A Wonderful Award from Sheffield University

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University of Sheffield Distinguished Alumni 2016 – me!

Humbled  – and extremely honoured – to be the recipient of the 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Sheffield.

It was very moving going back to my old campus this week for the award ceremony, which took place in the  very same hall I originally graduated from many (many) moons ago!

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The Professor Robert Boucher Distinguished Alumni Award

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The Professor Robert Boucher Distinguished Alumni Award is awarded to former students as an acknowledgement from their University of their achievements and success.

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Sheffield is a member of the Russell Group of leading UK research universities. Its outstanding performance for excellent teaching and research, as part of a genuinely global community, is consistently confirmed by international independent assessments. 

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Firth Court

 

My sincere thanks to the Award Committee for this amazing compliment in selecting me for this prestigious award. Huge thanks, also, to the Alumni Office (especially Claire Rundstrom, Head of Alumni Relations) for the wonderful hospitality I enjoyed on the day.

It was a  beautiful experience, and brought back many fond memories. Studying English Literature was the foundation of my writing life and, even through it was during the 1980s, we even had a professor who discussed all sorts of writing in English, not just that from England. So I had some access to exciting and diverse worlds of writing early on.

So I’m thrilled – and motivated. Much more to do! Thank you, University of Sheffield.

 

Dazzling Mirage London Premiere

Sold-out screening at the Ritzy Cinema, Brixton, at Dazzling Mirage’s long-awaited UK premiere on Saturday Nov 7th.

Part of Film Africa 2015!

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Director: Tunde Kelani Country: Nigeria Year: 2015 Running time: 124 mins Colour: Colour Language: English

An inspiring story of love, perseverance and hope in the face of adversity from one of Nollywood’s bright stars, Tunde Kelani. A talented young advertising executive is in the prime of life – she’s bright, her career is in overdrive, and she has a supportive and loving boyfriend. There’s just one problem: she suffers from sickle cell disease. Kelani’s film gets to the root of the stigma associated with this increasingly common illness, suggesting that it doesn’t have to define or restrict life. Written by Yinka Egbokhare and adapted by Ade Solanke, this powerful drama provides a much-needed platform for the sickle cell community.

See trailer here

Followed by a Q&A with the director Tunde Kelani.

Excellent post-show discussion which I joined TK for, along with Iyamide Thomas from the Sickle Cell Society.

ABOUT FILM AFRICA

Film Africa is the Royal African Society’s annual festival celebrating the best African cinema from across the continent. Launched in 2011, Film Africa is now the UK’s largest festival of African film and culture. Every year, Film Africa brings London audiences a core programme of fiction and documentary films alongside a vibrant series of accompanying events, including director Q&As, panel discussions, talks, workshops, master classes, family activities and Film Africa LIVE! music nights.

Find out more about the festival here

Dazzling Mirage Lagos Premiere

Missed this glittering affair, but the others all had a fantastic time on my behalf!

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Mainframe Productions premiered our movie on the 7th of November 2014 at Muson Centre Onikan, Lagos.

The cream of African film talent are featured in it, including Nollywood stars Kemi ‘Lala’ Akindoju, Kunle Afolayan, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, Bimbo Manuel, Carol King, Yomi Fash Lanso and Seun Akindele amongst others.

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This premiere was sponsored by Lagos state government, Still Earth Limited, Top Tea, Access Bank, and powered by Mainframe productions and Brooks & Blake.

Read all about the premiere here and see more pics here

Read all about the film here and see the trailer  here and clips here and here

For more information see Mainframe Movies website here

visit www.facebook.com/TundeKelaniMainframe

Another  (earlier) premiere …

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Dazzling Mirage also screened at the Australian Nollywood Festival Limited, based in Wellington, New Zealand, the first edition of a festival of Nollywood movies in New Zealand and Australia.

Australian Nollywood Festival (ANF) took place  in September and October, so the first premiere was actually in Australia! The Nigerian High Commission hosted a community reception to premiere Dazzling Mirage at Paramount Cinemas on Thursday, October 9, in Wellington and then in Auckland on Thursday, October 16, at Rialto Cinemas, Newmarket.

The festival featured post-screening forums at Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) and Auckland University of Technology (AUT). The forums were hosted by the Film Studies programme at VUW, African Communities Forum Inc as well as West Indian & Caribbean Society at AUT.

We’re featured in Africa Reconnect!

Playing It Right Print  
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ImageAward-winning playwright and script writer, Ade Solanke, has recently been dazzling audiences in the UK with her award-nominated debut play, ‘Pandora’s Box’.

Solanke has taught scriptwriting in London, Lagos and Los Angeles, and has also written radio scripts for the BBC.

A nominee for Best New Play 2012  for ‘Pandora's Box’ by the Off West End Theatre Awards, she is also the winner of the Best Playwright 2012, Nigerian Entertainment and Lifestyle Awards and winner of the Best Playwright 2011, African Film Awards. Her company, Spora Stories, tells the dynamic stories of the African diaspora.

ReConnect Africa spoke to Ade Solanke about her career and the influence of her Nigerian heritage on her work.

ReConnect Africa:(RCA)  Congratulations on the success of ‘Pandora’s Box’.  What inspired you to write the play?

Ade Solanke:  Thank you! I'm still on a high from the fantastic reception it's had. We were nominated for Best New Play in the Off West End Theatre Awards and Best Playwright in the Nigerian Entertainment and Lifestyle Awards. I keep pinching myself. People keep asking me, 'Ade, when is it coming back?' That's so nice of them.  It's a really nice feeling to know your work has touched people so deeply.

I think it's because the play is entertaining and it deals with an issue that's so close to peoples' hearts: helping diaspora children achieve their full potential. In fact, what inspired me to write the play was seeing so many friends struggle with that very issue, and seeing kids at risk in the UK transformed after a stint in Africa! What do they get there that they're not getting here? That's the question I asked myself, so I just designed the story around that situation, and made the main character a mother who gets cold feet about leaving her son behind in Nigeria.

 

RCA:  When did you realize that playwriting was an area in which you could excel?

Ade Solanke:  Well, again, thank you! I certainly aim for excellence and work hard at writing, so hopefully I'm getting there! But it's not work – it never is when you love what you're doing. I've always been a writer; I think it's what I'm born to do. I always knew I'd be a writer – I have an instinct for how arranging words can create specific effects.

My first job was as a journalist with Concord Weekly, a Nigerian newsmagazine published from London, then I started my own writing and research service and won an award as 'London's Top Youth Entrepreneur.' After that, I went to the University of Southern California Film and TV school and did an MFA in Screenwriting. The emphasis was on storytelling and connecting with the audience and that was the kind of work I wanted to make. It was a wonderful adventure overall.  I worked in Hollywood and got an insight into the African-American experience. Made some great friends too, so did my son. 

 

In fact, what inspired me to write the play was seeing so many friends struggle with that very issue, and seeing kids at risk in the UK transformed after a stint in Africa!  Read more here
 
 

Pandora’s Box in the news

Weekender: Kweku Fleming, 40-something businessman

‘My family aren’t certain about our African heritage, but when I first visited Ghana, I felt at home’
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Kweku Fleming: ‘Ghana is booming. So many people from the diaspora are returning.’ Photograph: Emily Stein for the Guardian

I’m carrying fliers on my head for a play at the Arcola Theatre in east London. It’s called Pandora’s Box and was written by my friend Ade Solanke.

I used to be an “imagineer” for Disney – that’s where I met Ade. Imagineers are the people behind the theme parks. It was a unique office – cutting-edge and very secretive. I was looking at how to make rides more accessible, and part of that was travelling to parks all over the US in a wheelchair.

I now live in Ghana. My auntie studied there and sent lots of pictures. I became hooked. My family aren’t certain about our African heritage, but when I first visited Ghana, I felt at home. The way people treat each other and the pattern of life remind me of my old relatives in Macon, Georgia.

I’ve invested in an organic farmWe’re growing moringa – aka the tree of life. It’s considered the most nutrient-rich plant on Earth. It’s already feeding people in Africa; I want to get people eating it in the west.

Ghana is booming. So many people from the diaspora are returning – such as the Ghanaian British couple who run Star Bites cafe in Accra, where I go to watch my favourite singers, Toni “Jazz” Manieson andKojo Osew. Accra is becoming a beautiful melting pot of influences and energy.