DStv’s Channel O Africa is deepening its commitment to the continent and spreading the word on being Original African with the recent selection of its new, young and vibrant VJs.
Stefen ‘J.Town’ Menson (Ghana), Edun ‘Denrele’ Olufemi (Nigeria), Flavia Tumusiime (Uganda), Jokate Mwegelo (Tanzania), Joey Muthengi (Kenya) and Maya Wegerif, the roving VJ from South Africa, were chosen from some of the best talent in their respective countries and they all have one thing in common, their love of African music!
For Channel O Africa, this is a bold move towards giving viewers a peek at the different cultures and spaces within Africa to show how African music and musicians are reshaping the entertainment arena and standing up for recognition. The VJs will be going behind-the-scenes and giving viewers a wider picture of what goes on in the music and entertainment world that is rapidly growing in Africa as well as internationally.
Channel O Africa Manager, Leslie ‘Lee’ Kasumba believes that choosing this young talent will see Channel O further embracing the music loving population within the continent.
“Each one of these VJ’s is awesome in their own right. Not only do they have a fundamental love for their country and music from their countries too, they also have a love for what is happening around them and can see African Urban music in the global space which is exactly what Channel O Africa is about. They are passionate, hardworking individuals and as a team, they will take Channel O Africa to new levels,” says Kasumba.
You can catch them on Channel O Africa (DStv Channel 320) covering an array of events like countries’ Independence Day celebrations, interviewing the who’s who of the African entertainment circuit on red carpet events and also talking to people on the streets about the fast-growing African musical talent.
Here’s a quick look at the VJs:
Stefen Jefrey Menson (J.Town)
J.Town is the name this soft-spoken 27-year-old music-man goes by. As a respected and award-nominated artist, he is no stranger to the limelight at home in Ghana and throughout the continent.
He believes that Africa has the ‘elegance of different cultures, love and hospitable people’ and he names Egypt as his favourite place to travel in the entire world because of the history, the mystery and the cruise on the Nile River.
This father to a lovely young daughter loves artists like ‘Marvin Gaye for his truth and passion, Kanye West for his out-of-the-box thinking and D’Banj for his showmanship skills.’ He may be soft-spoken, but J. Town loves to hop on his motorbike, which is his second love. The best advice he ever received was from a friend who urged him to stay true to who he is and not try to be someone else.
So, what prompted J.Town to want to join the Channel O Africa team? “I want to be part of a platform that supports and showcases African music and talent, something which has always been my dream,” he says.
Flavia Tumusiime (Flavia)
Flavia is no stranger to the Ugandan entertainment circuit and is looking forward to being part of the larger African community by joining Channel O.
The 23-year old university graduate and current game show host believes Africans are ‘the greatest and most welcoming people – they make you feel at home! She loves watching investigative television shows like CSI Miami, Bones and Criminal Minds.
She gets inspiration from different people in different ways, from actress Sophie Okonedo to talk show queen, Oprah. At the moment, her favourite musician is Adele because she feels like she connects with her lyrics.
For her, joining Channel O Africa is a dream come true. “My passion is in television, it’s where I feel my best,” says Flavia. And she is hoping that her journey with Channel O will be travelled successfully if she keeps remembering this advice which she got from her former boss: “The greatest asset you have at all times is you!”
Jokate Urban Mwegelo (Jokate)
Jokate is an energetic and confident 24-year old university graduate who hails from Tanzania. ‘JK’, as she is also known, appreciates Africa for her abundant natural resources and talent.
She says her grandmother has played a huge role in the young woman she has turned out to be. “She was very humble, hard-working and taught me to believe in myself and take care of my beauty,” says Jokate. She also looks up to another powerhouse of a woman for her inspiration, Oprah, whom she sees as an example of ‘amazing success of a black woman.’
For her, the beauty of Accra, its warm people, the party scene and music are what make it her favourite apart from her own hometown. Jokate says if she were an artist, she would have been Lady Gaga because she loves to be different.
And, what does being a Channel O VJ mean to her? “A chance to promote African talent and present it to the world. I am most looking forward to interviewing African superstars, building my brand across
Africa, inspiring young people to explore and be better with their talents.” To her, Africa is the best place to be at this moment. “Everything is happening in this continent and everybody wants to be a part of this growth and the possibilities it holds.”
Edun Adenrele Olufemi (Denrele)
If he were to be an artist, he would be a blend of Lenny Kravitz and Jared Leto with a dose of Gerry G and a perfect finishing of Michael Jackson. If you can picture that, then you are meeting Edun Adenrele Olufemi.
The larger than life personality of this Nigerian native can be attributed to his confidence and a rather high spirit of determination. The 28-year old television personality has won various awards for his work on television and has a never-say die spirit of survival and an independence that has seen him soar to new heights.
Also, his belief and philosophy has played a huge part in him being the distinct personality he is. “Be a first class version of you and not a second class version of someone else,” he says. “And as one person, you cannot change the whole world, but you can save the world of one person.”
For him right now, being a Channel O VJ is what makes him get up in the morning and shout: “It’s a beautiful day!” He has more than one reason to want to be part of Channel O Africa. ” As a brand, Channel O is the ultimate medium to promote the very best of African music. I’m so going to be working at speed rate!”
Maya Christinah Xichavo Wegerif (Maya)
This young 19-year old from Limpopo, South Africa, is a first year college student and intern with a love for everything African. From the bright bold prints of African materials, which she confesses to being addicted to, to the distinctly African sounds of Thandiswa Mazwai and Nneka, both of whom she admires as a reflection of true African artists, this young lady is a proud daughter of the soil.
Maya has lived mostly with her father and credits him for having taught her ‘just about everything’. She lists Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, as her favourite destination because of the ‘culture that is so relaxed, the cool language and the gorgeous scenery’.
She has had her moment of facing big crowds when she spoke to approximately five million viewers during a Live Earth celebration in 2008 and now she will be talking to Africa. So, what does being a Channel O VJ mean to her? “I believe Africa has so much talent to showcase and it’s not just the Africa that is seen on the news. I am looking forward to creating careers and promoting genuinely good music,” she says.
Josephine Mutinda Muthengi (Joey)
Joey is a 26-year old radio presenter from Kijabe, Kenya, who values hard work without excuses. This is what she says she learnt from her parents and that is what she will be carrying forward as she joins the Channel O Africa team.
To this spicy food loving young lady, Africa represents diversity and richness. She believes in never giving up and pushing ahead for one to fulfill his/her dreams. “When things get tough, hold on and never quit. It’s those who stay in the game that make it,” she says.
Joey, who is also an actress, says getting into the media industry in Kenya and landing the Channel O job are her greatest achievements thus far. She says she is looking forward to the travelling and the many amazing people she is yet to meet and interview, plus the opportunity to put Kenyan music on the map.
“Being part of Channel O is an incredible platform to reach more people while representing my country and also sharing my love for music with Africa,” she says.