Cultural tourism has been a growing form of destination branding, and in recent times corporate brands have been identifying with such celebration in form of sponsorship for a holistic experience. DAVID AUDU reports.
Nigeria has been said to be a country blessed with abundant natural resources. It is equally true that Nigeria, with an estimated population of about 170million, also have over 300 ethnic languages, which made the country one of the most culturally diverse nation on earth.
These, analysts say is supposed to be a source of blessing as they believe effort should be made to tap into these cultural diversity for economic gain. It is estimated that Nigeria earns about 5.5m dollars annually from tourism, but majority believe that the tourism sector has not been properly positioned for effective economic impact.
Tourists are attracted by Nigeria’s cultural diversity, scenery, festival among others as each region has something unique to offer.
However, these cultural festivals have been in limbo and yearning for a lifeline to be celebrated as it done all over the world, This has become a cause for concern among custodians of these festivals and heritages who are calling on government and corporate organisations for attention and funding to make them more relevant and to generate the required economic value.
We have witnessed the growing fame of the Argungu Fishing festival in northern Nigeria, the Eyo festival in Lagos, South West Nigeria, and also the annual Calabar Festival all of which are rallying points for the peoples of those cultures, and some of them have consistently drawn visitors from far and wide.
Besides being a rallying point, it is also said to these cultural festival hold economic potentials as alternative sources of foreign exchange if consciously packaged. The annual Calabar festival of fashion and pageant is said to be leading in this regard, The Calabar Carnival has been held in Calabar since 2006, including band competitions, a parade, food and dancing.
It has been called Nigeria’s biggest street party. The carnival may have as many as 50,000 costumed participants and 2 million spectators, and is broadcast on television across the country. It is the culmination of the month-long Calabar festival
There is also the Argungu Fishing Festival in the north-western Nigerian state of Kebbi. It began in the year 1934, as a mark of the end of the centuries old hostility between the Sokoto Caliphate and the Kebbi Kingdom.
Not only were there economic benefits, these cultural festivals have helped in positioning the different peoples, cultures and states in the cultural and tourist map of the world. In the South West of Nigeria for instance, two major cultural festivals celebrated in recent times will forever remain in the minds of the people.
Not because it is the first time the festivals Ojude Oba and Osun Osogbo Festivals – are being celebrated, but because of the way brands such as Goldberg lager beer have connected with the people to communicate the essence of the festivals, thus bringing to life and prominence the once pristine celebration.
The idea of brand partnering with cultural custodians in festivals is to bring about strategic and creative marketing and strategy to make each event memorable, and also a win win for all.
For Goldberg sponsoring of the Osun Oshogbo and Ojude Oba, it all started with the establishment of a Beer Village, where beer lovers came to get their favourite Goldberg larger beer and other Nigerian Breweries brands.
The Ojude Oba Festival is an annual cultural festival which attracts illustrious sons and daughters of Ijebu land in diasporas and tourists from all over the world. The 2014 edition had as its theme, ‘Our People, Our Heritage”.
The over two-century old Ojude Oba Festival, which started as a show of courtesy and later snowballed into one of the biggest flagship cultural festivals that attract tourists from different parts of the world to Nigeria, has never witnessed such a golden touch in its celebration.
This much was clearly captured by the Awujale of Ijebu Land, Oba Sikiru Adetona, while speaking through the festival cordinator, Chief Fassy Yusuf, during the formal opening of the Goldberg Beer Village in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State.
“I must thank Goldberg larger beer for identifying with our great festival of over two century.This brand has brought a new twist and a touch of gold to the cultural festival celebration.”
Speaking during the official opening of the Beer Village, Kola Oluborode, Regional Trade Manager, Nigerian Breweries Plc, stated that Goldberg lager beer will continue to identify and support rich culture in Western Nigeria and beyond. “This is the first time we are establishing a beer village as part of activities marking the Ojude Oba Cultural Festival.
We did it in Osun Osogbo Festival and we will continue to support rich culture,” Oluborode said. To spice up the Goldberg village, different live bands were brought to thrill the people for the entire period.
The varieties in the music presentation made the village more appealing to people across different ages, tribes and heritage.
The Ojude Oba Festival is usually held two days after the Ileya Celebration . Although the festival has its root in Islam, especially at the initial stage of its celebration in Ijebu Land, the scope has expanded beyond religion. All indigenes of Ijebu, both at home and in the diaspora, are expected to come home for the festival and kill a ram, even if they are no longer Moslems.
They are also expected to attend the Ojude Oba in order to dance with their age groups before the Awujale. Speaking with journalists at his Ijebu Ode residence during 2014 Ojude Oba festival, the Olori Omooba of Ijebu land and founder of FCMB, Otunba Subomi Balogun, traced the history of the festival to his ancestor, Oba Adesunbo Tunwase, the monarch who established the Ojude Oba as far back as 1892 as the story had it.
“But Balogun Kuku was the one that mooted the idea and organised that the Muslim community should go and thank the Awujale. ‘With all the developments and innovations by the current Awujale, the annual convergence has blossomed into an international tourist attraction comparable, if not better than, the Rio festival people go to savour in Brazil’, he said.
On the economic benefit to the people, Balogun noted: “The direct impact is that the business world is better for it.
As you could see all over the places, from Lagos to Ijebu, from Ibadan to Ijebu, from all over the major towns and villages in adjourning states, vehicular movements in and out of Ijebu-Ode reached an all-time high.
“In my reckoning, the impact is felt highly not only in Ijebuland, but throughout the world because as you are probably aware, an unimaginable number of our sons, daughters and their friends come from places as far as Australia for this cultural rendezvous”. It is often said that when two or more are gathered, politics is inevitable.
Indeed, this played out when the Awujale of Ijebu Land,Oba Sikiru Adetona, in his remarks, used the occasion to call for the creation of Ijebu State, stating that this will help and further strenghten the economy of Ijebu land. Dignitaries at the occasion include Gen. TY Danguma (Rtd) and his wife, Senator Daisy, who were the special guests for this year’s Ojude Oba Festival. The Danjumas could not holdback their excitement while giving the closing remarks.
According to him, for Ojude Oba to be this attractive to all the sponsors and to people all over the world,though it had its inception some decades ago, there is something the organisers are doing right. He thanked all the sponsors for making the event a reality.