International Actor Hakeem Kae-Kazim wants Kwame Nkrumah Role

Nigerian-born, English-raised South African actor/producer Hakeem Kae-Kazim certainly gained international recognition for his role as Georges Rutaganda in Hotel Rwanda in 2004 and he continues to be on the rise. After being turned down several times by the hit US action drama series 24, the producers finally found the perfect role for Hakeem in the upcoming season of the show. Jamati Online caught up with the proudly African actor to talk about his role in ‘24′ as well picking his thoughts on African actors and films in general. What role do you play in ‘24‘? I play the role of Colonel Ike Dubaku the leader of a coup in the fictitious African country of Sangala. How did you get that role? The role was actually offered to me, but only after having been seen by them over a year for five other roles; none of which I got. Why the shooting in SA? The reason for the prequel being shot in South Africa was because the story line is an African one and they used South Africa and, in particular Cape Town to double as Sangala What is your opinion on African films? It depends on your definition! But my view is that, we still have to make them on an international level, or let me put it another way, with international production values – the English speaking nations anyhow – the francophone nations do very well in this regard. Nigerians make African movies from a totally African perspective but without the international production value that is needed. South Africa has begun making some fantastic African movies but they are few and far between, although I know this is changing. What’s your opinion on Nollywood? Nollywood has great potential; they tell original African stories from an African perspective with an African voice. That is why they have had such a reach around the continent and throughout the Diaspora. I believe in a few years we will see some truly great African cinema, with international production values, come out of the Nollywood machine. What could be done to improve Nollywood? More money going into the making of Nollywood films. This means cutting down on piracy so the film makers can get a proper return on their investment and thereby increase production values throughout. The audience is out there, and hungry for African stories and heroes to be portrayed You produced a Nollywood-styled movie. Why? What was it about? I produced a Nollywood movie in the Nollywood style while in South Africa to see what it was like working in that way and also to see whether it was a way of giving a voice to local film makers who had stories to tell but without the access to the local film making machine – which I felt was more interested in making Eurocentric type of films or films in a more western type of way negating the African voice even when they had an African theme. The film was called “Coming to South Africa” and it was about two Nigerians who leave home and head south to make a better life for themselves. They both find it difficult and one decides to make his way selling drugs while the other decides to go and work his way up, starting off as a factory guard to pay his way through college. How was it received? Again it was received well by those that saw it. On a trip to Kenya, I noticed that it was in the local stores and people had seen it but what was more pleasing, in one respect, was the response from local South Africans that caught it, and the gradual infiltration of Nollywood into the townships. Do you think Nollywood movies can win international awards in the future? I have not seen a Nollywood movie as yet win an international award but it will happen! Just as the Indian film Industry has now climbed to acceptable international status it is only a matter of time before Nollywood films reach that height. Often when Hollywood does films about African figures, they don’t use African actors. Why is that? Hollywood is using more African actors now than it has done, but a lot of the time when it wants to cast lead African roles it doesn’t, mainly because they are only interested in having a name because that means box office and unfortunately there aren’t that many African box office names out there yet, but we are coming!! If you had the opportunity to play the role of an African icon, whom would it be and why? There are so many iconic figures from this continent I want to portray on film!! But one of my first would be Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the father of pan-Africanism. His voice /story would be a telling reminder to how we have found ourselves on this continent since the end of colonialism. Certainly there is a lot to come from this true African Gem. You can see him on ‘24‘, and, more recently in the film, ‘Wolverine‘.