Modern babes in fattening room
In a fresh and ambitious re-enactment of the Efik pre-marriage tradition, Fattening Room, six ladies drawn from different parts of Africa land in seclusion, writes AKEEM LASISI
At a time many people fear that the country’s many cultural practices are on the extinction plane, Fattening Room, a major bridal practice of the Efik People of Cross River, appears to have got a new lease of life. It will soon become a spectacle to be watched on the screen, through the acts of six modern ladies who have just experienced it.
The producer, EbonyLife, which has come up with some powerful reality shows in recent times, describes Fattening Room as an authentic experience set in the historically significant city of Calabar, also home to the famous Calabar Cultural Festival.
“The Fattening Room is unique to the Efik culture of Nigeria and is practised when young women enter a house of seclusion to learn everything a woman needs to know about running an honourable home, raising children that are as good as gold and managing to keep her husband happy and at home,” the company’s Director of Reality Programmes, Pamela Ofoegbu, notes.
The organisation believes that the time has come to discover the inner chambers of tradition that have always been reserved for women only, when six young ladies from across Africa enter the Fattening Room for the very first time.
She adds, “The ladies start the series in the strict Efik tradition and journey towards modern invention while always honouring their African roots. It has been an incredible journey back to time as we celebrate our rich African heritage on a beautiful trado-modern backdrop. Our ladies from Botswana, South Africa, Zambia, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya emerged from the Fattening Room with a better appreciation of the Efik culture and tradition and also of themselves as strong African women full of value and worth.”
Just ‘escaping’ from the room are Roselyn Ashkar, a fashion model and journalist from Ghana; Sally Berold, an adventurer and freelance experiential marketing specialist from South Africa; Stephanie Unachukwu, a Nigerian designer and Patricia Kihoto, a singer, actress and radio personality from Kenya.
Others are Thsepo Maphanyanye, a publicity and public relations executive from Botswana, and Limpo Funjika, a business development manager and aspiring TV presenter from Zambia.
While the Series Producer at EbonyLife, founded by Mo Abudu, Priscilia Nzimiro, says producing the Fattening Room has been a wonderful and enlightening experience, with Content Director, Kenneth Gyang, lauding the treat as being engaging, the cast generally say the experience has been revealing.
Says Tshepo, “Participating in the fattening room has certainly been a surge of all kinds of emotions but best of all it has been without a doubt an incredible journey of discovery and a once in a lifetime opportunity of exposure to such a rich culture experienced alongside an amazing circle of young women from nations across Africa.Certainly one of my best experiences.”
For Limpo, it has provided her an opportunity to learn; and for Patricia, it has been a lot of fun although she concedes she has learnt a lot, even about herself.
Also says Stephanie, “I have had the opportunity to learn new skills in the short amount of time I’ve been here and look forward to the rest of the show and what it holds.”
Abudu congratulates all the participants and salutes the crew for the feat at producing Fattening Room. She notes, “It is a true testimony of ‘If you can think it, you can do it.’ As a team, during one of our strategy sessions about a year ago inTinapa, we wanted to develop and produce a reality show that showcased the rich culture of Calabar that is now home to EbonyLife TV and we thought what better way to do that, than the Efik tradition of The Fattening Room! And with the genius minds of the EbonyLifeTV team at work, we gave it a treatment that will simply wow everyone when it airs! We simply took an old Efik culture and gave it a modern twist. “