CNN African Voices: How Glo empowers Africa to tell its own story (Nigerian Tribune)

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  • August 24, 2015
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One of the many fortes of Globacom is the production of television commercials that convey powerful messages in fleeting seconds and leave viewers with the golden satisfactory feeling experienced by movie aficionados after watching a compelling full-fledged flick. Television commercials after television commercials produced by the company have lived up to this tradition. The company’s newly minted mobile broadband internet television commercial has even further raised the bar by taking the impact several notches higher.

On this particular evening, on a 42-inch TV screen inside the African Bar of Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, the Glo broadband commercial opens with Richard Mofe-Damijo, popularly known as RMD, an iconic actor, lawyer and patriot, who, in a heart-thumping and fast-paced manner, celebrated the awesome qualities of Glo hi-speed mobile broadband internet. The TVC also features Star Singer and Glo brand ambassador, Omawumi. This quickly gives way to a breezy medley of images of African scenes – from rustic villages to crowded streets and images of built-up African cities and then to the day’s guest in action.

Then comes a wide-angle shot of the new presenter of the repackaged CNN African Voices, Keturah King, walking down a busy street in Accra, Ghana. The view zooms in to a close-up of King: “…changing perspectives, pushing limits today’s Africa is not living by the past, a new generation is stepping out. This is where the urban pulse meets with creativity. This is African Voices,” King announces to the listening audience across the world.

African Voices is an inspirational television documentary on the world’s leading news channel, the Cable News Network (CNN), which aims at uncovering the continent’s most dazzling trend setters, urban and hip youth who are creating their own sub-cultures in travel, fashion, art, music, technology and architecture. This is the connected generation who want the world to see their Africa.

African Voices inspires by celebrating achievements of these Africans who are re-shaping the continent through their creativity, diligence, doggedness and vision, among many other noble qualities.

Apart from from the inspiration they provide, the stories on the programme project the African viewpoint. For long, there have been concerns that the African story is being told only from the outsider’s prism, depicting Africa as a dark continent, riddled with poverty, crime, corruption and an unintelligent population. It is, therefore, heart-warming that positive stories about the continent are being projected on the global stage through a powerful medium such as CNN.

The programme has in the past featured leading and budding African inventors, professionals, activists, environmentalists, religious leaders, thought leaders and artistes. African Voices, beyond featuring interviews, meets with the guests in their natural habitats and in their elements while also highlighting the creations of their personality.

However, the show goes beyond people it also highlights institutions and corporate entities that are breaking boundaries and setting trends. For example, recently the CNN African Voices featured Abuja’s National Hospital which posted real-time updates of a girl’s three-hour surgical procedure on twitter. The aim was to grow awareness about the countrys medical capabilities, hospital spokesperson, Dr Tayo Haastrup told CNN.

Dozens of Nigerians have featured on the programme including writer Ngozi Chimamanda Adichie, comedian AliBaba, actress Genevieve Nnaji, designer Chris Aire, Oil magnate Kase Lawal and religious leader Pastor Enoch Adeboye. Responses from these personalities were motivating as they threw up some life lessons for teeming young Africans. There is no doubt that after watching these personalities tell the stories of their lives on the CNN African Voices programme, a lot of the African youth must have been dared by the fact that they can still make it no matter the current internal and external challenges. The programme must have taught them to be more dedicated and focused if they must reach the top in their chosen occupation. They saw and probably embraced the subjects as role models. Or, so it seems.

Many reviewers and media watchers have rated CNNAfrican Voices as one of the most powerful motivational programmes on international television. One of them is the integrated telecommunications solutions provider, Globacom, which identifed the value inherent in the programme and committed heavily to exclusively sponsor the programme to the benefits of all Africans. Globacom has been sponsoring the program since 2010.

Despite the high achievements of the programme, CNN is not resting on its oars. CNN has gone ahead to repackage and refocus the show for greater impact.

The repackaging of the programme shows a slight shift of its mission from just showcasing innovators and individuals making an impact in Africa and on the global stage in such varied areas as sports, politics, business and the arts to showcasing the continents young but avant-garde change agents who have carved their own niches and are driving change in the areas of travel, fashion, art, music, technology and architecture.

This new focus also advised the choice of the young, smart and hip Keturah King from central Lagos, Nigeria, as the new host of the programme. In addition, CNN now has five weekly programming strands about Africa, plus news coverage and online, mobile and social media content.

At the Oriental Hotel, Lagos event, Globacom and CNN brought together stakeholders from diverse sectors to celebrate the successes of the CNNAfrican Voices.

Antonio Canto, Vice President, Regional Adsales, Europe, Middle-East and Africa (EMEA), CNN International said that, as a mark of CNN’s renewed commitment to Africa, it has revamped AfricanVoices with the support of its valuable partner, Globacom.

Canto said: “We are incredibly proud of African Voices. It has been one of our flagship shows for and about the African continent since 2009. Earlier this year, we gave the show a new look with Keturah King at the helm to uncover the continent’s most dazzling trend setters in the areas of travel, fashion, art, music, technology and architecture.”

During the event, Globacom and CNN reaffirmed their commitment to promoting African growth and development through their strategic collaboration.

Top officials of the two prominent organisations spoke of the need to promote ideas that can galvanise the continent to realise its full potential.

Canto further said that the way people get their news is changing. Africa is changing. “CNN is here to cover and celebrate that change. We thank Globacom for helping us to fulfill that promise through its continued support for African Voices,” Canto said.

Bola Ogundogba of Glo 1, who made the Globacom remarks, said the companys support for CNN African Voices stems from the fact that it is one of the few television programmes that hold a tremendous promise of profoundly impacting the continent by playing the valuable role of galvanizing and motivating the people of the continent to aspire to greatness.

“The programme speaks to our ‘unlimited’ philosophy. The stars of CNN African Voices are individuals who have weathered the storm and beaten the odds to achieve excellence. This aligns with a core value of Globacom, which is the ‘Never say die’ attitude,” she enthused.

“At Globacom, we have absolute faith in the continent. We are always eager to offer our support to any initiative that adds value to the lives of Africans and contributes to the development of the continent,” she concluded.

What African Voices is doing for Nigeria and Africa as a whole, with the help of Globacom, is indeed immense. It is a thing of pride that a Nigerian company is at the forefront of giving Africa a voice. Inspirational stories like that of the heart surgery performed on the eight-year-old girl which was live-tweeted, have been brought on to the world stage by the Glo-Sponsored CNN African Voices. According to Dr Haastrup of Abuja National Hospital, now the world knows that “…it is possible to do it in this country.�

Globacom surely deserves the commendation of all African patriots for taking the lead in the projection of positive narratives about Africa, beyond providing innovative telecoms services. The collaboration between Glo and CNN is really helping to change perceptions about the continent of Africa in general and Nigeria in particularly. While saying thank you to CNN for choosing to celebrate Africa through African Voices, may we also say thank you to Globacom for empowering CNN to bring this vision to reality.