What’s Up Africa’s Host-Ikenna Azuike Talks About Shooting in Ghana, Why He Quit from Being A Lawyer to Become A Satirist, the Future of What’s Up Africa & MORE

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What’s Up Africa’s Host-Ikenna Azuike

Season 4 of What’s Up Africa, a satire series co-produced by BBC and RNW Media has come to an end—and as we wait for where Season 5 will take us as well as the issues that will be tackled, GhanaCelebrities.Com caught up with the host-Ikenna Azuike for an exclusive interview.


Ikenna Azuike in the interview shared with us how he ended up hosting ‘What’s Up Africa’ after quitting his career as a lawyer. He also spoke to us about his experience in shooting What’s Up Africa’s Season 4 in Ghana, the people he met—and the future of What’s Up Africa.

Though What’s Up Africa has tackled a range of issues, we asked Ikenna Azuike about which of the issues really keeps him awake at night and he said:

In general, environmental issues worry me the most because they have long-term effects on our planet – our children’s home, our grandchildren’s home. But because it’s such a huge and complex issue, it’s very difficult to make people care about it and that keeps me awake at night.

There are so many other issues that frustrate me. From Albino killings to women’s rights and issues around religion – it all makes me a sad, angry man!

Read our full interview below…

What’s Up Africa recently took you to Ghana for the filming of Season 4 which has started airing, what was your filming experience like out there?

Ikenna Azuike: It was a lot of fun. It was also very hectic because we had only planned to do three stories out there but, as it often happens, we met super interesting people along the way and had to include some of them in the series. In the end, we actually came back with five pieces, which meant a lot of running around and squeezing a lot into a short time-frame, so this series really packs a punch.

It was educational learning a lot about different religions for instance in Ghana. I already knew how religious it was, but I had no idea there was a Hindu temple in the centre of Accra.

You met several Ghanaian Celebrities in Ghana for the Season 4 of What’s Up Africa, who was your favourite—and why?

Ikenna Azuike: It’s so hard to pick a favourite – I loved everybody.  I had really interesting conversations with Shirley Frimpong Manso about Ghana’s film industry. I also had my first encounter with a traditional king, Nana Ansah Kwao IV, which was special. I really loved hanging out with Wanlov. He’s such a nice guy – a true bohemian – but he really cares about people and he uses his music to get his points of view across. He doesn’t care what people think, he’s an activist who just says what he believes and is very honest, but he’s also a true professional too.

The What’s Up Africa team also collaborated with one of the country’s most talented actors, Adjetey Anang, and his sister Deborah Owusu-Bonsu. All of these people – and many others we worked with in Ghana – were very professional and really friendly, and we’re so very grateful for that.

What's Up Africa

What’s Up Africa

You’ve said Season 4 of What’s Up Africa is the most exciting of the series yet—what makes it so?

Ikenna Azuike: It’s so exciting! Both BBC World News and RNW Media, the production company behind What’s Up Africa, wanted to spend more time in each country. And, because we are dedicating more time to it on air, we get to know and explain more of each country’s issues in depth.

It was also great to get cracking again after a long break, and I was hungry for jollof rice, tilapia and banku…

Among the various issues, ranging from feminism to atheism that What’s Up Africa has tackled in previous and  yet to air episodes, which particular issue keeps you awake at night and why?

Ikenna Azuike: In general, environmental issues worry me the most because they have long-term effects on our planet – our children’s home, our grandchildren’s home. But because it’s such a huge and complex issue, it’s very difficult to make people care about it and that keeps me awake at night.

There are so many other issues that frustrate me. From Albino killings to women’s rights and issues around religion – it all makes me a sad, angry man!

What’s Up Africa has taken you to several African countries, share with us some of your interesting, weird and shocking experiences?

Ikenna Azuike: Yes, we’ve been very lucky to have had the opportunity to visit a number of interesting countries and meet inspiring people. Last year, in Uganda, we met with Jacquelyne Alesi, the director of Uganda Network of Young People Living with HIV. This group of dynamic, fun, positive young people welcomed us, shared their stories and let us film a full episode around their very special beauty pageant.

Earlier this year, we interviewed church-goers at the end of a service in Accra. We experienced how patient they all were when answering ‘Pastor Azuike’s’ strange questions about atheism.

Ikenna Azuike on the set of What's Up Africa

Ikenna Azuike on the set of What’s Up Africa

Also, what’s been the most bizarre thing someone has said to you while out there shooting What’s Up Africa?

Ikenna Azuike: About an hour drive outside Accra – the last place you’d expect anyone to know my show – we were outside this Hindu temple, where many people were in full Hindu dress, and this petite lady comes up to me. She starts shouting at me “my Chihuahua” and I had no idea what she was saying or why. She said “my Chihuahua” to me again, and I thought ‘is this lady alright’? Then she said to me “your show”, and I realised she was quoting a line from series one of What’s Up Africa, where I end a monologue by saying I’d like to make my Chihuahua my president.

It was so surreal – someone not really in my demographic target audience, shouting Chihuahua at me. It was so random.

Let’s get a bit personal, why What’s Up Africa—let’s put it this way, why did you get into comedy and satire, especially those themed on Africa? 

Ikenna Azuike: When I quit my old career as a lawyer, I decided I wanted to do something I really love, that I’d enjoy and that would make me look forward to going to work. I wanted to do something that would allow me to connect more with my roots, so I started working on a radio magazine programme about Africa.

After watching Jon Stewart – who is one of my heroes – and getting absorbed into YouTube culture, I decided I wanted to try satire but for a young, digital, African audience. I wanted to do something fast-paced and comedic because generally if you can make people laugh, you can make people listen. That’s why I joined RNW Media and started making What’s Up Africa. Luckily, other people agree that humour and satire are a powerful way to tackle sensitive issues, and I’m happy BBC World News saw the potential of this.

There’s a great quote from Jon Stewart that says; “press freedom is the antidote to ignorance,” and that’s what I feel I try to be the flag-bearer of.

Most of us know you from What’s Up Africa, apart from this, what else are you into?

Ikenna Azuike: I like playing and watching football. I also enjoy reading. But what I love most is hanging out with my daughter and my girlfriend. Oh, and I love eating… jollof rice. A lot of it. Seriously, I dream about eating it.

What’s the future of What’s Up Africa? 

Ikenna Azuike: We want to go to more countries in Africa, meet more African people and uncover more African issues. In the next half of the series, we go to Malawi and spend time there getting to grips with what the concerns of local people are.

Everything we do has Africa at its heart and young Africans as its audience, with interesting and diverse stories from the continent.

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