VIDEOS: Enter West Africa With Abi Ishola

Abi Ishola, multimedia reporter and producer for CUNY TV’s Independent Sources traveled solo to Nigeria and Ghana, two of West Africa’s emerging economies, to explore some of the hurdles the area faces as it continues to advance. In a 5-part series titled Enter West Africa, Ishola reports on Ghana’s collapsing textile industry; Nigeria’s ballooning population of orphans and vulnerable children; the importance of beads in Ghanaian society; and she profiles a Nigerian businessman who is struggling to get Nigerian girls to play with dolls made in their likeness.

Abi is also the host of the popular Nigerian radio show “Culture Schock” on

Enter West Africa premiered on CUNY TV (Channel 75 New York) in March 2012 on Independent Sources, a half hour program covering ethnic communities in New York. Each story aired as such:

“Pirated Patterns”
Ghana’s once booming textile industry is on the verge of total collapse. Abi ishola reports on how the 4 remaining factories that manufacture the country’s iconic colorful wax prints are facing unfair competition with cheap pirated cloths being smuggled into Ghana from China.

“White Man’s Deads”
Cheap Chinese imports aren’t the only threat to Ghana’s textile industry. Used clothes shipped to the country from Europe and America have become so popular over the years, the trade has led to the collapse of a large chunk of Ghana’s textile sector. Ghanaians call the second hand clothing Obroni Wewu which means white man’s deads. Abi Ishola visited the largest used clothing market in Accra, Ghana’s capital city, to find out if the country’s second hand clothing trade has been worth the burden.

“Colorful Beaded History”
Throughout history beads have been to Ghanaians what diamonds are to westerners. They represent wealth and status. Abi reports on Ghana’s history with beads and how the market for them has shifted from elders to young contemporary Ghanaians.

“Joy’s Children”
There are over 7 million orphans and vulnerable children in Nigeria. In 2007 the country’s president announced a $1.6 billion plan to rectify the problem, but the issue has gone virtually ignored. Abi Ishola reports on how two Nigerian siblings in their early 20s have sacrificed their lives to take care of 38 orphans and foster children.

“Brown Skinned Dolls”
Abi profiles Taofick Okoya, a young Nigerian businessman who created a unique line of dolls modeled after Nigerian women. But getting little Nigerian girls to warm up to black dolls wearing traditional Nigerian garb has been an uphill battle.

About Independent Sources:
Independent Sources airs every Wednesday at 8:30 PM on CUNY TV, Channel 75 in New York. IS engages journalists from New York’s ethnic and mainstream media in an insightful discussion of stories covered by ethnic newspapers, TV, radio stations, and websites. Each show features an in-depth profile of a news organization or a reporter, along with a news roundup.

  1. Dionna Reply

    Congratulations Abi! Your stories covering issues faced in the West African communities are compelling and I’m proud that your were able to give them a voice in the US.

  2. Tolu Reply

    excellent reporting, abi! keep up the great work!

  3. Lola Reply

    This is a wonderful series, Bim! I’m so glad that you gave a voice to these topics. You’re on your way to cover the world one story at a time!

  4. Nana Reply

    excellent work, abi!! and now there is work to be done! i am just SMH at the doll story. in 2012?? sheesh. & thank you for the textile & obroni wei wu stories.

    • Yudith Reply

      To anon, You asked the question what Nigerian Theatre todaitirns? We can start by naming the practitioners to remind us how theatre todaitirns come into existence. This is not an exhaustive list, but its a start: Herbert Ogunde, Duro Ladipo, Kola Ogunmola, Ola Rotimi, Soyinka, Kole Omotosho, JP Clerk, Zulu Sofola,Tess Onwueme, Femi Osofisan, Bode Sowande, Tunde Fatanyde and Olu Obafemi etc. Many of these writers works are still been performed to a full house all over the country. Don’t forget that Nigeria, especially amongst the Yorubas have a long history of travelling theatres. I still have fresh memories of going to the national theatre back Ain the 80s to watch Ogunde’s performances and to a packed audience. I remember travelling with my granny to Ibadan for some trading and we arrived at the UI and Ola Rotimi’s The Gods was in full swing. We went in and it was jammed packed. I didn’t really understand the play at the time and neither did my granny, but the point I am trying to say is that the theatre was packed. I remember my gran saying that she prefered the likes of duro Ladipo and Ogunde and whenever they were in town they will all dress up in their best outfit to watch them. She mentioned another group that use to perform in Ijebu Ode. From what she described, the whole production was very organised and formalised and her own mother and their friends would cook and house some of these artists whenever they were in town. So please, before you go shooting off about lack of theatre todaitirns or the formalisation of entertainment, you wil do well to do some historical research about the importances of formal theatre to different Nigeria cultures, especially those with monarchical structures. As I read some of the response to jeremy’s statement, I am reminded of a line in fela’s song: ‘a bi a gbe po,without me your city go smell like shit, i dey sing, i dey dance without me you no go happy’…something to that effect. Only the highest form of philistanism will say that if artists ‘cannot make a profitable business out of their art, then they need to find day job like the rest of us’. So what day job will suggest to doctors, lawyers, engineers, lecturers who are just merely surviving on their salary in Nigeria? If you don’t answer any other question,pls answer this one for me.

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