An exclusive interview with McKelvin Jude Oseh on Festivals and Culture by Irinajo
“Rebranding is a Necessity to state building and Tourism is a sector to leverage on”
McKelvin Jude Oseh is a Certified Negotiation Specialist, Information Manager, Personal Branding Expert and Brand Architect at Vfox Communications, a branding, digital marketing and print agency in Nigeria. Over the years, he has worked in building indigenous brands, creating strategies and brand designs in helping young entrepreneurs and businesses grow in Nigeria.
In this exclusive interview, Mckelvin Jude Oseh shared light on the ABA Festival brand, important of rebranding festivals in driving tourism and more. He is currently working with the Etuno Youth Association of Igarra, Edo State in projecting the ABA Festival brand to the world.
Q: why do you think we need to re-brand?
Ans: In a world where everything is moving at a fast pace, exposure and innovation on the rise, attention is moving away from conventional ways and practice; well, except for those who are deeply rooted in traditional way of doing things, and has decided not to embrace innovations and trends, rebranding can help to keep up and its imperative for sustainability.
Q: WHAT IS RE-BRANDING AND WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT FOR CULTURE AND FESTIVALS IN DRIVING TOURISM?
Ans: Re-branding in itself, helps to reposition what has been considered redundant to be viewed in a different perspective with hope and respect, re-telling a compelling story not just to retain rooted loyalist but also to attract those who have moved on with new trends.
The thing is, there has been a paradigm shift, huge migration, people have grown, some cities are growing in a fast pace than others, people in these cities are getting more acquainted with new trends and technology, increase or decrease in purchasing power, likes, dislikes and this is repositioning businesses and industries, consumers want more, and to meet up with their demands, businesses are redefining their models and approach to suit the changing tides; there are lots of pressure, people are learning and embracing new ways to relax and that has been influencing interests on tourism and in search of places to visit for stress relieve and vacation; So embracing rebranding will only make Festivals more attractive to Nigerians and the world; this often times always increase interests as 1st choices of place to visit when it comes to tourist locations in the country.
Q: TELL US ABOUT THE ABA FESTIVAL BRAND YOU ARE CURRENTLY WORKING ON IN EDO STATE?
Ans: Edo State is blessed with rich cultural heritage, traditions and great festivals and Aba on the list isn’t overrated. Aba Festival is the 6th most celebrated festival in West Africa, hosted every six calendar year or seven Luna years, an ancient pride of the Igarra people in celebrating Irepa/Azebani title ceremony (a celebration of victory). It’s an historic day for a new set of elder states men, taking on mantle of leadership, navigating and creating policies best for the people.
Over the years, the festival has been under going rebranding, since 2011, we have added more side events and activities to engage tourists within the period and so much has been put in place to make this year’s celebration epic.
Since rebranding, the festival attracted over 500,000 visitors and tourist during the last celebration and this year’s edition, we are expecting 1million+ in attendance. This festival brings together all Igarra in diaspora, uniting friends and family. Aba Festival gives an insight into what lays ahead beyond the walls of Benin, untold stories, untapped potentials, great opportunities all there waiting to behold.
Q: TELL US ABOUT THE IGARRA PEOPLE, WE UNDERSTAND YOU ARE FROM THERE?
Yes I am proudly Igarra, LOL we are also known as “Etuno” our people are hospitable, we’ve got great sense of humor, great food, we give respect and honour to others and above all, at peace, protected by the positive energy of the Kukuruku Hills. Igarra is blessed with Tourist attractions, huge landmass for Agriculture and Sites for Industrialization with suitable laws and policies protecting investors, a Gold mine in the heartbeat of the Nation. The HQ of Akoko-Edo Local Government, surrounded by neighboring communities who works together to foster growth and development, some times far left and other times far right, isn’t that what makes life interesting? Igarra over the years has been blessed with intelligent sons and daughters who have proven themselves leaders in different industries, contributing earnestly towards the growth of the State, our Nation and the world. To this end, I will say, “when you visit Igarra, you are with family”.
Q: IS EDO STATE GOVERNMENT DOING ENOUGH TO SUSTAIN CULTURE AND TOURISM IN THE STATE?
I think they are doing a lot but its not enough. The thing is, the way a state sells itself will determine our choice on where to visit for holiday’s within the country right? Based on a conversation I had with an MD from Edo State who resides in Lagos, he shared his dilemma on why he can’t visit the state, but always forced to because he share an ancestral root and that’s just blackmail he said, that shouldn’t be the case, He went further to say “i should visit knowing there is so much more to do than family, improved tourist sites, exploring new discoveries and more he added, after all we are the heart beat of the nation.
Edo State is blessed but for some reason do not see the need to reposition her Tourism sector by constantly communicating and marketing all her tourist attractions as an entity to Nigerians. Even though the ancient Edo shares a history with the colonials and their artistic attributes attracted lots of tourist during and after the postcolonial era; some of the Tourist sites that are still relevant includes: ‘The Benin Moat, Ughoton ‘Where you lean more on the history between the Yoruba and Benin, Oba Palace of cause which is the heart beat of tourist sites in Edo State and lots more featured as UNESCO cultural heritage listed sites. But Edo State is beyond its capital. The more the State Government start extending growth, most especially on Tourism through the Ministry of Art, Culture and Tourism in attracting more tourist to the State, the better our chances of feeling the ripple effect of growth; Somorika Hills, Ife’ge in Igarra and Ososo Tourist centre and lots more are yet to be discovered, the Government needs to drive these to attract more tourist to the State and this can only be propelled by constant re-branding and communications in marketing the State.
Its not an easy task, because if it were, Chief Lucky Igbinedion would have done it, or Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor and if really it was easy, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole would have done it; according to Denzel Washington “without commitment you will never start and most importantly without consistency you will never finish, ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship” so I will urge Godwin Obaseki’s administration to start, because rebranding is a necessity to state building and tourism is a sector to leverage on.
Q: ARE WE INVITED TO WITHNESS THE HISTORIC ABA FESTIVAL?
Ans: Are you kidding? Of course, its open to all, Igarra is anticipating to welcome everyone for the celebration. It’s ours, the more the merrier. So we are expecting you! And for those who can’t make it, ensure you follow updates on all our social media platforms for live stream and feeds FB: www.facebook.com/abafestival