The Africa version of Desperate Housewives premiered last week in Lagos. Michael Jimoh watched the African equivalent of the successful American television series…
Getting To Watch The Premiere Of Desperate Housewives mid-week was not without its frantic moments for this reporter. For one, the invitation came only hours before the start off time at 6pm on Wednesday, April 27 at Agip Recital Hall in Onikan, Lagos. Two hours before, I was still at work in GRA, Ikeja, hoping to dash home at Oregun and then make a hastier dash to the venue. It never got to be.
As if fate determined otherwise, there was traffic lockdown on nearly every road in GRA. To beat the snarl, I boarded a bike straight to Ikeja under bridge where I hoped to continue to Oregun. We had not gone more than 400 metres when the okada rider took one look ahead at the intimidating traffic on Oba Akinjobi Road and then impolitely instructed me to come down. “Oga, I no fit go again.”
Traffic was truly discouraging. What was even worse was the intense heat from a burning sky. There was nothing to do other than walk the remaining distance to Ikeja down to Balogun bus stop. By then, it was almost five thirty. There was a line of vehicles stretching all the way to Alausa, past Allen Roundabout. The fuel scarcity that began a day or two before was now at its peak. You couldn’t understand why there were so many vehicles, fender to bumper all the way through Kudirat Abiola Way.
I boarded another bike from Oregun to Ojota, this time the rider was polite. I didn’t care for time again, it was long past six. Thanks to BRT, I arrived at MuSon Centre exactly three minutes past seven, thinking that I was well behind time. I was wrong because the premiere didn’t begin until past nine! I didn’t know whether to cry or laugh. I never felt sillier, all that haste and now having to wait for two hours before the premiere would begin. Thankfully, all that waiting was not in vain when the brain behind Desperate Housewives Africa, Mo Abudu, Executive Chairman and CEO of EbonyLife TV, went on stage to declare the premiere open.
“I am pleased to say that we are extremely excited to bring this rich, thrilling and captivating drama to our local and global audiences,” Mo admitted of the African version of the immensely successful television series. “We have put in a lot to maintain our premium homegrown quality of production and our viewers can absolutely look forward with great delight to watching a most riveting adaptation of the multiple-award winning version from Africa; one with a uniquely African essence that closely mirrors the format and storylines of the multiple award-winning American version.”
Desperate Housewives Africa proved to be truly riveting right from the start when one of the housewives Rume Bello (Marcy Dolapo Oni) fed up to her chin with life opts for suicide by hanging in her living room. Her death brings an indebted neighbour running to her apartment. At first, she pretends to be grief-stricken only to tear to pieces a cheque she had planned to give the deceased that very day. Portraying the hypocrisy of such debtors, she cries the most at Rume’s funeral.
The six housewives all live in the same hood, are wealthy and privileged but life isn’t smooth sailing for them as each of them has to contend with challenges ranging from home keeping to adultery and spousal conflict and even love. Michelle Dede, for instance, acted by Tari Gambadia, is the mother of an otherwise precocious daughter.
Michele needs love and where does she go to find it? A newly arrived stud who is also a builder but already marked down by another housewife. At times, both Michelle and her rival have embarrassing rendezvous at the bachelor’s pad. In the end, Michelle loses to a more desperate younger competitor.
Also seeking affection is Kehinde Bankole as Kiki Obi who romps with a much younger guy each time her husband Joseph Benjamin (Chuka Obi) turns his back. In one stunning scene, Chuka leaves his adulterous wife with the cheating chap. The other male actors in Desperate Housewives Africa act their part professionally. There is Jason Nwoga who plays Larry Izama, Nonso Odogwu as Kay De Souza, Ozzy Agu as Shina Lawal.
As Ese de Souza, Nini Wacera plays her role with characteristic aplomb, sometimes with the quiet stoicism of a truly long-suffering spouse. The surface calm of her well-heeled home belies the turmoil beneath. You suspect that under that graceful mien is a demon eager for release.
For the entire cast, DWA is like manna from heaven. Oni, for instance, insists that “being part of “Desperate Housewives Africa” is very exciting. I was such a fan of the U.S. version and can’t wait to see how our own storylines cater to and engage our African audiences while Omotu Bissong admits that “It has been a journey filled with hardwork, persistence and focus, truly a blessing working with such a stellar cast and exceptional crew.” As for Odogu, he says he already feel “like I’ve been nominated for the Academy Awards, being part of this exhilarating drama series!”
Quinty Pillay is the Director of Scripted Programming for DWA. Hear her on premiere day: “No stone has been left unturned in ensuring that we worked with the best in every facet of the production. We have taken the multiple award-winning original version and given it a distinctly African twist, from the storytelling, to the ‘look and feel’ of the entire production, without compromising on the global appeal. Viewers in Africa and indeed the rest of the world will hate to miss a second of every episode of it!”
DWA would not have been possible without the support of Airtel, the chief supporters of the series, and Snapp, Oral-B and Ariel detergent. DWA has commenced showing on Ebonylife TV. It comes up every Thursday at 10 in the night.