Story : Adeoluwa Atayero Photo: Solomon Ekhaiyeme
It was a free spirited gathering of intellectuals at Eko Hotel as experts and authorities from different fields congregated to discuss the topical issue of Beer and Culture. The symposium was essentially a gathering A list intellectual and experts. The event kicked off with a welcome address delivered by the M.D./C.E.O of Nigerian Breweries Plc, Nicoolas Vervelde. Quickly following this was Mr. Donald Duke, former governor of Cross River state, declared the event open after giving a brief but flawless and charming talk. He encouraged Nigerian Breweries to “tell the world their story and the value that they add to the economy”. He also briefly stated the importance of identifying your tolerance level and urged people to remember that “nothing enjoyable is bad until put to wrong use.”
There was an aptly selected array at the event who gave enjoyable, heartwarming and touching accounts about their experience with beer and the good effects that beer has for its drinkers. One of the guest speakers, Professor Bartholomew Okolo, the former Vice Chancellor of University of Nsukka, gave an educative talk on the social and cultural role of beer. He confessed that fear of stigmatization almost stopped him from participating. However, as a seasoned moral drinker, he felt a duty to enlighten people about beer and the fact that it could actually become a vehicle for community cohesion. In attendance of the event was Nollywood actress, Iyabo Ojo, comedian , Okey Bakassi and Nollywood actor, Kunle Afod.
Mr. Ted Mukoro, fondly known as Uncle Ted, who was former creative director of Linas and is popularly known as “Shine Shine Bobo “. The eighty eight year old industry veteran shared a gripping tale about how he has seen the good and bad sides of beer before he proceeded to take a drink of Star beer on the stage. The panel discussions were moderated by Sola Salako, certified graduand of The Beer Academy. Acclaimed blogger, Noble Igwe and Mr. Dele Adetiba was part of the group of panelists. The group of panelists also included Azu Arinze, publisher of YES magazine; KIingsley Bassey, Nollywood actor and Dr. Abimbola Malomo, nutritionist of Lagos state and a host of others.
The panelists discussed why beer is an integral part of Nigerian culture and the fact that beer helps foster unity between people from various ethnic groups and religious dominations. Mrs. Sola also asked why men prefer to go to beer parlors instead of drinking their beer at home. In response to this question, the panelists agreed that men preferred the parlors because at the parlor, everyone is equal and professionals vet out free consultation because of this fact. To this cause, Mr. Dele Adetiba while quoting an anonymous politician described beer as “the oil of conversation” while Kingsley Bassey described the parlor as “a watering hole where lions and antelopes stop to drink.” The economic significance of beer was discussed as Mrs. Sola declared that “beer can take us where oil has dumped us.” Mr. Arinze also discussed the influence of beer on vocabulary while Kingsley Bassey as need for the change of portrayal of beer in the media.
Renowned On Air Personality, Stephanie Koker gave an artificial, whirlwind style talk on Beer and Nigerian women. Professor Innocent Ujah, DG of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) spoke on the benefits of beer on the human body. He also told everyone to note that pregnant women and nursing mothers should not take any level of alcohol. He also warned against drinking and driving, which is never a safe bet.
Moderate consumption was a recurring theme throughout the program as various speakers spoke at length about the hazards of drinking with an unhealthy lifestyle, drunkenness and drinking while driving. Mr. Kufre Ekanem , when rounding up the event, reminded the guests as they existed the masterfully planned event that “moderation begins with all of us in the room.”