businessman and a creative soul.

“I love creating and developing business ideas. I look at it as coming up with a story,” he says.

Though he is based in South Africa, Lojede was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and received much of his education there. His parents hail from the historical and culturally-rich city of Abeokuta in Ogun state. He has worked extensively in South Africa on creative development, execution and development. However, today, Lojede and his friend Mickey Madoda Dube, are co-owners of a film production company, 1Take Media, which has so far shot TV commercials, dramas and reality shows.

Lojede has also worked as a creative consultant and copywriter and is currently credited for directing and writing the popular Aids initiative campaign ‘YOU’ [commonly known in Uganda as It Begins With You). This comprises a radio drama series and renowned reality show, ‘Imagine Africa,’ which is aired in four languages English, Portuguese, French and Arabic.

In fact, Lojede notes that he went into aertising in the first place to learn about movies. He believes that putting together a script to tell a story in less than a minute is not simple. Thus, if a person can write a good script for an ad, then they can definitely nail a full-length feature film.

“Doing an aert is like making a short film,” he notes.

Lojede cherishes the fact that before he went into mainstream acting, he already had many of these professions around him and, in his view, they humble and bring him down to earth.

Jacob’s Cross:

Surprisingly, even when Bola Abayomi was perfectly portrayed, it was Lojede’s first role in a full-length film. He had done ‘shorts’ and had appeared in commercials, but, it wasn’t until a friend and fellow actor, Akin Omotoso (Gaetano look-alike from Generations) referred him to the producers that he was called to audition.

He never disappointed. His Bola character was on point and he did enjoy being the bad guy.

“You get to shoot people, kill off characters, threesomes… ,” he says with a grin.

He notes that working on such a continental blockbuster was a great ride that showed the different stories Africa can tell. In an interview with one of the international TV stations, Lojede revealed that Jacob’s Cross was a global hit because of the story the series offered.

“It was a story of greed and a fight for power and control, which every citizen in the world can relate to. Jacob’s Cross shows the world that there are other stories from Africa besides dictatorship and Aids.”

Jacob’s Cross is a story about a man fighting for what he believes belongs to him after their father gives away all his estate, worth billions, to an illegitimate son.

African Cinema:

Lojede is passionate about the African film industry. He says there were times, especially in the 1970s, when cinema in Nigeria was booming, but then it suffered a setback.

“It is good it is getting back on its feet now,” he says, adding that Nigerians are really supportive of their locally-produced content to the extent that some Nigerian films perform better in Nigeria than Hollywood ones.

Being a proteacuteeacute of the two most successful African film industries – Nigerian and South African – Lojede notes that each of these has a particular edge over the other.

“Nigeria has an industry in a commercial sense,” he says, but adds that South Africa beats it on the technical front.

When you watch Nigerian movies, he says, you will easily connect to the stories as an African it is the place to go if you are looking for content.

Man on ground:

In 2011, Lojede and other friends, Omotoso Nigerian British actor, Hakeem Kae-Kazim (24, X-Men Origins Wolverine and Coming to America) and South African actress, Rosie Motene, came together and did the very impressive Man On Ground, a film inspired by the xenophobia riots that hit South Africa in 2008.

It is the first time the four were collaborating on a project and Lojede notes that it has taken them places. During the xenophobia riots, the world had almost turned a blind eye to the situation. It wasn’t until a picture of a man slumped on his hands and knees, in flames as he screamed for his dear life, showed up on the front pages of many of the world’s newspapers and the internet, that the world paid attention.

That man was Ernesto Alfabeto Nhamuave, a Mozambican builder working in South Africa. This image became the picture that the world would later associate xenophobia with.

“It is not a story about Ernesto, but is inspired by his burning,” Lojede says.

Lojede plays a Nigerian labourer, Femi, who gets entangled in the situation and later loses his life. During the recent screening of Man On Ground at the National theatre in Kampala, he noted that the film is an African story which directly translates to what happened in Rwanda in 1994, Kenya in 2007, Uganda in 2009, and many other African countries where people have been persecuted for where they come from.

“He is a very good actor and the movie was well done,” said Mathew Nabwiso, the Ugandan actor whose performance in A Good Catholic Girl, triumphed over Lojede’s in this film to win the ‘Best Supporting Actor’ award at the inaugural Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice awards.

“I hope I could work with him sometime. He is a very experienced filmmaker and most of his productions have been well received on the continent,” observes Nabwiso.

Source : The Observer

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