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That Makes Shirley Frimpong-Manso The Best Director in Nigeria

By Benjamin Tawiah
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Unless of course Africapin is not a credible organisation, (and it is not) the rating of the top ten movies in Nigeria looked quite plausible. Films that made it in the top ten are Dangerous Twins, Break Up, Keeping Faith, Igodo, Games Women Play, Saworoide and Osuofia in London. The rest were Private Sin and Diamond Ring, with Shirley Frimpong-Manso's The Perfect Picture coming on top as the best Nollywood film ever produced.

In the usual scheme of all things Nigeria, Shirley, a Ghanaian director extraordinaire (at least by our not so professional standards) shouldn't get a mention. And Africapin itself shouldn't get a mention is all things movie, especially films in Nollywood and Gollywood. The founder of the organisation, a business venture that specialises in telecommunication, is a Somali-American, Mohammad Hussain, who holds a Juris Doctorate. He is not a practising lawyer or a known lover or critic of films.

So, what audacity has a phone card company to pronounce judgement on creativity? Well, maybe it shows that our movies are appreciated beyond our continent, and indeed by nationals who are not originally the target publics of our producers. Many countries in East and Central Africa, who have fledging movie industries or no industries at all, see ours as Hollywood: They know the names of our actors and actresses and have admirably memorised their lines in the hundreds of productions they have featured in. Van Vicker is particularly popular among Burundians and the Rwandese. The Congolese have lost themselves in the infectious beauty of Nadia Buari and Jackie Appiah.

So, it happens that audacity, sheer audacity, is often audaciously expressed. Africapin did not stop at films; it has also done a rating on the top ten songs- with the usual audacity. But their ratings are not to be ignored altogether. So far, Africapin.com has received some 90,774 upload views, with about 7379 visitors (as at January 2010) recorded to have watched the top ten Nigerian movies. The comments have been interesting and very revealing, underscoring an almost native curiosity for our appreciation of the arts.

Still, it is important to ask why Africapin would count The Perfect Picture as a Nigerian production. It is also significant to mention that the 9 other best movies are from the stables of popular Nigerian producers. Either way, there is a good problem for Nigerians and a bad one for Ghanaians, who need to find out whether their association with Nigerians is strategic, profitable or 'condescending.' Does Africapin know our movies?

Thankfully, The Perfect Picture is typically Ghanaian, and the cast was typical of Shirley. With rare cinematographic lush and rare make-belief really made believable in Adjetey Annan (my favourite actor), The Perfect Picture was perfect for the title. Well, it is also possible the title of the movie may have fooled the artistically anaemic folks at Africapin to rate it as The Perfect Picture. If, however, Shirley's recent accomplishment as the Best Director of the year at the 2010 African Movie Academy Awards influenced Africapin, then they are just about getting artistic- which is much better than dealing in phone cards.

Our movies are doing better than Nollywood. Majid Michelle recently beat Nigeria's greats to win the Best actor award at the 2010 ZAFAA awards. Africapin may be right.

Kwesi Tawiah-Benjamin, Ottawa, Canada
[email protected]
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