Nigeria vs Ghana Jollof fight is pointless – Akah Nnani

17 November 2021

Nigeria vs Ghana Jollof fight is pointless – Akah Nnani

When he’s not dropping bants on his YouTube channel, giving us God When moments with his wife, Claire, or stirring up heated debates on Twitter, Akah Nnani is steadily making a name for himself in the movie industry. 

With a 2018 Best Actor in a Supporting Role AMAA nomination in the bag, Akah has taken Nollywood head-on with several huge projects, the latest being the Showmax Original Ghana Jollof, where he plays Romanus, a Nigerian graduate who moves to Ghana in search of greener pastures.

“Playing Romanus really stretched me because I had no script; I had to improv and make up my lines and reactions,” he shared in an exclusive chat.

From pissing Basketmouth off to landing a role on Ghana Jollof, meeting online trolls in person and more, Akah shares the secrets of his success, among other things.

How did you land a role on Ghana Jollof?

About five years ago, I was at IK Osakioduwa’s party, which also happened to be my first time being in the same space as Basketmouth. I was being my usual goofy self, making people laugh, and when the party was winding down, he came up to me as he was leaving and said, “I like you a lot. I have something for you. We need to do something together.” And that was it. Fast forward to this year, he calls me, saying, “Akah, it’s time for us to work together”. I actually didn’t know he was still going to call me or speak to me because a year ago, I think I vexed him. He sent me two VIP tickets for my wife and me to attend his last show and I didn’t go, and when I messaged him to say I wasn’t going to make it, he didn’t respond so I was very surprised when he called me for this job.

Watch the full trailer

How was it working with Basketmouth and the rest of the crew?

It was amazing because it’s Basketmouth and he’s a genius. He’s a workaholic but at the same time he respects human beings and he also just gives you this sense that he believes in you, that’s the culture of his company. I remember when he told me about the shooting style and I said I wasn’t sure I could do it because it was improv. He said if he didn’t believe I could do it, he wouldn’t have called me. 

What did you like best about playing Romanus?

I would say the fact that it stretched me. I wasn’t given a script and I was working with comedic giants like Basketmouth, Buchi and Funnybone and I had to hold my own. Every day I would have to psyche myself up and I consider it a blessing because you always want to be on a project that challenges you.

Behind the scenes of Ghana Jollof

Any similarities between Akah and Romanus?

I don’t think so. He’s someone I had to build and find. The closest I can find to a parallel is perhaps starting from the bottom. Following my life’s story and where I started from, I didn’t know anyone or have anybody, but I decided I wanted to make it in the entertainment industry.

You play a character who moves to Ghana in Ghana Jollof. What advice would you give to anyone moving to Ghana?

I would say to them: “Get ready to enjoy the nightlife”. Ghana has a vibing nightlife. Also, get ready to drink a lot of coconut water, because they have it everywhere, which is amazing. It’s one of the things I really enjoyed, just seeing coconut water everywhere, because in Nigeria we mostly only have it at specific beaches. Also, I would say, don’t engage in the Nigeria vs Ghana jollof war. Try it first, because as far I’m concerned, the fight is pointless. If you have someone prepare really good Ghanaian jollof, you’ll eat your fingers. 

What’s your take on Ghanaians in general?

I would say they’re quite different from Nigerians. So I’d heard so much about waakye and decided I had to give it a try. When they brought it, I was wondering why they had different food items on one plate. Egg, stew, garri, spaghetti on one plate! I was so confused, but I kept an open mind and when I tasted it my mind was blown. For some reason, I could understand Ghanaian people from that meal, because for them, waakye is about the different food textures and it helped me realise that Ghanaians enjoy experiences, while we Nigerians are just about work and play. We don’t travel, go to the beach, sightsee and so on. The only thing you can do in Lagos is go to restaurants and watch a movie. But they literally have only two cinemas in the whole of Ghana, while they have countless hotels and resorts because they value experiences, and it shows in their food and even their buildings. Their houses have gardens and parking lots, whereas in Nigeria, finding parking space is a problem.

What would you say has fuelled your growth in the entertainment industry?

Self-belief, self-development and always having good people around me. Having good people around me to advise and put me in line has been very helpful in my career. This is also inclusive of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the most valuable person anyone can have. Also having a good attitude in your personal relationships with people, just being a good person and having good energy, people can literally feel that and vibe off it. That’s played a huge role in taking me to where I am. Especially with the kind of business we do anywhere in the world, having people in a room to call your name and stick their neck out for you always makes you a winner.

How have you managed to surround yourself with the right people?

What makes opportunity gold is preparation. What has gotten me into the room with decision-makers is being good at my craft. So it’s important to know your craft because if you get a chance and misuse it, the next person won’t give you a chance. If you get in through the back door to get a role or position, you’ll keep using the back door and the price is higher. But just being good at what you do will get you into the room one day and then from getting into the room, you’ll sit on the table. 

Watch this interview with co-stars Funnybone and James Gardiner

You’re a newish dad. What has fatherhood taught you so far?

Going through age zero to eleven months, I’ve learnt so much but what I’m learning now is resilience. My daughter is teaching me resilience because when it’s nap time, she always protests and the process of putting her down can take about 40 to 50 minutes, depending on how playful she is, and I have to carry her all through this process. So I’m standing there saying to her and myself that I’ll prove to you that I’m more patient than your craze. So she’s teaching me resilience and I think that’s what a lot of parents struggle with, just finding that time and energy to go through the process.

You’ve been at the centre of some social media debates. Have you had any physical encounters with any of your online trolls?

They can’t meet me; they only have liver behind the screen. They probably won’t even be in the same space as me because I hardly go out and if I do, I’m getting paid. So you have to be of value to be where I am, so it’s not even possible to meet them. However, I’ve met some people who have said they saw my post on certain issues and were like, ‘I was about to fight and shout but I now saw why you did it’. Like with the breastfeeding video (when Akah was videoed conversing about storing breastmilk with his wife), I went somewhere and a pastor said, ‘You were the man who posted that video on breastfeeding, I was about to attack you online when I saw it but I said let me watch the video and read your caption and when I did, I said this is a man that’s a gift to this generation. I see what you’re doing, thank you so much.’ I’ve also met so many young people my age who have said thank you for speaking the truth and saying it as it is. For me, it gives a sense of validation, like clearly, I’m not mad, there are people who know what’s right and wrong, and who are seeing that the world is going crazy. 

Tell us something about yourself that people will be surprised to know?

I don’t pick up calls! I’m the worst with my phone like you cannot depend on me to answer the phone or respond to that email or WhatsApp message. If you were in an emergency, it’s three days later I’ll see it and start fretting. Same with social media, I go on Instagram, post and I’m out. I’m not a social media person, I just do it because it’s work.

What’s next for Akah?

I have a movie with Funke Akindele and I play a role that will shake the world. I absolutely kill it and I’m excited about that. 

Watch Ghana Jollof exclusively on Showmax. New episodes every Friday.

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