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    Afrochella rebrands as AfroFuture Fest for Detty December 2023

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    Affectionately known as Detty December, this is the month that the Western region of Africa hosts a season-long lineup of festival-hopping partygoers at carnivals and concerts, inspiring thousands of people from across the diaspora to flock to their ancestral land for the holidays.

    Though many aren’t quite sure how Detty December originated, what was once a tradition reserved for people on the continent has become a time when overseas visitors, including Black Americans, are choosing “home” away from home and making it their own.

    Some say this particular holiday custom emerged during the inaugural Calabar Carnival in 2004, in the south-eastern Nigeria region; others claim it became popularised during Ghana’s 2019 “Year of Return.” The campaign, launched by the Ghana Tourism Authority, encouraged brothers and sisters of African descent to make the voyage to Ghana and unite as family of the diaspora. Since then, the actual number of visitors has far exceeded expectations, with about a million people making the trek in 2019—a rise of 45% from the previous year, which reflected a significant increase in travellers from the United States and the United Kingdom, according to the BBC.

    Yet even as tourists converged on the continent in ever-rising numbers, few could have predicted that Detty December would become an annual pilgrimage for so many global travellers, who come to the city hot spots of Lagos and Accra for a month of music, arts, culture and entertainment.

    One event in particular, Afrochella—which has now been rebranded as AfroFuture—is sandwiched between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Held at the peak of Detty December in the city of Accra, the music and cultural festival is staged annually at Accra’s El Wak Stadium. It was first launched in 2017 as the brainchild of Abdul Karim Abdullah, AfroFuture’s New York–born CEO and cofounder.

    What started as an idea for a food festival became a 4,000-attendee event in its first year. It has since exploded into one of the most-lauded events during the holiday season in Africa, with attendance numbers hitting 31,000 in 2022.

    While this year marks the first time that the festival will not be under its original Afrochella imprint, the occasion is sure to be just as magical, if not more so. The renaming of the festival comes on the heels of Coachella organisers suing Afrochella for trademark infringement, citing a confusion between the competing brands. But make no mistake, whether “chella” is in the title or not, this event remains deeply relevant for Black attendees, especially those travelling to the continent from abroad.

    AfroFuture Fest occupies its own unique lane, and by design, it shares the beauty of Ghana’s cultural identity with the world. But what makes this festival so distinctive is its organisers’ ability and determination to support the Ghanaian economy.

    Abdullah, whose business partners are based in Ghana, strives to ensure that everyone—from production staff and event designers to maintenance workers and vendors—is from the country, and that every extra dollar poured into the festival goes directly into local hands.

    As a result, the economic impact has been staggering, with approximately 16% of Ghanaian tourism income for the year of 2019 coming from AfroFuture Fest, and an average of $2,650 spent by each festival attendee.

    “Our numbers have grown since we launched, so we know that our impact is very visible on the continent,” says Bronx native Abdullah.

    “We are excited by the transition of Afrochella to AfroFuture Fest,” says Akwasi Agyeman, CEO of the Ghana Tourism Authority. “The event has become a flagship of our December in Ghana programme. It brings in a lot of visitors and, with them, attendant economic benefits for our industry and our country. Hotels peak in occupancy; airlines are fully booked; and the entire value chain of tourism thrives during the period.”

    With attendees representing people of African descent from regions as far flung as the U.S., UK, France, Germany, Spain and Switzerland, the brand has expanded to speak to these patrons, with spin-offs being held this year in New York, South Africa and London.

    “Our goal is to be able to touch all parts of the continent,” explains Abdullah. “So we’re also doing a lot more events involving Francophone Africa and Southern Africa. A lot of our global markets don’t have experiences that are similar to what we’re doing in Ghana, so this is our opportunity to market to the festival more broadly and tell them about what’s happening and what we’re doing.”

    Carrying the torch of Black nationalists and civil rights leaders such as Marcus Garvey—who consistently preached that Black Americans should “go back to Africa”—AfroFuture Fest has given this message of returning to the ancestral homeland a new meaning.

    “We want to grow and do a lot more storytelling,” says Abdullah. “It’s one thing for the diaspora to come together to enjoy music, fashion, food and art, and have a great time in Ghana, but it’s another thing for us to be able to uniquely tell the nuanced story of the continent.

    “We don’t know enough about each other—and that fosters competition rather than collaboration. By telling more stories, and sharing our culture and uplifting what each culture means, it gives us an opportunity to build alliances and increase the appreciation for all those cultures that show up at our festival.”

    There is something incredibly special about celebrating on African soil in December—but there’s something even more special about a “for us, by us” festival accompanied by warm sun, sweet food and welcoming people.

    AfroFuture Fest has not only changed the tourism outlook on the continent, but it has also expanded the world’s view of what it means to vacation at the beach while celebrating Black culture. This is for Ghana—and by extension, for the entire diaspora.

    Festivals

    NIHOTOUR To Spice IPADA Carnival 2024 With First World Polo, Beach Durbar Fiesta

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    NIHOTOUR To Spice IPADA Carnival 2024 With First World Polo, Beach Durbar Fiesta

    As preparations for the debut edition of IPADA Carnival 2024 and IPADA Initiative gather speed, organisers of the cultural tourism and economic project have continued to welcome more support and endorsements from across the board, with the latest coming from the management of the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism.

    Before this time, the project, which is an initiative of the Founder and President of La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort, Otunba Wanle Akinboboye, has received endorsements from Lagos State government, which is the host state, Ekiti State government and the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Minister of Tourism, Mrs Lola Ade-John, which noted that the project is a significant move in the development and promotion of Nigerian tourism.

    IPADA Carnival 2024 and IPADA Initiative, which is part of Motherland Beckons’ activations, is according to Akinboboye, geared at inspiring the mass movement of people from the Diaspora to Lagos, Nigeria and then Africa, which is the motherland of the Diasporas.

    With over a million people expected during this mass movement, Akinboboye disclosed that it would not only be a boost for Nigerian tourism but also a flip for the economy as a number of the people will be exposed to business opportunities for investment within the ecosystem.

    The partnership of NIHOTOUR is a welcome development as the training institute is bringing on board two unique products; First World Polo and Beach Durbar Fiesta, to add flair and colours to the event, which is slated to hold between November 29 and December 8, 2024, at La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort in Ikegun Village, Ibeju Lekki, Lagos.

    In a letter of endorsement of the project to Akinboboye, signed by the Director General and Chief Executive Officer of NIHOTOUR, Alhaji Nura Sani Kangiwa, it disclosed: ‘‘We look forward to working together towards a successful partnership and contributing to the success of the IPADA Carnival by adding Polo and Durbar to the bouquet of events that would add glitter to the 2024 edition.”

    Explaining, Kangiwa revealed: “We are not just going to have a Polo And Durbar Beach Fiesta, what we are going to have in November and December at IPADA Carnival will be the First Ever World’s Polo And Durbar Beach Fiesta.’’

    This global fiesta, he noted will feature among others; the African Beach Polo (Chovken) Championship; Colourful Royal Durbar (Horse) Procession; a Display of Hausa Traditional Sports and Various Folk Arts including Wrestling, Crocodiles performances, ‘Yantauri’ (knives artists) and other uncommon entertainment; and Training of La Campagne Tropicana host community youths and women on tour guide operations.

    According to him, confirmation has been received from a number of the participating countries and teams for the event.

    “Already, we have got confirmation of participation for this World’s First Ever Polo And Durbar Beach Fiesta, from Morocco, Ghana, Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa, Kuwait and Hong Kong,’’ disclosed Kangiwa.

    Adding: ‘‘Though Kuwait and Hong Kong are not Africa, they have asked for participation, of which we have gladly accepted, as friends and lovers of Africa, who will be part of the celebration during IPADA Carnival.

    “We are expecting other confirmations from China, Japan and other African countries.” Kangiwa is also the President of the Nigeria Polo Federation (NPF) and heads the African Regional Group on the Governing Board of the International Chovken Federation (ICF).

    The DG further stated: “We are pleased to inform you that the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism Studies (NIHOTOUR) is excited to participate in this strategic partnership.

    “We recognise the significance of the IPADA Carnival and its mission to promote cultural vibrancy and pride, as well as facilitate travel and experiences across the African continent.

    ‘‘We believe that collaborating with IPADA will not only benefit our institute but also contribute to the broader goals of promoting tourism, hospitality, and cultural exchange in Nigeria and beyond.’’

    Akinboboye in his response, expressed appreciation to the DG and his team for the strategic partnership and the initiative that he is bringing on board, which he described as the result of the power of ideas. This is as he stated: “It is the result of our focus on developing, inspirational ideas to empower older and younger entrepreneurs in the tourism industry for the benefit of our dear nation Nigeria, and the entire continent of Africa.

    ‘‘As you can see, we have in the last few months been developing concepts and various tourism products to boost the vibrancy of the tourism industry. It is from such energy that a synergy between the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR) and IPADA Initiatives and IPADA Carnival has been conceived.”

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    2024 Egungun/Fuji/Amala Festival: Government targets economy prosperity

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    2024 Egungun/Fuji/Amala Festival: Government targets economy prosperity

    The Oyo State Government has said that its maiden edition of the 2024 World Egungun/Fuji/Amala Festival, tagged “Our Culture , Our Heritage” will target the expansion of the state’s economy through cultural tourism.

    Commissioner for Tourism and Culture, Dr Wasiu Olatunbosun, gave this indication on Tuesday in Ibadan.

    Olatunbosun spoke when the festival’s committee hosted a pre-event press conference at the Briefing Room of the Governor’s Office, Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan.

    He stated that the festival will be a rich package of the cultural potential and heritage of the state and is intended to attract both local and foreign tourists for investment opportunities in line with the vision of the state Governor, ‘Seyi Makinde.

    The commissioner also maintained that the festival, which is first of its kind in the South-West, will equally create a platform to showcase and promote talented upcoming cultural artists in the Fuji and Apala music genres.

    According to him, masquerades hold deep historical significance, embodying the spirit of resilience and unity, which defines the state’s identity and is a testament to the enduring legacy of Oyo’s traditions, while the state also produced Fuji greats, including the late Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, Iyanda Sawaba, Rasheed Ayinde Merenge, Abass Akande Obesere, Saheed Osupa and Taye Currency, to mention a few.

    He added that the Egungun/Fuji/Amala Festival aligned with Governor Makinde’s Omituntun 2.0 agenda, which has incorporated tourism for the expansion of Oyo State’s economy.

    Dr. Olatubosun, who noted that the cultural event will hold on Thursday, July 11, 2024 at the Race Course, Lekan Salami Sports Complex, Adamasingba, Ibadan, said it also will feature major masquerades offering a dynamic showcase of culture and dance, as well as music, and a savoury flavour of Amala with gbegiri, Eko and moinmoin cuisines.

    The commissioner also stated that the Makinde-led administration, through the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, has been working towards ensuring that the festival is enlisted by UNESCO just like the World Sango Festival, as it has been packaged with good contents through rich cultural heritage and preservation of tradition for coming generations.

    He said: “The maiden edition of the World Egungun Festival will be held on Thursday at the Race Course, Lekan Salami Sports Complex, Ibadan.

    “The festival will be the first of its kind in Oyo State, South-West and probably Nigeria and it is also going to be an annual event.

    “We are going to make sure that we improve on whatever we do this year. “Our target is to get it enlisted by UNESCO just like we did for Sango Festival and one of the criteria is for us to do the programme seamlessly for a minimum of five years.

    “I believe strongly that we have laid a very strong foundation and we are helping the Engineer of Modern Oyo State, the governor himself, to also make another first in this regard.

    “We are going to have Egungun, Fuji and also Amala on parade. We believe that the state should start doing something to recognise what Baba Barrister did in the area of Fuji creation. So, we are giving him a posthumous award. We also adopted all his songs as our official songs for the event.

    “Also, we believe that we should also create a platform where we can promote upcoming artistes who are looking for such platforms to perform. So, we decided to use the day to accommodate them so that they can have the opportunity to showcase their talents.

    “We have discussed with the food vendors and the official foods that will be served include Amala and Abula soup, Moinmoin and eko and akara.

    “We want to package all these to the extent that the entire world would see us and appreciate Oyo State. Our slogan will be ‘our culture, our heritage.’ And that will form the basis for our mode of dressing, which will be traditional outfits. We want you to look native. We want to show the world that Oyo State owns tradition.

    “We have already involved many associations. I held a meeting with the over 200 clubs under CCII and we said those who are interested in joining us should officially register.”

    Explaining the rationale for choosing to celebrate Egungun, the commissioner added: “Egungun performs two functions; spiritual and entertainment. We believe that since we have adopted our slogan, we should not rubbish the traditional aspect of it.

    “They have done the spiritual aspect of it. What we want to do is to package and sell the entertainment aspect to the whole world so that by the next edition, we will have people all over the world coming to Oyo State, which will really give us the rating in the comity of nations as regards tourism.

    “We are using this programme to drive the tourism agenda of our principal as contained in Omituntun 2.0. We know if we are trying to expand our economy, we are not supposed to restrict ourselves to tourist sites alone but also focus on certain heritage sites.

    “It will also interest you that the Egungun Festival in Brazil has one of the highest crowds in the world.

    “Oyo State has a lot of potential to showcase to the world and our principal is trying his best to explore these potentials to attract both local and foreign tourists.”

    Dr Olatunbosun noted that the event will also feature a guest lecture, with the Araba of Osogboland, Chief Ifayemi Elebuibon, as guest lecturer, while Fuji legend, Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, an indigene of the state, will also be honoured with a posthumous award in appreciation of his lasting legacy in promoting Fuji music to the world.

    Speaking on security before and during the festival, the commissioner assured the attendees of safety, stating that Governor Makinde’s security architecture has ensured the effective security of lives and properties in the state in the last five years.

    Present at the briefing were the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Dr Adebisi Ayoola; chairman, 2024 Planning Committee for Egungun/Fuji/Amala Festival, Agboola Adekunle; Head of Alaagba in Ibadanland, Baba Ojeniyi Akintomide; and Oyo State Coordinator/Chairman of Oloje, Baba Bamidele Ojebode.

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    Oyo Govt to celebrate Fuji legend Sikiru Ayinde Barrister at Egungun festival

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    2024 Egungun/Fuji/Amala Festival: Government targets economy prosperity

    The Oyo Government has said a Fuji legend, the late Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, would also be honoured with a posthumous award the maiden edition of the State Egungun (Masquerade) Festival, tagged “Our Culture, Our Heritage” to be held on Thursday.

    Oyo Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Dr Wasiu Olatunbosun who announced this at a press briefing in Ibadan on Tuesday said fuji musicians have also been lined up to perform at the Egungun festival.

    The Commissioner said the festival, the first of its kind in the South-West, would equally create a platform to promote upcoming cultural artistes in the Fuji and Apala music genres.

    He said the Egungun festival was targeted at the expansion of the state’s economy through cultural tourism.

    The festival will be a rich package of the cultural potential and heritage of the state.

    “The event is also intended to attract both local and foreign tourists for investment opportunities in line with the vision of the state governor, Mr Seyi Makinde,” he said.

    “Masquerades hold deep historical significance, embodying the spirit of resilience and unity, which defines the state’s identity and a testament to the enduring legacy of Oyo state’s traditions.

    “The event will hold at the Race Course, Lekan Salami Sports Complex in Adamasingba, Ibadan.

    “It will feature major masquerades offering a dynamic showcase of culture and dance, as well as music, and a savoury flavour of ‘amala with gbegiri, eko and moinmoin’,” he added.

    “Amala with gbegiri” and “eko and moinmoin” are Yoruba delicacies.

    Olatunbosun further stated that the event would feature a guest lecture, to be delivered by Chief Ifayemi Elebuibon, the Araba of Osogboland.

    He said a Fuji legend, the late Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, who was an indigene of the state, would also be honoured with a posthumous award.

    ”This is to appreciate his lasting legacy in promoting Fuji music and taking it to the outside world,” Olatunbosun stated.

    He said the focus of the Makinde-led administration was to ensure that Egungun Festival was enlisted by world body UNESCO just like the World Sango Festival.

    “This is because it has been packaged with good contents through rich cultural heritage and preservation of tradition for coming generations.”

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