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Linda Ikeji’s Online TV Channel Launch: Our Time is Now By Eleanya Ndukwe, Jr.

“Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”
~East African proverb

The African narrative has been subjected to a linear perspective that is induced by the ulterior motives and racist undertones of the Western media. The complaint has eternally become almost mute: “why do they report negative news about us always?” To which the usual reply came back to the effect of “If you do not want them telling lies on you, tell your own stories.” So, the bastardisation remained while our image and overall perception—to the West and the world at large—plunged even deeper into the abyss of international irrelevance.

Perhaps on this premise, one can understand the joy I felt at the news release by blogger and social media entrepreneur, Linda Ikeji to launch the online version of her TV Channel less than a week from today.

In the official announcement of the proposed “Linda Ikeji TV” launch, Linda mentioned that she hopes the TV Channel would become “To Africa what Netflix is to the world.”
To put into proper context, the giant American streaming company’s market value as at January, 2018 was $110 billion. Comparatively, that makes it wealthier than Time Warner (surpassed since 2017), CBC, McDonald’s, Viacom, Sony etc. Measuring Netflix’s market share, it was reported that in the past year alone, shares went up more than 64 percent. This figure is mind-blowing especially when juxtaposed with the financial muscle of the United States’ entertainment industry, or its human capital venture vis-à-vis socioeconomic and financial competitions amid the somewhat overcrowded market.

Content creation has been the major driving force of this “sudden” economic might and the company understands this. Netflix CEO and cofounder, Reed Hastings announced that spending on content would skyrocket, even higher in 2019 and 2020, as the company has earmarked about $7.5 billion to $8 billion on content for 2018 alone. While it has been the major reason for their large amount of debt, the company’s hierarchy believes that the development of original content, and charge to subscribers however will always pacify the worries. I agree.

With the creation of content—original contents, I must emphasize—have come unprecedented financial gains. Netflix generated $11.69 billion in annual revenue for 2017 and is expected to make up to $15 billion this year. Their aggressive reflection through award nominations and wins have held up the model too.

All these have loosely been made possible due to the number of streaming subscribers on its platform. According to data gathering site, based on “statistics from more than 22,500 sources,” “Statista,” in its 2018 report noted that from the mid quarter of 2011 to the first quarter of 2018, the number of Netflix streaming subscribers worldwide has grown to 125 million!

So, bringing the discussion home, with Linda’s aim to make her TV Channel “what Netflix is to the world,” that’s one hell of an audacious statement, and arguably, perhaps with merit still, a very tall order. In retrospect—based on the African continent’s stratospheric populace—this looks like a piece of pie if the “streaming business” as widely anticipated, buys into the programmes to be aired on the Linda Ikeji TV Channel particularly with South African broadcast giant, DSTV being part of the enterprise.

Netflix, according to “Statista” has approximately 5.5 thousand employees. The potential reach of Linda’s TV could be massive in this regard, creating jobs and empowering locals within the context of the much-vaunted lack of jobs in Nigeria, and by extension, Africa.

Again, considering how Linda has been the pacesetting revolutionary for social interaction—and dissemination—bringing millions of active followers, readers, and even idle, passive consumers to her media contents and platforms, while making her the richest and most influential blogger in Africa today, nothing seems impossible to this amazing, strong-willed, visionary woman.

With the news came massive positive raves, underlining how important and timely—maybe, a bit late if the years of western indoctrination, single point narrative, and unbridled racial biases are considered—Linda’s TV Channel launch is to the African narrative as a direct counterpoint to the West’s. Its purpose and potential reach are to be lauded. For those who may not comprehend fully the importance of this achievement, imagine how many times you have been subjected to the bias of western news reportage, unapologetically, even with clearly skewed statistics all employed to suit the western narrative in the deplorable creation and/or shaping of negative perception and image for Africa or African-related news stories. Imagine what it would mean to no longer be exposed to the poisonous indoctrinations from “BBC,” “Aljazeera” or “CNN” just to know what is happening in neighbouring African nations, or even within.

For the first time in a long time, with the latest 21st century trend of infotainment—a marriage of information and entertainment—Linda sets the bar higher than anyone else in Africa. Her announcement to take her social media reach across borders, inspires so much hope and faith and belief in the new ways we could tell our stories from “an unapologetically African perspective,” as Professor Okey Ndibe notes in his classic memoir “Never Look an American in the Eye: Flying Turtles, Colonial Ghosts, and the Making of a Nigerian American.”

Obviously, the biggest drive to the Linda Ikeji TV Channel would be the quality of content which must be fashioned to resonate with the target audience—the African public in this case. With such creative contents from brilliant minds like AMAA-nominated filmmaker and writer, Onyeka Nwelue’s “The Onyeka Nwelue Show” which according to him is “all about everything,” speaks volumes. Episodes have already been shot with renowned personalities like Professor Wole Soyinka, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., 2017 Nigeria Prize for literature winner, Ikeogu Oke, Toni Kan, amongst others, one can only clasp hands in anticipation of the heights to be attained.

There is, in fact, almost no limit to how high Linda can soar with this latest achievement.

Maybe I’m being my optimistic self as usual, thinking too much of the original contents that could be plugged into the mainstream TV channel. But I can only imagine the limitless possibilities of what Linda Ikeji has and can do with her TV.

This is great news. Not just for Linda, but for Africa. As the leader of the self-acclaimed “free world” would note: This is Yuuge!

This is everything Africa needs—well, partly, but majorly to tell our story!

Thank you Linda Ikeji for the gift of your creative mind and the audacity to bring these ideas to fruition.

You’re a Melanin Goddess🖤

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