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Nigerian Man Wins Multi-Choice African Journalist of Year Award; A Look at South Africa's Emerging Black Middle Class

Aired July 22, 2006 - 12:30:00   ET


FEMI OKE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Femi Oke, bringing you INSIDE AFRICA from Witwatersrand University, right here in the center of Johannesburg.
Now, the semester has just got started this week, and like students, we have a lot of work to do on the show. Today, let's get started as we head across the border to Maputo, Mozambique. That was the location for the CNN Multi-Choice Journalist of the Year award, emceed by myself, and CNN's Africa correspondent Jeff Koinange. The president of Mozambique was there. Some of the best journalists across the continent also attended. But if you missed out, here is a review.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to the annual CNN Multi-Choice African Journalist Award.

OKE (voice-over): Honoring the best in African journalism, the competition is now in its 11th year. This year, it's attracted a record number of entries -- more than 1,500.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome your hosts for the evening: Femi Oke and Jeff Koinange of CNN International.

OKE: This year, the finalists from all forms of media gathered in Maputo. Mozambique's president Armando Emilio Guebuza was on hand to announce the winner.

ARMADO EMILIO GUEBUZA, PRESIDENT, MOZAMBIQUE: The winner of this award is Shola Oshunkeye.

OKE: Nigerian journalist Shola Oshunkeye won the top award for his magazine story, "Niger: Graveyard of Living."

SHOLA OSHUNKEYE, TELL MAGAZINE, NIGERIA: "The disheveled mom bent over and caressed the boy's bloated tummy absent mindedly in the intensive care unit in a camp located in the heart of Maradi, one of the eight regions in Niger republic. But the boy was too far gone, to the point of lifelessness, to respond any stimulus, even his mother's caring touch."

OKE: Shola was suddenly the story rather than the source of the story. I caught up with him and his wife the following day, and he recalled the story of Niger's terrible famine last year.

S. OSHUNKEYE: The most traumatic story I've ever done. When I was setting out on the assignment, I never imagined the magnitude of the tragedy I saw.

"Despite the spittle-inducing evidence and gory statistics, however, it is almost an unpardonable heresy for you to use the words 'famine,' 'starvation' and 'hunger' to describe the horror in Niger republic."

OKE: When he picked up his award, Shola had some special words for his wife:

S. OSHUNKEYE: Most importantly, I thank my wife, Funsho, of 25 years. She's been there -- thank you very much.

The reason I singled that out was because I am not sure whether she's actually enjoyed me as a husband.

OKE: Funsho told me that it wasn't easy living with a man so dedicated to his profession.

FUNSHO OSHUNKEYE, WIFE: Forever with his laptop working. Shola! (inaudible). Oh, OK, I'll do it shortly. I feel abandoned. But now, I'm very happy, I'm proud of him. That after all, it's (inaudible) the press.

OKE: The morning after the award, Shola was doing one interview after another, but he was keen to share the glory.

S. OSHUNKEYE: I think it's a tribute to Nigerian journalists, Nigerian journalism, if there's anything like that, because journalism is journalism anyway, than to journalism in Africa. (inaudible).

OKE: Even so life probably won't be the same for Shola Oshunkeye, at least for a while, now that he is African journalist of the year.


OKE: Congratulations to you, Shola, again, and all of the finalists.

Now, all this week, CNN has had its eye on Africa, and we'd like to share with you some of the features. For instance, earlier in the week, we came from this very campus of Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg. The university has, listen to this, two art galleries, and more than 14 museums, the kind of resources that students of the University of Liberia can only dream about.


OKE (voice-over): It's like a small town with big city aspirations. Packed and vibrant, this is the University of Liberia. Fifteen thousand students study here, overflowing into hallways. Many carry chairs to guarantee a seat in class. They work around the damage caused by Liberia's civil war.

Dedder Sumo is 28 years old, and she's studying to be a doctor.

DEDDER SUMO, MEDICAL STUDENT: This is (inaudible).

OKE: Dedder discovered her talent for sciences when she was in refugee in Guinea. Her family fled the violence in Monrovia when she was a schoolgirl.

Returning after the war to take a degree in biology and chemistry, she had no idea that she was in for a marathon course of studying.

SUMO: Some people stay 10 years before they graduate. Some people eight years, some people seven. If you're lucky, it will be five or so.

OKE: Courses take so long because the university is short of money and staff. It's not unusual for the university to offer only one semester a year.

And as I met up with other biology students in what I thought was an old classroom, another surprise.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do not have actually up to date materials to use. Even the little microscopes we have, they are not even up to the task.

OKE (on camera): So, this is a laboratory.


OKE: I mean, a laboratory (inaudible)...



OKE: Seriously?

(voice-over): The rest of the department looks just like the lab. It means that Emanuel Sia (ph) teaches a microscopic biology class without a microscope.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the semester started, to were working. Now thy are not working, so the students cannot even look at the protozomes that they themselves have grown.

OKE: Other departments have similar challenges. The senior electrical engineering class after seven years of hard theory has never built anything.

(on camera): Can you study under these circumstances, to be honest? Are you really learning?


OKE (voice-over): The teaching equipment in the engineering department does not work. Just like the rest of the Liberia after the civil war, it is in need of an overhaul.

Passionate students like Mohamed Sow are ready.

MOHAMED SOW, STUDENT: We're very sure that we'll be successful as Liberian engineers. Liberia know we do not have practical experience, but a lot depends on us.

OKE: The university president shows me the plans for a $ 25 million fundraising and renovation project. The money and donations will come from international universities. So, in five years, he hopes there will be new books, modern facilities and proper equipment.

DR. AL-HASSAN CONTEH, UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT: It's a tremendous sacrifice that one has to make to rebuild this country, to make sure that we have in place the human resources of the 21st century.

OKE (on camera): How would you feel that day when you go into a laboratory, and you have everything?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll feel very, very good. Very fine. It's very fine.

OKE (voice over): They have passion, determination and staying power. The University of Liberia is producing professionals any country would be proud of.


OKE: Hello. We're back at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg with...


OKE: Haianda (ph) and ...


OKE: OK. I cannot say (inaudible), but I will practice during the break, OK?

Coming up after the break, we take a look at South Africa's middle class, and also profile a successful African entrepreneur. See you on the other side.


OKE: Hello, again. You're watching INSIDE AFRICA, coming to you this week from Johannesburg. Earlier on in the week, at the Sullivan summit in Abuja, Nigeria, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz said that Africa was a continent of opportunity. No way is that more apparent than in post- apartheid South Africa, where the black middle class is making strides.


JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Always in a hurry, but South Africa's black middle class is never quite sure exactly where it's going, or when it will arrive.

In a nation of some 45 million people, the black middle class defies definition, because it encompasses everyone, from newly method millionaires to struggling single mothers. It is a class measured less by income than attitude.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hard work. And for some of us, it's good connections.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel opportunities. And I don't think my (inaudible), or that's why I think I'm black middle class.

CLANCY: If any single work describes them, it's consumers. Car sales to first-time owners shot up 25 percent last year, to an all-time record in South Africa. The black middle class got the credit.

CIKO THOMAS, DIRECTOR, JOBURG-CITY, AUTO: We anticipated that there is a lot of money that's going to come in this economy. A lot of it's coming from a class of consumers, who previously, because of legislation, apartheid were not able to spend money on the things that they wanted to do.

CLANCY: As a partner in South Africa's first all-black owned BMW dealership, Ciko Thomas says his success is tied to the success of his black customers. So strong is that logic, the bank that helps fund the dealership now touts it in a television ad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, I started out wanting to own a BMW. Now, at any given moment, I own 40.

CLANCY: Some credit South African President Tabo Mbeki's black economic empowerment program, B, which pushes formerly all-white businesses to diversify their boardrooms. Critics say it's nothing more than affirmative action. The president's own brother says B just redistributes a small amount of wealth. He says what South Africa needs is to create it.

MOELETSI MBEKI, INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: If it's created (inaudible) who do what you're saying they should do - I.e. create jobs, create new companies, create new products, then it would be a success. Black economic empowerment actually does the opposite. It creates a class of rich consumers, black consumers, mostly from our politicians who produce nothing.

CLANCY: Patience, reply the politicians. Thomas, whose BMW dealership employs more than 100 workers, agrees.

THOMAS: I think what the media spotlight has missed out on are people like myself, entrepreneurs who have come out of nowhere, and coming taking advantage of opportunities in the marketplace to create new enterprises that are black-owned.

CLANCY (on camera): As we noted at the outset, many blacks in the so- called middle class aren't exactly sure where they're headed. Some fear they're going to be left behind, but many feel that at least they're on the move, and they're moving up.

Jim Clancy, CNN, Soweto.


OKE: South African Jabu Stone is the stylist to the stars who's making quite a name for himself as an entrepreneur. From humble township beginnings, he now has a whole string of hair salons across southern Africa. And he is opening two more in the U.S. Paul Tilsley has his profile.


PAUL TILSLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He is stylist to the stars. He did the main actors' hair in the Oscar winning movie "Tsotsi". He is friends with Oprah Winfrey. Singer Yvonne Chaka-Chaka wouldn't let anyone else touch her locks.

YVONNA CHAKA-CHAKA, SINGER. When you get out here, you're so satisfied and you look like a true African, as you can see, my hair.

TILSLEY: Jabu Stone's philosophy is simple and phenomenally successful. In everything he does, he is African. He produces natural, but scientifically tested African products, and uses them to style hair.

JABU STONE, FOUNDER, JABU STONE INC.: I'm very proud of my African roots, because everything I do, I always go back, as much as the hairstyle, as I look it, it goes back as far as the ages.

TILSLEY: Stone gets to treat arguably the most authentic roots in South Africa. He styles several members of the Zulu royal family.

STONE: Some of the Zulu royal family, they enhance, and they -- they love having the hairstyles of African origin, because of course they're maintaining the Zulu culture. When I talked to them, they said this is very cultural.

TILSLEY: The age-old hair styles he is referring to are his specialty. He's taken the African dreadlock and turned it -- well, on its head.

STONE: We're trying to change that image, to show people this is an African hairstyle, it's got nothing to do with you being a ganja smoker or you're untidy or you are -- we're trying to show them that you're African and you -- all you're doing is you're maintaining your God-given hairstyle without changing (inaudible) anybody.

TILSLEY: Locks by Stone have brought dreads off the street, and into boardrooms and onto TV and film screens throughout Africa. Now his has become reportedly the first black-owned South-African business to be registered by the state of New York. But he still finds the force that drives him at home.

(on camera): Throughout his life, Jabu Stone, has been inspired to create the international empire he now has by his mother, who identified that he had entrepreneurial talents when he was at an early age. She taught him how to sell to adults in the Daviton (ph) township where he grew up when he was just 10.

(voice-over): Stone's mother told him not to leave the marketing to anyone else -- rather to sell himself, literally. So today, his name is on every product. His personality, his charm, have won the hearts of many African-Americans, who want to buy in to this good-looking and smart African image. His warehouse in the U.S. is up and running, and he's heading for major U.S. launch at year's end.

STONE: Yes, it's been very exciting to be among the first people, so the -- the other people can come and see that it is doable to go to the U.S.

TILSLEY: Stone is dynamic, yet humble.

STONE: It is very important not to forget your -- your culture, not to forget where you come from, your roots, your -- you know, all those things that's what make you to be who you are. So once the business grows into certain level, it's good to go back and always remember that. And also, motivate those cultural values to be taken care of.

TILSLEY: Jabu Stone.

Today, culturally, Africa; tomorrow, quite possibly cultivating the world.

Paul Tilsley, CNN, Johannesburg.


OKE: Still to come on INSIDE AFRICA: Lights, camera, action -- Nollywood is calling, and African actors are making movies, and lots of them.


OKE: Welcome back. You're watching INSIDE AFRICA. I'm Femi Oke, sitting in the back of the Johannesburg outside broadcast vehicle. And the film business is booming in Africa, in particular in Nigeria, where about 200 films are made a month. The pay isn't up too much, the work is pretty grueling, but as Jeff Koinange reports, if you're an actor, Nollywood is the place to be.



JEFF KOINANGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Welcome to Nollywood, Nigeria's equivalent of Hollywood and India's Bollywood. This film set may pale next to its wealthier distant cousins. The props are cheap, the set- up somewhat amateur. The paychecks not up to Tom Cruise standards. Most here will be lucky to take home a couple of hundred dollars for a one-week shoot. But still, that's good money on a continent where 60 percent of the people get by on less than $1 a day.


KOINANGE: Unlike Hollywood and Bollywood, Nollywood movies are mostly low-budget, easy to make, and for the most part made for home entertainment. But perhaps what's most appealing is that the story lines are universal across Africa.

Up to 200 movies are made in Nollywood each month, dealing in topics ranging from crime to politics, to infidelity and everything in between. 24-year old Inni Edu is a Nollywood veteran. She has dozens of movies to her credit, and says despite the low pay and long hours, Nigerian actors are as committed as actors anywhere.

INNI EDU, NIGERIAN ACTRESS: I believe most of our actors, if they were given the opportunities which Hollywood actors are being given, we'll do it much better.

KOINANGE: Most of these films are shot and edited in less than a week. And then they go straight to the thriving home-video market. The results are plain to see -- quantity over quality. But that doesn't stop Nigerians and other Africans from spending more than $200 million a year on the films, no small change in any currency.

Which brings us to Nollywood's version of the Oscars: The African Movie Awards, and Hollywood seems to be paying attention. This year's guest list included stars like Louis Gossett Jr. and Vivica Fox, both avid fans of Nollywood.

LOUIS GOSSETT JR., HOLLYWOOD ACTOR: It appeals to the West because it's new to the West. It's brand new. It's time for it -- it's time. It's like a pendulum. It's time for that story and that experience.

VIVICA FOX, HOLLYWOOD ACTRESS: I'd love to see true tales about us, and not someone else's vision of who and what they think we are. So one thing that I strive for in Hollywood, especially in my films, is validity.

KOINANGE: Inni Edu was here too, taking time from a busy filming schedule to be among the nominees for the best actress award. She didn't come away a winner on this night, but she is confident her time will come, be it in Nollywood or beyond.

EDU: I would have minded if Hollywood -- you know, I had an opportunity to act in Hollywood or Bollywood or something. I would do really my best. I think we shouldn't be limited to Nigeria, and, you know, we should try and go farther.

KOINANGE: Vivica Fox has some advice for budding actresses like Inni Edu.

FOX: There is a reason why it's called show business. There is business that goes on behind the show. And the more that you learn about the business aspect of show business, the longer your career will last.


KOINANGE: Whether Nollywood is ready to compete with Bollywood and Hollywood is still a matter of debate, but for these locals, this is as good as it gets for now. And as long as there is a plot or a storyline, there is sure to be a movie being made about it in Nollywood.

Jeff Koinange, CNN, on location in Abuja.


OKE: There are 11 official languages in South Africa, but after spending time in Johannesburg I would like to add another one to the list: Taxi language. For instance, if I do this, a taxi will miraculously stop and take me to where I want to go. But it's not as easy as it looks, as I found out earlier on this week.


OKE: Every day in Johannesburg, tens of thousands of people take taxis. For those who don't own a car, it's the main form of public transportation. So, when you need to get a taxi, (inaudible) taxi! Let your fingers do the talking.

Edna Modibuko (ph) works opposite one of Soweto's largest taxi parks, the place where you can grab a taxi. So who better to teach me to catch one Jo-berg's style.

(on camera): This is beginner's guide to how to catch a taxi in Johannesburg.


OKE: I put my finger up, what does that mean?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. It shows that you're going (inaudible).

OKE: Going to (inaudible). I put my fingers down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're going to (inaudible).

OKE: With Edna by my side, I tried catching my first taxi.


OKE: The taxi driver is not even looking at me. Is this right?


OKE: Hey, guys. I'm just learning how to catch a taxi. So, we're going downtown? No?

(voice over): There are about 10 signs for hailing a taxi. You have to learn the signs and what side of the road you need to be on to make them.

How do you learn this staff? Who taught you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, now, you know, there is a new location, it's then that's they -- they give signs, the taxi drivers give signs so that no one could (inaudible).

OKE: After a thorough briefing, I'm determined to get it right this time. Here comes taxi number two.

(on camera): It's working!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah. (inaudible).

OKE: All right.


OKE: And that's our show from Wit (ph) University in Johannesburg, South Africa. I'm Femi Oke, signing off.

But before I do, let me leave you with some of the birthday celebrations for Nelson Mandela's 88th birthday from earlier on this week. Take care.



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