Sterling Bank has emerged the Headline Sponsor of Africa’s leading arts and book event, Aké Arts and Book Festival holding on Thursday 22 – Sunday 25 October, 2020.
Due to the global coronavirus crisis, Aké Festivalwill go digital for 2020. This online edition of the festival will be free to access by audiences all over the world, creating an important platform for the intellectually and culturally curious to take part in this celebration of black excellence, resilience and resistance.
The event in its eight year is returning with an amazing free programme of 65 inspiring book chats, workshops, panel discussions and performances from the most exciting voices across Africa and the African Diaspora.
The theme for 2020 is ‘African Time’, in recognition of the global anti-racism movement that has gathered momentum and visibility in recent months. Audiences across the world are invited to join luminaries from contemporary fiction, non-fiction, poetry, film, theatre, music and visual arts in discussions about some of the most critical issues of our time, including race, gender, identity, equality and mental health, technology, religion and empathy.
Sterling Bank is the headline sponsor of the world’s largest collection of African creative voices on African soil for the third consecutive year. Aké Festivalhosts some of the most sought-after, innovative voices in black thought.
According to the chief executive officer, Sterling Bank, Abubakar Suleiman, “Sterling continues to support Aké Arts and Book Festival because we see the creative industry’s potential to generate local and foreign earnings. Over the last four years, we have seen the magic that happens when young Africans come into contact with their literary heroes.
“Nigerians have won just about every literary prize, but it’s important to support the next generation of creatives. We want them to be inspired, and we consider it a privilege to be able to bring people closer to achieving their creative dreams.”
Lola Shoneyin, director and founder, Aké Arts and Book Festival, said: “Our world has changed forever; the magnitude of recent world events cannot be ignored. In 1918, African nations were in the clutches of imperial forces that degraded our stories, culture, history, language and belief systems.
“More than a century later, the COVID-19 pandemic finds Africa struggling with the colonial hangover of poor leadership and a predatory global order. Now is the time for Africa to recalibrate and break the cycle of betrayal by those elected to lead. It may have come later than hoped for, but, for the children of Africa everywhere, this is African Time.”
Over the course of the festival, attendees will be able to participate in 26 stimulating panel discussions, 24 author talks, storytelling sessions, three workshops, a concert, two exhibitions, poetry performances, films and a stage play.
Guests include Wole Soyinka, Maryse Conde, Tayari Jones, Esi Edugyan, Marlon James, Petina Gappah, Kehinde Andrews, Elias Wondimu, Zukiswa Wanner, Molara Wood, Bolu Babalola, Okechukwu Nzelu and many, many more. Discussions will cover a wide range of issues including intersectional feminism, blacktivism and colourism to the burgeoning post-COVID mental health crisis and decolonisation of black spaces.
Panel discussion highlights include: Black Women Harnessing Anger for Social Change; Publishing While African; Decolonising Feminism in Africa; and Why African Needs Feminist Giants, The Place of Faith in a Health Crisis and many more. All you need to do is register at akefestival.org.
MTN Foundation Sponsors “Tony Wants to Marry” Drive-In Theatre Performance
In line with its commitment to the renaissance of arts and culture in Nigeria, the MTN Foundation is sponsoring a drive-in theatre performance of Tony Wants to Marry, a play written by Jerry Alagbaoso and directed by Agozie Ugwu.
The play which explores the pressure Nigerian parents mount on their children to marry will feature several household names including Osas Ighodaro, Francis Duru and Cynthia Nwadiora (CeeC).
A press conference was held on 26th March, 2021 ahead of the Abuja show which is scheduled to hold on April 4, 2021, at the parking lot of Transcorp Hilton, Abuja at 6 p.m. The Lagos show is scheduled to hold in May 2021.
Explaining the decision of the production team to opt for a drive-in theatre performance instead of a traditional indoor theatre setting, Agozie Ugwu stated, “We are aware that the virus is still out there. The idea of drive-in theatre is to ensure safety and forestall the spread of the virus. Drive-in theatre, since its inception in May 2020, has remained a veritable option for the reinvention of live performance amidst the pandemic.”
He described a drive-in theatre as “a theatre modelled after the theatre in the arena kind of performance where the audience drive in their cars, stay in their cars and watch a play from their cars.”
Expanding on the intersection between MTN’s commitment to the promotion of theatre and the safety of Nigerians, Nonny Ugboma, the Executive Secretary, MTN Foundation, stated that “The pandemic has created a problem for the arts and culture industry, which we at the MTN Foundation are passionate about. We also know that the experience of going to the theatre has been missed by theatre lovers.
We, however, commend the stakeholders in the industry for rising up to the challenge through physical distance solutions such as drive-ins and virtual shows. The drive-in takes us back to the history of theatre while ensuring safety. We are happy to be a part of Tony Wants to Marry and we are looking forward to it.”
Also speaking at the press conference, veteran actress and host, Osas Ighodaro stated, “I am very excited to be a part of this production. Thank you to MTN and all our sponsors for their support and for making this happen.”
Expressing his gratitude to the MTN Foundation for their support, Agozie Ugwu stated, “I want to use this opportunity to thank MTN Nigeria for the support in helping us actualize this performance. As our headline sponsors, they have shown their unreserved commitment towards the development and expansion of arts and cultural export in Nigeria and at the same time ensuring the safety of Nigerians from coronavirus. Thank you MTN for helping us reinvent theatre in the midst of the pandemic.”
Nonny Ugboma also spoke on MTN’s passion and work in the Nigerian arts and culture industry, “The MTN Foundation is passionate about arts and culture. Since 2015, we have been sponsoring the artistic endeavours of Nigerians in visual and creative arts. We are particularly proud of our work in ensuring the renaissance of arts and culture and encouraging the creative expression of young people. Our support has also ensured the promotion of positive narration of Nigerian stories, cultural understanding and Nigeria’s rich culture to local and international audiences.”
Agozie Ugwu iterated that the COVID-19 safety protocols would be strictly adhered to and urged everyone who intends to attend the event to come wearing their facemasks.
Airtel Nigeria to Sponsor The Voice Nigeria Season 3
Leading telecommunications services provider, Airtel Nigeria, has announced its sponsorship of leading international singing competition, ‘The Voice Nigeria Season 3’, which is scheduled to premiere on Saturday, March 27, 2021.
The music competition, which launched in Nigeria in 2016, aims to discover and nurture new talents, offering them a credible platform to be positioned at the forefront of the country’s music industry, whilst preparing them for the global stage.
Music lovers will be able to watch the show live on Airtel TV by 8pm on Saturdays and Sundays. The Airtel TV app, which is available on Android and iOS, is subscription-free and offers registered users unlimited access to live TV, news and the entire Airtel TV content library.
Commenting on Airtel’s sponsorship, Chief Commercial Officer, Airtel Nigeria, Dinesh Balsingh, expressed delight at the company’s drive to contribute to the growth of the Nigerian music industry through resourceful partnerships that will not only help groom and nurture local talents but also offer them a platform to international stardom.
“Airtel is delighted to return as a sponsor of ‘The Voice Nigeria Season 3,’ which has grown, over the past two seasons, to become one of the most watched television programmes in Africa. This sponsorship is a glowing testimony to Airtel’s passion and commitment to empower and invest in young, talented Nigerians and also offer them a strong platform to showcase their talent to the world.
“Airtel remains committed to supporting the Nigerian music industry, which is making waves globally by connecting with hearts and souls not just across Nigeria, but across the world.” he added.
This highly anticipated season 3 of The Voice Nigeria will be produced for the first time in Nigeria in partnership with UN1TY Limited and Livespot360.
The show’s innovative format features four stages – beginning with the Blind Auditions, followed by the Knockouts, then the Battle Rounds and, finally, the Live Performance Shows. The coaches of the show, Darey, Yemi Alade, Waje and Falz will seek twelve talents for their teams and work with them during the show to hone their skills and prepare the successful acts who make it to the Live Performance Shows to battle it out on a global stage.
The season will be hosted by award-winning TV host, Nancy Isime alongside popular On-Air Personality (OAP) and Entrepreneur, Toke Makinwa.
Talents and fans will go home with over N100,000,000 in prizes, with the Winning Talent of The Voice Nigeria Season 3 walking away with a monetary reward, a brand-new car, and an international recording contract.
Berklee Partners Afrinolly Creative Hub on MTN Y’ello Star Project
Berklee College of Music will take part in Y’ello Star, the latest music reality project by MTN Nigeria, with Afrinolly as Technical Partner. Members of the Berklee community will serve in various capacities on the project, and the winner of the music project will record their debut single at the Power Station at BerkleeNYC.
“We’re excited to work with MTN and Afrinolly Creative Hub on the Y’ello Star Project,” says Berklee President Roger H. Brown. “This is a great opportunity for artists from the vibrant Nigerian music scene to get advice and mentorship from Berklee’s knowledgeable professors while broadening awareness of Berklee in the region through MTN’s large audience. We look forward to hearing all of the talents and welcoming the winner to the Power Station at BerkleeNYC.”
MTN Nigeria created Y’ello Star to search, discover, nurture and launch music talents in the young Nigerian community. Over 10,000 contestants submitted entries for the project, and just the top 16 contestants will make it to the hub for the competition.
Commenting on the project, the Acting Chief Marketing Officer, MTN Nigeria, Anthony Obi emphasized the unique difference between MTN Y’ello Star and other music reality TV shows. “This project goes beyond discovering talent in the Nigerian entertainment industry. MTN Y’ello Star is a conduit for capacity building within the creative industry, empowering the contestants and industry with the relevant practical knowledge to compete on a global scale. We are thankful for partners such as the Berklee College of Music who share this vision.”
“It is time for Nigerian Music to take its rightful place in the global community,” says Chike Maduegbuna, CEO of Afrinolly. “With partners like MTN and Berklee, Afrinolly Creative Hub is excited to bring our technical expertise into the discovery of emerging music talents, cultivating and helping them grow. I am excited that Berklee College of Music is here to help us launch them on to a global stage.”
The live shows will start November and run till December, 2020. Three judges, including popular Nigerian musicians and six-time Grammy award winner, actor and producer will bring on board their years of experience to bear on the show. Berklee’s Jason Camelio, assistant vice president for Global Initiatives also remarks,
“The global pandemic is creating many challenges for artists to continue their studies, to engage with one another creatively and to move towards their artistic and career goals. Yet, it is presenting us with opportunities to innovate and connect in ways that are expanding our reach. The collaboration between Berklee and Afrinolly through the 2020 MTN Y’ello Star project allows us to build on our commitment to learning, cultural exchange, mentorship and entrepreneurship.”
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