By Eric Elezuo
The huge revenue turn in from the 2017 Felabration carnival has brought to the fore the reasons Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State has been investing heavily in entertainment vis a vis arts and culture. It is not difficult to imagine that the sector is highly potent for revenue generation both for the government and individuals who seek to genuinely make ends meet.
Felabration, a multi-dimensional music festival was conceptualised by Tunde Oshinosi, aka Laface with the endorsement of Yeni Kuti, to honour her father, the progenitor of Afrobeats, Fela Anikulakpo Kuti, has been described in many ways than one.
To some, it is an annual festival of music, culture and arts that commemorates the life and times of Nigeria’s foremost musical icon, the late great Fela Anikulapo Kuti and undoubtedly showing Nigeria’s response to world music festivals, while to others, it is the place of pilgrimage for those who want to catch a glimpse of African culture, dance and the afrobeat music.
However, a few has given a thought to what Felabration has evolved to become; an economic pillar of support to both the high and low.
This year’s Felabration with the theme “Prophecy” apart from depicting Fela’s fight against corruption ingrained in our society and the lack of basic amenities, has come to prove that Nigerians can make ends meet with very little effort, especially when a pilgrimage like the one experienced between October 10 and 15 2017 is anything to go by.
The growing profile of Felabration keeps bringing glitz and glamour to the city of Lagos, and wait for this, money and economic empowerment to the populace. Every year, thousands of visitors from all over the world gather at the Afrika Shrine to celebrate the legacy of the afrobeat icon, and every year, these tourists of some sort, part with huge amount of money in exchange of their deserved pleasure.
Twenty years down the line, Fela has provided market centre for those interested in buying and selling, and of course making huge profit at short interval. Even those who felt he was a nuisance have come round to participating in this great economic venture.
To begin with, the sponsors of the event couldn’t do less as sales were turbocharged and over 250, 000 cummulative attendees were on hand to patronize hawkers and vendors alike.
Among sponsors of the event were Legend Extra Stout, 7up Bottling Company with their signature 7up drink, Best, a special whiskey drink and a host of others.
According to an official of Legend stout, “Interestingly, Legend Extra Stout is an exciting brand which strives to reach its consumers through invigorating platforms like Felabration. For us, the festival is a season of fun and excitement and Legend Extra Stout has put everything in place to ensure fun seekers are relaxed, entertained and refreshed at Felabration”
Yes the fans were refreshed, but Legend went home happier, giving out prizes to as many that patronized them. The prizes included refrigerators, television sets and generating sets.
The shrine on a normal day, is full of economic activities with kiosks of alcoholic drinks, ice creams, barbecued meat such as the local ‘asu’, illicit gin, fruit drinks, water, burger of all types and sizes, and not forgetting the emblem or signature of the shrine, igboo which pervaded the atmosphere and filled the air. Of course almost everyone in the vicinity patronized the hawkers, who advertised their products with a simple touch your brain, touch your brain.
A cup of cone ice cream, which ordinarily sells for N200 was sold at N800 while a N100, N150 yogurt was sold for N300. A bottle of alcohol went for N2000 among many others, and fans in happiness bought while savouring the joy of the performances.
Events took a dramatic turn when late in the night, or rather early the next day when it was obvious that no one can go beyond the environment, the prizes of the items soared even higher to the extent that a small bottle of water was sold for N250.
According to source, an estimated total of N10 million was recorded in sales from various hawkers and vendors who served fans with their various delicacies.
Speaking to TheBoss at the event, a young man who hawked local meat delicacy called ‘asu’ said the night alone will see them disposing about three to four goats at the prize different from the normal everyday prize. Responding in his half-baked English Language, he said “As people dey come, na so dem dey chop. This time na our own time”.
Titi (not real name) was selling a branded whiskey. She told TheBoss as at 3am that she has sold over 30 bottles of the N2000 per bottle drink, excluding the smaller bottles that go for N500 and also shots. In her words, ‘business is good’.
Now, it is obvious the intention of the Ambode-led government in developing entertainment and tourism potentials of the state. The foresighted governor knows that an entertainment vibrant state will create not only employment for its teaming population but also generate lively income and revenue for both the individual and the government respectively.
This explains why the Lagos State was conspicuously represented in the this year’s Felabration activities to the extent of the governor making a cameo appearance at the carnival held on the seventh day of the event.
Not only that, the governor also supervised the unveiling of the Liberation statue at the Allen Roundabout by Obafemi Awolowo Way, Ikeja. The statue featured a headless Fela with his fistless arms raised in African salute.
The governor understood the benefits in economic value of the yearly Felabration, and has dragged the Lagos State government into the festivities. He confirmed:
“The celebration of Fela today is like a reactivation of the values of the Yoruba people, showing that we have an identity, and we must not allow those values to die. And the state government is ready to rekindle that value, and that is the message. From this moment onward, we will spend more time on art, on culture, and our heritage. That is what we are here for, that is what we are doing,” Governor Ambode said.
A reliable family source told TheBoss that the economic gains of the 2017 edition will definitely bring in more participants in the coming years.