Lifting creative industry with funding, networking

After oil, entertainment has turned out to be Nigeria’s major export and source of foreign exchange earnings. Besides, it is one of the topmost sector creating jobs for millions of youths and building positive image for the nation.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has, through the Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI) scheme, encouraged banks to play more prominent roles by ensuring that the sector not only gets funding, but also the right capacity that promotes creativity.

The Born In Africa Festival (BAFEST) held in Lagos, which was sponsored by Access Bank Plc, was one of the key initiatives promoted by the commercial lender to boost the creative industry.

The BAFEST is a brain child of Access Bank. Over the years, the bank has supported African creativity, a reason the BAFEST initiative makes sense.

The bank has been associated with the African creative sector; from its sponsorship of Art X Lagos, to its backing of AFFRIFF and other platforms aimed at promoting African creativity. The bank has positioned itself to be Africa’s gate way to the world, providing more than just banking.

Over the past decade, African creativity, art and entertainment has witnessed significant growth.

Speaking on the sponsorship of the programme and the priority given to the sector, Access Bank’s Group Head Corporate Communications, Amaechi Okobi, said the bank is moving a step further by providing legal, tax and business plan development support to entertainers willing to access the funds.

He said Access Bank is an entertainment and SME-friendly bank, with several loan packages that can be easily accessed by youths in the creative sector.

He said: “Following a successful maiden edition of the BAFEST in December 2018, the Access Bank- powered festival returned last December for a second edition. It was themed “More for the culture”, and observations and the commentaries of most spectators showed that it was a success in terms of attendance and content.

‘’The BAFESTl is a dynamic fusion of African art, film, fashion and music. It was birthed from a need to tell the true African story in all its glory. It is a day when our finest creatives showcase their talents to the world.

The Western media is quick to portray Africa as a hotbed of poverty, starvation and despotism. It’s time we killed the perception that Africans are corrupt, fraudulent and even lazy.

“We know the true picture and we want the world to know that Africa is a land of beauty, where the people are talented, hardworking and entrepreneurial. Some of the greatest men and women to walk the earth and wow the world in music, arts, fashion even science and technology are Africans.

Therefore, we decided to beam the spotlight on the positive things coming out of Africa and that is why we created BAFEST, to not only bring Africans together to be entertained by Africans, but to let the world know that there is so much more in Africa.

We are amazing and it’s time for the world to take us seriously. Also, over the years, Access Bank, as an institution, has persistently shown passionate support for African creativity and the BAFEST initiative makes sense and comes naturally.

The bank through the years has been strongly associated with the African creative sector; from its sponsorship of Art X Lagos, to its backing of AFFRIFF and other platforms promoting African creativity,” he added.

BAFEST and African creativity

BAFEST is a celebration of the unparalleled dynamism of the true African spirit and creativity. This highly entertaining fusion of music, art, film and fashion was designed to tell a positive African story globally and better connect the world to the continent.

It was birthed from a need to tell the true African story in all its glory. The second edition of the festival held last December at Eko Atlantic City, Victoria Island, Lagos with over 35,000 attendees from across Nigeria and beyond.

Africa has several festivals aimed at projecting the continent, festivals, such as Bushfire festival in Swaziland, Sauti Za Busara in Tanzania, Festival au Désert in Mali, Africa in Motion (AiM) Film Festival, among others.

Until the introduction of BAFEST, there was not one festival that brings all the elements of art (Music, film, creative art and fashion) under one umbrella with the sole aim of projecting Africa in good light.

BAFEST was a celebration and projection of Africa and African talents. This was evident in the calibre of music artists, fashion designers, creative art and films featured.

The festival had the like of Burna Boy, a true depiction of Africa’s talent. He started from the grass roots in Nigeria, but is enjoying global fame and acceptance. Also present was Naira Marley, who is also enjoying music success and gaining massive following of young Africans.

Other musicians were Niniola, Seyi Shey, Becca from Ghana, Patoranking, Teni, Joeboy, Flavour, 9ice and Mr. Real.

Short films, feature-length films and Accelerate Filmmaker project films that depict the true African spirit and art of storytelling were featured. Films, such as ‘Black Monday’, written and directed by Adetola Films – the film is one of those by the Top 5 finalist of the 2019 filmmaker project initiative.

It focuses on the effects of stigmatisation in the society as it tells a story of a young man who returns from prison to face stigmatisation from his community. ‘Blast’, a film by Miriam Dera’s, which is among the 2019 top five finalists of the filmmaker project initiative, was also on screen.

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The short film, which stars Harriet Akinola and Tope Olowoniyan, tells a story of a reclusive young lady, tasked with making a pitch for a client at work, but must fight years of psychological torture and go ahead with the presentation or lose her job. Other films that featured at the festival include ‘Blast’ by Tosin Ibitoye, ‘Last’ by Olabisi Akinbinu.

Prolific fashion designers, such as Tokyo James, Emmy Kasbit, and David Tlale, had their work displayed and worn by top models, such as Ojy Okpe, and Millen Magese. There were also eye-catching and fascinating artworks on display as creative artists were on ground to engage guests.

A notable highlight of the festival was the electrifying opening dance performance coupled with a daring aerodynamic performance by the Drumstatic band, who were all suspended in the air. The ambience at the BAFEST was lively.

Guests who took the time to attend and immerse themselves in the festival were truly entertained, and did not hesitate to share their feelings, experiences and highlights of the event.

One of the participants, Samiat Rasheed, explained that the second edition was her first BAFEST’s experience and she was captivated by the artworks and fashion wears on display.

According to her, “This is the first time I will be at the BAFEST and I am having fun. So far, I have enjoyed the movies, the fashion and models. The artworks are really beautiful. I love all the African culture that is being projected here.”

Another guest, who is an art and film enthusiast, Damola Oseni, described her experience at the festival as amazing.

Damola said: “My experience has been very amazing. This place is very lively and interesting.”

Also, Ife Okon, an art lover explained that the artworks he has seen on display in the art section of the BAFEST were breath taking and should be seen by all.

According to Ife “I like what I have seen so far, particularly in the art section, the works there are great, and more people need to see them. I like the calibre of musicians also present at this festival, and as you can see, I am having a good time.”

BAFEST’s Assessment

According to Okobi, the impact of BAFEST has been great. In the first edition, it recorded over 14,000 attendees, but in the last edition, it had over 35,000 attendees.

The quality of artists, film makers, designers and models we have showcased in the two editions are topnotch and the best in their industries. Asides the number of participants, music, fashion, film and all, BAFEST is now an event people look forward to each year, and we are gradually getting global attention, which is what we want, he said.

“Our goal is to attract the attention of the world by projecting our rich African culture and creativity, and I can confidently say that we are well on our way to achieving it.”

He explained that entertainment is a platform that brings people together, irrespective of ethnicity, religion, political affiliations and race. “We all know entertainment is a big thing in Africa and even globally.

African creatives by themselves with little support have transformed the entertainment sector into a goldmine and we believe that BAFEST will be another platform to help multiply the efforts of African creatives,” he added.

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