Afe Babalola Hall, University of Lagos, Yaba was abuzz last week when top influencers and investors gathered for the 17th edition of the Culturati Symposium. With the theme “Enhancing Africa’s Development Through Investment in Culture, Arts and Tourism,” the symposium was an eye-opening experience for many youths drawn from the university environment and other nearby institutions. Amongst other things, the stakeholders highlighted some of the huge economic potentials in the sector which has fast become a leading employer of labour.
In the keynote address, the filmmaker and media entrepreneur, Samuel Olatunji popularly known as Bigsam revealed that youths have the power to attract investors to the culture sector through their skills and creativity. “It is not just about the money that external investors can bring to the table,” he said. “People need to see what is on the ground to invest. Look at your skill as something you can sell within the marketplace of culture.”
In the same vein, Chioma Ude, the Founder, African International Film Festival (AFRIFF) spoke extensively about how AFRIFF has contributed to talent development and economic growth. “Eighty percent of you all will end up in the entertainment industry. Don’t be surprised when it happens. Bolanle Austen-Peters studied law but today she is playing in the fields of theatre and film. She won the best feature film at the last AFRIFF which is a rare feat for someone who entered the filmmaking space just a few years ago.”
Over the course of 12 years, AFRIFF has trained over 5000 students and sent 10 percent of those students abroad. The festival serves as a hub for networking and skills development, contributing significantly to youth empowerment and job creation.
During the panellists’ session, Morayo Afolabi-Brown, the host of Your View on TVC, the terrestrial platform offers potential for content distribution. With over 17 years in media practice within and outside Nigeria, she has deep insight into uncharted territories in content distribution. “There are people who do not have access to digital television and video streaming sites but they are still very strong in the terrestrial market,” she said. “People outside those three cities still watch the local television stations and they need content. We need to make our culture more endearing through our content.”
Obi Asika, a creative entrepreneur and CEO, Storm Records, noted that there is still in gap in capacity. “If we have to make four shows with the same magnitude of Big Brother Naija at once, we don’t have enough crew members,” he said. “That is a problem of capacity. That is an opportunity for anyone in this room who is looking for jobs in the nearest future. The opportunities in this industry will provide jobs for anybody who has an interest. Your background could be law and accounting, engineering but you can still find a home in this industry. The people who graduate from Ivy League schools in America often go to Wall Street or Hollywood. Be the first version of yourself. Be original. Everybody in this room has the potential in this creator economy. It isn’t just about the creatives. The creator economy is such that from your phone, whatever it is that you do and you excel at, you can build an audience.”
The former blogger turned media personality Oluwatosi Ajibade told the story behind Olori Supergal, a media platform she created during ASUU strike as an undergraduate with no media experience. With 13 years experience in digital media, she advised the youths to be proactive in learning more about how to become independent storytellers. “Your problems should not define your future. You can learn those several skills for free on Google, Udemy, Coursera and other platforms,” she said. “There are so many roles to be filled. You need to get started.”
The Head of Communications, Culturati, Funmi Ojo noted that the symposium is a foreglea