Speech at the US Consulate in Lagos: Nollywood Portraits by Osahon Akpata

Osahon Akpata

Osahon Akpata, an African business evangelist, is passionate about executing winning strategies for businesses on the continent and sharing their success stories globally. His blend of professional experience in financial services, healthcare, and management consulting in the US and across Africa has given him a pragmatic and international approach toward overcoming challenges.

Professional achievements aside, Osahon is also involved in numerous passion projects. Most recently, Osahon was the project director of Nollywood Portraits - a book presenting a selection of photographic portraits by Iké Udé depicting some of the major Nigerian actors and actresses, television presenters, directors, and producers.

The cinema of Nigeria is often referred to as Nollywood, a term coined in the mid-1990s to describe Nigeria’s vibrant, film industry consisting of movies produced in the country but watched all over Africa and largely by Africans in the diaspora.

“I am the project director for Nollywood Portraits, which is an exhibition, a coffee table book, and documentary film, a three-part project, by Iké Udé who is a renowned African-American artist. I was introduced to Iké in 2014 by a mutual acquaintance. He had been talking about doing this project for a few years. He first mentioned this project in a magazine interview in 2008. When I met him he had already done portraits of renowned people in the United States, such as Isabella Rossellini and Rihanna. However, he had never done anything for Africans. He uses this art practice to investigate subjects of race, gender, identity, and African diasporic representation — he wanted to extend this for people who are African. He said he wanted to do at least 50 portraits, which is a monumental project.

“A few months after we were introduced, he was in Lagos, after years of not being here. This showed me how serious he was about doing this exhibition and creating this body of work. He showed me the portraits, after which we recorded a documentary film, which is currently on the film festival circuit. The exhibition has been shown in a few different places, it travels next to the Smithsonian Museum of African Art in Washington D.C. — it is going to be huge.

“The reason he wanted to do this project was that he wanted to take these images — these elegant, classic images of notable personalities, to the highest art and cultural institutions in the world. This project was to make a statement.”

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