Saturday 18 October 2014

In Nigeria-German interest, arts, culture meet business

By Tajudeen Sowole

The anniversaries of Nigeria’s independence and the fall of Berlin Wall celebrated in the same week also inspired the gathering of the art, culture and the business community in Lagos. With the theme, ‘Business Meets Culture’, and held at Federal Palace Hotel, Lagos, the event was the maiden edition of Nigerian Cultural Trade Show, organised by the Nigerian-German Business Association (NGBA) and German Delegation of Industry and Commerce (AHK Nigeria) in collaboration with Goethe Institut and the Consulate-General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Lagos.

A painting by Ibe Ananaba on exhibit at the Nigerian Cultural tradeshow
Among the exhibits were paintings of Abiodun Olaku, Duke Asidere, Ola Balogun, Ibe Ananaba, Alex Nwokolo, Joseph Eze, Chike Obeago and Diseye Tantua courtesy of Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA) and Omenka Gallery. Representing Nollywood sub-division of the arts and culture industry at the Nigerian Trade Show were Tunde Kelani-led Mainframe and National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) while the Lola Shoneyin-led Ake Arts and Book Festival showcased the richness of Nigerian literary community.

Held in the first week of October, it added colour to the 54th year of Nigeria’s independence, and Germany’s 25th year of the fall of the Berlin Wall/Reunification. Ahead of the event, the organisers stated that the gathering offers the unique opportunity to take the participants on a journey through Nigeria’s tremendous cultural wealth. “The Nigerian Cultural Trade Show is a platform where business can engage their cultural commitment.”

At the Mainframe stand, retrospection added to the richness of the exhibits as the film company’s early hits such the classic, Ti Oluwa Ni Ile, O Le ku, Magun and Ayo Ni Mofe shared a common space with Arugba, Campus Queen, Saworoide and Kosegbe. For the book section of the show, works such as The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, Mayowa and The Masquerades among others were on display.

From the archives come Amanda Kirby Okoye who showed a collection of lost or forgotten historical materials such as letters, objects from 1960 to 1960 and the 70s. Simisola Ogunleye and Ruby Gyang provided the musical flavour just as fashion and clothing were celebrated courtesy of Prima Rouge. Confirming the richness of Nigerian culture were members of Association of Nigerian Small Business Owners who showed materials in food and other domestic as well as household items.

In his Keynote Address, Honourable Oladisun Holloway, Commissioner for Tourism and Intergovernmental Relations noted that the Berlin Wall “was a reminder on how physical barriers create diverse cultural norms.” He however added that in the post-Berlin Wall era, Germany has shown the rest of the world “how to successfully re-integrate and meld the diverse norms that had evolved on both sides of the wall since the end of WW-2 into a cultural and business cohesive unit.” Stressing the importance of Lagos as Nigeria’s cultural and business capital, Holloway enthused that “the inspiring theme Business Meets Culture is taking place in Lagos State.”

  Mainframe Production's Ti Oluwa Nile during the Nigerian Cultural Tradeshow
Shortly after being led through the exhibits, the German Consul General in Lagos, Michael Derus argued, “we are in a world where trade and business is incomplete without arts and culture.”  While noting that the week was significant to Nigeria and Germany, Derus disclosed that the Nigerian Trade Show is to help lift the professionals in the arts and culture sector through Public-Private Partnership.

For the non-governmental organization NGBA, the central objective and interest is to foster and strengthen business relations between both countries. With its 400 German and Nigerian member companies, NGBA was founded by the following interest groups: Representatives of the Nigerian business community; Representatives of the German business community living in Nigeria; the DGIC (Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Nigeria)/AHK Nigeria, and The Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany.

German-Nigerian business relations date back decades. The Nigerian-German Business Association formerly known as the Nigerian-German Business Council was established on the 15 October 1986.

The Bilateral relations economically and politically came about a series of high-level visits between Germany  and  Nigeria,  which  began  with  President  Olusegun  Obansanjo's   official visit to Germany in December 1999, it gained momentum under the government of  President  Yar'Ardua.

The AHK, a delegations and representatives of Deutsche economy offer practical support and advice for German companies in partner countries and vice versa, and also help companies in the partner countries in Germany to gain a foothold, increasing investment and bilateral trade. AHK said it gas has 120 offices in 80 countries and five continents. The network includes the Delegation of German Industry in Nigeria. “We are your partner when it comes to business and economic relations between Nigeria and Germany. Whether you are looking for first contacts with buyers of your products or services or need support in planning your exhibition presence - we are here for you.”

The Goethe-Institut is the cultural section of the Federal Republic of Germany globally. “We promote knowledge of the German language abroad and foster international cultural cooperation. We convey a comprehensive picture of Germany by providing information on its culture, society and political life. Using our network of Goethe-Institutes, Goethe Centres, cultural societies and reading rooms, alongside our examination and language learning centers, we perform the principal tasks of cultural and educational policy.

“We are also a partner of public and private cultural bodies, as well as the provinces, municipalities and industry. We draw on the rich diversity of our open society and vibrant German culture. We combine the experiences and conceptions of our partners in Germany and abroad with our professional skills and engage in cooperative dialogue. We are service providers and partners for everyone taking an active interest in Germany and the German language and culture, and act independently with no political affiliations.”

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