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2017 in Review: Report on Top Performing Creative Works from a Critical Point of View

The genre pool this year has been quite adventurous with the cinema and festival movies released in the year ranging from Akin Omotoso’s tone poem, A Hotel Called Memory [6.5/10], which film critic Wilfred Okiche opines as “[a movie] that reevaluates cinematic conventions…”

Over the course of the year, the African creative industry has released and published choice body of work and CREETIQ has had the front row of observing and aggregating critical commentaries about them.

Since its inception, CREETIQ has aggregated over 2000+ reviews on African movies, music and books and in retrospect, we would be offering our overall assessment on how the creative industry in Africa (with emphasis on the movies, album released and books published) fared critically. As the foremost review aggregator of critical commentaries on the creative industry in Africa, the CREETIQ system helps content providers, creatives and consumers of creative works make data-driven decisions based on an aggregate of critical reviews summed up by a calculated CREETIQ score. This approximate average assessment is based on assigning a numeric value to each review relating to its degree of rating of the work.

And with 2017 coming to a close, the figures are quite satisfying to show that creative works from the continent has achieved cultural legitimacy in its narratives.

To get the sense of how good the industry fared in 2017, one just needs to look at the outstanding performances of movies such as Ifeoma Chukwuogo’s Bariga Sugar which received a CREETIQ score  of 9.2/10 based on 6 critics and was described by Ada Kalu of Culture Custodian as a film that veers from the film industry norms…realistic in its presentation, contrasting the groping and discomfort of the women with the ‘jokes’ of men cheating on their wives and looking for pleasure at a discounted fee. Bariga Sugar is currently the highest rated 2017 movie on CREETIQ. There was also the hybrid documentary, Liyana that was directed by Amanda and Aaron Kopp and rated 8.9/10 on CREETIQ by 18 criticsInxeba (The Wound) [7.2/10 based on 27 critics] by John Trengrove  depicts the coming-of-age sacred ritual of South Africa’s Xhosa, Ulwaluko. The movies on display in 2017 were a delight to experience. Likewise in the literary scene, authors such as Ayobami Adebayo whose stunning debut novel, Stay With Me with a CREETIQ score of 7.5/10 based on 16 critics, explores themes such as love, marriage and family was also shortlisted for the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.

The genre pool this year has been quite adventurous with the cinema and festival movies released in the year ranging from Akin Omotoso’s tone poem, A Hotel Called Memory [6.5/10], which film critic Wilfred Okiche opines as “[a movie] that reevaluates cinematic conventions…” to Zambian-born Rungano Nyoni’s I Am Not A Witch [6.8/10 based on 27 critics] which paints a poignant portrait of themes such as female suffering and witch camps cleverly interwoven into a satirical narrative.

The album culture in Africa has also slowly evolved as artistes have begun to understand the strategic importance of releasing body of works. And in this vain, African artistes have gone to release either full LPs or EPs or mixtapes. Although we are yet to see any African artistes produce a drake-esque playlist project.

With an irresistible voice, Malian singer Oumou Sangaré offered her fifth studio album Mogoya [7.4/10 based on 8 critics]. It was a beautiful work of art that did not only empowers ‘Today’s People’ but also denounced injustice. There were also several releases such as Leap of Faith [7.3/10 based on 4 critics] by Ghanaian DJ and producer Juls, South African Cassper Nyovest’s Thuto [7.4/10 based on 3 critics] and Tinariwen’s Elwan [7.4/10 based on 12 critics] of which Slavko Bucifal wrote about on The Line of Best Fit “Elwan is pure Rock ‘n’ Roll. There is an undeniable swagger and an unfettered attitude of resistance here; no pretension or theater.” Sugarcane EP [7.4/10 based on 10 critics] by Nigerian singer Tiwa Savage, who prior, was involved in a marital squabble with her husband, was also one of the standout albums of the year. She utilised the EP to reiterate her continued belief in love and forgiveness. There was also the brilliant Agberos International by Afropolitan vibes group, Bantu. With a CREETIQ score of 7.6/10 based on 5 reputable critics, the album expresses sociopolitical sentiments as it rails against past and present government corruption and injustices in Nigeria and across Africa.

With African literature, there were also several books that performed critically overwhelming and touched on key issues that bordered around racism, love, hope and even how to win an election in the continent. It has also been quite a year for black women writing. From poetry, fiction, non-fiction, the amount of literary works released has being nothing short of blissful. There was the feminist manifesto by Chimamanda Adichie’s Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions‎ [7.1/10 based on 3 critics] that offered invaluable suggestions for how to empower a daughter to become a strong, independent woman. There was also The Ultimate Tragedy [7.2/10] by Abdulai Sila and translated by Jethro Soutar. This brilliant novel, the first to be translated into English from Guinea Bissau, is about love and an emerging awareness in a country beginning to challenge Portuguese colonial rule. Talking about politics, Chude Jideonwo and Adebola Williams co-authored the political book How to Win An Election in Africa that highlights how a strong anti-establishment passion among voters, especially the young voters, is changing the election landscapes around the world and in African countries also such as Nigeria, Kenya, Gambia and to a lesser extent, Zimbabwe and how such parallels could be drawn from the American elections that brought in President Trump. There was also the stunning collection of short stories from Commonwealth Writer’s Prize winner Nneka Lesley Arimah, What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky [7.8/10 based on 24 critics] which explores new ways to think about the intersections of femininity, strength, and vulnerability and how masculinity acts neither as a foil for comparison nor as a standard for female characters’ strength.

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Below is a list of our top 10 movies, music albums and books released in Africa or produced by African authors, filmmakers and musicians.

Looking forward to an exciting 2018 filled with loads of quality novels, movies and music that not only make good sales but uphold a critical standard that changes that narratives about Africa.

 

TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2017

Bariga Sugar [9.2/10] – Ifeoma Chukwuogo (Nigeria)

A movie about friendship in its purest form.

Liyana [8.9/10] – Aaron and Amanda Kopp (Swaziland)

A fictional character’s journey interwoven with observational documentary scenes to create a genre-defying celebration of collective storytelling.

City of Joy [8.2/10] – Madaleine Gavin (Democratic Republic of Congo)

A story about the profound resilience of the human spirit as witnessed by some Congolese women’s fierce will to reclaim hope, even when so much of what was meaningful to them has been stripped away.

Skulls of my People [8.5/10] – Vincent Moloi (South Africa)

A documentary film on the struggle of a small tribe in Namibia fighting for the return of the skulls of their people taken by the Germans for racial science profiling after the genocide of 1904.

Isoken [7.9/10] – Jadesola Osiberu (Nigeria)

Isoken is a film that depicts the pressures faced by a successful 30-something year old single lady to get married.

Inxeba (The Wound) [7.2/10] – John Trengrove (South Africa)

“The Wound” tells the coming-of-age ritual circumcision that young men undergo during Ulwaluko (or ukwaluka), an ancient Xhosa rite of passage to manhood.

Five Fingers for Marseilles [7.1/10] – Michael Matthews (South Africa)

A Western and action drama about the small rural town of Marseilles.

I Am Not A Witch [6.8/10] – Rungano Nyoni (Zambia)

A film about a young girl accused of witchcraft and drawn into a world of corruption and sexism.

Banana Island Ghost [6.8/10] – BB Sasore (Nigeria)

Banana Island Ghost tells the story of a ghost who is scared to go to heaven because he doesn’t have a soul mate, so convinces God to give him three days to fall in love.

 A Hotel Called Memory [6.5/10] – Akin Omotoso (Nigeria)

A tone poem about a lady recently separated from her husband seeking solace far from home, hoping to forget the past and move on with her life.

 

TOP 10 BOOKS OF 2017

Orphan Sisters [7.9/10] – Lola Jaye (Nigeria)

Orphan Sisters, the fifth novel by author Lola Jaye, tells the emotional tale of two Nigerian sisters and their experiences growing up in post war Britain under the care of the local authority.

What It Means When A Man Falls from the Sky [7.8/10] – Nneka Lesley Arimah (Nigeria)

A stunning collection of short stories from Caine-Prize shortlisted and Commonwealth Writer’s Prize winner Lesley Nneka Arimah.

What We Lose [7.7/10] – Zinzi Clemmons (South Africa)

This is the coming of age of Thandi, a woman who was raised in Pennsylvania with roots in South Africa.

Kumukanda [7.6/10] – Kayo Chingonyi (Zambia)

Underpinned by a love of music, language and literature, Kayo Chingonyi’s remarkable debut is a powerful exploration of race, identity and masculinity, celebrating what it means to be British and not British, all at once.

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race [7.6/10] – Reni Eddo-Lodge (Nigeria)

A powerful and provocative argument on the role that race and racism play in modern Britain, by award-winning journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge.

Stay With Me [7.5/10] – Ayobami Adebayo (Nigeria)

Ayobami Adebayo’s taut, intimate debut novel, “Stay With Me,” skillfully tells a tale of love, family, fertility by dramatizing a worst case scenario.

Njinga of Angola: Africa’s Warrior Queen [7.4/10] – Linda M. Heywood (Angola)

Linda Heywood offers the first full-length study in English of Queen Njinga’s long life and political influence, revealing how this African queen skillfully navigated ruthless, male-dominated power struggles of her time.

 In Praise of Defeat [7.4/10] – Abdellatif Laâbi (Morocco)

A selection of poetry by Moroccan activist, Abdellatif Laâbi, masterfully rendered into English for the first time by Donald Nicholson-Smith and introduced by the eminent poet and critic Pierre Joris.

Dancing the Death Drill [7.3/10] – Fred Khumalo (South Africa)

A fast-moving and compelling narrative of injustice, heroism, political manoeuvring and intrigue of how, a century ago, 618 black South African soldiers drowned as the SS Mendi sank and provides an insight into their ill-treatment during the First World War.

Always Another Country [7.2/10] – Sisonke Msimang (South Africa)

In Always Another Country, Sisonke Msimang reflects candidly on present-day South Africa, about family, romance and motherhood; of childhood jealousies and adult passions, and what it means to be born into a life scored by history.

Dance of the Jakaranda [7.2/10] – Peter Kimani (Kenya)

Dance of the Jakaranda re-imaginesthe special circumstances that brought black, brown and white men together to lay the railroad that heralded the birth of the nation.

 

TOP 10 MUSIC ALBUMS OF 2017

Agberos International [7.6/10] – Bantu (Nigeria)

Timeless [7.5/10] – Omawumi (Nigeria)

Mogoya [7.4/10] – Oumou Sangaré (Mali)

Thuto [7.4/10] – Cassper Nyovest (South Africa)

Elwan [7.4/10] – Tinariwen (Mali)

Sugarcane EP [7.4/10] – Tiwa Savage (Nigeria)

What Happens in Lagos [7.4/10] – Ajebutter22 (Nigeria)

Leap of Faith [7.3/10] – Juls (Ghana)

Résistance [7.2/10] – Songhoy Blues (Mali)

Simisola [7.1/10] – Simi (Nigeria)

Head of Content and Editor at CREETIQ

creetiq.com

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