Massively entertaining

Carrington Ernest Nuamah, founder of The Massive Group
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Whether it’s in media and entertainment, events management and production, property development and management, business consultancy or online business hubs, the dynamic founder of The Massive Group, has his finger in many pies. Meet Carrington Ernest Nuamah, the man responsible for among others, bringing international concerts to South African shores.

BBQ spoke to the talented Nuamah following the long awaited A night with Boyz II Men & Joe concert, organised by Massive Events Live, at venues across South Africa last year.

Where were you born and can you tell us a bit about your hopes and dreams in your growing years?

I had very ambitious parents who were strong anti-apartheid activists, so they migrated to South Africa in the early 1980s, when I was about 14 years old, from Ghana and were based in the former homeland Bophuthatswana, in a town called Itsoseng not far from Mafikeng where they worked as teachers and lecturers. My dad was a member of an organisation that raised funds for the PAC and ANC and various anti-apartheid organisations in the late 70s and 80s till his passing in the early 90s. We travelled so much across the globe when I was younger and have never been to a country like South Africa at that time---the racism, hostility and violence. I then asked my dad why he moved here, and he said we all needed to help stop what was happening here at the time. I asked him how he, or we, can help, and he said through education. ‘Give people the right knowledge and they will empower better,’ he said. I hoped then already that I could do my part with the little bit that I knew. I today realize that most of it is still relevant now. My father would raise funds for the ANC and PAC then and I never understood why he was doing that. I only hoped he could live to see his little contribution to the freedom we have today.

I was a very active kid, so I never settled for one thing to hope for in my life. However, I always hoped to make an impact in someone’s or people’s lives in anything that I do. I had the dream of being a pilot or a medical doctor, but after an accident I had in 1991, everything changed. I then wanted to get into business and start my own business. Incredibly this was when I was still a teenager. I still do not know exactly what my inspiration or calling was.

How long have you been in the entertainment industry?

I’ve been in the industry since I was about seven years old. I have done television presenting, hosted road shows, I’ve been a DJ, produced music and I’ve been in radio. If I look back at all that, it was all a hobby and I never really considered it as a career, hence I added the media and entertainment strategic business unit to The Massive Group business portfolio.

How did you get into the industry, and what did you do previously?

Purely by accident, actually (laughs). Well maybe it was not by accident if I look at it now. At a very young age I was with my mum one day and met a tall lady at a shopping mall and she asked my mum about me while standing in a shop queue. I can’t really remember much what the conversation between them was about, but I remember her making me feel very shy, commenting about how I looked. Two days later I was dragged into a building with my mum and was asked to read some stuff off a screen. I did and I was asked if I wanted to present a kids TV program. I was was very excited, even though I didn’t understand what it would entail. Before I knew, I was hosting TV shows and doing kiddies voice-over stories on radio and visiting schools, narrating various stories. From there onwards I did radio productions and modeled for fashion houses. Being involved in that space expanded my interest and knowledge of the media and entertainment industry. I have qualifications in various disciplines, but for some odd reason, I seemed to organically get pulled into the media and entertainment industry often, one way or the other.  I would be asked to organise functions such as beauty pageants, fashion shows, debate sessions, chess tournaments and sports tournaments. I never knew why I was chosen or asked to, but I did it anyway. Looking back, I realise that I was being groomed for Massive Events Live.

What is the best business advice you have heard?

WOW! I have sat and talked with so many well-known business leaders---its difficult to say, but I think one that springs to mind immediately and stands out, is never to cut corners and to be honest with your dealings and offers.

Tell us more about the previous leadership positions you have held and how it has groomed you?

I was told very recently by a long-term childhood friend that I have always had leadership qualities and been my own man ever since she has known me. I never thought about it till she said so. Well, since I was young, I have always been chosen to lead something one way or the other. When in school, I was a prefect, then athletics team leader, then school debate leader (and provincial and national competition winner) and then basketball coach (that took me to national level), ad after school I was head of departments in my previous jobs. One of the strongest positions I had that lead me to be who I am today was to groom various township boys and girls. That took everything from me. I didn’t know how to be selfish or greedy, and had to be a strong figure and bring the best out of everyone I came in contact with. Parents trusted me with their kids and relatives,  I had to stand out and lead as requested.

What business advice do you have for SMMEs and small business owners and people looking to be self-employed?

Everything you struggle to establish lasts longer, everything you gain easily, you lose easily. We all have to fall to rise, and your character becomes more alive if you fall and then get up. So don’t give up on your quest to be who you want to be. Form proper and effective partnerships without looking at the benefits in it for yourself, but think of the benefit for both partners. If you think of only you benefiting, you will burn bridges that you will have to cross again and then you won’t be able to get to the other side. Be honest to yourself and know where you went wrong and what you should correct. Look more at your faults than your praises, for I believe criticism builds more character than praises do. And whatever you achieved, remember you are human before your position, before your money, before your status and before your friends. So remain humble and always be open to learn, because if you know everything, then there is no room to learn any more.

Tell us a bit more about Massive and its competitive advantage in the industry?

Massive is a group of business and Massive Events Live is just one unit of the group. Our main advantage is our global and local networks or artists, business leaders, establishments and partners. We also have a very strong loyal clientele with spending power, so we cannot just spoon feed them anything. Over 70% of our customers are returning customers and they keep bringing more guests with them as they attend our events. We have done events for various cellular network giants, the Presidency, diplomats and have staged shows with most South African artists and various international names. Recently, in various conversations, I have been reminded of the power and value of the name Massive and how we should be inspired by just the name to get to the level we intend to reach.

How did you start Massive and what were the difficult obstacles you have had to overcome?

Oh wow!!! I started Massive in 1998 with a friend called Thapelo Segoe, but a couple of months later I left the country and lived overseas for over a decade. While there, I tried to run things here in South Africa, with various directors coming in and out of the business, but it was not productive. Massive started as Massive Intertainment Network. The original idea was to stage shows and broadcast them on the internet, hence ‘Intertainment’ spelt with an ‘I’, but then, internet streaming was very costly. I remember coming to Joburg, meeting some directors of Telkom in early 1999. They loved the idea and wanted to buy in, but eventually realised the costs to state the shows and stream them was too high. So we shelved it. It is an idea we will still carry out in the next year or two. So we were way ahead of our time. It was what I called a challenging decade in our history, which needs a different interview altogether---or maybe one day you will read them in a book. That decade saw us lose lots of money, we’ve had conning partners and was ripped off. We dealt with directors and partners that thought more of their lifestyle than the direction the brand should take. But deep down inside, I knew it could work and that I could make it work. We have overcome debts, losses and given not so smooth deals or not such good deals because we were either in the circle or new to the game.

How easy was it for you to settle in South Africa and adapt to living and doing business here?

Settling is not even to be asked. I am more of a South African than I am true to my native country. I studied here and lived here for over 20 years. I know the history better than that of my native country. I speak various South African languages, did my matric here and all my childhood friends are from here. When I am overseas, I advocate for South Africa, so settling in wasn’t a problem for me. It’s not hard doing business and settling here, but people do not all see me as I see them, so its always a challenging phase.

What have been the challenges and the advantages of being a foreigner?

Tough! It’s like you are nothing in many circles. People choose when you are relevant and when not. The sad thing is, someone will always say something indirect to remind you of what you are to them, or where you are in your life. Everyone is a foreigner somewhere. Then on the other hand, some love the knowledge, experience and association you bring in and actually want to do business with foreigners opposed to with locals. I am human and I look at everyone else as such and that is how I was brought up and I get by.

What does the future hold for Massive in terms of upcoming events and new innovations?

(Laughs) I am tempted to tell you some things… I have come to learn that walls can hear… (laughs again). Well, one thing is for certain, we will see, via the original vision of broadcasting, our shows live on the internet to various countries. We will also launch our festivals in the next 24 months.

What was the biggest international event that Massive has ever staged?

Oh wow, it’s tough to say, but I think the Boyz II Men and Joe tour was our biggest, because its a national tour and sold out in three cities. More than 30 000 people will attend it and there are lots of expectations from various sectors. So it should be our biggest among the many others we have staged.

What do you see as the challenges and changes that the industry might face going forward?

The market is saturated in SA. Everyone think they can do the same. Well they may, but only time will tell. The lack of employment will hinder entertainment spending power to a level so that one has to be careful what one stages and to what market. Also, I do not think people know the value of live entertainment. To a certain level I am not sure if various upcoming artists command the type of pulling power, going forward, to draw the masses to bigger venues. Digital downloads are not helping the brand value of various artists and bands, so it’s not easy to build the brand to the level it deserves.

Lhilhi Tom


More about Carrington Nuamah ...

  • If I could live anywhere in the world it would be in… Africa.
  • The most famous person I have met is… Nelson Mandela
  • The most interesting celebrity I have come across is… President Zuma.
  • If I could invite any four entertainers to dinner it would be…  Somizi, Steve Harvey, Beyonce and Sade.
  • In life I simply detest… people that are cheap imitations of others and not an expensive versions of themselves…
  • What I love most about technology in the 21st century is… the rapid expansion of communication and the internet.



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