23 January 2013

Nigeria: Journeying Thru' the Eyes of an African

Lovers of nature can be sure are sure that they can feed on the whole gamut of the natural world and history that there is on offer as they keep a date with the multi award winning television producer and travel/tourism writer, Yvonne Henry Bassey on the Africa Magic Chanel on DStv Wednesdays.

Yvonne who has succeeded in cultivating a cult-like followership over the years, started promoting African destinations in her uniquely entertaining style from her days at Channels Television. It was long before her knack for excellence stood her out.

Till today, she becomes emotional when talking about Channels. She calls the television house her 'first love.' "There is no doubt about the fact that Mr. John Momoh, the Chairman of Channels TV is the master of the game when it comes to television production. I sat at the feet of the master himself for seven years. He gave me a fantastic platform to shine, he gave me a blank cheque to travel to anywhere in the world. I started off as a newscaster. I became aviation reporter. Later, I added tourism to it tourism. After a while it became apparent that it was not possible to handle the two. I then settled for tourism.

Beyond love for the job, it appears she entered into a covenant with travels/tourism reporting, it is the only beat in journalism that she is interested in. Such is her devotion that when Channels re-assigned her to another beat, many of her followers knew that her days were numbered in that establishment. Her winning ways of garnering colourful feathers to her hat naturally started at Channels.

At her exit from Channels, not a few wondered if Yvonne would continue to soar. They did not have to wait for too long. Having overcome the trauma which enveloped her like one whose precious baby was untimely snatched from her, Yvonne launched out with a package that everyone agreed was worthy of her experience and clout in the tourism/media industry. One of the pointers to her seriousness was that she chose to re-launch herself as an independent television producer. Typical of her intriguing ways, she chose a rather curious name (which is also a mouthful) as the name of the programme.

Thru' The Eyes of An African is not just the name of the programme. It is also the name of Yvonne's burgeoning media empire. More than that it is a statement of her commitment and bias. Like Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and many Afrocentric persons, Africa is the centre of of Yvonnes's world and she is wont to view circumstances and events as they occur from an African viewpoint. With a name like that, you immediately know which side of the divide stands.

At the recent Nigeria Media Merit Award at Eko Hotel and Suites in Lagos, Yvonne was on song again. Apart from winning the TV Programme Presenter of the Year, her efforts at promotion of African destinations through TV documentaries was rewarded with the TV Production of the Year award.

Now in its Sixth Season, Thru' The Eyes of An African, Yvonne said the best is yet to come as she joins a small population of entrepreneurs and professionals whose steadfast push has led to a slow but rewarding change of attitude to tourism in Nigeria. Sometimes, she pinches herself to be sure that this unending journey s not a fantastic dream from which she would soon wake up. "I was told that I would never air my programme on DStv. I did not even have enough money to pay for my first season. It's God because there is no other person I can attribute this to. They aired my programme even when I had not finished paying for my season one. God has been sustaining it. Sometimes I sit down and wonder how it happened.

Thru' The Eyes Of An African is a weekly travel and tourism related programme that is aimed at promoting African destination basically, with special emphasis on Nigeria. It is concerned with tourist sites, heritage, legacies, cultures of different African groups and ethnic groups that have not received much attention, sites that have been relegated to the background, strengthening the economy in creating jobs and adding value to the nation's economy generally.

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