The New Tribe: Young and Celebrated
In the last few years, perhaps more than ever, Nigerian youths have become a creative force so potent that their impacts on the society cannot be ignored. Young people have been building legacies in sectors such as agriculture, literature, music, media, commerce, fashion, arts and many others.
To honour this growing band of outstanding individuals, The Future Awards Africa (TFAA), itself organised by young, brilliant minds, was birthed. Its 2017 awardees included individuals who became recognisable brands during the year. Guardian Life had a chat with four of these unique torchbearers – Femi Bakre, Ayobami Adebayo, Nancy Isime and Sambasa Nzeribe. They revealed the impact of winning an award of such magnitude, being a part of this present generation and their plans for the future.
Femi Bakre (Winner Prize For New Media)
It’s often said that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ and few statements are more accurate in describing the work of Femi Bakre, an alumnus of the University Of Lagos where he graduated First Class with a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. Three years later and he is the creator and founder of Kraks TV, one of the biggest and fastest growing new media houses in Nigeria.
Bakre started Kraks TV when he was a National Youth Service Corps member without much training in social media or digital marketing. But he had a sense of purpose and a vision of what he wanted to achieve.
“From the very beginning, I never had any working hours and I worked from morning into the night. I started during my NYSC period and that was what I did most of my service year. I worked all the time and learnt most things on the job because I had no knowledge of social media, digital marketing or editing. The idea was to have a sense of responsibility, even when I had just 5000-10000 followers. I told myself that I had to do my best every single day to entertain them, relieve them of stress and give them something to laugh about.”
In the coming year, he intends for Kraks TV to leave Instagram, the platform on which he found fame. He says the new Instagram algorithm is restrictive. “Ever since Instagram changed their algorithm when Mark Zuckerberg took over, Instagram has been a mess. In the past, there was this connection that we had with our followers and there was a community spirit that really helped Kraks TV.”
For that reason, he will be creating his own platform on which Kraks TV can engage its community without restrictions.
Bakre credits TFAA for its in-depth understanding of Nigeria and identifying people doing amazing things in their respective niches. According to him, this is a unique approach because most Nigerians only recognise popular things.
As a recipient of the award, he intends to participate in the activities the organisers create to inspire young people, saying “The general message is if I can do it, you can do it as well.”
Speaking on the reactions of Nigerians on Twitter who described the award as a “Lagos Award” or “Yoruba Award”, he believes that TFAA recognises people on merit, adding that many nominees were not based in Lagos.
Ayobami Adebayo (Prize For Arts and Culture)
Adebayo’s journey as an author is an inspiration. After getting her Bachelors and Masters Degrees from Obafemi Awolowo University, she went to England to study Creative Writing at the University Of East Anglia. She started getting recognition shortly after and got listed the Financial Times as one of the bright stars of Nigerian Literature in 2015. Her debut novel, Stay With Me was published to critical acclaim in 2017 and she was shortlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.
From her point of view, TFAA has done a good job recognising potential and talent even when those people have not been noticed yet. She believes that kind of recognition can be a strong motivator for people who are starting out in a new field.
When asked about her possible contributions to the mandate of leading Nigeria’s new tribe, she says, “I’m a writer and a storyteller, which means that in some way I’m involved in building the narrative of what Nigeria is and also what it can be. That is an aspect I think my work is relevant, in showing us who we are and imagining possible futures.”
Ayobami acknowledges that there is a pressure that comes with being a famous writer and its effect on her work.
She says, “As much as possible I try not to pay attention to all of the press. It’s wonderful to have all this attention to my work, but, at the end of the day, it’s really about what I’m writing now. That’s the ironic thing about getting published because when your book comes out, you probably had stopped working on it two years ago. So, when people are experiencing it for the first time, you’ve sort of moved on.”
Nancy Isime (Prize For On-Air Personality- Visual)
Isime is a multi-faceted young woman who has done much in her short time in the media and entertainment industry. Nancy worked as a model with companies like Zizi Cardow and Shakara Couture before making her acting debut in the TV series Echoes. She has since acted in more than a few films and has also presented shows like The Squeeze, What’s Hot and more recently Trending on HipTV.
Talking about her different talents, she says, “These sides of Nancy that are seen, I didn’t expect it to happen. I stumbled upon presenting and acting so to win awards for them is amazing. But they weren’t planned, I’m just blessed enough to have been able to discover these sides of me and have people who were interested in the art.” She also added that she takes every day as it comes and does her best to create quality work that she can be proud of.
As a winner of TFAA, Nancy hopes to inspire youths (especially young women) to be themselves and that it’s never too early to start. She takes pride in her work and believes in the power of consistency saying, “I started working at 17 and I’ve been working since then. I barely get a break and I’m always looking forward to the next step and how far I can go on the ladder of success.” She adds that “Winning a Future Award at 25 is an achievement that I don’t think I could have dreamt about three years ago.”
Like Bakre, the Edo State indigene discredits claims that TFAA gave awards based on tribe. She notes that the reason why it might seem like it was a “Lagos Award” was because Lagos is the capital of industry in Nigeria.
“One of the major goals of TFAA is to inspire the youths and to be an inspiration, your work has to be relatively known for people to be able to relate with it and Lagos is at the centre of that.”
Sambasa Nzeribe (Prize For Acting)
Nzeribe made his acting debut in 2013 and last year, he won an Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA) for the Best Actor in a Drama. With a TFAA award in the bag, he shares his thoughts about being in an ever-changing industry and achieving so much in such a short time.
Nzeribe believes in living a purposeful life and thinks about how he wants to be remembered. He says, “I intend to use my craft to touch the world. In 2018, I want to embark on three personal projects and I hope to achieve them all. The first is a monologue project that battles fear. I also have plans to reach out to orphans to share my story with them and also to shoot my own feature film that inspire love among people.”
For him, TFAA helps to build a country where the youths believe in themselves and contribute to the development of the society.
Nzeribe chalks down his current limited popularity to the fact that most of the movies in which he has acted were meant for the cinema. He explains that “80-90 percent of my work is cinema movies and the trend is that when the producer is done after he shows it in cinema, he puts it online or sends it to cable networks because he doesn’t want to get ripped off. It takes about two years before it comes out on DVD so if you don’t go to the cinemas you won’t see it.”
He adds that as much as there are more popular people in the industry that are more established; he believes he is on his own unique path and his plan to stay on that path.
Creative Direction: Chidera Muoka
Photography: Jerrie Rotimi
Makeup: Jumoke Tychus for Eyesome Beauty
Styling: Nkem Okorafor
Hair: Tony Aigbogun
Shoot assisted by: Billy Praise