It’s Time For Africa To Celebrate, Says Otunba Wanle Akinboboye, At ‘Africa Celebrates’ grand finale

The much talked about Africa Celebrates 2024, the West African regional event, took place on Sunday the 12th of May 2024, at the nature-inspiring grounds of La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort in Ibeju-Lekki Lagos Nigeria.

The 3-Day Art, Culture, Heritage, Tech, Business and great Entertainment fiesta, was indeed a testimony to the beautiful rich resources of people and talent that flourishes so commonly in the African continent.

There was so much to see starting from the landscape of the 65 acres of beach front showcasing a mangrove forest on one side, then the beckoning, teasing, lagoon, calling for an African village-like bath on another side and the glamorizing sprawling Atlantic ocean with all its attractions of fishing, sailing and grand opportunity for beach surfing, beach sunning, swimming and romantic offerings.

And so the 3 Day fiesta started with an Arrival Dinner on Friday evening at the Yoru’Bar African experience restaurant, where the assemblage of artistes from various parts of West Africa, dignitaries from all over Africa and friends of Africa around the world, came to watch their dinner being cooked while at the same time being entertained by artistes performances from different countries of West Africa.

The gorgeous maidens, all the way from Calabar in the southeastern part of Nigeria in their colourful blue, white and gold costumes brightening up the evening with their African tapestry dances married into a royal historical culture, which already, became a pointer to what one should expect from the whole of West Africa at Africa Celebrates this particular weekend.

Atunda Entertainment the in house cultural troupe, gave a resounding welcome performance which ofcourse, reminded the audience that Atunda Entertainment, were truly here at the event, to show that indeed they are the host troupe!

* Ara Thunder 

Much as the Arrival Dinner event at the Yoru’Bar African experience restaurant was not a time for speeches as said by the Founder and host of the event, Otunba Olawanle Akinboboye, pointed out the need for Africans to unite with one another to eradicate the poverty in our midst.

“This is not the day for talk,” said Otunba Akinboboye, “It is a day for celebrating the continent. Among our numerous dignitaries, permit me to recognise our dear Governor of Lagos state, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who is here represented by my very dear Special Adviser to the Governor, Mr Idris Aregbe, Lagos State being a state that can actually pass for a country, that can at the same time pass for 6 to 10 African countries put together, let me welcome him whole heartedly and thank the governor for releasing him to us.

“Lagos state being the aquatic splendor, a state of prosperity, of growth, we thank the state for honouring us, giving us this opportunity to express our creativity formally in tourism, hospitality and cultural expression. I must not begin this short talk without recognising a most magnificent queen from the most magnificent touristic state, Calabar, a state of grace, of trust of distinction, a queen, barrister, a humanitarian, a believer in the development of the continent of Africa, Obonganwan Marie Ikpeme Erete, Her Royal Majesty, Queen Aruk II.

“As we Africans celebrate let us remember that we have a lot to do as Africans, let us constantly ask ourselves few questions that will propel us forward, to resonate with our culture as strength. When you want to have an advantage, you take advantage of your advantage. You must understand that is a bit uncomfortable for a continent that is 30.2 square kilometers of area, a continent that has 1.5 billion people in the continent, that has a lot of Africans in Diaspora, we are 44.4 million in the Carribbean, 55.4 million in the United States of America, we can not count the number in Brazil, the minimum being about 110 million. We are the wealthiest continent, we are the richest continent, we are the most traveled continent, we have all the mineral resources in the world in the continent, but we are the poorest. We must ask ourselves why? As we celebrate, we must ask questions of the audacity of our commitment. As we celebrate we must think about tomorrow’s things, bearing in mind that the platform we are standing on today, was built by yesterday-men and having a clear understanding that the platform for tomorrow is in our hands,” said Otunba Akinboboye.

And that speech set the stage for the breakfast events on Saturday, for the West African Regional event of Africa Celebrates, an event planned with positive determination, to showcase the rich culture of West Africa. The performances on Saturday morning was almost hypnotic as the artistes from Togo, Guinea-Bissau, Boukina Faso, Benin Republic, Senegal, Nigeria and others, tried to out-do themselves on the stage with well laid out dances, thematic African songs and choreography that aligned brilliantly with the drumming and the different dance steps. The audience were awed! But that was still Saturday, not even the Sunday grand finale yet!

* Olo Omidan Bata 

Saturday morning events to mid day was complimented with models’ performances on the runway by the beach front, along with a pool party and an array of food, a glorious mouthwatering buffet, which eased everyone into the afternoon and evening beach activities at the edge of the Atlantic ocean.

Sunday’s Grand Finale was indeed the icing on the cake! From the colourful decorations of the resort and the international stage with the colourful flags of participating West African countries. Everywhere was lit! The resort itself was excited with people ready to celebrate. The atmosphere of happiness was infectious and the networking spirit was a 100%. All hands was on deck to deliver a world class event!

A long stretch of cuisines from all the 15 West African countries, made up the buffet for dinner at the grand finale event of Africa Celebrates, and was right on display, by the international stage on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, where the colourful flags of the participating West African countries flew up in the sky, padded and urged on by the cool wind of the ocean this particular evening.

Guests in different fashionable attires besieged the sitting area early. The beach resort’s usual weekend guests along with those that have travelled from far and wide were all exceptionally excited, waiting for the evenings performances.

With all seated and standing at their different choice areas around the international stage, already swinging to music from the stage, the event started with the African Union anthem, and a colourful display of the 15 flags of West African countries on stage.

And the cultural dance presentations commenced with dances from the 6 geographic zones of Nigeria, starting with the Eyo masquerade dance from Lagos. Dances from various West African countries followed with a thrilling showcase of competitive prowess in display of strength and skill, urged on by the drums emanating from all parts of Africa and energised by the powerful cool wind from the waves of the Atlantic ocean.

The crowd cheered on, simultaneously dancing along to the drum beats too, motivated by the rhythmic beats of cultural dance performances, coming from the international stage. From Ghana to Liberia, back to Boukina Faso, Senegal, Togo, Guinea-Bissau, Benin Republic, the graceful movements, the energetic steps of each of the cultural troupes captivated the huge audience with a total of over 30 performances.

As a mark of respect to the host country, Nigeria was given the opportunity to present the last cultural performance and it came with the rich culture of Calabar from Queen Aruk 11 Dance troupe which presented 3 dances in one, the Nyong fisherman dance, the Ikombe royal maiden dance and Abaranpan dance with each of the costumes representing something, and having its own story line. However these are royal dances presented mostly for royalty or important dignitaries like those at Africa Celebrates 2024, West African regional edition.

* TASHA 

The event’s interludes featured models using the international stage as a runway to showcase clothing from 4 top Nigerian fashion designers, Modela couture, Alabicouture and Atunda Fashions.

But still nothing compared to the star Performances of the three Atunda brands, Tasha, Olo Omidan Bata and the female talking drummer Ara Thunder. These indeed were world class magical performances, that made the crowd sit on the edges of their chairs!

The event will be remembered not just for the cultural displays from various part of west Africa, but also for it’s explosive fireworks at the beach front that added to the glamour of the evening event.

Africa celebrates brought out Africa’s rich cultural heritage and the timeless tradition of dances and camaraderie among African people sustained over centuries of common community background.

From Day 1 to Day 3, La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort bubbled with excitement as artistes and guests engaged themselves in networking and other social activities that the event and the resort presented. The joy in the success of the event manifesting itself in the after party where the models and the artistes danced freely to Dj music.

The event will be remembered for attracting returnees from outside the continent some like Mr Andrew Douglas who came home to Africa for the first time. They were also guests from Ethiopia, Mr. Anteneh Tadesse Woldesenbet, Executive, MAYALZ Events, along with others from that country and other west African countries.

Speaking at the end of event, Mr Lexy Mojo-Eyes the promoter of the event, said that he is marvelled at the performances that he had seen but that he is not so surprised because Africa is indeed so much blessed with Culture, Arts and Creativity and for Africa Celebrates, this is just the beginning.

The host, Tourism Icon, Otunba Olawanle Akinboboye on his part said, it is time for Africans to celebrate. “Even the first lines of the African Union anthem confirms it, that Africans should celebrate! The world is not ready to buy your tears, no one will buy your pain or sorrows, so let’s celebrate what unites us, let’s celebrate our victories around the world, let’s celebrate as we come home on cruise ships and luxury airplanes, the slave trade history long forgotten, as we take advantage of our disadvantages and harness our diversities in collective unity.”

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