This is coming weeks after the news of the acceptance of the proposal by Motherland Beckons and La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort for the project, which is a recreation of African continent in the island, by the government and people of Antigua and Barbuda, was first made public.
The news of the ground breaking for the construction of this new enclave was disclosed by an elated and obviously fulfilled Otunba Wanle Akinboboye, Founder and President of La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort, Ibeju Lekki, Lagos, who recently returned from the island where he oversaw the ground breaking ceremony to signal the commencement of the first phase of the gigantic and epic project that is meant to define the place of Africa in global history.
He is expected to return back in the coming days to superintendent the entire construction in his usual style of bringing to bear his creative and imaginative prowess in ensuring that the La campagne brand spirit and physicality are maintained.
For him, it is a great moment to see that a journey that started over 16 years ago when he first mooted the idea to the government of Antigua and Barbuda is now becoming a reality. He had, at various times, shared the vision with two previous prime ministers of the island, who were not sold on the project. But fate has smiled favoured the project as it is now coming to reality due to his persistence in pitching the idea to the third and present Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, whose commitment and buy in has resulted in this historic development.
The concept behind this project, according to Akinboboye, is not just to create the first ever African Tourism Free Trade zone but rather create a platform that would bring to fruition the amalgamation of Antigua and Barbuda as the sixth continent of Africa through tourism, cultural exchanges, fashion and artistic development among others.
Akinboboye noted further that, ‘‘we believe that this will help the growth of Africans both in the continent and in the Diaspora. Hundred hectares of land at Willoughby Bay, Saint Philips, has been created for this. The first phase has already started, spanning 20 hectares of land and will be built and commissioned within the next three years.’’
‘‘La Campagne has been granted 20 years tax holiday in order to achieve this endeavour,’’ he added. This is as he paid glowing tributes to Prime Minister Gaston Browne for his commitment to the realisation of this historic feat.
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Noting that, ‘‘I was personally and totally blown away when the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, after several meetings took time out on Saturday (May 27) to reconfirm and support this project by asking if there is anything that we need his administration to put in place for the project.
‘‘He didn’t stop at that as he came again on Monday, May 29, with his entire family to confirm the commitment of La Campagne towards building this resort. He came to confirm that the clearing and ground breaking ceremony have been done. He came to confirm the area that has been graded and to confirm that work has started.
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‘‘He spent over two hours inspecting the entire area. This we believe is the mark of a true leader, who wants the best for his society and his continent as part of the sixth region of Africa.’’
Also, the Prime Minister, Akinboboye said has pledged to make it easier for financial inflow for the project. ‘‘He also told me that the only interest he has is to make sure that this is done. That if he has to introduce finance persons and financial institutions to us in case there are issues with funding the project that he is willing to do that for the interest of this project,’’ he revealed with joy.
Overwhelmed with joy to see that finally the project is coming together, he recalled with nostalgic feeling how the journey started, saying that, ‘‘16 years ago I saw that this would be a great platform that can unite Africa and its sixth region where we can create a platform where our forefathers went through as a middle passage to Brazil, Europe, US and other places to get to these areas.
‘‘This creation is now what we call the Motherland Beckons Return. Where we are saying that they left on slave ships and now it is time to come back on cruise ship and luxurious airliners.
‘‘So the 16 years of work is what has metamorphosed into this humongous success under the administration of Prime Minister Garson Browne that is going to create a spot where the whole world is going to meet Africa and explore the way of life of Africans, from their foods, fashion, dance to music and many more.’’