Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Prince Tonye Princewill, the Nigerian Lorenzo de' Medici of Nollywood

Prince Tonye Princewill, the Nigerian Lorenzo de' Medici of Nollywood

Prince Tonye Princewill was born in the UK 44 years ago to the family of His Royal Majesty, King (Prof) T. J. T. Princewill, the Amanyanabo of Kalabari Kingdom of the Amachree Dynasty of Rivers-State. Tonye's father was a Professor of Medical Microbiology before he became a monarch.

Prince Tonye is popularly known as the Prince of Niger Delta politics and a Digital politician tired of the old-style analog politics, but not many people know him as one of the most generous patrons of artists and entertainers in Nigeria and has become the present day Lorenzo de' Medici of our generation. And like the great Lorenzo, Tonye was also born in January.
Tonye Princewill was born on 4 January 1969) while the Italian Renaissance Lorenzo de' Medici was born on 1 January 1449. Lorenzo the Magnificent (Lorenzo il Magnifico) by contemporary Florentines was famous as a diplomat, politician and patron of scholars, artists, and poets. And Tonye truly has the same credentials too.

Prince Tonye made history when he premiered the first movie in Port Harcourt on September 12, 2009 when “Nnenda”, a movie about the plight of orphans was staged at the famous Silverbird Cinemas in Port Harcourt, the capital of the oil rich Rivers State. He followed up with the premiere of the international award winning “The Figurine” of the young filmmaker Kunle Afolayan on October 11, 2009 at the same Silverbird Cinemas in Port Harcourt. This movie was the second Nigerian movie to hit box office status after Stephanie Okereke Linus' “Through the Glass”.

Then Prince Tonye premiered “Kajola”, the first Nigerian CGI movie and the most expensive film ever produced in Nigeria at the Silverbird Cinema in Abuja on July 30, 2010. Kajola cost a whooping N130m (one hundred and thirty million naira). The plot of the movie was set in the future Nigeria of 2059, which was expected to appeal to all Nigerians in the sense that it explored the implications of the continuous neglect of the poor pronounced by the widening gulf between the rich and poor and the ensuing catastrophic outcomes stemming from such neglect. “Kajola” remains the most ambitious film in Nollywood.

Prince Tonye is currently sponsoring the production of “76”, the first movie on the tragic coup of 1976 that resulted in the assassination of General Murtala Ramat Muhammed on February 13, 1976. “76” is aimed at recreating history for the new generation and preserving a remarkable part of the history of our nation. The post production is ongoing in Germany. The second movie is “Valor”, a movie that deals with the issues of the Niger Delta and Boko Haram and also currently in post production.

Read the complete report by Eze Chukwuemeka Eze in NOLLYWOOD MIRROR, a new quarterly publication that will showcase Nollywood, the largest film industry in Africa launching this May, 2013.

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