The greatest weapon you have to change a nation is creativity – Linus Idahosa

Nigeria has come a long way since the times when major commercials and creative content had to be produced outside the country, to now, when creative talents live and work in the country, producing exceptional and commercially viable talent for both local and international clients.

This journey dates back to when radicals like Linus Idahosa dared to change the status quo.

Reflecting back, Linus Idahosa recounted in an interview; “The AHA moment came when I wanted to do a commercial for a client. They wanted it shot outside the shores of the country, and I thought to myself that I would produce it locally and I would not let them know that it was shot locally and I would see for myself if they could tell the difference.”

Knowing that these commercials were shot outside the country at huge human and capital cost to the company, Idahosa reasoned that they could cut down on those costs by producing it in Nigeria, and bring the money back into the Nigerian economy. After completing the job, he presented it to the clients and they were incredibly impressed, although they somehow assumed that it had been done in South Africa.

“I sat down with the head of marketing communications team and the team members, thanked them for the job and then I told them I actually shot this in Lagos, in Yaba to be precise. I told them the filters I used and how I used it. I saw the surprised look on their faces, and there was this sense of pride in knowing that it had been done locally. I realised then that I had, without knowing, converted a few people – people who saw that potential lies within us, in the strangest of places,” he said.

With this realization and the need to satisfy and cater to the needs of the new converts who now believe in the creative strength of Nigeria, Del-York International started.

Del-York International has etched its name in the PR and strategic communications sector, initiating and executing world-class campaigns for brands across Nigeria, London and the United States of America.

Having proven that it was possible to use the local resources and scenery, the next step was building capacity to ensure that the talents needed to create and export such expertise to the world, were cultivated.

“Most of the creatives I worked with, even while with CNN, were produced outside of Nigeria and some of our clients were spending thousands of dollars to shoot in studios in Paris and other places. That needed to change.”

And so, Del-York Creative Academy was born.

Earlier in time…

Linus Idahosa was born to Nigerian parents in the 80s, and had his early education in present-day Edo state. While he did not fix his mind on any specific career, Linus Idahosa got attracted to the creative space quite early, and his first contact with creativity was music. The young Idahosa loved music and had a sensitive ear for good ones. He could listen and distinctively pick out the voice types, and instruments played in any music.

“I think music taught me creativity. I would be able to in my mind, distill the different sounds that

“Come out of a song whether a tenor, alto or treble singer, or a bass or treble guitar. I could hear each of those sounds so clear in my head, and be able to piece them together,” he said.

Taking it a step further, he joined a young gospel band and this firmly roped him into the creative space. This however, did not take him away from his education, as he always wanted to make his parents proud.

After his secondary education, Linus Idahosa was admitted into the University of Benin to read law, but left after a year. He returned after a while, this time into the department of Philosophy and Public Diplomacy, and graduated within four years with a 2nd Class Upper degree. “I may have chosen to do philosophy just so I could graduate with my mates from law who were doing a six-year program, but I think philosophy opened my mind to see things differently,” he said in an interview.

Linus Idahosa would later get a Graduate Certificate in Media and Film from the University of Belize. He has also received two Honorary Doctorate degrees from the prestigious London Graduate School, Albion College and the University of Belize.

He had his National Youth Service in Delta state and emerged Best Corper of the Year. He had organised corps members and raised funds to build a Statue of Peace in Warri town. It was their symbol to encourage an end to the clash between the Itsekiris and Urhobos at the time. Afterwards, he got a job with a dredging company to handle the communications and marketing aspect of the business. From there, he rose to become the Managing Director of the company.

“Wherever I found myself, I would immediately identify what the gaps were and whatever job I was given to do, I would find the most creative ways of solving problems and moving things a lot forward.”

The next career move was a major leap to become a consultant for CNN in Nigeria, working with the Inside Africa project to convince corporate organisations to advertise with the news network. This role deepened his understanding of the inner workings of corporate organisations – a knowledge which would soon come in very handy.

“Everything in life from how I was raised, from my formative years to right now, my passion for everything I did, has been and still is the driving force for me. They prepared me for later challenges and opportunities. I think that things should be done differently. I feel like there are gems here in Nigeria that still need to be explored,” Linus Idahosa said.

Founding Del-York Creative Academy

Del-York started out with the sole purpose of closing the existent gap and cultivating creative products and talents in Africa. It was really about cutting down the practice of outsourcing jobs that could be executed locally.

It is no secret that the Nigerian creative and entertainment sector is extremely vibrant and productive but unfortunately, “despite being the third-largest film industry in the world with booming music, fashion and film industries, the financial returns are still a far cry from what is attainable elsewhere,” Idahosa says.

Linus Idahosa went out in search of capacity building institutions across the world that could complement what he wanted to do with Del-York Creative Academy. The result of this was the first-ever partnership with the New York Film Academy, and between 2011 and 2012, Del-York flew in a total of 62 of its lecturers into Nigeria, hosting them for a combined period of 60 days, training 650 filmmakers and media practitioners from across Africa – the largest US-Africa creative industry partnership of its kind.

In less than two decades, Del-York Creative Academy has redefined what vocational training and capacity building should be for the creative industry in Nigeria and Africa. The over 3000 alumni are now spreading the impacts in their space, competing globally and becoming powerhouses themselves in the creative industry. The partnerships with the New York Film Academy, University of Southern California, as well as other strategic partnerships have also redefined partnerships in the industry and set new standards.

“Our partnerships with institutions and companies in the US have exposed them to our culture, our style of filmmaking, our style of telling stories. Most of the people who have learnt with us have also acquired the right values like discipline, time and resource management,” Idahosa says.

Del-York Group develops First of Its Kind Ultra-Modern Film City in Lagos

Del-York equally has strong ties and strategic partnerships with local and regional governments across and beyond Africa, including the Lagos state government.

In 2021, Del-York International Group partnered with the Lagos state government and Storyland Studios to undertake the building of a film city and entertainment industry campus, a first-of-its-kind film industry and creative hub in Lagos, Nigeria.

The 100-hectare facility is envisioned as a place of leisure, entertainment, and learning where film and all types of creative industry professionals can live, work, and learn in a serene and conducive environment with best-in-class facilities intermingled with amenities and infrastructure that support a modern sustainable city. It goes without saying that the impact of this facility on Nigeria when it is completed, will be a phenomenal multiplier effect of job creation and contribution to GDP that the project will facilitate. This is a major and notable achievement for the Del-York Group.

What’s next for Del-York Group

In spite of the great strides Del-York has made to become a first-class institution in Africa’s creative industry, Linus Idahosa says for him Del-York is still “at the foundation stage of a skyscraper that will show to the world that good things come from Nigeria and Africa.”

Written By: Ashley White

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