•Former special adviser to UK P
The 2018 edition of the annual Cocoa Festival which is the celebration of Nigeria’s cocoa origin and showcases the rich cultural heritage of Eti-Oni people is scheduled to hold between 2nd and 9th December 2018 at Gureje Square, Eti-Oni, Osun State, Nigeria.
The event kicked off in two spectacular events in the UK by ‘Friends of Eti-Oni’, a not for profit organization set up by a group of British women and registered in the UK in conjunction with Eti-Oni Development Group (EDG) to support the vision of HRM Oba Dokun Thompson, The Oloni of Eti-Oni, Osun State, Nigeria, to transform the rural community of Eti-Oni into a sustainable model smart town in line with the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
According to a report, an afternoon of tasting and pairing to showcase Eti-Oni signature dishes, savoury and sweet chocolate recipes which were created to balance a complexity of flavours to tantalize the palate with African, Caribbean and European influence infused with Eti-Oni cocoa or interlaced with Eti-Oni chocolate developed and hosted by Jon Ganna, a Fellow of the Guild of Master Chefs on Sunday 21 October, 2018 at Huntingdon, UK.
The Annual Royal Cocoa Festival Dinner held on Wednesday 24 October, 2018 at the Hoare Memorial Hall, Church House, Westminster, London SW1P 3NZ.
The objective of the events is to create awareness of the origin and value of cocoa in Nigeria and to inculcate a cocoa culture that will build bridges between cultivation in production regions and consumption in the Western world. The ultimate objective is to change the cocoa narrative in Nigeria and other regions from the current extractive position to an integrated view that takes cognizance of the various potentials for wealth creation along the value chain.
The events also created opportunities for networking, cultural exchanges and improving of bilateral relationships through engagement and contribution towards transforming communities that cultivate the cocoa beans from which chocolates, loved by all in Europe and the rest of the West, are manufactured and provided a platform to exchange ideas with various stakeholders in the Global Chocolate Industry for the realization of our vision of the economic and social regeneration in these communities.
The dinner was attended by 120 VIP guests and was anchored by Otunba Gbolahan Macjob. The welcome address was by Princess Busola Fawole (Patron, Friends of Eti-Oni) followed by a brief introduction of Friends of Eti-Oni by Ms Yemisi Jenkins MBE (Global Coordinator, Friends of Eti-Oni). The Chairman of the dinner was his excellency, Hon Guy Mayers (St. Lucia High Commissioner to the UK) who in his opening remarks pointed out the importance of Africa and the Caribbean to take advantage in their brotherly roots and build on the potentials the tourism industry offers as a way to develop several business opportunities together.
The special guest of honour, Professor the Lord Alton of Liverpool (Member British House of Lords) in his remarks mentioned that the Eti-Oni enterprise was one he was happy to identify with as it is all about deepening relationships and that the Eti-Oni Chocolate has become the Symbol of creating true bilateral relationship and not exploitative ones.
Other speakers included Sophie Jewett (CEO of York Cocoa House) who was the Special Guest Speaker. She gave an inspiring narrative of her journey in the chocolate business. Chantal Coady OBE (Founder of Rococo Chocolates) shared her experience with chocolate from when she was very young all through becoming a chocolate maker and now producing cocoa. Angus Kennedy (CEO Kennedy’s Confection, the oldest confectionery magazine in the UK), spoke about his life’s journey and interest in cocoa and his plan to come and live and work as a cocoa farmer in Eti-Oni to make a movie on life as a cocoa farmer as a way to working on adding value to cocoa production.
His Royal Majesty, Oba George Akande (The Olusi of Usi-Ekiti) brought greetings from Nigeria sharing his experience at the 2017 edition of the Cocoa Festival and extolled the work of Oba Dokun Thompson on cocoa in Nigeria with the message now extended to the UK.
The highlight of the evening saw the Coffee Table Style Hard Cover 160 Page Book, The Royal Origins and Traditions of Cocoa: A Photo Documentary; Eti-Oni – History Lifestyle & Landscape written and compiled by HRM Oba Dokun Thompson presented by Andrew Whiting (Chairman Beech’s Fine Chocolates). There was also a brief book signing ceremony and presented to some of the VIPS that included The 5th Baron Lord Hylton, Baroness Cox of Queensbury and Fiona Bruce MP. Also present were Alastair Masser (Former Special Adviser to David Cameron, now Communications Director of Legatum Institute), Hon Anton ‘de Piro (Chief of Staff at Stanhill Capital), Rebecca Tinsley, Dokun Omidiora (MD/CEO Intro Africa Group), Otunba Lai Oriowo, Arc Biodun Fari-Arole, Pastor and Dr (Mrs) Abraham, Pastor James Ademuyiwa, Atiti Izogie (Founder and CEO Eyato Designs London).
M, CEO York Cocoa House, other stakeholders add colour