Projecting Africa through Creativity

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Over the past decade, African creativity, art and entertainment has witnessed significant growth and expansion, writes Oluchi Chibuzor

According to a PwC report, “Global Entertainment and Media outlook, the music and entertainment industry in African countries like Nigeria is expected to continue to expand by 2022 with a projected 21.5 per cent growth rate (CAGR), with revenue reaching $9.9 billion.
The African entertainment industry has not only attracted the attention of the world to Africa but has helped to project some of Africa’s great talents to the world. Gone are the days when Africans rely on foreign artists, designers and film makers for quality and captivating creative art, music, fashion and films.

Globally, financial institutions are constantly adjusting to appeal to the needs of the millennial generation and banks in Nigeria have also adopted this strategy.

Today, financial institutions are gradually changing their banking model to attract and retain the country’s rising youth population, by creating an atmosphere that blends lifestyle, music, art, fashion, commerce, with banking.

Precisely, last month, a lot of banks in the country put together different lifestyle events to bond with their customers.
According to report by Accenture, banks are moving in the direction of identifying new micro-segments based on lifestyle, values, aspirations, and needs, and targeting them with dedicated propositions.

Today, we can say for a fact that Africa is self-sufficient in terms of entertainment and creativity. This was clearly exemplified and illustrated at the just concluded second edition of the Born in Africa Festival (BAFEST) powered by Access Bank Plc.

The Born in Africa festival is a celebration of the unparalleled dynamism of the true African spirit and creativity. This entertaining fusion of music, art, film and fashion is designed to tell a positive African story globally and better connect the world to the African continent.

Therefore, the Born in Africa Festival is birthed from a need to tell the true African story in all its glory. The second edition of the festival, themed, “More for The Culture,” held in Lagos, last month, and saw over 35,000 attendees trooping in from across Nigeria and beyond.

Africa has several entertainment festivals created with the aim of projecting the continent, festivals such as Bushfire festival in Swaziland, Sauti Za Busara in Tanzania, Festival au Désert in Mali, Africa in Motion (AiM) Film Festival and the likes, but until the introduction of BAFEST, there was not one festival that brings all the elements of art (Music, film, creative art and fashion) under one umbrella with the sole aim of projecting Africa in good light.

The 2019 Born in Africa Festival was truly a celebration and projection of Africa and African talents, this was evident in the caliber of music artists, fashion designers, creative art and films featured.

The festival had the likes of Burna Boy, who is a true depiction of Africa’s talent, he started from the grass roots in Nigeria, but is currently enjoying global fame and acceptance.

Also present was Naira Marley who is also currently enjoying music success and gaining massive following of young Africans. Other musicians present were Niniola, Seyi Shey, Becca from Ghana, Patoranking, Teni, Joeboy, Flavour, 9ice and Mr. Real.

Short films, feature-length films and Accelerate Filmmaker project films that depicts the true African spirit and art of storytelling were featured; Films such as ‘Black Monday’, written and directed by Adetola Films, the film is one of the films by the Top 5 finalist of the 2019 filmmaker project initiative.
The film focuses on the effects of stigmatization in the society as it tells a story of a young man who returns from prison to face stigmatization from the members of his community. ‘Blast’ a film by Miriam Dera’s which is among the 2019 top five finalists of the filmmaker project initiative was also on screen.

The short film which stars Harriet Akinola and Tope Olowoniyan tells a story of a reclusive young lady, tasked with making a pitch for a client at work, but must fight years of psychological torture and go ahead with the presentation or lose her job. Other films that featured at the festival include ‘Blast’ by Tosin Ibitoye, ‘Last’ by Olabisi Akinbinu, among others.

Prolific fashion designers such as Tokyo James, Emmy Kasbit, David Tlale and a host of other talented African fashion designers had their work displayed and worn by top models such as Ojy Okpe, and Millen Magese. There were also eye-catching and fascinating artworks on display as creative artists were on ground to engage guests.

A notable highlight of the festival was the electrifying opening dance performance coupled with a daring aerodynamic performance by the Drumstatic band, who were all suspended in the air. The ambience at the BAFEST 2019 was a lively one; guests had several options of refreshment as there was a food court packed with vendors dishing tasty meals and drinks.

Commenting on the event and its significance, Access Bank GMD Herbert Wigwe explained that,“BAFEST is not just a means of providing quality entertainment to Africans, but a platform Access Bank has created to spotlight Africa through its enormous creativity and talents. We believe it is time the world knows the true story of Africa. I believe that this year’s BAFEST will further strengthen this new African narrative we are creating.”

Guests who took the time to attend and immerse themselves in the festival were truly entertained, and did not hesitate to share their feelings, experiences and highlights of the event. Miss Samiat Kelani, one the many guests who enjoyed the festival explained that, the second edition was her first BAFEST experience and she was captivated by the art works and fashion wears on display, according to her “This is my first time at the BAFEST and I am having fun. So far I have enjoyed the movies, the fashion and models. The art works here are really beautiful. I love all the African culture that is being projected here.”

Miss Damola Oshodi, another BAFEST guest who is an art and film enthusiast also described her experience at the festival.
She said, “my experience this year has been very amazing, this place is very lively and interesting. It has been fantastic literally, from the movies, to the fashion and to the arts and the concert, it has been really great. When I came in, I walked in on a Nigerian movie at the movie park, and I loved the movie; the picture quality and story line.

“I am happy because this year has been a good year for Nigerian music and coming here today to see these artists perform live is a great pleasure for me.” On her highlights of the festival, she said, “For me it is everything, but most importantly the art works on display and the artist on ground drawing portraits of people is my highlight, the talent is out of this world.”
Also, Mr. Ife Dayo, a fun and African art lover explained that the art works he has seen on display in the art section of the BAFEST were breath taking and should be seen by all.

According to Dayo, “I like what I have seen so far, particularly in the art section, the works there are great, and more people need to see them. I like the caliber of musicians also present at this festival, and as you can see, I am having a good time.”

The Born in Africa Festival is a brain child of Access Bank. Over the years, Access Bank as an institution has persistently shown passionate support for African creativity and the BAFEST initiative makes sense and comes naturally. The bank through the years has been strongly associated with the African creative sector; from its sponsorship of Art X Lagos, to its backing of AFFRIFF and other platforms promoting African creativity. The bank has properly positioned itself to be Africa’s gate way to the world, providing more than just banking.