By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Ahead of the 50th anniversary of Lagos State, the sight and sound of Lagos last weekend, came alive at the popular Notting Hill Carnival LNHC in London tagged; “#LoveLagosWeekend.” However, taking a cue from previous years, LNHC, Europe’s biggest street festivity and the world’s second biggest, offered the state a rare platform to showcase its heart of love, oneness and peace it branded “One Lagos.”
The event was also part of activities of showcasing Africa’s rich cultural heritage to the global community. The carnival, a vivid spectacle representing London’s multicultural past and present, saw people from across the United Kingdom, friends and lovers of the state as they converged on the Nigerian Corner, Adelaja Street, to celebrate Lagos and what the state has been able to achieve under the administration of Akinwunmi Ambode.
Beyond the glitz that attracted huge enthusiasts to Adelaja Street, the popular Nigerian Corner at Nottinghill Carnival, was transformed to Lagos Corner as part of LoveLagosWeekend, which commenced on August 27 and ended August 29.
At Lagos Corner, a cross section of the audience and artistes from Nigeria performed to the amazement of fun-seekers during the three-day campaign, which brought dynamism to the way Notting Hill Carnival had been celebrated in the past 50 years. The artistes included the Rain Maker, Majek Fashek, May7ven, Shikane, Ade Swagz and Ceeboy.
The campaign was anchored by ace comedian and compere, Gbenga Adeyinka, the First. Also in attendance were DJ Abass, Shope Olajide, Wale Gates and MC Momelo. At the VIP section were Yeni Kuti, Nikki Laoye, Kemi Otegbade, Kaita Okeowo, Seyi Brown, Ayo Shonaiya, Sammy Okposo, Drew Uyi, Mofe Duncan and Timi Adegbite.
Aside the excitement and glamour that was visible at Lagos Corner, the message of LoveLagosWeekend was indeed irresistible. The Lagos State Government staged for a grand purpose, according to the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde. He said it was put together to sell Lagos and unite its friends and lovers in the diaspora.
For Ayorinde, the gains of LoveLagosWeekend demonstrate Lagos potentials in arts, entertainment and tourism. He said it was in line with Ambode’s vision to use arts, entertainment and tourism “to promote social cohesion and create employment opportunities. The carnival offered rare platform to market Lagos globally.”
Consequently, the commissioner explained the objectives of the campaign, which he said, “are to create awareness of the Ambode administration; provide platform for interaction with Lagos indigenes and lovers of the state in the Diaspora and market the state to potential investors that can contribute towards the Lagos@50 celebrations.”
Mr. Ayo Sonaiya, the promoter of Lagos Corner, was more excited at the historic celebration. Sonaiya told Lagos friends and lovers that transforming Nigerian Corner to Lagos Corner “is a dream fulfilled.” At the grand finale of LoveLagosWeekend, Sonaiya said the campaign “coincides with the Notting Hill Carnival’s 50th edition.”
He said he was excited that at a time Lagos State “is counting down to its 50th anniversary,” it had been seized by the Ambode administration as one huge platform “to reach out to millions of Nigerians and Lagosians in particular.
“Notting Hill Carnival has just celebrated its 50th edition. Lagos seized the platform to send a message to the world and showcase the emerging powerful brand it has become under the Ambode administration, especially in the areas of arts and entertainment and in connecting with the Diaspora about the great things being recorded.”
For Sonaiya, Lagos Corner will always provide a veritable platform for performing artistes from Lagos State to showcase their talents. But beyond showcasing their talents, Sonaiya said, Lagos Corner will further give verve to Brand Lagos as the home of creativity, thereby imprinting in the mind of global investors what Lagos indeed stands for.
Excited by the gains of LoveLagosWeekend, Ayorinde said the campaign started last Saturday with a town hall meeting and media parley, which he said, was addressed by the top officials of the state. He said it continued Saturday evening with a I Laugh with MC Abbey and the Love Lagos Crack Ya Ribs with Julius Agu on Sunday.
LoveLagosWeekend was not just a three-day campaign, according to the commissioner. He explained that it was a three-day campaign designed to communicate the Lagos tourism brand initiative to the world. The master brand for Lagos Tourism Initiative is One Lagos. The initiative speaks to the oneness, multicultural nature and unity in diversity of the state.”
Ayorinde, quickly, reflected how the festival of One Lagos kicked off last December in “five administrative zones that constitute Lagos. The festival brought Lagos residents of diverse ethno-religious backgrounds together. It was the fiesta of peace and oneness, which Lagos residents engage with the youths.”
The commissioner said One Lagos “is a huge brand on its own. It is an initiative that has taken shape in the state. But the slogan for that brand initiative is Love Lagos, which is our way of urging the world to take note and connect with us.
“The Love Lagos Weekend in London was also in sync with the plan of the Ambode administration to celebrate Lagos on the 27th day of every month till May 27, 2017 when Lagos will celebrate its 50th anniversary as a state in full glare of the world.
“London and Lagos have a long rich history and choosing to start the global brand awareness campaign for Lagos in London is the right thing to do given the huge number of Lagosians and Friends of Lagos that reside and work there,” the commissioner explained.
Ayorinde said the campaign recorded huge success within three days the state government publicised Brand Lagos “to the world. The state continues to record successes in infrastructural development, investment drive and promotion of Arts and Culture. The next stop for Lagos Brand is now at the Toronto Independent Film Festival in September.
Just before the LoveLagosWeekend campaign took off last weekend, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the London–based BEN TV, Dr. Alistair Soyode associated with the success of what Lagos State “has been doing to tell the world about Lagos and its potentials.
“We are happy that at a time that Lagos State is counting down to its 50th anniversary, the administration of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode is using the huge platform of Notting Hill Carnival, which is also celebrating its 50th edition this year to reach out to millions of Nigerians and Lagosians in particular about the emerging powerful brand that Lagos has become in the areas of arts and entertainment and in connecting with the Diaspora about the great things being recorded in Lagos,” he said.
Soyode’s real reason for associating Lagos was “to intimate the state government on the activities of London–based BEN TV. However, he explained the rationale behind the establishment of Nigerian Diaspora Mentoring Corp, which he said, was aimed at creating a platform “to engage Nigerian youth for gainful ventures.
“The Corp has been able to provide a platform to engage professional Nigerians in diaspora to interact with the Nigerian youth for purposeful direction in adjusting to adulthood, noting that private individuals are more available to render such support and give them the needed leadership direction,” Soyode explained.
Other objectives of the Love Lagos Weekend include: To create awareness on the new Lagos State administration, provide platform for interaction with Lagos State indigenes and lovers of Lagos State in the Diaspora and further market the state to potential investors and partners that can contribute towards the Lagos@50 celebrations.