Mo Abudu: Africa's Media Mogul
Illustration by Seun Ajibola
I scanned through the 36 STATES archives to review some of the stories and topics that I previously shared on the blog and realized that the blog lacks stories on women. There are many women who have done great works in the past and in the present with regards to entertainment and pop-culture. My last post was about the movie tiltled Fifty which was produced by EbonyLife Productions, which is owned by the media mogul Mosunmola Abudu (better known as Mo Abudu).
Mo Abudu is a 50-year old Nigerian media entrepreneur and talk show host and the founder of EbonyLifeTV. She transitioned from a career in the corporate world to the host of a syndicated talk show under EbonyLifeTV. EbonyLifeTV is considered one of the fastest growing African multi-broadcast entertainment networks, which showcases informative and entertaining programs that portray Africa at its best. One of her mandates for the network is to rewrite Africa’s story.
Mo Abudu is referred to as the African Oprah because of her talk show, Moments with Mo and also her EbonyLife TV network that is syndicated across Africa and also broadcasted in Europe. During my visit to Nigeria in 2009, one of the gaps I saw at the time was programming that understood the changing landscape of the culture and how the information age will impact the perspectives of the youth. There were many shows that highlighted American culture and some that highlighted African culture, but the shows failed to target the youth – the gap Mo Abudu wants to fill. Mo Abudu expressed that her objectives of the television station, her production company and overall vision for the Africa is to project a different image globally. Similar to many in the Diaspora, she also faced the ignorant perspectives of many who only see Africa portrayed through American and European lenses that distort the reality of many Africans. Mo Abudu has made it her duty to tell the African narrative in a contemporary and interesting way and “to highlight the fact that the continent is full of gifted and remarkable people”.
The journey to creating her own show and network has not come easy. She indicates that there was a pushback from networks who were not interested in a Pan-African talk show along with the fact that even after developing several pilots, there was only a licensing agreement in place. One of the issues with the media industry in Nigeria and across Africa is the lack of financing available that limits the potential for new and innovative creatives to flourish on the continent. Mo Abudu recognized the lack of human capital in the area of media financing and to protect against liability she hired financial consultants to navigate the African and Nigerian marketplace to determine how to maintain viability.
EbonyLife TV is creating the content that speaks to and for the demographic between the ages of 18 – 34. As someone who is within the target market for the television network, it presents an avenue for the views of the young Africans to be shared beyond the African borders. This will highlight the changes in culture through avenues such as reality shows, talk shows and films.
The media is a powerful tool that can be used to change and rebrand the image of Africa. Mo Abudu and her television network will provide 1000 hours of original programming per year, which is remarkable for a station that has been in operation for only a few years. She is a renaissance woman and her vision should be followed closely because she has discovered a niche that targets those impacting not only the African continent but also the global market through their music, art, fashion and politics.