• Monday, June 24, 2024
businessday logo


Paramount Africa promotes continent’s creative voices to global audiences through storytelling

Paramount Africa promotes continent’s creative voices to global audiences through storytelling

There is a sense of pride and dignity that comes with having a story that speaks to one’s culture and roots. It is known as identity, a beautiful feeling of ‘self’ – This is who I am. This and more are what we have recognised and sought to protect and promote over the last 17 years of Paramount’s presence on African soil.

Embodying 54 countries, 3,000 tribes, and approximately 1.2 billion people, Africa is a continent rich in beautiful culture and stories, and this exactly, is what Paramount celebrates this year’s Africa Day. At Paramount, we have recognised the importance and uniqueness of African stories and are dedicated to placing them on the pedestal within the global community.

Over the years, our dedication has taken on different forms — morphing with the times, needs, and prevalent culture of the continent. First, it was through an astonishingly pervasive music platform that launched African talents and African music to global relevance. Then, it was by championing the creation and promotion of homegrown African entertainment — particularly within the movie and film industry. Now, we have come full circle by adapting popular content from across the globe to indigenous languages, starting with the adaptation of the widely-loved animated television series SpongeBob SquarePants to one of South Africa’s most spoken languages, isiZulu.

In 2022, Paramount Africa ran its first-ever isiZulu-dubbed SpongeBob SquarePants on Nickelodeon! The explosive reception we received encouraged us to further create a full run of the entire show — creating a momentum that played a pivotal role in bringing diversity and representation in edutainment to the African audience. This was just a step in a long line of initiatives we had tailored to Africa.

Read also: AFRIMA demands justice for slain South African musician, AKA

In 17 years, we have created platforms that have become safe spaces for African creatives to thrive, and launchpads that have thrust African voices, stories, and culture into the limelight. Through this, we have inspired change in the African movie and film industry, paving pathways for talents to become stars while retaining the authenticity of their stories. Many of these platforms — including reality TV shows like Unstoppable Thabooty and our global VH1 franchise Love & HipHop South Africa, incredible multilingual telenovelas like Isono and Redemption, and exceptional reality series like Inside Life and the impactful content for change partnership drama series MTV Shuga — have delivered our mandate, successfully executing what Paramount Africa represents — a medium giving power to the true form of African stories.

Each of our platforms has enabled African talent to tell inspiring stories in varying forms while empowering them to compete on the global stage: MTVBase, through which we have trained hundreds of African talents to deliver superior content and shone the spotlight relentlessly on African music, elevating African sound to the higher echelons of the global music pantheon.

MTV Shuga, a sensational impact-driven drama series — with many variations, including Shuga Naija, Shuga Down South, Shuga Alone Together, Shuga Babi and MTV Nishedh — that has served as a springboard for many household names and brought sensitive matters once relegated to the corners of society to light.

BET Awards and the BET Hip Hop Awards have given African talents like, Wizkid, Tems, Black Coffee and Rayvanny platforms and opportunities to receive international acclaim and reinvent the perception of African artistry across the globe.

These platforms and many others enable us to fulfill our vision at Paramount Africa: to tell African stories with a voice that deserves to be heard, a voice that tells the truth and reality of Africa as it is — a world of possibilities and unimaginable talent. We want Africans to control the narrative that goes out into the world through impactful storytelling and entertainment.

In light of this, we shall commemorate Africa Day 2023 with a new initiative that reflects the true liberty, diversity, and potential of the continent. A sequel to our isiZulu-dubbed SpongeBob SquarePants series — an initiative to promote the adaptation of new and existing content in indigenous African languages.

We will therefore be leveraging a similar approach to our partnership at the 11th edition of the Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) where we hosted a content pitch session for African filmmakers and storytellers — empowering them to bring to life stories that speak to the heritage of the African people. Furthermore, we expect to work alongside these creatives in producing exciting and compelling content that celebrates culture, enunciating our dedication to giving the much-deserved African identity to movie adaptations.

Like we leveraged partnerships to amplify our impact at the Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) and The Africa Creative Market, we will take advantage of our extensive network of partners to empower African creatives with an unquenchable passion for telling heartfelt stories that promote the genuine identity of the continent while drawing increased global attention.

We have amplified African voices through the years, and we believe the time has come for these voices — and many others — to be heard in their indigenous languages.

Monde Twala is the senior vice president and general manager, Paramount Africa and peer lead, BET International.