A marriage across cultural borders
It was a fulfilled night of entertainment, cultural display as bigwigs from Rwanda and Nigeria gathered in Lagos to seek areas of mutual cooperation.
It was not the first time Rwandans were meeting with Nigerians to chart a new course for Africa. But, it was the first time bigwigs from both nations were gathering to an evening of discovery, business, networking, pleasure, entertainment and more.
Our cultures are the first letters of recommendations and the soft spot that opens doors into countries
The evening tagged, EMBARK, organised by Limitless Mind Africa (LMA), climaxed the Nigeria/Rwanda Economic Forum meant to connect great minds from both nations. Guests included captains of industry, top government officials and professionals. They are Trade and Investment Minister of Nigeria, Olusegun Aganga; Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Rwanda Development Board (RDB) John Gara; business mogul Chief Molade Okoya-Thomas; Chief Kola Jamodu and wife, Funmi; Atedo Peterside; Director-General, Nigerian Economic Summit Group Frank Nweke (Jr); former Executive Vice Chairman, National Communications Commission (NCC) Dr Ernest Ndukwe. Over 40 companies were also represented.
Nigerian and Rwandan cultural and economic potentials came alive as they networked. Each country tried to outdo the other in promoting its potentials. Guests were treated to the electrifying steps of Rwanda’s Cultural Troupe, the Inganzo Ngari dancers, Lagos State Cultural Troupe, and scintillating songs by Tuface Idibia and more.
Since 1994, the people of Rwanda have devoted their hearts and minds to develop their country after the ravages of genocide. Today the world perceives Rwanda as a voice confirming that the best resources a country can have are people with great minds. The World Bank reported Rwanda as one of the top 10 most improved economies in the world,” the organisers said.
Through Nigeria, according to John Gara, Rwanda is seeking access into West African markets.
For the Rwanda High Commissioner to Nigeria, Joseph Habineza, it was a trip back home.
“I am a Nigerian back home. I spent six lovely years here and went back home and now I am back home again. Last year, Rwanda and Nigeria signed a bilateral agreement. Things are getting better between Rwanda and Nigeria. Tonight, you are going to see Rwandan culture and business prospect. We also have friends who are here to discover Nigeria,” Habineza said.
“A summit as this is a forum where each can use to exchange perceptions, positively. There are lots of opportunities for Nigerians in Rwanda and vice versa. In Rwanda, there are opportunities in real estate, gas, oil, mining, tea and coffee, horticulture, hospitality industry and other sectors. It is among the top performers in economics and business,” he said.
To the Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke, culture opens doors for commerce.
“On the continent of Africa, Nigerian girls are the most beautiful; but I must pay tribute to the wonderful ambassadors of Rwanda. I am impressed with their rich cultural heritage expressed warmly through their dance.
“Our cultures are the first letters of recommendations and the soft spot that opens doors into countries. Only last month, the Rwandan president, represented by the High Commissioner, was guest at the South-South Summit. Today, he is here to promote his country’s potential. Nigeria is a great partner in Rwandan development agenda. The opportunities that abound in Rwanda will be an advantage to the dynamic Nigerian entrepreneurs. And Nigeria is the biggest market in Africa with very enterprising upward people. The coming together of these two great nations holds immense opportunities for both.
“This administration’s transformation agenda is about looking for opportunities for commerce where goods produced in the country would move into other African markets. Also, some of our specialists, technocrats and manpower can be exported to other parts of Africa and the rest of the world. And I think this is the opportunity to actualise that vision. Oftentimes we think that the better option for
us is to go outside Afr
ica. This is the time for the African renaissance. These two hearts
of Africa must beat as one and see to the realisation of our common vision. Rwanda is
charting a right direction by coming to Nigeria,” the minister said.
He praised Rwanda’s efforts in reinventing itself after the genocide against the Tutsi.
“Nigeria should borrow the advantage that Rwanda has established for itself: it has come out of the misfortunes of the war of attrition and attracted a lot of attention. They have committed resources to promoting that attention and converting it constructively into tourist attractions and jobs are being created for women and youths,” said Chief Edem Duke.
According to Frank Nweke (Jr), both countries are driven by vision.
The Lagos State Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Ben Akabueze, said Rwanda shares affinity with Lagos in its press for good governance and committed leadership.
“We look forward to future collaboration between Rwanda and our city, a sub-national, for the betterment of our people.”
The event was the dream of two young ladies, Clementine Vervelde Murekatete and Sandra Idossou, who met on board a five-hour flight from Nigeria via Rwanda. They dreamt of a greater Africa together. And that result was the LMA and the event.
According to Murekatete, LMA seeks to provide a conducive environment for Rwanda and Nigeria. She said: “LMA provides Nigeria with a platform to export its entrepreneurs and explore the opportunities in East Africa through Rwanda: the platform to interchange investments, business opportunities and other
She explained that Rwanda and Nigeria, were champions of East and West Africa and have a lot in common besides sharing the same continent.
“One distinct feature that sets both apart is their sense of entrepreneurship that inspires Africa and the whole world to reach greater heights. In search of a greater partner with whom to bring this vision, Rwanda has chosen the Centre for Excellence, the commercial nerve centre of
Africa. Lagos is truly Rwanda’s partner in progress,” Murekatete said.
She recounted Rwanda’s past history, noting that the country has become stronger from the experience.
“Gone are the days when the word ‘poverty’ evoked images of poor black kids with flies in their faces, destroyed homes, barefooted women carrying heavy loads on their heads. It is now the dawn of a new era. Tonight is a stepping-stone into a brighter tomorrow. This event will not only stress what both countries can benefit from each other but also the limitless opportunities that they can and can’t think of. In our country, we promote gender and urge Nigerians to do so,” she added.
Rwandan cultural troupe performance was highly rhythmical and spectacular. Their electrifying steps and costumes depicted their culture and vocation. The women were colourfully dressed and the men wore Intore (warriors) dancers’ costumes of long-hair grass wigs, a spear and small shield. Each dance, according to Murekatete, has a story.
Lagos State Cultural Troupe also gave the visitors the Nigerian flavour. They performed Yoruba and South-south dances. The Yoruba dancers actually took guests by surprise as their steps flowed with tradition genre of music into the Contemporary.
MTN Nigeria also held a raffle draw to give out two I-Pads to guests; there was also an auctioning of artworks and an exhibition of companies from Rwanda.