Raheem Akingbolu writes that the recent roundtable on Yoruba culture and practices, sponsored by Nigerian Breweries, could help to boost the affinity between the Goldberg brand and its consumers in the South-west
Before modern civilisation infiltrated the culture of many tribes and ethnic communities, the Yoruba people of South-west Nigeria had their own ways of entertainment. At a recent roundtable, where stakeholders dwelt on the beauty and trends in Juju and Fuji music, promoters of contemporary music were tasked on originality and effective use of the Yoruba language.
Sponsored by Nigerian Breweries, manufacturers of Goldberg Larger beer, the symposium was a springboard for the 2018 AriyaRepete, a platform created to deepen Yoruba music. As experts and music promoters took turns to detail various challenges facing the traditional music industry, it was clear from their arguments that music was an important factor in brand building. This explains why top brands ride on this platform to extend their frontiers in various markets.
In Nigeria, music has for a long time remained a strong connecting tool between brands and consumers, and many brands have ridden on the platform of music to woo consumers.
From Fuji T’o Bam to AriyaRepete
However, when handlers of Goldberg announced few years ago the commencement of Fuji T’o Bam, a talent hunt initiative, it seemed to sound unusual. This was so because the trend in the market then was promoting of hip-hop and other classical music. Aside creating entertainment ground for consumers, the initiative was also designed for young talented Nigerians who wanted to hone their skills in Fuji Music.
Last year, the initiative was modified to accommodate Juju. The company notched up another feat with the intellectual dimension introduced to it to deepen their relationship with the patrons of the beer brand in the South-west. With this, the exercise didn’t only achieve its aims and objectives; it opened a new chapter for Fuji and Juju music.
According the company, the exercise is designed to put Fuji music on the global map as well as reconnect the brand with its consumers. The initiative, which is in its fourth edition, is a talent hunt show and also serves as an indigenous music activation platform for the brand. In the last six years, winners of the contest have been crowned and given mouthwatering cash prizes.
According to Corporate Affairs Adviser of Nigerian Breweries Plc, Mr. Kufre Ekanem, the competition, which usually takes place across key cities in the South-west, is also designed to attract notable Yoruba actors, musicians, and other stakeholders in the entertainment industry.
At the 2018 Roundtable, held recently in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, promoters of the initiative maintained that the primary objective of the annual cultural discourse was to identify with the culture, tradition and beliefs of their consumers, especially those in the southwestern part of Nigeria, the Yoruba. According to them, Goldberg Lager has been cleverly chosen as a platform to promote cultural activities in the South-west because the brand essence typifies cultural edification in all ramifications.
The annual intervention, the company argued, had become imperative to enable it provide a platform for culture renaissance and ensure that the once vibrant and rich traditional beliefs and heritage of the Yoruba people are sustained, in line with the lager brand’s essence of culture, respect, and enjoyment.
Interestingly, the theme for this year’s discourse was woven around Fuji, Juju and other traditional genres of the Yoruba traditional music and the impact of today’s technology on the different categories of Yoruba music. It was a way of promoting the culture of the people of the southwestern part of the country.
The audience at the event comprised intellectuals, culture enthusiasts, and artistes from the Yoruba ethnic stock, including the Fuji maestro, WasiuAyinde Marshal, and juju crooner, Sir Shina Peters. Curiously, the consensus among the audience was that there need to do more for the Yoruba culture to prevent it from going into extinction.
Boost for Goldberg’s Profile
Commending the Goldberg brand for coming up the initiative, Wasiu Ayinde Marshal noted that such platform would go a long way in giving the Yoruba language and culture the much-needed impetus to take its pride of place in the midst of other Nigerian languages. He attributed the decline in the fortunes of the Yoruba language in the past few decades to its relegation by the Yoruba people themselves.
Wasiu, popularly known as KWAM 1, however, believed that for the cultural renaissance, which Nigerian Breweries had initiated to be effective, artistes from the Yoruba ethnic stock desirous of eking out a living from playing Fuji, Juju or other genres of Yoruba music must be well-groomed in Yoruba language.
He stated, “I think what this brand has done by organising this roundtable is highly commendable. And I also think the organisers deserve some kudos by making Fuji, Juju and other key genres of Yoruba music the talking point here today; since those genres of music are part and parcel of the Yoruba culture.
“Interestingly, the advent of technology has begun to take its toll on some of this music; since many of the present-day musicians are not really versed in the language. That is why I tell the younger musicians that want to eke out a living playing any of this Yoruba music and making a name, to always make it a point of duty to learn the language and learn it well.”
In his remarks at the event, Afro Juju musician, Sir Shina Peters, stated that the continued slide in the fortunes of Juju music and the increasing popularity of the Fuji music informed his decision to introduce fast-tempo Juju music.
While stressing the need for the younger generation of musicians to be creative and innovative, the Juju musician noted that his music career would have died a natural death if he had not changed the beat of his music and made it appeal to the teeming youth population.
Giving reasons for the introduction of the roundtable concept, the Portfolio Manager, Regional Mainstream, Lager and Stout brands, Emmanuel Agu, stated that the initiative was designed to foster unity among all the traditional genres of Yoruba music and culture, and to preserve the music heritage of the Yoruba people in a more contemporary way.
“As a brand that respects the culture and way of life of the Yoruba race, with deep root in the west, it is only sacrosanct that preserving our heritage and music is one unifying element that crosses all boundaries and makes us who we are,” he stated.
Agu added that the campaign, which started four years ago with Fuji To Bam, had been able to accommodate other types of Yoruba music, while describing artistes’ response to the programme as quite overwhelming.
Meanwhile, observers have described the decision of Nigerian Breweries to create the platform as a step in a right direction, especially now that the federal government is trying to promote local content. Agu also confirmed this when he noted the importance of music to countries and peoples. According to him, the role of music in nation-building is monumental, as it fuels the minds and the creativity of listeners.
As an activation platform that tends to touch on the emotions of millions of Juju and Fuji followers, the Nigerian Breweries initiative seems sure to be a real boost to the Goldberg brand in the South-west.