By Paul Ukpabio
People call him ‘The builder!’ And it is not difficult to know why. That’s because everything about Otunba Wanle Akinboboye, Ambassador Plenipotentiary, is about building. A builder of people. A builder of environment. A builder of institutions.
A session with Otunba Wanle Akinboboye, could turn out to be a deep moment of reflection and a journey into basic African history, the ways and lifestyle of Africans, a core area of which Akinboboye is exceptionally passionate about.
Akinboboye is our today’s celebrated Icon of Security, Entertainment and Tourism, three related sectors of the economy that has anchored most of what he stands for and has put together, in the last 39 years.
Though studied abroad, Akinboboye is versed in African culture, deep with knowledge of African folklores and rich in African ways of life.
Today, he tells us why he is fondly referred to as ‘the builder’, and why he decided to build the African continent.
“By the time I was 25 years old, I had come to the conclusion that Africans talk a lot but very rarely did their talk or translate them into concrete action, i firmly believed and still believe that action is required if we want to benefit our continent and humanity as a whole. A focus on past misdeeds done to the African continent should not prevent the continent from moving forward. Africa, the second largest continent in the world should not be the poorest. The current status of Africa is attributable to the failure of its people to utilize the riches of the continent for the good of all,” said Akinboboye as we sat to early morning tea and coffee, on the lagoon, over looking the Atlantic Ocean, with its speedily dashing waves, racing to the sandy shores, at his 65 acres La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort in Lagos.
Indeed a true builder and a strategist, young as he was, Akinboboye laid out a pattern, a blueprint of structures he had to build to achieve his dreams and vision about building the African continent. He called it, Continent Building Initiative, of which he activated from time to time, on a tripod which stands his 3 visions: Security, Entertainment and Tourism, fondly referred to as SET.
“At the beginning, it was necessary for me to lift up Africans who ordinarily have been excluded from the system by virtue of their low or lack of education.
So Akinboboye set up ‘Corporate Guards’ for the security arm of his vision in 1989. It was the first private security firm in Nigeria. Corporate Guards Security which changed the narrative of private security from being an occupation of old and retired service men to a profession of young, skilled and intelligent graduates. Today, Corporate guards has been instrumental to providing employment to millions across Africa as many other entrepreneurs have seen the investment opportunities in private security and copied it’s business concepts.
On the second of the tripod, he created the entertainment arm known as Atunda Entertainment.
Atunda Entertainment focuses on developing talents and enhancing their ability to showcase original African music, in a cosmopolitan manner. Atunda’s ultimate aim is to enhance the appreciation of African entertainment in a worldwide audience.
And on the third arm of the tripod, he berth Tourism which sprang forth the famous La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort which he founded in 1984 and it is the first African themed resort in the world. The resort’s offerings are weaved around Africa’s culture and hospitality, and has thus created tremendous economic opportunities for the people living in its host community and immediate environs. This is because the Resorts unique African theme, creates job opportunities for such indigenes that would not normally be available in a western type tourist establishment.
With the tripod legs set, he began the activation of Continent Building Initiatives one after another. One of such is, Motherland Beckons.
“Motherland Beckons is a movement, mortal and spiritual calling for people of African descent and lovers of Africa to be part of the African experience through travel.” Said Akinboboye. “It took a concerted effort by our colonial masters to remove the sense of pride in our culture and consequently it will require a concerted effort to reinstate such pride. In this regard, the task of building such cultural pride lies not only with the descendants of the colonized, it also lies with the descendants of the colonizers.
“It also extends to those colonized persons that were moved from their homelands into the Diaspora and who consistently received messages that their original roots were inferior to the roots they acquire.”
Another initiative is the Diaspora Nigeria Economic Recovery Plan (DNERP).
“DNERP is designed to offer Nigerians, lovers of Nigeria in Diaspora and their friends a platform to contribute their own quota of resuscitating the economy by holidaying and investing in Nigeria,” said Akinboboye.
And yet another initiative, the Corporate African Eco Retreat (CAER).
“This is ideal for corporate organisations who desire a retreat in an African themed eco-environment where they can engage in various team building activities such as tug of war, aim the bucket, badminton, sack race and so on.
“I have also been able to build Youth African Tourism Expedition (YATE) which includes camping and bonfire sessions, and is targeted at establishing links among young people from various African countries that are intended to encourage these youths to travel within Africa.
“Another, is Kamp Afrika, an activation which consists of a pan-African summer camp for tween and teens in the age range of 10-16 years. The camp is designed to expose young people to African culture. It focuses on awakening the potential, passion and values of African youths through the fun filled presentation of adventure, recreation, crafts, storytelling arts and theatre.”
To also attract the world to Africa, Akinboboye created the Wakie Wakie Shows, the Motherland Beckons Business Club which aims to connect investors from all over the world to the opportunities in Africa and the 6th region, through a Business Bridge he created, to grow small businesses by building a bridge between investors in the Diaspora and SMEs in the continent.
He didn’t stop there, he set up the Africaribbean Business Council A.B.C. to also bridge the African – Caribbean gap and connect investors with opportunities in Africa and on the continent.
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And Africaribbean Trade Centre ATC, to facilitate trade relations between Africa and the Caribbean, along with Afrocaribbean Cultural Council ACCA, with a mission to facilitate cultural integration between people of African ancestry and their brothers on the continent through music /movie collaborations, tours, trainings and so on. But even more importantly, Otunba Wanle Akinboboye the Builder, thought more about feeding the continent so he also activated, Motherland Beckons Farms with a concerted effort to feed Africa. The goal of which is to take advantage of Africa’s arable lands to tackle food insecurity.
And what does he has to say about all that he has already done, and built, he replied, “the journey continues.”