Amaka Igwe (1963–2014) was a prolific, award-winning and critically acclaimed Nigerian filmmaker and broadcasting executive. She was the owner of Top Radio 90.9 Lagos, Amaka Igwe Studios, and many other companies. Her legacy includes being a stakeholder and engineer of the international phenomenon that is now known as 'Nollywood', the world's third largest film industry after Hollywood and Bollywood. She was a Christian, and an inspiration to her juniors, seniors and peers alike.
Early life and education
Uzoamaka Audrey 'Amaka' was born to Isaac and Patience Ene on 2 January 1963 in Port-Harcourt. She was the fifth of seven children, and the fourth of six sisters. Nicknamed ‘Uzanka’, Amaka was also known in her household as 'GOC (General Commanding Officer)' by her father and 'Storm' by her mother because she always had activities around her. The Isaac-Ene household was eccentric and lively. Her portfolio in the household was Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, a premonition to the career path she would eventually follow. Her favorite color was blue.
She had her early education at All Saints School and Awkunanaw Girls High School in Enugu. She could box, and she also put up a hoop in the back of her house and played basketball. Most times she would be found playing football with the boys in her neighbourhood, as the captain of the all-boys Ngwo Park football team, with her hair cropped short and mud deliberately covering her ear holes. She said she did not want any special treatment because she was a girl, she just wanted to play. This formed an essential part of Igwe’s ethos in life. She refused to be gendered. She would rather just be her best, not anyone else’s. Having her own self as her only competition came from her father, Isaac Anekwe Ene. Amaka also set up a library, as well as many other public works and ventures on behalf of her neighborhood. She also remembered vividly many aspects of the Nigerian Civil War, despite only being three years old at the time. It was a dream to eventually be able to capture some of those memories on film.
During her A-Levels in Idia College, Benin, Igwe fully and publicly engaged with her creative side. She trained people in the Atilogu dance, and it eventually became the school dance and was used to compete nationally. She also came up with plays, songs, and other creative exploits. Interestingly, Amaka Igwe wanted to study law but officials of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) offered her a chance to study Education and Religious Studies (Theology) instead. Hence, she studied Education/Religion at the University of Ife (Now Obafemi Aolowo University).
From OAU, Igwe signed the MNET short celluloid film "Barbers Wisdom" as director and then proceeded to the University of Ibadan, where she obtained a master's degree in Library and Information Services. She spent her time during her NYSC Youth Service as a travelling secretary for the Scripture Union, procured an MSc in Information Science and afterwards she worked at the Anambra State University of Technology and as an executive director at Eida Information Systems, before settling fully with the creative industry.
Igwe as aforementioned was the fifth of seven siblings, and the fourth of six sisters: Stella Mbubaegbu CBE, Alice, Bob, Gloria, Uche, and Rita. She met her husband in September 1992, although they had at a point been in the same primary school. They got married the following year in April 1993, and they have three children: Ruby (Born 1995), David (Born 1999) and Daniel (Born 2002).
Igwe was an accomplished writer, producer, director, entrepreneur and teacher. A visionary and pioneer of modern Nigerian TV drama and film, she hit national limelight as the writer and producer of award-winning TV soap ‘Checkmate’ and its offshoot ‘Fuji House of Commotion’. Her Nollywood projects include Rattlesnake and Violated – two critically acclaimed movies that set apart Amaka Igwe Studios in the much-criticised Nollywood industry. She is the founder of BOBTV Expo, founder and CEO of the Lagos mainland based Top Radio 90.9FM station, the quality content production powerhouse Amaka Igwe Studios, and Q Entertainment Networks, a DSTV channel she was working on before her death.
Igwe won a vast number of awards in her career, all of which could normally be found hung up on the staircase and hallways of her office, the more personal awards found on her desk. Her country Nigeria recognized her substantial efforts and immense contributions to the creative industry by awarding in 2011 with the Nigerian National Order of 'MFR', meaning 'Member of The Federal Republic of Nigeria.'
Igwe died on 28 April 2014, in Enugu, Nigeria, at 8:30 pm, creating a massive vacuum in the lives of all she influenced: friends and family she loved, stood for and believed in, colleagues she inspired, and a country for which she remained unapologetically optimistic.
Igwe will be remembered for raising the bar in movie and TV production in Nigeria, setting, attaining and maintaining high standards with her company Amaka Igwe Studios at a time when Nollywood was not taken seriously, for not conforming to low standards as a means to achieving success and for inspiring many Nigerian movie makers, Nigerians, and the world as a whole.
A sense of duty to and respect for God, her family, excellence in everything, the integrity and quality of her work, and tradition in general was an integral part of Amaka. She loved her family, and resolved to always be there for them. Amaka Igwe invested in people, and they remain her testimony. She often told those she directly trained that she would give them what she has so they could add to what they have and be better than her. She never thought she was indispensable, and she was committed to the growth and sustenance of the Creative Industries.
Her life remains a lesson to all of us yet living. She was a woman who gave her all, and withheld nothing. She walked with God, and had her priorities in check. She was most interested in the collective growth of everyone around her, she refused to eat alone. She loved, and she was in turn loved. She was here.
"I am an unapologetic commercial filmmaker. I make films to make money."
"I will give you all I have, so you can add it to what you have and be better than me."
"By the Special Grace of God."
"Mr. President, what is Arik Air without an airport?"
"Nollywood is a global movement."
Rattle Snake 1,2 & 3
To Live Again
A Barber's Wisdom
Fuji House of Commotion
Now We Are Married
Bless This House