Even a gathering of a handful of aficionados sufficed to make history. Indeed, it was history that was made on Friday, July 1 when the Lagos edition of the Mokolo Project’s launch held at the Goethe-Institut, City Hall, Lagos Island.
For the Lagos Mokolo Team, it was a crowning moment of glory after months of hustle and bustle around the project. Yet, even the most diehard optimist cannot ignore the challenges of the Lagos scenario. Fridays, notorious for being traffic-prone, was hardly the best day to expect a full house. And the event held from 2:30 pm, a time deemed dangerously close to rush-hour.
Hence even without a full house, the ambience at the venue was just right. Then, it was not surprising that the session — anchored by Mokolo’s Project Director, Espera Donouvossi— took off on a sure-footed note. It followed closely on the heels of a screening of a documentary on the previous launch of Mokolo Project in Dakar (Senegal).
Indeed, there could have been, under the circumstances, no better entrée than the screening. This prepared the ground for another screening, this time of the Mokolo TV commercial (which could also be called the Mokolo Explainer Video). Ditto for Espera Donouvossi’s presentation and subsequent explanations of the online portal’s platform.
The immediate past Goethe-Institut Director Marc-Andre Schmachtel’s remarks were a beautiful icing on the day’s proceedings. For snippets of his statement elicited the curiosity of few late-arrivals.
Thus, an endeavour that was first discussed in November 2010 at the Yaoundé’s Goethe-Institut conference hall was on its way to becoming phenomenal. At that Yaoundé encounter, African film and audiovisual industry’s bigwigs were engaged in a brainstorming session. Thus, Mokolo Project was conceived as a high-wattage idea. Perhaps, as a homage to this Cameroonian capital city, the project was named after its biggest open-air market.
Three months flitted by and in February 2011, a workshop held in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) consolidated on the gains of the Yaoundé conference. Then fast-forward to May 2014, the Project became operational, albeit on a modest note, in an office adjoining the Goethe-Institut Lagos office.
Still on the Goethe-Institut links, the project’s initial phase was funded by the ACP-EU Fund and the Goethe-Institut. But its post-launch phase relies on the support of its members and the German Foreign Office.
So, what is this Mokolo Project all about? I’d wager that most of the people here do not really know what it is all about. Its website will inform you that it is an online portal for audiences and professionals in the film, audiovisual media and IT sectors that connects distribution, information and networking related to the African film and audiovisual industries. It is based primarily on the fact that technology and innovation can contribute significantly to the development of the film ecosystem of Africa.
Let’s break it down to more specific terms. Here is the scenario: the key players in the African film and audiovisual industry can be likened to islets of talents. Interaction among and between themselves has been embarrassingly rare if not non-existent. So, they need to share information among themselves. They also need exchanges!
So comes Mokolo to the rescue, offering its three platforms: Mokolo TV, Mokolo Pro and mokolo.labs. The end-users (or “Mokolizers” as they are called) only need to sign in or sign up either through email or any of their social media accounts to get into any of these platforms.
Close-up on the three platforms. First, there is Mokolo TV. It is a massive searchable and cross-indexed information database of African film, television, VOD platforms and practitioners with space for comments, reviews and ratings. It provides film enthusiasts with film and TV programmes information from or about Africa. They can view the latest posts from other Mokolo users in addition to exploring the latest series, movies and videos on demand platforms. They can also post comments, add external links, and follow other users.
Next is Mokolo Pro, a networking and resource platform for African film and audiovisual industry professionals and their colleagues in other parts of the world. These can not only view other professionals, but also their projects, opportunities, film schools and festivals. The Mokolo Pro users also can create professional profiles and follow each other, and can inbox their messages via this platform.
And lastly the Mokolo.labs, which provides free access to Open Educational Resources and a calendar of relevant workshops, consulting services and more to the film and audiovisual industry in Africa.
Note also that on the home page of the platforms, Mokolizers have an option to change their language preferences to either English or French.
There is no better time to have a Mokolo Project than now when the economic downturn threatens the creative industry. Its launch at the Djoudj hall of the Hotel Ngor Diarama of Dakar, held just about a month ago, was as interesting as it was revealing. The attendees to the highly successful event were effusive as they lavished accolades on the project.