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Showmax Unveils Original Documentary “Freemen” Exploring the Igbo Apprenticeship System

This seven-part documentary series, which sheds light on the traditional Igbo apprenticeship model, is set to premiere on Feb.12, 2024.
February 10, 2024
6:19 pm
Obinna Iyiegbu

African streaming giant Showmax is gearing up for the launch of its latest original documentary series, “Freemen,” providing an in-depth exploration of the renowned Igbo Apprenticeship System, locally known as Igba Boi.


The groundbreaking seven-part documentary is scheduled to premiere on Feb. 12, 2024, aligning with the relaunch of the new Showmax app.


The Igbo Apprenticeship System has been an integral part of Nigeria’s eastern region for generations, involving young individuals placed under the mentorship of seasoned traders, artisans, or professionals to acquire a trade or skill. Following a specific period, these individuals gain “freedom,” often accompanied by a financial settlement or seed money to establish their own ventures. This business model gained global recognition, with Ndubuisi Ekekwe’s work on the Igbo Apprenticeship System (IAS) being featured in the Harvard Business Review in 2021.


In a preview of “Freemen,” businessman Anene Okeke is seen seeking consent from a young man’s parents to take him to the city for apprenticeship, setting the stage for the series.


The documentary features insights from prominent Igbo businessmen such as Cosmas Maduka (Coscharis), Obinna Iyiegbu (Obi Cubana), Ndubuisi Ekekwe, Okey Japan, Bartholomew Duru Nwanguma, and others.


Ndubuisi Ekekwe

These successful entrepreneurs share personal stories and reflections on how the Igbo Apprenticeship System has shaped their careers, contributing to their entrepreneurial success.


Dr Busola Tejumola, Executive Head of Content and West Africa Channels at MultiChoice, expressed excitement about “Freemen,” stating, “It is a spotlight on our rich narrative and culture.”


Daro Umaigba, the director and co-producer, highlighted the documentary’s role in offering viewers an intimate look into the world of the Igbo Apprenticeship System, serving as a valuable resource for aspiring entrepreneurs.


Structured into four distinctive parts, the documentary covers the Pick-Up and Negotiations Period, Trial Period, Solidification of Agreement and Work Period, and Settlement Period, providing a comprehensive exploration of the apprenticeship journey.


“Freemen” extends beyond the Igbo community, revealing how the apprenticeship system has evolved, influencing various trades and industries, including manufacturing, retail, and services. The system has transcended cultural boundaries, influencing similar apprenticeship models in regions like Ghana, Senegal, and Ethiopia.


Co-produced by award-winning rapper Tobechukwu Ejiofor (ILLBLiSS), who also produces the soundtrack, “Freemen” aligns with Showmax’s commitment to redefining African storytelling. The documentary promises audiences an engaging and enlightening experience, offering fresh insights into the roots of successful businesses and the enduring mentorship traditions shaping them.


“Freemen” will be exclusively available on Showmax from February 12, with new episodes releasing every Wednesday on

Watch the trailer here.


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