'Ogas At The Top' -- Puppet Satire of Naija's Leaders & Celebs

A new Tv show featuring puppet versions of Naija celebrities and leaders, has debuted and promises to be one heck of a laughter ride if the producers get it well. Why do I say that? Because the producers of the new show titled Ogas At The Top are actually based in Kenya. The new show is actually a Naija version of The XYZ Show which is also a puppet themed series that satirizes Kenya's leadership and celebrities.

The Obasanjo Puppet from the show
According to a report:
The show will feature puppet doubles of Olusegun Obasanjo, Patience Ozokwor, Sani Abacha, Basketmouth, Ibrahim Babangida, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Bola Tinubu and many others.
Ogas at the Top’ already has a Kenyan version ‘The XYZ Show’, which won the AMVCA (Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Award) for Best TV Series last year. It is already in its 9th season and has a followership of over 10million people.
The producers of the show say inspiration will never be lacking as the Nigerian political landscape offers story ideas aplenty for the Nigerian version.
‘The Nigerian political scene is a goldmine for stories: we certainly won’t run out of inspiration any time soon. And we know that Nigerians, just like Kenyans, have a wicked sense of humor, so this promises to be a wild ride.’

Obj, Patience Jonathan, GEJ, Okonjo Iweala...can't figure the last lady

For me, I see this as a good timing. I had come across The XYZ Series a few years back and had wondered why such a show did not exist in Nigeria - a nation that is filled with all manners of 'katakata' - political drama, intrigues, scandals, controversies etc...and in the dramatis personae include our bumbling leaders and celebrities from different works of life; everyone who was making explosive negative or positive impact. I was entranced by The XYZ Show series that I was thinking I could go meet with them somehow and affiliate in the creation of a Naija version a couple of years back. 

Well...unfortunately I never got to do that.

And as if the guys at Buni Media, Kenya aligned with my thoughts, they moved fast and came up with this ingenius concept - even the name (Ogas At The Top) was a smart decision; a reference that had gained acceptance in Naija culture after an NSCDC officer's 'misyarning' on Channels TV.
My only unanswered wish was that a Naija outfit that really understood this nation well could have taken up the project. 

Recently, some clips of the show have been uploaded on YouTube and after watching it, I had to say they didn't do a bad job at all. However, they need to be careful about accents that are not fully Nigerian - like that of the Patience Jonathan Character as I saw in one of the skits. The skits were funny; I just hope they have Nigerian advisers or guides to ensure it doesn't end up sounding Kenyan or somewhat different.

                  (A) - Spitting Image, (B) - Les Guignols de L'info, (C) - The XYZ Show. 

Spitting Image has the most grotesque looking set of puppets.
Puppet themed satirical shows like this started way back in the 1980s with shows like the Spitting Image series from Britain which aired from 1984-1996 and Les Guignols de L'info from France which debuted in 1988. The producers of The XYZ show 

Godfrey Mwampembwa (pen named 'Gado'), a Kenyan political cartoonist and satirist is the originator of the XYZ show. He got his got inspiration from Les Guignols de L'info. (I came to notice that Les Guignols de L'info nicer looking puppets than the Spitting Image versions though)
On a trip to Paris, for an exhibition Gado took time to visit the set of "Les Guignols de l'Info", or the "News Puppets". Les Guignols, just like XYZ, is a spoof newscast featuring latex puppets. It has been on the air for more than 20 years and is one of France's most popular shows ever.To Gado it was immediately obvious that the same concept would not only be a huge success in Kenya, but could also have an important social impact by exposing, with humor, the rampant corruption and mismanagement of the country.Back in Kenya, Gado shopped the idea around to the TV stations, but many had trouble understanding the concept. Still, Gado pressed ahead, and in 2004 he managed to convince the French Embassy in Nairobi to send sculptor Gerald Olewe to France for a month. There Olewe was trained by the team of experts who create the French puppets, and he learned how to work with sophisticated materials such as foaming latex. He came back with a fully finished puppet of Kibaki in his luggage. Olewe held his breath as he innocently walked through the JKIA customs. Luckily, he was not stopped.
The puppet concept has grown to be embraced in different nations; I got to see the Spanish, Portuguese, Indian, Cameroonian and South African versions.

If 'Ogas At the Top' becomes a hit (if they get it right), then TV and cable stations would probably jump at airing them as Naija has a very large viewership and material.

What do you think?

1 Screamer(s):

Toinlicious said...

I'm loving the idea behind this. I Let me go watch some