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Kulturefest is supporting 37 festivals – Adebiyi

Kulturefest is supporting 37 festivals – Adebiyi

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Akeem Lasisi

As the Eko Theatre Carnival draws many people to the stage, the Sales and Distribution Executive, at MTN Nigeria, Mr. Adekunle Adebiyi, has said that the company is supporting 37 festivals this year.

This is likely to surprise many people who do not know that the country has as many as the indicated number of cultural fiestas. The company is a major supporter of the project.

But culture and tourism freaks know that if there is one thing that Nigeria has in abundance, it is festivals. Many of them, including Osun Osogbo,  Argungu, Ofala and Eyo festivals, have become so dominant that governments and other bodies cannot but pay attention to them. As a result, a good number of them have felt the need to develop a calendar for the festivals both at the national and state levels.

An organisation, such as MTN, is in a position to flaunt the data based on its involvement. It is, for instance, supporting the Lagos Theatre Festival that  recently unleashed many plays on different parts of the state.

According to Adebiyi, apart from the company’s impacts in developing music talents through the MTN Foundation’s sponsoring of the MUSON Music School and support for Broadway shows, such as Saro, Waka and Kakadu, it developed the platform called KultureFest to put in perspectives its intervention in the area. Apart from Osun Osogbo and Eyo festivals, the cocmpany also sponsors the Igue Festival in Benin, Nupe Festival and Gembu Mambila in Taraba.

Adebiyi said, “KultureFest is literally ‘Cultural Festivals.’ We tagged it KultureFest simply because we wanted this uniqueness about it. It is a celebration with people of various communities across Nigeria. About 10 years ago when we unveiled it, we wanted to find a way of winning the hearts and minds of people in various communities. Because we don’t have festivals of our own, we know there are those that the people in the communities would normally be celebrating. To enrich them and make them bigger and better, we are putting a lot of investment behind them. We’re also ensuring a way to give back and create affinity between the people of these communities and our brand.”

Adding that the company was not involved for commercial benefits, he explained that it wanted to be part of what brought joy to the people.

“We go in there to give back, to show the people that we care about what they care about. If I’m doing business in your community and I see that one of the things that you’re happy about is the festival, participating in such shows that I am one of you. Whenever we do that, as an organisation, we first of all derive utmost satisfaction in the fact that yes, we’ve identified with the people,” he said, adding that participating in the festivals also afforded them the opportunity to boost their retail presence.

According to him, MTN selects what company to support through its regional teams that go into communities.

He said, “If they see that there are festivals with proper structures and impressive foot traffic, they suggest them to us for support. Another way is that some of these communities actually write us. There is a cocoa festival in Osun State, for example, on which the monarch of the town wrote to us, inviting us to come and participate and I think we’ve been a part. One thing about these cultural festivals is that even where they were previously unknown across the country, when we step in, we take them to a higher level. So, selection is via our regional teams or the communities themselves, through mails or letters they write to us.

“Diversifying the economy and making Forex from various other layers are a very good pointer to the essence of the festivals. If you know what the Notting Hill Festival does in the UK, you will be able to imagine what our festivals can fetch.”

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