In 1998, “Sex and the City” kicked off the trend of shows about the complicated lives of professional women who are trying to find themselves.
The cast was made up of all white women. Now fast forward to today, where we can watch classics that include people of color. In 2016, “An African City” hit everything that “Sex and the City” missed.
What’s true is that the series takes the ladies on “Sex and the City”-style adventures, but with an African twist. The Ghanaian based production tells the story of five beautiful and successful women who are finding new ways to deal with being a 21st century woman in Africa.
The series, created by Nicole Amarteifio, kicked off on Youtube in February 2014. The show’s main character, Nana Yaa, a journalist from New York, does the sort of voice overs that made Carrie Bradshaw famous.
Sade is a total Samantha and is professionally successful. Ngozi, the religious one of the group, plans on staying celibate until marriage.
Zainab and Makena are combinations of Samantha and Miranda — both ambitious and two women you don’t want to mess with.
We caught up with Amarteifio to talk season 2 and the cast.
What was your initial inspiration for creating the show?
I was sitting in Accra, Ghana, watching reruns of ‘Sex and the City.’ I wondered what this show would be like if it was set in Accra, Ghana. The thought alone was intriguing to me, knowing that so many of my friends would appreciate a show that was theirs. So, I set off to make it happen.
Are any of the show’s characters taken from your own personal life? In other words, can Ngozi, Zainab, Nana Yaa, Sade, and Makena be traced to reality?
Of course! These women are based on women I know in Accra, Lagos, Nairobi, Kigali, Johannesburg etc. And, each of the five women have aspects of me. It’s for you to guess which aspects!
The show has gotten a lot of praise and notoriety. Did you ever expect that and how does it feel knowing the story connected with so many people?
It shows that an African story can very much be a universal story; and that’s beautiful. That’s the point. Our stories can very much have global appeal.
Does it come as a shock to you that the show has been dubbed as Africa’s answer to ‘Sex and the City’?
Well, I was inspired by Sex and the City, so it’s not surprising. However, while there are a lot of similarities between the two shows, there are also a lot of differences. It’s in these differences that An African City has found its own voice.
The show has garnered some criticism for its focus on the lives of middle and upper class women. Is ‘An African City’ a true portrayal of the urban African woman?
Can any one story be the true portrayal? No. ‘An African City’ is the true portrayal of one story of the African woman. It would be impossible to represent every African woman and the show never set out to be the only portrayal. Highlighting one story – out of the many other stories needed – is all part of diversifying the larger narrative of Africa.
What have the challenges been to keep the show going?
What’s always on my mind is finances. Yes, we have been successful so far, but is it sustainable? Will we be able to keep this – this movement to bulldoze the single story of Africa – going.
For those who haven’t seen season 2 yet, what would you say has changed for the five main characters?
Throughout the season, each of the five characters experience some real touching moments. Those moments make me very proud of what An African City has become and what it could ultimately be.