Louis Gossett Jr., Ben Bruce, Keith David honored at the African Oscars

The 4th annual Nollywood African Film Critics’ Awards (NAFCA) split their honors between history and spectacle Saturday night. Honoring actors who have made history, the ‘African Oscars’ as its nicknamed, heaped honors on several notable individuals. Louis Gossett Jr., the first African-American male to win an Academy Award in a supporting role and Glynn Turman who plays Don Cheadle’s dad in the Showtime drams “House of Lies” received lifetime achievement awards. Ben Bruce, CEO of the Silverbird Group-Nigeria and actor Keith David both received the special NAFCA honor, an image award for their personal and professional achievements.

With NAFCA trophies going as well to Nollywood actress Patience Ozokwo and Bishop Noel Jones, others winner included Nigerian actor Ayo Makun, who won best actor in a supporting role for the movie “Being Mrs. Elliot.” Don Okolo received best director for his film “Gem of the Rainforest,” the best foreign film accolade went to “12 Years a Slave,” while Hollwyood actors Sharon Leal and Blair Underwood earned acting nods for film “Woman Thou Art Loosed.”

“Busted Life” which was nominated twice for both best film and best drama, was beat out by “Adora” for best film, but it won for best drama. Artist of the year went to Werranson and U.K.’s Ken Smart received Nollywood’s People’s Choice award for favorite actor.Taking a cue from the Oscars, co-host and show-dancing champion Michael Adejoke, who also performed, had goat meat served to the audience and also left the stage for a customary selfish with an ecstatic audience.

Held at the Saban theater in Beverly Hills, CA, the three-hour show dished out awards in over 40 categories. Presenters included Hawthorn James (“The Five Heartbeats”), Ella Joyce (“My Wife and Kids”), Kellita Smith (“The Bernie Mac Show”), Lester Speight (“My Dad’s a Soccer Mom”), Trae Ireland (“Love That Girl”) and Florence LaRue (Former 5th Dimension).

Werranson with award on stage

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The most moving moment of the night came from reality star Omarosa Manigault who was clearly choked up with emotion during her tribute to actor Michael Clarke Duncan who she was engaged to prior to his death in September 2012. “I went from planning a wedding to a funeral,” she told a sympathetic audience.

First presented in 2011 at the RTP Sheraton Imperial Hotel in Durham North Carolina, NAFCA globally promotes African Cinema and culture and celebrates African achievers. Past honorees of NAFCA include President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia, President Jonathan E. Goodluck and President Nelson Mandela who received a special honor in 2011.

by Samantha Ofole-Prince

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