In recent years, streamers like Netflix and Disney+ have taken on a steep interest in Africa, investing heavily in content across the continent. Relative to the rest of the world, streaming in Sub-Saharan Africa still has a ton of untapped potential. In North America, about 50% of households have a Netflix subscription; in Western Europe and South America, that number is around 25-30%, but in Sub-Saharan Africa, less than 1% of households have a Netflix subscription (The Hollywood Reporter).
It’s no surprise then that Netflix in particular has taken it upon itself to develop the Pan-African media ecosystem, partnering with local leaders like Mo Abudu’s EbonyLife Media. In 2020 in fact, EbonyLife Media shut down its TV channel so it could focus on production partnerships with international streamers, which tended to be more lucrative.
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Netflix’s position has put African talent on the world stage, carving out a place of its own in the global media landscape. In doing so, it was only fitting to spend some time highlighting a few of the first TV and film productions released as part of this effort.
Blood Sisters is a Nigerian drama produced by EbonyLife Studios, and Nollywood’s first original series on Netflix. The series follows the lives of two friends Sarah and Kemi who become fugitives after Sarah’s abusive fiancé’s sudden disappearance, just before their wedding ceremony. The series stars an ensemble cast of Ini Dima-Okojie, Nancy Isime, Kate Henshaw, Ramsey Nouah, Gabriel Afolayan, Uche Jombo, Patrick Doyle, Joke Silva, Keppy Ekpenyong-Bassey, Wale Ojo, Deyemi Okanlawon, and Toke Makinwa, among others
Silverton Siege is a South African film directed by Mandla Dube in his feature directorial debut. It’s based on the actual siege that took place in Silverton, Pretoria in 1980. Upon reading about the siege, Dube was inspired and began developing a script with fellow American Film Institute alumnus Sechaba Morojele as editor. Dube said the film would be about 60% factual, and that they would use creative license for the rest, wanting to make it “an entertaining story, not a documentary.” Principal photography took place on location in Pretoria, and production received funding from the National Film & Video Foundation.
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Young, Famous & African
Young, Famous & African follows a group of friends who are African entertainers and A-listers as they go about their lives having fun, flirting, and fighting in Johannesburg, South Africa. Actress and media personality Khanyi Mbau is the central character of the group who is in a relationship with a Zimbabwean businessman. The star-studded cast is rounded out with the likes of Tanzanian musician Diamond Platnumz, Ugandan businesswoman Zari Hassan, Nigerian model Annie Macaulay-Idibia, Nigerian musician 2Baba, Nigerian stylist Swanky Jerry, South African rapper Nadia Nakai, South African artist Naked DJ, and footballer Kayleigh Schwark.
Senzo: Murder of a Soccer Star
Senzo Meyiwa, beloved captain of the South African national soccer team, was shot and killed in his girlfriend pop singer Kelly Khumalo’s mother’s house. There were six eyewitnesses at the scene, including some of his closest friends. Yet it’s only now, nearly eight years later, that the suspects – hitmen for hire – are being charged. Who ordered this killing, and why, remain open questions. Did the hitmen even do it, or was it a cover-up for something more sinister? With the backing and participation of Senzo’s family, and access to investigators and key witnesses, Senzo: Murder of a Soccer Star aims to unpack the truth behind this high-profile murder.
Man of God
Having been scarred by his disciplinarian father, Pastor Josiah Obalolu, Samuel Obalolu turns his back on his family, leaving home never to return. Sam’s soul is trapped in two triangles. On one hand: three women vying for his heart; on the other, the love of God, lust for money, and harbored deep resentment for his father wrestle for his soul. Based loosely around the prodigal son’s story, Man of God is dramatic, colorful, vibrant and suspense-filled.