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Nigeria's Lekki Wives Inspire New Drama Series

posted 4 Feb 2013, 10:30 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 4 Feb 2013, 10:30 ]

Not desperate but almost as entertaining, Nigeria's "Lekki wives", a new drama series likened to the popular American soap, Desperate housewives, has gone viral on internet broadcast. It revolves around five wealthy Nigerian women living and working in the affluent Lagos suburb - Lekki, where they bring to the fore the many troubles and lifestyles of the area's residents.

LAGOSNIGERIA (B-CONCEPT NETWORK PRODUCTION) -  A new on-line television drama series has been launched in LagosNigeria's commercial capital, the first of its kind in the West African country.

"Lekki Wives", which chronicles the lives of five women living in the affluent neighbourhood of Lekki, a lagoon located in Lagos and Ogun states in Nigeria, has drawn comparison to the popular award-winning American drama/comedy "Desperate Housewives".

The 13 episode series took 18 months to produce. It portrays the experiences and challenges faced by residents of Lekki, looking at everything from careers to cheating husbands and wives.

Filmmaker and Lekki Wives producer, Blessing Egbe has lived in Lekki for over six years and says the issues portrayed in the series are inspired by real life.

"Lekki wives was born from just wanting to recreate 'happenstance's' that go on in this axis. I live in Lekki, I see what happens, I hear what happens, my ears are on the ground, my eyes see the dark corners where the ordinary man wouldn't see so for me it was just wanting to open up a can of worms," said Egbe.

Nigeria's 90 million US dollar home video industry is the second biggest in the world, after India's Bollywood and before America's Hollywood.

It churns out about 50 low-budget films a week according to industry expert and Nollywood films online distributor, Iroko TV.

But while the industry has been thriving, many filmmakers complain there is a lack of support when it comes to financing their projects.

The Nigerian government recently put forward a proposal to inject more than 30 billion Naira (200 million US dollars) in the industry to help filmmakers finance their projects, but the proposal has yet to be implemented.

Egbe says she spent about 9 million naira (57,692 US dollars) to produce the first season of the series, money she raised through friends and family.

Egbe released Lekki Wives on the internet instead of mainstream television or cinema, charging viewers 1.99 US dollars per episode to watch the show online.

This, she says was a way to cut out the middle-man costs charged by broadcasters inNigeria.

"You do a series or a movie, you take it to the theatres, we know the stories that happen in the theatres, you release on DVD, there is distribution wahala (problem), you take it to the TV stations and you are expected to pay to show your content, why should I pay a TV station to show my content? I have the content, money went into it to make this content, why should I now pay you 150,000 naira (961 dollars), sometimes 400,000 naira (2,564 dollars) per episode to air my content?," she said.

Since its debut two weeks ago, Egbe says the show has been viewed by 46,000 fans from NigeriaUnited Kingdom, USA and even Afghanistan.

Keira Hewatch plays a prostitute in the Lekki Wives series. The actress says she was surprised when she was given the controversial role, which has attracted a lot of criticism especially on social media.

"I have to say I thought it was scandalous, yeah, see that expression on your face, right now like you raised one eye brow, exactly, that was my expression, I was like what? are we ready for this story telling around here because.... let's be honest, Nigerians, most of us are kind of hypocritical, we do stuffs but we don't want other people to know that we're doing them and she (Blessing Egbe) doesn't care and so she was like this is what she wants to do and when someone decides to do something that is realistic, it always makes a wave," said Hewatch.

Mavin Okungbowa, a fan of the show says the "spicy" storylines make for good entertainment.

"It's the first of its kind in Nigeria but this is not the first time I'm seeing it, this is how we watch it, I live in Finland and this is how we watch it over there, I'm surprised to see it inNigeria and I was like wanting to see it but now, I've seen it, I've watched one, two, three four and I can't wait to watch the fifth one and sixth and seventh and so forth; it's very nice, it teaches a lot of things," he said.

Egbe plans to produce the second season of Lekii Wives soon but says this will depend on the public's appetite for the show.

The television version of "Lekki Wives" will debut on cable television stations in Nigeriatowards the end of this year.