Posted by By Joy Chinwokwu on
Prince and Princess Charming.’ That’s what I feel when I watch the exceptional couple-Nneka and Isaac Moses perform their regular show – Goge Africa on screen.
Prince and Princess Charming.’ That’s what I feel when I watch the exceptional couple-Nneka and Isaac Moses perform their regular show – Goge Africa on screen. And I doubt if many people would fault me. Beyond their captivating and spirited performance, is that appreciation of their unity of purpose; of their closeness as a couple; of their compatibility. Not many couples are cut out to be so successfully engaged in the same profession or challenges and be equally adept at it.
Often you see them dancing away with their hosts from other cultures, sometimes, obviously mimicking, and some other times, doing it so perfectly you are left in awe of their crafts! And if you are not captivated by their arts, or charmed by their smiles (especially those toothy ones from Nneka), you’d possibly be taken in by their fashion – very exotic, very rare and captivating.
Jointly presenting the popular Goge Africa on AIT, they make a pleasant portrait to behold. And in their colourful 2005 keepsake calendar, the couple parade their joint efforts in style. (I could buy it off a stand, if I weren’t offered one!). My summation on that calendar is that the couple are worthy ambassadors of Africa. And I suppose the AU Chairman, our own president Olusegun Obasanjo, so recognizes them-someday! I’m enthralled about many things about the duo – from their costumes, to their dances, to their smiles, to their adventure; they are quite a pair to watch – truly unique entertainers – truly soulmates!
Sure, I went seeking them out and we (Isaac, Nneka and I), had a hearty chat; yes, seemed more of a conversation than an interview. It was natural and very fulfilling. And what a pleasant way really, to end the year 2004 and to step into 2005 with people who hold promises – of good things about our continent.
Goge Africa, a 30-minutes cultural TV programme on Africa and Africans in the Diaspora is beamed on local and satellite television, with a mission to expose Africa’s rich cultural heritage to the world – with a further aim of helping to correct the misconstrued stereotypes that has permeated the globe for a long time. Exploring the richness of Africa’s cultural diversity, the Mose(es), in highly entertaining fashion showcase tourism centers in the continent, with the very noble aim of restoring the pride of Africa. They celebrate Africa’s heritage through the programme, which they also view as an instrument for public enlightenment and social awareness on issues that affect the continent.
Towards the realization of their dreams, Nneka and Isaac have jointly, "like a snail and its shell’, toured the length and breadth of Nigeria, spotlighting such festivals and events as Black Heritage in Lagos, Anambra Masquerade, Durba Festival in Kaduna, Argungu Fishing Festival in Kebbi, the coronation of the Jaja of Opobo, among others. And offshore, they have captured the cultural dancers from South Africa, Voodoo Festival of the Republic of Benin, Feast of Epiphany in Tinikat, Ethiopia, Heritage Day/Moja Art of the USA, Karnival der Kulturen in Germany, Nottinghill Carnival in London, Carnival Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and World Music Day in Paris. Their quest to conquer the world has also taken them to such countries as Ghana, Namibia, Egypt, Senegal, Mali, Malawi, Algeria, Madagascar and Kenya, among others.
They went down memory lane to recall how it all started. Speaking interjectedly.
What Goge means to them
Goge is an Hausa word for a musical instrument used mainly in the north of Nigeria. The Ibos call it ubo. It is a calabash, with three or more strings across and with a stick. You can call it a local guitar. Beninois call it Kora. Ethiopians call it Kraar.
How did it all begin?
Isaac: Actually, Goge Africa was intended for radio, because I used to be an artiste manager way back and I discovered that African artistes didn’t get enough of airplay. They didn’t get enough mention, so we decided to do something that would give African artistes a pride of place; that would make them proud to be African artistes. I felt if we don’t promote our own, who would do that for us? The programme was designed to be dedicated entirely to Africans and Africa. So, I decided we do it on radio. That was in 1998. But she (Nneka) now said, why don’t we do it for TV and I said, TV is expensive. She said no, I make costume, I would provide you with costume, so people can see it. So we started gathering materials from here and there. Finally, on the first of October 1999, we started on TV. We didn’t go on radio anymore, but we are still going to go on radio. We have actually recorded some episodes for radio. It’s going on air from next year.
Your music is limited to African artistes. Don’t you feel tempted to project artistes from the wider world, especially as music has a universal language?
You see, Goge Africa is a black thing. We have black Africans all over the world. We have Africans in the Diaspora. Wherever a black man is, he is an African. He might not be an African man based in Africa. He might be based outside – like the Black Americans. They are our brothers. They are Africans. So we actually go into other parts of the world where blacks reside. The only place we have not been yet, and which we intend to, is the Aborigine. We intend to go there and have a close encounter with the Aborigines, know where they come from, their root and explore their cultures.
They first acted as lovers in a film. And carried the play to real life
Lets talk a little more about both of you. How come the chemistry works so fine?
Nneka: Does it?
Well that’s what I see on TV, and even in this session. (General laughter.) It’s not often you find couples who are driven by the same motives, sentiments etc
Isaac: Of course, there is so much compatibility… I think we are lucky; because some of my friends ask me, ‘why would you bring your wife to work with you on TV?’ And I say, ‘yes, she can handle it. I find out that she is talented. She is intelligent. She is beautiful. And we can flow, so why do I want to bring somebody else to do it and then I would be paying?’
And for logistic reasons at times, it’s most suitable for two of us. We can take decisions within minutes to go and cover a show. When we heard about the coronation of the Jaja of Opobo, it was just a day to the event and we were able to cover it.
Nneka: If he were working with someone else, he would need time to inform the person (ahead of time). And to take the person away from home at that festive period.
But we decided to go and spend our New Year there. There was no prior notice. We just went to cover it and when we got there, they were happy to see us. We were surprised that even the Jaja of Opobo knew us.
When he saw us, he said, ‘Oh! Goge, you are here?’ We were really well received it.
Isaac: Once we know it’s worth it, we go. It’s very convenient working together. And you know one other thing? She carries the camera as good as any good cameraman.
Nneka: And you know another thing? He is the best teacher anyone could have, because he taught me how to do that. I have stable hands. (General laughter).
When was the first time you met?
Isaac: Actually that was during my acting days. We met on a set – of a movie called Love in Vendetta. She was supposed to be my girlfriend on the movie and I was supposed to be her boyfriend. And at the end of the day, we carried (the role) beyond the set. That was in 1996.
That’s seems like converting a make-belief role into reality?
I guess I wanted to push it further, because I liked the kind of rapport I had with her, playing that role and I tried to put some real life into it. Of course, she tried to push me away, to make it really difficult for me but you know, I’ve got sweet raps…oh! Those raps! (laughter)
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