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May 18, 2013

Fred Amata @ 50 (Part 3): White Tie Charity Dinner & Stage Play + Read Charles Novia's Honest And Touching Piece About Our Nollywood Icon



After the success of the first two birthday celebrations respectively, in honour of Nollywood Icon, Fred Amata's 50th birthday, today is the 3rd and final celebration.

There will be a white tie dinner party and His Excellency Governor Fashola of Lagos State, will also be there to honour us with his presence. After ​this, Fred and his fellow A-list colleagues: Bimbo Manuel, Keppy Bassey, Segun Arinze, Monalisa Chinda, Kate Henshaw, Francis Onwochei and many others, will also dole out their acting skills in a stage play titled "The King Must Dance Naked".

For more information and invites, click here

Those of us that were at Fred Amata's first party hosted by City People two weeks ago and witnessed Zik Zulu Okafor, an accomplished producer and known orator, eloquently deliver a eulogy about Fred and the entire Amata family that would make Historians envious, would be excited to also read what well respected Nollywood director and critic, Charles Novia, has to say about Fred. Well, the wait is over now...check out his honest and touching piece on Fred below:


FOR FRED AMATA @ 50

I first met Fred Amata on television in 1989. It was the music video of King Sunny Ade's and Onyeka Onwenu's 'Choices', a family planning public enlightenment campaign. My first thought when I saw the young, handsome fellow on the screen was that he looked a bit like the then popular Zack Amata of the hit Nigerian soap opera, 'Behind the clouds'. Later, I discovered that he's Zack's younger brother and a 'No wonder!' sentence escaped from my lips.
No wonder what? At that time I didn't know why I made that sentence but after having known Fred Amata for close to twenty-five years professionally and eighteen years personally, more 'No wonder' bursts have come out of me over this Fred ever since.
When I first met Fred Amata in person at the grounds of the Nigerian Television Authourity in 1995, he was impeccably dressed and had a glittering fair complexion, with a boyish smile and a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. Someone told him I was an ex-National President of the Nigerian Universities Theatre Arts Students Association and Fred shook me warmly as if I was a Nobel Prize Winner. He was warm and very receptive. That first meeting made me take a liking to him.
I met him a few more times after that over the next couple of years and as my reputation as a script writer was steadily growing while I was still 'experimenting and learning' at NTA, he would always stop to chat with me and ask me if I was writing anything new. Fred has an innate respect for intellect and while he's grossly misunderstood by many people, he is very intelligent with an impressive ability to write screenplays himself and a powerful speaker with a good command of the English Language.
With a very friendly disposition, an open minded personality laced with streaks of the heroic flaws of the Dionysian characters all Theatre scholars know so well, Fred Amata could be said to be as human as God created any other. I deliberately alluded to his heroic flaws, as perceived by me, because I have silently de-constructed and re-constructed Fred Amata over the years. His tragic flaw, which is a positive quality to me, is his very friendly disposition and his willingness to make new friends every minute. Fred takes over a gathering whenever he's around and livens up the place! He receives people he doesn't even know warmly and is always ready to listen to anybody. And he's generous, both in giving and in warmth. Characters don't come any tragic than that, do they?
Still 'no wonder' that as open and warm as Fred is, he's easily irritated and flippant when situations piss him off and then he gets very acidic in his comments and very stubborn. Sometimes, a tad too stubborn.
When Fred gets that way, you cannot budge him. Like the Olumo Rock he would argue his point and if one has a counter-argument, he has a famous quip to drive home his point, 'Why do you think I would in any way accept your opinion?' And then the arguments continue till one person flops out and most of the time, it wouldn't be Fred! But all his friends love him that way. Rather, I should speak for myself! Lol.

All through these years, Fred welcomed me into his circle and through him, I became a friend and family member to his brothers, Uncle Zack, Ruke and his nephew Jeta in a bond of artistic and kindred proportions. Fred is a man who loves his children and would always beam with pride each time he talks about them, all three of them. I have been privileged to share great artistic and personal moments with Fred Amata. Its a privilege I cherish and don't take for granted. Like all great artistes, Fred has a gift and a curse. (Don't we all?) Its just an irony that his curse is actually his gift! And as a nation, Fred is actually a gift to our cultural sector. He's one of the pioneers of Nollywood as we know it, having been involved in the birth and shaping of an industry which though acclaimed to have 'grown from nothing', is actually an off-shoot of the foundations laid by his late father, John Efoghale Amata, who featured in the first movie shot in colonial Africa titled 'Freedom'.

As hard as it is to believe, Nollywood is actually a close-knit family, daggers and all. Fred is a pater familias figure to many in the industry who look up to him. My story about knowing him is just one of thousands who have inspiring tales of their friendship with Fred.
A few days back, at the novelty football match organised to kick start Fred's fiftieth birthday at the Campus Square Stadium, celebrities, ex-footballers and a motley crowd of well-wishers came in large numbers to honour the man. It was an impressive event. And with Fred, sometimes its hard to distinguish the man at fifty from the boy of fifteen. Whilst on the pitch, he would dance, shout, hail friends and play football simultaneously. I had to scream out 'Agbaya' at a point!
If Fred Amata is not an 'Agbaya' who has commendably re-defined the meaning of the word, then someone tell me why he participated in the 'Celebrity Takes Two' dancing reality show four years ago as the oldest contestant and so impressed the judges and viewers with his dancing skills that he came second! And for those who crave for pleasant surprises in a party, pray to see Fred on the dance floor as he displays his dancing skills from the past to the present. He dances the 'Azonto' fluidly, as if he was born to do it. And what wasn't Fred Amata born for, come to think of it? Acting? Directing? Writing? A sprinkle of more greatness is what's left to fulfil his destiny.
So, its no wonder that as Fred Amata celebrates his fiftieth birthday, the entertainment industry, politicians , fans and friends would look back at a career of excellence in acting and directing as well as a triumph of will and ambition and clink glasses and shout 'Cheers' to the maestro @ fifty. And as Fred receives and opens his packages, Nigeria acknowledges that he is a package we all collectively have received all through these years. We just didn't bother to open him. Till now.
Happy Birthday, Fred.



WOW!!! Charles Novia has really said it all and hit the nail on the head concerning the Fred that I have known for over two decades.

This tribute is so touching and takes me wayyyy back. I must add that Keppy and NY Ekpenyong were responsible for my very first introduction to Nollywood way back in 1993 when myself and NY were best of friends {we still are btw :-) } and that was how I met Fred and Ruke Amata, Matthias Obahiagbon, Obi Osotule, Victoria Inyama and many others, as we gathered frequently at Keppy's in Surulere. 

I left Nigeria later that summer to return to England, but we all kept in touch over the years and met periodically and ironically, when I returned to Nollywood four years ago, 'Celebrity Takes Two' for which I handled Fred's campaign and PR, was one of my first 'come-back' projects; so we go back a long way and whenever you see me with any of these BIG BOYS OF NOLLYWOOD, make una no find my trouble oh cos I'm like their lil sister and they don't joke with me! Hehehe! *only joking :-)*

Happy Birthday Fred my big bro. 50 no be beans mbok. Ama try ufan. Abasi odiong fi ette, onyung akama fi ke nsi nsi nsi nsi ke enying Jesus - AMEN!!!

Much love n' God's blessings,

Egor Efiok.










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