ON Saturday, August 8, 2015, Le Flamboyant, Garges Le Gonesse, Paris, France will be agog as Global Talents, France, in conjunction with Curitage Promotions, Nigeria will be holding Naija Carnival Awards, a night meant to showcase Nigerian culture to Nigerians in the diaspora. The occasion is expected to attract dignitaries from Nigeria and abroad, especially European countries.
In this interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly, the coordinator of the historic carnival, Barrister Toyin Adewale Adeyanju spoke on many issues concerning the show, including the motive behind it, preparations and much more.
On Saturday, August 8, 2015, Le Flamboyant, Garges Les Gonesse in Paris, France will be agog as Global Talents, France, in conjunction with Curitage Promotions, Nigeria of which you’re the CEO will be staging Naija Carnival Golden Awards, what actually informed the concept?
Thank you. We’re privileged to let the world know that Naija Carnival is a child birth of an ideology of Barrister Toyin Adewale Adeyanju. And this idea came in the course of trips to Europe and America. We have been privileged to move around the world, and in the course of these movements, I met a lot of Nigerians and realized that most of them are far away from their culture. They’re far away not because they don’t appreciate their culture but simply because they are not privileged to know what happens at home. For example, if you look at the man who perhaps left the soil of Africa at a very tender age perhaps may be the parents also relocated and he grew up in a foreign land, and perhaps his parents were also not grounded in culture before they left. So, that also may make such a child not to understand of his or her people at home. So, we now realized that they keep embracing the foreign culture. The only identifications we have in them are their names. Imagine hearing all these thick and core Yoruba names like Adekanye, Aderohunmu, Adegbite, Oyelakin and many more among most of them, just ask them if they understand the meanings of their names, they will tell you point blank they don’t know. So, we realized that our people in the diaspora have lost total relationship with our culture. In this respect, I just sat down and the idea came that okay, if we can’t bring these people home, there is a way we can take home to them. And I looked into that aspect very well. I now thought of what I could do that will make them feel as if they’re home. So, there came the idea of Naija Carnival Golden Awards. And we have been doing it for two years. But every year, we try to improve on it. I can summarily say that Naija Carnival is just the birth from a pot of the initiative to promote culture in the diaspora.
That means this is not actually the first edition but how come…
No, just like I said, this should be the third edition. Although, we didn’t call it Naija Carnival initially, it’s like a continuity of what we have been doing before. What happens is that when you’re doing something, you try to improve on it. We didn’t name it Naija Carnival then, we called it Ankara Festival. But later we realized that Ankara is not even our traditional fabric. We’re made to realize that Ankara is perhaps from Ghana or somewhere else in Africa. So, instead of calling it Ankara Carnival, why not Naija Carnival because anybody can wear Ankara whether you’re a Nigerian or not. Naija simply means Nigeria. So, that’s why it was rechristened Naija Carnival Golden Awards and this is the third edition coming up in Paris on Saturday, August 8, 2015.
What’s going to differentiate this edition from the previous ones?
In the previous editions, when we said Ankara Carnival, some people didn’t really participate because they saw it as a segmental event. An event that everybody wasn’t carried along because it’s an Ankara Carnival of a thing. And it’s true that Ankara may not be an out-right Yoruba cloth, yet it’ usually identified with us. Yoruba mre more used to Ankara. We buy and wear it regularly. And when you now see somebody who an Igbo or Hausa or even another tribe that doesn’t cherish Ankara, such a person may feel is not part of the event. So, what we realized that about 90 per cent of the people that would participate were basically Yoruba and we don’t want to go to the diaspora and still be discriminating. So, we now decided to call for Naija Carnival. By doing so, it has become all encompassing. And it has brought everybody under one umbrella. We believe giving it Naija Carnival will make us have larger audience than what we used to have. In that respect, we’re not only inviting artistes from the Yoruba movies genre, we’re also inviting people from English sector of the industry and musicians from different genres of music. We also gave the cards ahead to some cultural groups from Edo State to come and showcase their culture. What we’re looking at in this third edition is to make it unique, larger and all encompassing unlike the previous ones.
Can you tell us more on what you have on ground as regards the entertainment content at the event?
Yes, entertainment is taking the order of the day. And we also put it into consideration that for any event of that magnitude to be laudable, the entertainment aspect of it should be made loud. So, we’re inviting musicians from different cultural backgrounds. This year now, we’re going with Fuji star, Alhaji Wasiu Ajibola Alabi, popularly known as Pasuma. He’s going to be our guest artiste. Pasuma may be a fuji musician from Yoruba background but his style of music cuts across. He is talented in a way that he can blend with anybody from any genre of music. We also have some Nigerians abroad that are also into music, from various cultural backgrounds that will also perform at the event because this edition is in conjunction with Curitage Promotions. The Global Talents in France promotes and the talents of Nigerians in the diaspora. So, we have a lot of Nigerians in France with different styles of music cutting across various cultures. They’re also ready to come and perform. And there is also going to be a stage play and that’s why we’re taking along some Nollywood actors, male and female to entertain the audience with a stage play for like 15 minutes. With all there and much more, it will make Nigerians in the diaspora feel they can also be useful to themselves I the word of entertainment.
What are the other preparations on ground?
So far, so good. If you want to stage an international award, there are basic things that must be on ground. You have to look for accommodation for the invited guests from home. You also have to look for a venue that will be of international standard. You also look at the visa issue and put everything in place so that the real invited people will get their visas on time, arrange their movement, lodge in a hotel, come to the event promptly, security and other logistics have been arranged as I am talking to you.
Who are the sponsors of the event?
It’s not really a profit oriented programme so you also know that people generally feel reluctant in sponsoring any event they know they won’t make any profit from. But so far so good, God has been so wonderful to us in getting the support of some personalities in Nigeria and abroad, including a France based Nigerian, Mr. Akeem Alade, he has been a very strong supporter of this initiative, Otunba Gani Adams of Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Captain Adesina, some traditional rulers and few others. And we have also spent our money. For instance, I took it upon myself to invest in it. The same thing with my partner, Taiwo Akinremi, who is the President of Global Talents, France, we have both invested so much in the event with a view to making it a huge success.
How much have you spent so far and how much will the event cost you?
We have spent about N6m now and we’re still hoping to raise additional N3m. So, in total, the event will gulp not less than N9m. As we’re all aware of the fact that to put up an international event of that repute in place where for instance inviting Pasuma shouldn’t be anyhow event. Although, he has given us a lot of support, he won’t trek to France with his boys. So, we also have to make sure that his accommodation, ticket and everything are perfectly arranged. Also, there must be a token to mobilize him. It’s not going to be out-rightly free. We also look at the hall, it’s about 6,000 Euro because it is about 2,000 capacity. We have also spent on sending out people to deliver our invitations to all Europeans regions, we’re talking of the Shengen territory and other European nations where we have Nigerians that are deep into culture, including Belgium, Holland and even as far as Norway. As we all know, some people won’t appreciate receiving their invites by mail or posting, they prefer giving them by hand. A lot of people including Oodua Progressives Union (OPU) members and more will all be there. They will feel truly if you honour them you will have to come. So, we have to do that. Also, the visa issue is not easy, putting up the documents and all that. Some people can’t be charged for that, you just have to bear the cost.
You said it’s not profit oriented, what are you now gaining at the end of it all?
Everybody works to make money. That’s the vision of an average person because we all need money for living. But if you want to really make good money, you don’t look at the short term gain. I believe that as a lawyer, I make my money through legal practice and God has placed me in a place where I can conveniently part with some funds. And I just thought that if such fund can’t be spread on the roads, there is a way you can turn it into something that will promote the culture and make people benefit from it. So, I took it upon myself to say well, if the profit will not really come, at least the cost of putting up the event should be able to come out of it. It’s not a do or die affair because we didn’t really gain anything from the first two editions. When you get to the venue and see some people who are interested in entering but don’t have the money to even buy the ticket, you won’t stop them out-rightly. You just have to give them concession. And at the end of the day, you just discover that the name is there, which is more important to me. We believe it will get to a stage where people will be voluntarily coming out to sponsor us, and the burden of self financing will be lifted from us.
Who are the people and organizations penciled down for the coveted honours?
A lot of people and organizations are already on our list. And our team are working on that. I can’t start mentioning names now. I believe our team is competent in that direction. Screening is ongoing already. But it’s basically for the people and organizations identified with promotion of culture, entertainment and all that in Nigeria and abroad, via their various professions.
- TADE ASIFAT