INTERVIEW: Tube Awards will be the Emmys of Africa, says Fidelis Duker

Fidelis Duker is one of the earliest practitioners in the Nigerian movie industry (Nollywood) and has worked on 80 different films in different capacities. 

For almost a decade and a half,  he has hosted the Abuja International Film Festival, making it the longest-running film festival in West Africa.

In this interview he speaks about The Tube Awards, an upcoming project being put together for the benefit of the thriving television industry in Nigeria.

TCL: You have been working on a new project called Tube Awards, what is it about?

Duker: The Tube Awards is a collaborative reward system put together by a couple of colleagues directly and indirectly affiliated to the business of television broadcast to reward excellence on the continent of Africa. We feel that one of the most needed incentives is a credible reward system for the television industry both online and terrestrial. Something in the mould of the Emmy Awards.

The television business has evolved over the years since the first television emerged in the old western regional capital of Ibadan in 1957.

While growing up, we had to wait till 4pm before the television stations would begin showing programmes for the day. Today, television is no longer limited by time or medium but has been driven by every source digitally possible including our mobile phones.

We found out that there was a need for us to celebrate the excellence that has come to the television business on the continent and see how we can bring in the content creators, TV station owners and others. That was how the idea of Tube Awards came into existence.

We found out that one industry that has not been properly positioned in terms of rewarding excellence on the continent is television. Most national and continental awards have just one category for television. We felt there was a need to create an authentic continental award for television.

TCL: Why the name Tube and how much of what the digital age has made television to become will it cover?

Duker: The name was carefully chosen to reflect our understanding of television. If you remember television has always been known as the tube until recently when we now have television on the go.  This, I mean is the use of phones and other modern television devices like the LED and LCD screens.

What is however important is that the tube covers the entire television landscape.

TCL: Don’t you think Nigeria already has too many awards?

Duker: I don’t think so and there cannot be enough of any awards as different awards target different practitioners. With Tube Awards, practitioners in the television sector who used to feel abandoned now have an award that specifically targets their sector of the industry.

TCL: You said it will be a continental award. How do you plan to overcome the challenges of logistics?

Duker: The awards have been in the pipeline for two years, we have been working behind the scenes. Prior to now, we were trying to get our act together to make sure it would be a success. If you are organising a continental award, you have to be very careful because of the diversity of the population of our continent in languages, values and custom.

We have some countries where they speak Arabic; we have francophone countries and even the Portuguese-speaking countries. We are not starting out very big as we have about 15 categories available to be rewarded in the first year.

We decided to keep it compact so we can ensure a clear demonstration of all the plans and hard work happening behind the scenes.

Our advisory committee is made of very senior practitioners with continental and global exposure in the business of television and television broadcast. The depth of experience and support garnered from the hardworking team convinces me that we are on the right path.

Of course, Nigeria would be the host country for the first few years and these will ease the issue of logistics.

TCL: The problem isn’t always really about starting, how do you plan to ensure that this award survives?

Duker: I have never been involved in anything that would not succeed and I am not about to start now. None of the awards and festivals that I have been involved in has gone into extinction.

I was the pioneer producer of the Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA). I produced it for about three years. The Abuja International Film Festival was the first major film festival in Nigeria apart from the National Film Festival.

The Abuja International Film Festival has given birth to the rise of other film festivals across Nigeria and we are still in existence. The point I am trying to make is that I do not get involved in anything that would not stand the test of time.

We have a clear-cut project plan for the awards for five years and we have identified the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to our award. Therefore, we are ready with a sustainable plan that will keep the awards running uninterrupted for a minimum of five years after which are sure to have found our rhythm.