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DStv to launch Easter Weekend pop-up channel

Posted by radio On April - 5 - 2020 ADD COMMENTS

In response to a rallying call from the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies to assist the religious sector, DStv has decided to launch a new, pop up channel catering for various Christianity groupings that is set to launch on 9 April 2020 with rich content aimed at viewers who are home over the Easter weekend.

The channel, named African Easter Channel, is in collaboration with the renowned TBN Africa, DStv Channel 343. Across South Africa, over 80% worshippers observe and celebrate the Easter period, hence different and various Christian denominations be will be looked after by the channel.

 

Minister Stella Ndabeni- Abrahams made the call for MultiChoice Group to setup a dedicated pop-up channel for various religious groups in the country during this Easter Weekend.

 

The current restrictions due to the global pandemic, COVID-19, will see South Africans staying at home during the Easter Weekend. Accordingly, African Easter Channel’s offering of music and sermons is bound to keep DStv viewers engaged and fulfilled during the four days of the channel going live. The channel will broadcast until Easter Monday, 13 April.

 

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday, 23 March 2020 announced various measures to curb the further spread of the COVID-19 virus, welcomingly, the religious sector have heeded the call by the President. The channel further enhances the positive response received from the religious sector.

 

 

Calvo Mawela, MultiChoice Group CEO, said: “We are happy to have immediately responded to the minister’s call to assist millions of South African worshippers who regard Easter as a pivotal period of worship. As a responsible broadcaster, we are more than happy to partner with the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies as we afford worshippers to observe Easter from the comfort of their homes.”

 

 

Popular gospel artists such as Lebo Sekgobela, Dr. Tumi, Hillsong, William McDowell and Rebecca Malope will feature prominently in the channel. The channel’s schedule will also include churches such as Methodist, Anglican and Catholic. In adhering to the national lockdown requirements, the recorded messages submitted by the churches will be broadcast on the channel.

 

 

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies welcomed this intervention and said: “Communications and digital technologies will play an important role during this disaster period and beyond. We therefore appreciate MultiChoice’s response to our call for an industry-wide intervention to ensure that religious programming, especially over the Easter weekend, is produced and accessible to millions of South Africans utilising alternative means.”

 

 

Lucky Mbiko, Managing Director of TBN Africa said: “We have responded to this call by partnering with churches, and some of the biggest gospel artists to bring you the best Easter worship experience to as many viewers as possible. Join us on the African Easter channel 343 on DStv for four days during the Easter Weekend.”

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SA Radio Awards 2020 to be announced online

Posted by radio On March - 31 - 2020 ADD COMMENTS

In light of the Government’s declared state of disaster and the collective national efforts to combat the spread of Coronavirus COVID-19 by prohibiting events where more than 100 people are gathered,  it is important that we share the change of format for announcing the winners of The Radio Awards 2020.

 

The Radio Awards gala dinner which was initially scheduled to take place in Sandton on 18 April 2020 has been replaced with an online winners announcement to be aired via digital channels on Friday, 17 April 2020 at 14h00. Further information regarding access to the announcement will be shared in due course.

 

 

While it’s unfortunate that it will not be possible to celebrate the success of local radio talent in person, we thank you for your understanding, and for playing your part in keeping the health of our fellow citizens top priority.

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New additions to Motsweding 2020 line-up changes

Posted by radio On March - 31 - 2020 ADD COMMENTS

Motsweding FM management continues to re-evaluate the brand’s offering to put Motsweding FM in a better spot to be more relevant to the station’s audience and clients. Underscoring the need to stay relevant, competitive and to reflect the multifaceted interests of all generations, Motsweding FM will be refreshing its weekday and weekend line-up from 01 April 2020. The new line –up necessitates stronger emphasis on cultural values, identity, preserving and development of Setswana language.

New additions to the Motsweding FM line-up include Tlotlo Mooeketsi popularly known as ‘Vrrphaaa’ will be joining the weekend party time team. ‘Phaphama’ will air between 00h00 to 03h00 Monday-Friday and the show will interchange between Samuel Rankoana, Lawrence ‘LLK’ Kuntwane and Papa Moalusi followed by the much anticipated ‘Motsogapele’ to be presented by Mokupi ‘MKP’ Molebatsi will also present Monday-Friday early morning show ‘Motsogapele’ between 03h00 to 06h00.

 

Amon Mokoena and Tumi Morake will continue to host the much entertaining breakfast show, ‘DiRage’ as it gave the station a pacey fresh new feels. After requests from the public this show will be extended with an hour and will now air between 07h00 – 10h00. Molebogeng Mokgatlha will continue to present the mid-morning show ‘Resemeletse’ that will start at 10h00 to 13h00 and Felix ‘Da Cat’ Nhlapo will deliver the midday show ‘Oketsa’ between 13h00
and 15h00 and will continue to be produced by the seasoned Presenter/producer ‘Jdsol’.

 

 

The vibrant, energetic, and listeners proclaimed wonder of Radio Lucas ‘LTK’ Komanisi will be joined by the multi-talented Motsoaledi ‘Mo’ Setumo to rock your airwaves between 15h00 to 18h00 ‘Gotetsa Mosha’ Monday-Friday.
Other key developments include the addition of Rev Matebesi and Rev Phiri to the religion shows. The religious programme for Thursday Nights between 20h00 to 00h00 will no longer interchange, the show will permanently be presented by ‘Modisane Modise’, with ‘Pastor Motsamai’ and ‘Rev. Phiri’ to do the sermons on the show.  The young and energetic Ikanyeng Modubu will team up with Dj Big Boy for the ‘Rap Saga’ on Fridays at 20h00 to 22h00 and ‘Tomaeza’ will team up with DJ Big Boy for the new show ‘Re Mmino’. ‘Ke Mo Teng’ can now be enjoyed on Saturdays between 21h00 to 24h00,

 

Brown Mosiapoa and Rev. Tube will be joined by Rev. Matebesi on the earlier Sunday slot 06h00 to 09h00, followed by a new Soul & RnB show ‘Kgolagano’ to be presented by Mokopi Molebatsi between 09h00 to 12h00. ‘Seboloke’ drama omnibus will now air between 12h00 to 13h00 with Choral music show moving to 14h00 to 15h00 to be presented by Molebogeng Mokgatlha.

 

‘Motswedi Wa Jazz’ presented by the Big Sly will now start at 18h00 to 20h00 to be followed by the new religious show ‘Tsosoloso’ to be presented by Brown Mosiapoa and Rev.Tube to do the sermon on the show between 20h00 to 21h00. Thomas Perez will now present night soul show ‘Sepelong’ between 21h00 to 00h00. The Acting Station Manager Mr. Sibusiso Gumbi stated that, “It’s our responsibility as team Motsweding FM to reinvent the way people listen to the radio, to disrupt traditional thinking and to look for the new ways in which to grow audiences while instilling appreciation of the beauty of Setswana culture and language.

 

The station will build on the latest listenership increase that was influenced by changes made by the station at the beginning of April 2019. Breakfast show also reached a record of 956 000 listeners in its first 10 months. The changes also reflect our commitment to grow the station to its full potential”.

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New Metro FM line-up announced

Posted by radio On March - 31 - 2020 ADD COMMENTS

To retain its position as the coolest radio station in the country, METRO FM, which is one of the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC) Public Broadcasting Commercial (PBC) radio stations, will continue to focus on ensuring delivery of quality and cutting-edge content and services. Based on the 2019 successes, that saw the station delivering its highest audience figures in four (4) years, the station plans to maintain the current line-up with a few minor additions.

‘The Morning Flava’, hosted by Mo Flava (Moeti Tsiki) and the MOP team, will continue to set the daily scene weekdays between 05:00 and 09:00. The show is followed by ‘The Bridge’ with Dineo Ranaka, Lerato Kganyago and Somizi Mhlongo-Motaung from 09:00 to 12:00. Lunch is still served with Thomas and Pearl between 12:00 and 15:00. ‘The Kings Suite’ sees a new addition in Lindi Sirame, who is no stranger to drive-time radio. Lindi, who is currently with Newsroom Afrika brings a wealth of knowledge and sassiness to the show.

 

 

The station further introduces two developmental slots aimed at setting up new and young talent for the future at METRO FM. These are new weekend programmes from 02:00 -04:00 (The Lift) and 04:00 – 06:00 (Club with Mat Elle), hosted by Rorisang Thandekiso and Nthabeleng Matela respectively.

 

Rorisang is a well-known TV personality, content producer, speaker and singer who was first introduced to the South African entertainment industry when she joined YoTV. Nthabeleng Matele joins METRO FM from hosting the afternoon drive show on Tuks FM.

 

Metro FM Station Manager, Ms Sibongile Mtyali said, “We are ecstatic to welcome the new editions to the METRO FM Family. They each bring their individuality and unique skills to the brand. This move is in line with our commitment of growing and grooming radio talent as we consciously prepare METRO
FM’s next generation of broadcasters”.

Lootlove (Luthando Shosha) joins the weekend breakfast, ‘THE WKNDR’ with MoG (Mpho Madise), leaving DJ Speedsta (Lesego Nkayiseng) to host the now two hour long show, ‘Absolute Hip-Hop’ by himself. Another WKNDR edition is Chante Jantjies, currently a news anchor on SABC TV. She will bring a news and current affairs flair to the show.

 

Due to popular demand, ‘Cruise Control’ gains an additional hour, extending the show from 13:00 – 16:00. It will be followed by ‘I Believe’ with Oskido (Oscar Mdlongwa) airing from 16:00-19:00. The Sunday love movement continues to reign supreme from 09:00 to 21:00 following the ‘Sacred Space’ with Thami Ngubeni and Khaya Mthethwa, closing the week with the ‘Urban Jazz Experience’ with Nothemba Madumo.

 

 

 

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Pilani Bubu preserves culture through song!

Posted by radio On March - 28 - 2020 ADD COMMENTS

Singer, Songwriter, TV Presenter, Independent Artist and Creative Lifestyle Activist, Pilani Bubu is a multifarious artist who has independently released three remarkably produced albums titled Journey of the HeartWarrior of Light and the latest offering and newly launched Folklore: Chapter 1 with radio singles such as Boom Che and Baile.

 

Definition: Folklore: The expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people, inclusive the traditional beliefs, customs, and stories of a community, passed through the generations by word of mouth through tales, sayings, dances proverbs, jokes and art forms preserved among a group of people.

 

A visionary at heart, Pilani’s unique sound is deeply rooted in insightful, artistic and traditional storytelling that finds delight in challenging the audiences that engage with her music, to establish a connection that evokes expressing their true being in whatever inspires them at any given time while also appreciating the alluring foothills and distinct tales of Africa that make us unique people. Her vibrant and unlikely expression of art is a clear indication of her multifaceted way of thinking and how she crosses various disciplines.

Pilani has performed at various festivals in and out of South Africa including places such as New Orleans, Romania, Ghana, Mozambique, London and of course South Africa.

 

“Generations of African history is undocumented or destroyed, the preservation of our culture and beliefs is an important asset, as we define and redefine our own identity. Through the technology of music and art, we find ways to capture what is left of our folklore and re-imagine the Africa we want to be. In this project I want to celebrate and treasure traditional folk music in my own way.  Giving it a more contemporary setting. Giving it new meaning. Giving it more context.”  – says Pilani Bubu

 

Pilani Bubu’s music is available on all digital platforms

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SIMFY Africa (www.SIMFYAfrica.com) via its mobile applications namely “ayoba®” and “MusicTime®” are joining the community effort to inform and provide comfort to its users around Covid-19.

 

Ayoba® an instant messaging app with channels has now 3 dedicated channels providing trusted information on the COVID-19. Mainly sourced from the World Health Organisation (WHO), the information aims at informing ayoba® users about the pandemic, tips and advice in line with global and local regulations. Content is posted every day in both English and French on 3 channels including a dedicated channel for South Africa providing the latest on the pandemic.

Launched in May 2019, ayoba® has now over 2,500,000 active users and is moving toward being the first super-app for Africa. Soon to be integrating services such as Mobile Money, music and app-in-app solutions, ayoba® is surely making a difference in the landscape of applications in Africa and beyond.

Ayoba® is partnering with MTN in 14 countries and in the majority of its operations the application offers MTN subscribers subsidized data to access the messaging service and channels for free.

Announced o Friday, 20 March, MTN South Africa has launched the ayoba® Data Lifeline and every MTN South Africa customer will wake up each morning to a free 20MB ayoba® Data Lifeline, that will be available to use via the app.

MTN believes that everyone deserves the benefit of a modern connected life and that starts with connectivity. The 20MB ayoba® Data Lifeline will ensure MTN South Africa customers are able to communicate with friends and family, every day, even when they are out of airtime. This is the equivalent of 600MB of free data per month, every month,” says Godfrey Motsa, MTN SA CEO.

 

MusicTime® the music streaming app of SIMFY Africa has created a series of unique playlists under the name “QuaranTime”. Users of the app now have access to 14 playlists “@home” offering the community the much needed entertainment during the isolation declared in many countries around the African continent. MusicTime® is available in South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Zambia and Cameroon.  MusicTime offers a trial period of 60 minutes to allow users to explore the platform with no data or music costs.

 

 

Speaking on the release of the COVID-19 informative channels, Olivier Prentout, Head of Consumer for SIMFY Africa, said “We felt it was very important to inform our users about the pandemic and to provide trusted information as there is a lot of fake news circulating everywhere. We are ensuring that every piece of content is checked against the World Health Organisation and other reputable organisations. We also know that it is a difficult time for many of us and providing various playlists on our music streaming application will surely help everyone to cope with the needed isolation required to eradicate the pandemic”.

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For many South Africans, it’s easy to imagine a setting where two different worlds exist side by side, and it is almost normal for one family to live lavishly while the other is barely able to make ends meet.

 

What is a bit more challenging to imagine however, is when an unfortunate series of events causes both families to collide in the most thrilling way – revealing a complex story of romance, social inequalities and prejudices. This is the very premise of Mzansi Magic’s fascinating new telenovela, Gomora.

 

 

For those in the know, Gomora is also the nickname of the famous and beloved Johannesburg Kasi, Alexandra. The hustle and bustle of the township and its colourful flavour is the vibrant home of the series, which explores the disparity between lower and upper-class members of our country, with the contrast between the two worlds brought to life through one of the most innovative filming styles.

 

 

“Our customers are in for a real treat with Gomora,” says Nomsa Philiso, Channel Director at Mzansi Magic. “It is a refreshing new series that narrates a riveting homegrown story and features a rich tapestry of strong female characters.”

This juicy new riches-to-rags telenovela premieres on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) Monday, 30 March at 19:30.

 

 

Present meets past

Some of us are crawling along on the struggle bus, watching as the lucky few speed down life’s highway in their luxury cars. In a divided South Africa, the line between those two lives couldn’t be thinner than on the border between posh, swishy Sandton and the crowded, hard-working neighbouring township of Alexandra.

 

 

In this gilded life of snakes and ladders, a roll of the dice could see you plunging back into poverty, no matter whether you skipped up a ladder to riches and never looked back, or you’re painstakingly climbing your way from nothing, one block at a time. On the day of the fall, what matters is who you are, not what you have.

 

 

The star-studded cast of Gomora brings this brilliantly true-to-life texture to the series. Katlego Danke plays the role of Thathi, a spoiled princess who’s taken handouts her whole life…but that’s not all there is to her. Also leading in this well-made production are industry heavyweights like Connie Chiume, Themba Ndaba, Thembi Seete and Zolisa Xaluva among many others.

Home again

The series starts with trophy wife Thathi’s posh Sandton life being stripped away in an instant. And it leaves her with nowhere to turn but her past. This means returning to a life she was so desperate to escape that she’s never looked back. With no money and no job, Thathi is forced to pull her teenaged kids out of their private schools and enrol them in a public school in Alexandra.

 

 

And they’d better get ready for their new home with Thathi’s mom, Mam’Sonto (Connie Chiume) – a woman whose strict standards and grandmotherly care for her family mask her true nature as the local queen of crime.

Nice and poor?

Thandi’s catastrophe also catapults her right back into the life of a man she used, betrayed and shattered. Her ex-love Mondli Dlamini (Zolisa Xaluva) is now a school principal married to upright, street-smart social worker Gladys (Thembi Seete). But while the Dlaminis are poster-perfect examples of community conscious South Africa, they might not be the ideal parents they believe themselves to be. Their quest to take care of the whole world has left them heaping a lot more pressure than praise and affection on their teenaged son. As a result, he’s secretly letting off steam and living for kicks with his local gangster friends – lead by glamorous, dangerous MaZet (Siphesihle Ndaba), one of Mam’Sonto’s thugs. It all comes full circle.

 

 

Get into it!

All this drama barely scratches the surface of Gomora’s twisty Telenovella action, where everything is connected. It’s a world of paternity secrets, bitter sisters, gangs, tragic, lost love and consequences of choices that you can never take back.

But above all, we’ll be tuning in to watch those Sandton fish out of water as they get to grips with the costs, complexities and compromises involved in being poor. If you loved the contrast between lifestyles in drama series like Housekeepers (2019) Gomora will bring that home with even more intensity – and just as much secrecy and scandal.

Loco for local

Since 2018 DStv has invested over R2.5 billion in local movies and series. In 2020 the platform will be increasing its number of hours of local content by 12% – a strategy that continues to reap rewards as viewers take a “local is lekker” stance. And the proof is in the numbers. In January 2020, DStv’s top 10 shows by ratings were dominated by local sport, local reality and local soap. Give us a mirror of who we are right now in South Africa, and we can’t look away.

Gomora starts on Monday, 30 March on Mzansi Magic (161) at 19:30

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Digital Transformation in Africa

Posted by radio On March - 16 - 2020 ADD COMMENTS

IDC defines Digital Transformation (DX) as applying new technologies to radically change processes, customer experience, and value. It allows organisations to support innovation and digital disruption rather than enhancing existing technologies and models.   At the core of digital transformation is what IDC calls the third platform which comprises four pillars; cloud, big data/analytics, social media, and mobility, with all these allowing enterprises to digitally transform in various areas such as new customer contact channels, product innovation, market segmentation among other areas. Further, these four pillars support various innovation accelerators that include; NextGen security, IoT, AR/VR. Cognitive systems, robotics, and 3D printing.

However, there are various challenges organisations currently face when thinking about digital transformation which include; skills, silos, defining roadmaps in an environment that is ever-changing while trying to keep up with daily business pressures and defining what KPIs best show how DX is delivering business objectives.

SSA ICT market

The total -sub-Saharan ICT Market is expected to grow from US$ 95.4 billion in 2020 to reach US$ 104.2 billion by 2023, a CAGR of 4.5% for that period.   Out of this, South African spending will grow from US$ 29.3 billion in 2020 to reach US$ 33.0 billion by 2023 while Nigeria will grow from US$ 10.0 billion to US$ 11.3 billion in the same period.  Kenya’s ICT market will grow from US$ 4.4 billion to US$ 4.8 billion for the same period.

 

According to IDC’s sub-Saharan Africa CIO Survey 2019, third platform technologies (cloud, big data, mobility, and social media – see chart below) are among key investment priority areas for 2020 and, in the periphery are other technology investment that support the third platform or innovation accelerators including disaster response/business continuity, advanced security, enterprise applications, analytics and hosting.

Among the emerging areas of DX in SSA include the following:

  • Financial services – using mobile and social media as new customer contact channels, customer segmentation through analytics, anticipating future banking needs with AI and analytics, fraud detection using AI among other areas.

  • Manufacturing (automated sales processing, analytics/BI, IoT for supply chains,)

  • Government (use of AI for citizen service delivery, mobility (mobile applications hosted in the cloud, service innovation).

  • Telecommunications – use of big data and analytics to segment customers, predict churn, innovate on products, enhance services, lower costs and robotic process automation.

  • Retail – analytics to measure customer loyalty, eCommerce disruption, in-store experience (digital signage, AR/VR), Operational rationalization – IoT, blockchain, AI.

  • Healthcare – Integrated patient records, Patient analytics, “Zero waiting time”, remote doctor on-demand, telemedicine, Intelligent Automation in core areas

 

Four Pillars for Digital Transformation Success in Africa

Over the last 20 years many new technologies have been implemented in the African region – some with resounding success – think the mPesa payment platform, while others have floundered and died.  IDC has noted four common success factors that are not negotiable in the region – we call this the RASA filter.

 

Relevance

The African region has unique operating environment characteristics ranging from diverse consumer preferences to specific line of business expectations.  If a solution is promoted purely based on technological attributes such as speeds and feeds and ignores the direct impact that the application of the solution will have on the ultimate user, then it is bound to stutter.  The relevance of the solution must map exactly to a business outcome such as increased customer satisfaction, higher production output, or improved sales volumes.  The question to ask is “How does this solution immeasurably improve what aspect of the business?”

 

Affordability

Cost is an inevitable aspect of any technology implementation and more so in the African context.  Local currency values fluctuate wildly and buying power versus stable international currencies is typically weak while pricing is denominated in these currencies.  In many cases the technology is desired and will make a significant impact on the business yet is not affordable when measured against returns expected.

 

Security

As the variety and complexity of technology increases so too does the security threat surface available for malicious exploitation.  Africa is well connected to the global ecosystem in terms of finance, banking and commerce so cyber and physical security threats originating internationally and, more importantly, locally, must be considered whenever a new technology is implemented.

 

Accessibility

While much has been made of the significant improvements in global connectivity via undersea and satellite communications around Africa in the last 10 years there are notable gaps in terrestrial access across the continent, especially in rural and semi-rural areas.  Affordable connectivity via reliable, high-speed fibre is typically limited to urban or metropolitan areas while rural connectivity remains expensive and inconsistent.

 

IDC suggests that by applying these four, simple common-sense filters at the outset of any digital transformation project much frustration is prevented and will help African CIOs and IT strategists to identify and overcome challenges before they occur.

 

 

[Issued by: IDC]

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MusicTime®, the world’s first time based music streaming application has revealed its new corporate identity. The logo was revealed this week via social media, following months of research and testing, and has already found favour across the market.

 

MusicTime® was first launched in South Africa in December 2018 and it is now officially live in six African countries namely South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia, Cameroon and eSwatini.

With over 500,000 downloads already, MusicTime® has already proven that a unique, legal and affordable music streaming experience is in the rise in Africa.

 

 

MusicTime®’s vision is to become the music streaming app of choice for the youth and early adopters in Africa and the world, with affordable and flexible plans; as well as to be the best and recommended platform for local artists in the market.

 

 

No bill shock
MusicTime® has a totally unique offering, that replicates the consumer behaviour of airtime. Users can buy a weekly pack, that gives 2 or 5 hours access to music, over the seven day period. Their continent-wide partnership with MTN means that the data is pre-packaged with the music, so users can listen to their favourite artists with no fear of running out of data. MusicTime® offers a 60 minute free trial to all users. Payment is done via convenient airtime billing.

 

 

Local first, but international too!
MusicTime® has one of the largest catalogues on the continent, offering more than 40 million songs. Label partners and licensing deals include Content Connect Africa, Africori, DMCE and more. MusicTime® also has the major international labels such as Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group, rounding out a rich catalogue.

 

 

Miss Oyinkasola Fawehinmi, the CEO of DMCE, an Intellectual property administration and valuation company based in Nigeria, Ghana and Tanzania said, “The MusicTime® pricing model is innovative and it provides a zero data music consumption offering which is easier to access for users through airtime billing. DMCE and its rights holders are excited about the prospect of this model and believe that it will be mutually beneficial solution for all stakeholders in the local music scene.” She further went ahead to say “We love working with MusicTime® as it is positioned to provide African artists with a platform that allows them accelerate their careers and reach new audiences. We are certain that this new brand refresh will help further with their positioning”.

 

 

Mr Yoel Kenan. CEO of Africori, a leading content distributor and aggregator focused on the African Market also added “MusicTime® integrated offering to users is set to challenge music consumption patterns to mainstream audiences across Africa by offering new opportunities to local artists to reach new fans locally and across the continent. We are looking forward to working with MusicTime® as a key partner in generating revenues and promotional opportunities to our clients as leading African artists and labels”.

 

 

Expansion to other markets in Africa and the Middle East is a priority for 2020 and the services will be made available in a further four countries by the end of the year.

 

 

Speaking on the MusicTime® rebranding, the CEO of SIMFY Africa, David Gillaranz said “We are delighted to introduce our new brand to our users. This goes alongside with our vision to provide an affordable and legal music streaming services in Africa and beyond. Our proposition is unique and truly provide everyone the ability to access millions of songs and playlist focussing largely on local music.

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Based on Malorie Blackman’s award-winning novels
• No. 1 show across all channels when it premiered on 5 March 2020 in Britain
• Largely shot in South Africa, with SA’s Masali Baduza in the lead role
• Also starring BAFTA winner Jack Rowan (Born to Kill, Peaky Blinders)
• 82% critics rating, Rotten Tomatoes

“Over 700 years ago, the Aprican Empire invaded Europe. Aprica colonised the continent and reached as far as Albion. Albion has been under Aprican rule ever since.”

So begins Noughts + Crosses, a controversial six-part BBC One series that has just started screening on Showmax and M-Net, with new episodes every Thursday night from 23:30.

 

South African Masali Baduza (Trackers) and BAFTA winner Jack Rowan (Born To Kill, Peaky Blinders) play Sephy and Callum, two star-crossed lovers in the tradition of Romeo and Juliet. Sephy is the privileged daughter of the Home Secretary, Kamal Hadley, while Callum’s mother, Meggie, is the Hadleys’ housekeeper. While Sephy and Callum grew up together, they may as well have lived in different worlds.

 

Shot largely in Cape Town, the series also stars Paterson Joseph (Peep Show, The Leftovers) and South African actress Bonnie Mbuli (Invictus, Wallander) as Sephy’s parents, Kamal and Jasmine, with BAFTA nominee Helen Baxendale (Cold Feet, Emily in Friends) and Tribeca winner Ian Hart (Professor Quirrell in Harry Potter) as Callum’s parents, as well as Josh Dylan (Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, The End of the F***ing World) as his brother Jude.

 

The alternate reality love story is based on the multi-award-winning 2001 novel by former Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman, which was included in both BBC’s list of the 100 Novels That Shaped The World and in The Guardian’s 100 Best Books of the 21st Century. Grime superstar Stormzy, who has a cameo in the series as newspaper editor Kolawale, calls the five-book series “my favourite books of all time.”
“What I wanted to do was have the black people in my story not as victims, but celebrating their own culture,” says Blackman. “I remember the first time I wore an afro at school, I was sent out of the class for being a troublemaker. It was this thing of black people being penalised for wearing our own natural hair. The celebration of African culture in myriad forms gives a different sensibility to what has been on TV before.”

“Prior to reading Malorie’s books, I had never heard of a world that existed where Africans were the ruling class,” says Baduza. “It was unique and it made me feel warm inside, to imagine a world where this could be a possibility.”

 

“As a black African, I have never seen a television show that showcased our being or our ways, in a way that was given a place and was acceptable, until now,” says Mbuli. “It is quite a feeling to walk onto set and feel seen as a person, and feel like your hair and the way you wear it, or the way the people in your world wear their clothes or what they hold dear, is suddenly important and is being given a platform. It is shocking.

“Then you realise that you have spent your whole life without it, that you have never switched on a TV and seen that. That too is shocking. I sometimes walked onto set and started weeping.”

Visionary short film director Kibwe Tavares (Jonah, Robots of Brixton, Robot & Scarecrow) executive produced the series and steered the creation of its Afrocentric world, where everything has been rethought, from the language to the architecture, from beauty norms to the colour of plasters.

 

 

In one powerful scene, Callum cuts his finger and Sephy gets him a plaster, which is too dark for his skin. For context, South Africa has only had ‘skin tone’ plasters for black people since 2015, while in the UK, Tesco has just this year released multi tone plasters – and claims to be the first supermarket there to do so.

 

 

“There are so many small moments that a lot of people wouldn’t think about, like the fact that flesh coloured plasters are not the flesh colour of anyone but white people,” says Joseph. “It is an insidious, tiny, incremental knock to you as a citizen of any country to be told what normal is in those casual ways… Working on this drama has exercised all of our minds and made us super aware of everything.”

 

 

Noughts + Crosses was the number-one show across all channels when it premiered on 5 March 2020 in Britain. The series has a 82% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with The Guardian hailing it as “vital viewing”, The Telegraph as a “must-see”, NME as “must-watch TV”, RadioTimes as “a series on the cusp of greatness”,  and The Evening Standard as “properly incendiary.”

 

Of course, the glowing reviews weren’t universal: The Independent predicted “this race reversal drama will induce hernias in right wing commentators” – and they weren’t wrong. Trolls took to Twitter to denounce it as “deeply racist”, “anti-white tripe” and “race-baiting.”

 

Blackman was having none of it. “Btw, to those accusing me of being anti-white or stating I must hate white people to create such a story as Noughts and Crosses, I’m not even going to dignify your absurd nonsense with a response,” she tweeted. “Go take a seat waaaay over there in the cold, dark and bitter haters’ corner.”

 

Noughts + Crosses was shot in South Africa with mostly local crew, including award-winning cinematographers Jamie Ramsay and Giulio Biccari, Emmy-nominated casting director Christa Schamberger, costume designer Dihantus Engelbrecht, hair and makeup designer Nadine Prigge, and production designer Shane Bunce.

 

The African links don’t stop there either – Screen International 2018 Star of Tomorrow Koby Adom, born in the Ivory Coast and raised in Ghana, is one of the two directors, while the soundtrack includes Ghana’s Kiki Gyan and Ebo Taylor; Mali’s Salif Keita; and South African artists Bongeziwe Mabandla, Mlindo The Vocalist, and Umlilo.

As Stormzy put it on Twitter, “This is 100% groundbreaking… I haven’t seen nothing like it on British telly ever.”

Watch the trailer:
https://youtu.be/t0B0YUUuzQQ

 

Watch Noughts + Crosses on Showmax:
https://www.showmax.com/eng/tvseries/x8iovqoe-noughts-crosses

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