COVID-19: GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP DEAL OR NO DEAL

It is an undisputable fact that the coronavirus also known as the Novel COVID – 19 has gravely impacted our world. Although, the accurate severity of the negative effects of the global pandemic has not been ascertained, there is no doubt that it is widespread and virulent.
Right from the beginning of the fight aimed at containing the virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been at the frontline and I must say that it has done a good job so far. It is also clear that a definite cure has not been found for the virus thus WHO, has essentially provided advisories for the containment of the virus to date.
It is imperative to state that the global adherence to WHO’s advisories has been quite impressive, particularly the ones relating to social distancing which states that people must maintain at least one meter (3 feet) distance between each other, avoid going to crowded places and that anyone with minor symptoms such as cough, headache, mild fever, must stay home as well as self-isolate until he or she recovers. In my opinion, it is in the compliance with these advisories that most countries around the world took the far-reaching measures such as full lockdowns, shutting down airports, impositions of travel restrictions and completely sealing their borders.
The reactions of people globally to the varying experiences they have had since the ‘global social distancing’ that was suddenly thrust on us in the wake of the pandemic have been very intriguing; there have been a lot of clamour for the re-evaluation of all the ‘global partnerships’ that had been consummated at all levels pre-Covid-19, as well partnerships that are still in the works. The proponents of this clamour argue that the ‘global social distancing’ has shown that countries all over the world can and should look inwards and find ways of meeting their needs as well as satisfy their wants locally, instead of going abroad to consummating unnecessary partnerships and alliances.
In late May this year, President Donald Trump of the United States of America declared that the US will be withdrawing from the World Health Organization (WHO), accusing it of being under China’s control in the wake of the pandemic, the source and until recently formerly the epic centre of the ravaging virus.
Political observers are also worried that with the EU-UK talks on ‘Brexit’ trade deals still hanging in the balance,that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is likely to use the mayhem and economic chaos caused by the pandemic as a cover to crash out of the European Union.

I completely agree that all countries must and should do everything within their powers to be self-sufficient; ironically, it has been proven beyond reasonable doubt that the way the world is made, no country no matter how hard they try, can really be self-sufficient, countries will always need something from others no matter how small or insignificant the thing may be.

Therefore, my humble submission on this matter is that ‘global partnership’ is unavoidable and would be very beneficial to all parties when entered into with painstaking consideration and equity. Microsoft Encarta defines Partnership as an association of two or more persons who have agreed to combine their labor, property, and skill, or some or all of them for the purpose of engaging in lawful business and sharing profits and losses between them. in this definition, the term business includes every trade, occupation, and profession.
Going by this definition and the fact that the successes or failures of partnerships always have far-reaching effects on countries, countries should always ensure that only very skillful people with very high integrity are the ones allowed to consummate partnerships on their behalf.

I can never get tired of restating our resolve to always serve you with the best from our stable in every edition of IWA. This edition is no exception; brace up for yet another very enjoyable reading experience. The cover story is on the President of African Development Bank, Nigeria’s Dr Akinwunmi Adesina and I assure you of some very exciting stories inside this edition as produced by our newsroom. Do enjoy!

It’s Sustainable When There Is a Buy-In

I am one of those people who is very sentimental about the beginning and end of every year. Therefore, I started off the year 2020, with a lot of excitement, and as usual, not minding those around me who never see anything to be excited about at the beginning of the year.
However, just like that, my exciting start to this year was dampened as soon as I realized that I was right smack in the year Nigeria was meant to have become one of the 20 largest economies in the world and establish itself as a significant player in the global economic landscape as well as in the political arena, and though we had a very good chance of achieving this very laudable vision, we failed to.
Nigeria’s Vision 2020, which was eventually launched in 2009 during the administration of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, had its foundation laid during the administration of the former President Olusegun Obasanjo, so there was ample time for proper planning and execution but just as we had done with a lot of other great developmental initiatives, we bungled the rare opportunity of achieving vision 2020.
Like it is the case with most governments in Africa, apart from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), that is being driven by the United Nations, it is said that the incumbent government of Nigeria under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, has already started plans for vision 2030. I know there is popular saying that those who do not plan are planning to fail, thus we should always plan, but in my opinion, Africa’s problem or failure as regards development is not in the lack of planning, but it is essentially in the lack of getting the proper ‘buy-in’ from all and sundry. Over the years most African governments have developed very great developmental initiatives and plans, but these plans keep failing because in my opinion adequate consideration is not given to getting proper ‘buy-in’, from all the key stakeholders.
A good example can be seen in Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), in Nigeria that was supposed to have been the key stakeholders in the implementation of the Vision 2020, and were expected to run with the vision just because they are organs of government. However, going by the way things eventually panned out, it was obvious that the MDAs didn’t really buy into and owned the vision. Private Organizations in Africa seem to understand how this works better than the Public Organizations in Africa, which is why they often go out of their way to ensure that all members of staff buy into the vision and mission of the organization. They sometimes even go on what they call team bonding retreats to ensure that everyone buys-in, support and own the vision and mission of the organization.
Growing up, in my local dialect “Yoruba”, in the western part of Nigeria, there was a joke peddled around the official title – ‘foreman’; essentially, it was humorously said that the foreman was just being humored, that no one man can really do the job of ‘four-men’. The essence of this joke, in my opinion, was to encourage leaders to be good team players as they will always need their followers or subordinates to successfully carry out the task laid before them.
The year 2020, has undoubtedly started on a very exasperating note for most people the world over as the Corona Virus or COVID – 19 as it is also called, is currently ravaging the world and has dealt a major blow on both the social and economic essence of the world. My take on the pandemic is that it has come like several other ones before it, which came and left, the Corona Virus pandemic will soon go, but it should serve as a reality check for the world, it would significantly help most people to start appreciating how fragile and insubstantial the world’s system and structures are, at the end of the day. The Corona Virus has shown us that there are really no superpowers and that nothing on earth is foolproof.
This is our first edition for the year 2020, so I wish you a ‘Happy New Year’! As you know, Women are celebrated annually the world over in March, thus as it has become our custom, we are celebrating, yet another African Woman of great repute on the cover page of this edition of IWA, which is the March to May 2020 edition. Please join us to celebrate Amina Jane Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, a strong promoter of a sustainable world. There are several other very interesting articles for your reading pleasure in the edition. Enjoy!

Bigbus Tours: The Perfect Introduction to The City – Shareena Ali, Head PR, Branding and Social Media

IWA: The first thing I will like to know is that in the past 23 years that your organization has been in business in four continents and about twenty-three cities around the world, what would you say are the main strategies that have given you the success you have achieved thus far?

SHAREENA: First, we operate in a highly competitive industry; there are lots of hop on, hop off sightseeing tour companies out there, but most of them are franchises and we are not a franchise. We are the world’s largest provider and privately-owned hop on, hop off sightseeing tour company and in the last four years what we have done is that we have consolidated all of our operations, all of our branding etc.  To make sure that we have a very tight operational model that can be transferable across cities where we operate, we have in the last 12 months launched out into Los Angeles, Berlin, Singapore and Dublin and we are able to very easily ensure the same high quality service, the same digital opportunities for customers and the same branding that we have in the other cities very quickly and give the same service and the sightseeing tour experience across all of our cities. This is something that the other sightseeing tour companies can’t do because as small franchise owners they are essentially working as small businesses, doing their own thing just under the licence brand of another competitor.

IWA: What are the new grounds that your organization is looking at breaking and conquering? What are the new frontiers?

SHAREENA: What we have done in the last few years is that we have dramatically increased the digital transformation in our industry. For sightseeing tour companies, hop on, hop off sightseeing tours, people don’t expect us to be very digital but what we have done is that we have a digital app where people can find out local city guides and also when they hop off they can track the next bus in real-time.  We also have a very consistent operating model where people can come on board and scan their tickets; they don’t have to wait and queue to have their tickets scanned. These are the things that none of our competitors are doing, so in the world of hop on, hop off sightseeing tour we can be regarded as the cutting edges innovators; something we have over the years continued to do in all the cities where we operate.

IWA: This is interesting to know because usually when you look at certain businesses, most often people kind of get very settled into the things they have always done. So it is good to know that your organization has decided take a lot of innovative steps in the way you do things. So if you were to describe the tourism industry in the UK specifically, and in the whole of Europe generally, how would you describe it?

SHAREENA: I think it is very mixed; it depends on season. We have got 23 cities, and London is one of our core cities; we also have three other core cities — New York, London and Paris, and obviously our high season is in Summer because it is warm as you know we are all about open top sightseeing and people want to see the landmarks and have the history of these landmarks told to them. The best way to do so is to have our tour guides telling the people about the cities and the landmarks so they can then hop off and explore. In London, 50 percent of our customers are American – actually African-Americans and Caucasian-Americans constituting this consistent 50 percent, while the other 50 percent being a mixture whose relative percentages vary depending on the season. For example, during Chinese New Year or Golden Week, we will have more Chinese or during Australian half term we will have more Australians so it really depends on the season and also the public holidays that different countries that are our clients observe.

IWA: So if you were to judge or rely on the various kinds of feedback you have received over the years, what are those feedbacks that have kept recurring over the years, and do you see them pointers to the fact that you are doing well?

SHAREENA: I think it is the fact that we have very strong trade partnerships. Recently we had Expedia, we have Tripod visa and Bookings.com. All of these are our trade partners. Last year, we also signed up with one of the biggest Chinese and Asian traveller’s app as one of our trade partners to sell our tickets via their platforms and the fact that these international trade partners are very keen to sell tickets is a key success for us and KPI as well.

IWA: It is very obvious that your organization appears to be very successful. However, what are those things that you consider as downtime, things that you feel as an organization you still need to work on?

SHAREENA: I think it is more of a perception issue because we are in a very competitive market and people are not as professional as they should be, except for very few establishments like us that take professionalism seriously. Therefore, when people start seeing many tour companies doing things in an inappropriate way we also get tarnished for the same issue. What we usually do is we play up our professionalism and this usually helps to fix the issues.

IWA: Are the youths part of your target market, if they are, do you have a dedicated product for them or how are you dealing with them?

SHAREENA: I am the global Head of PR, branding and social media, so the youths are my direct responsibility and target. They are the reason we are big on our social media platforms, mainly on Facebook and Instagram. On our social media platforms, we highlight the fact that we give you the perfect introduction to the city, by not only giving you an overview of all of the key landmarks to visit, but also giving you the history so that you can hop off and explore. Or where can it be better to take the perfect Instagram picture than in an open top bus where everyone can see you in the city with the landmarks behind you? However, I must confess that the youths are not our key customers, we have solo travellers, families, mission planners, and people who plan in advance and independent explorers. But millennials can be solo travellers and independent explorers and so for me they are part of our target and the best way to capture them is by showing how 23 cities formed the perspective of the customer who is uploading their images on social platforms.

IWA: How do you manage your loyal customers?

SHAREENA: We actually have multiple channels for selling our tickets, we sell our tickets via hotel concierges, via third parties like booking.com etc. and we have on the street sales. People tend to buy our tickets spontaneously when they come into the hotel or when we are on the street, so I can’t really say that we have a high percentage of loyal customers because it is whoever is selling. Obviously we have the opportunity to sell because we have got a strong brand but we believe when people have had great customer service from us and a great touring experience they want to go back on another tour in another city and that way we keep them on board by giving them great offers etc. via our CRM. We have newsletters where they get special discounts and we always have 10 per cent online booking discounts compared to street sales and when they sign up to our loyalty newsletter they get fare discounts.

IWA: How do you deal with sustainability? I am talking about health. I know that all over the world in the tourism industry, it has become a very big issue for people to look at health and all of that. As an organization do you have a corporate plan to deal with the health concerns of your clients?

SHAREENA: Yes, we have quite a few campaigns that we are collaborating with other organizations. For example, in Westminster, in London, we are collaborating with the Westminster Council to join their campaign called “Don’t be Idle”. It is a campaign where Westminster Council encourages people not to have their car engines running when they are at the traffic light point. As a bus company, we are a moving billboard so when cars see we are highlighting this campaign, it is another reminder that they should not have it on because it affects peoples’ lungs because of the air quality. So we also do not keep the engines running at the traffic light points as we switch them off. This is a big step towards air quality and helping with breathing problems when it comes to the traffic pollution. In Dubai, another city of ours, we actually use bio fuel which is a sustainable source of fuel and made from palm oil etc. So we have different campaigns and projects depending on the cities and what is available to us and we also have multiple electric vehicles, buses in Paris, in Washington which again goes a long step away from diesel buses.

IWA: On a final note, what are the key messages that you would like to pass to those who might be seeing this all over the world?

SHAREENA: I think people do not really understand what hop on, hop off sightseeing tour experience entails. What it entails is that if you come into a city and you choose to do a hop on, hop off sightseeing tour, the first thing is that you will get the perfect introduction to the city, you will get your bearings right, you will know how to plan the rest of your short period in that city in the very best way possible because not only are we giving you an overview of the city, our amazing tour guides also give you the history and the knowledge, not minding the fact that they also know the best places to have the best cocktails and the best food in that city. So you have got a local individual who has all the top tips of the city which they can give to you; so it is the perfect introduction to the city.

BRITISH AIRWAYS: A CELEBRATION OF 100 YEARS OF EXCELLENT SERVICE, PEOPLE AND HISTORY

…BA is peerless, it’s my airline any day, say decade-long patrons – By Oluwaseyi Adeyemo

With nostalgia, I recall growing up in my neighbourhood in Obanikoro, Lagos, Nigeria, how spending summer in London was a must for virtually every household that had the means. Shortly before and after summer, the tales of plans to spend and how summer was spent in London was usually everywhere to the extent that some of us that our parents could not afford to take us to London for summer were able to feign it, and tell stories of summer in London to our other friends from other neighbourhoods as if we were London Summer vacationers.

So striking and profound were their relayed experiences on British Airways (BA) that one was tempted to believe that BA was the only airline flying Nigeria to London and London to Nigeria at that time. Therefore, flying to London on BA became top on my bucket list early in life and I had eagerly looked forward to my very first experience on BA. Let me expressly say without exaggerating that from the first time I flew British Airways to my latest trip on the airline early December 2019, just before I started writing this piece, my experiences have been that of extreme satisfaction laced with spectacular pleasure.  Thanks to the excellent services they provide on board, they make one feel like a ‘King’, a `Noble’, who a customer truly is.

Going by the assertions made, it is therefore my belief that there are definitely lots of reasons for cheers and accolades as British Airways celebrates a centenary in the world’s aviation industry. Undoubtedly, to record a century of safe flying is no mean feat, and what many may not know is that the air transportation company had undergone so many metamorphoses over the years which encompass strategic alignments and realignments, mergers and acquisitions, downturns and consolidations, disappointments and partnerships, losses and gains, and much more to get to where it is today.

In trying to put this piece together and looking through the press statement made by Alex Cruz, British Airways Chairman and CEO on Sunday, 25th August 2019, which marked the 100th anniversary of the airline, the aspect of it which caught my fancy was when he said: “We wouldn’t be here without their pioneering spirits and sense of adventure. From that first customer who flew from Hounslow Heath to Paris on 25 August 1919 in a single engine De Havilland DH4A to the millions who choose to fly with us every year on more than 800flights a day to 200 destinations around the globe”.

This profound statement expressly validates my conviction of British Airways being an organization that is strongly attached to its history and with a corporate vision that is tied around people (its customers and staff).

On a couple of occasions, I have had the opportunity of visiting the British Airways Museum which is called Speedbird Heritage Centre, situated at Waterside Speedbird Way Middlesex, right smack at the centre of British Corporate Headquarters in London, and every visit that I have made to the centre has always been very insightful and breathtaking for me. I truly do not have the right words to describe how enchanted I always feel seeing how well they have persevered British Airways Heritage collections. The collection comprises records and artifacts from BA’s history, including uniforms, aircrafts models and pictures that unambiguously tell the story of the formation, development and operations of the airline from when it was British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) to British European Airways (BEA), then from British South American Airways (BSAA) to the pre-war Imperial Airways Limited, and now the British Airways Ltd. 

The Speedbird Heritage Centre is managed by three great men; Jim Davies, Geoff Perry and Derek Young, all of whom retired from the British Airways several years ago but decided at some point in time to be part of the team that manages the centre as volunteers. Going by how passionately and diligently they took me through the essence of the centre on my recent visit, the fact that these men have a great sense of history, love and commitment to British Airways is indisputable and admirable. I asked Jim and Geoff, what they both think is responsible for the 100-year success story of BA and this is what they said. According to Jim, the first reason in his opinion is the fact that almost every member of staff, if not everyone is aware of the history of excellence that the airline had been known for, and that this history must be sustained. He said that the management of BA had actually taken advantage of the commemoration of BA’s 100 years this year to amplify its history of excellence.

The second reason he adduced is that British Airways as a corporate body understands that they are into a very competitive line of business, in which the customer is constantly exposed to a variety of options, thus they are constantly reinventing to ensure that the customers are exceptionally satisfied at all times.

Geoff, on his part, chose to use a football analogy; he said each football team is expected to have excellent team members while the best teams in addition to having excellent team members, would also have very good captains and very good managers; thus in his opinion, the formation of the best teams is a winning trait that the British Airways has had since he joined them in 1974.

They have always had very good management teams in BA, teams who had ensured that every member of staff is made to fully imbibe the “corporate ideology of the excellent service delivery’’ that has seen the organization succeeding to become an industry leader for 100 years.

On my return to Nigeria, I asked British Airways’ Regional Commercial Manager, West Africa, Mr. Kola Olayinka, how British Airways was faring in Nigeria and he said; “as a carrier, we offer our 145,000 customers that fly us on a daily basis quality, choice and convenience. We also fly to more than 200 destinations in 80 countries across the globe, from our home base at Heathrow, London, which is arguably world’s busiest international airport. Therefore, it is safe to say that our operational strategies and actions are based on a very robust foundation. In the past more than 80 eventful years that British Airways has operated from Nigeria, we can confidently say without sounding immodest that British Airways is clearly the leading airline in Nigeria. We have a large and very loyal customer base in Nigeria as we fly our 747 from Lagos – the economic capital of Nigeria and our 777 from Abuja – the political capital and seat of Government daily to London and various destinations across the globe. As part of the many things we do to inspire our frequent fliers, we recently introduced what we called ‘On Business’ loyalty programme’, which is dedicated to promoting business growth by awarding ‘On Business’ points to them each time a member of their company travels. Points can be spent on reward flights or a cabin upgrade”.

As an attestation to the first-class and world-class service of BA, I decided to take the testimonies of some regular and traditional patrons of the airline in Nigeria.
An air traveller for several decades, Mr Tunde Arogunmati, the Executive Director African Incentive Partnerships and Associate Director, Ben Enwonwu Foundation, said: “My relationship with British Airways over a number of decades has been a consistent experience with top class comprehensive civil aviation service delivery.

“In a personal sense, BA’s fanatical attitude towards safety, security and all-round technical support gives me a high level of confidence in travelling with them anywhere their vast network covers, notably as London is also a frequent business destination within my usual schedule.

“In a corporate sense, BA has over the years been a major league corporate social investor in the operations of the likes of the Nigerian Association of Tour Operators & the Nigeria-Britain Association, both of which I have held the position of President in, at various points in time. It is easy, therefore, to understand why, with over a century of operating on the frontlines of the global aviation industry, BA holds her pride of place at the forefront of modern aviation development and is the preferred choice of a plurality of premium Nigerian air travellers and corporate organisations.

“With a huge sense of gratitude, I would like to seize this opportunity to formally congratulate British Airways on the attainment of the first century mark and wish the entire corporation the best of success in the decades and centuries to come.’’

For Mrs Titilola Oladejo, the Chief Operating Officer of Assets & Resources Management Holding Company (ARM Holdco), a frequent flyer with BA: “The British Airways Club World has offered the most exciting flying experience compared to other airlines.

“Booking for a flight is easy and up to date information is provided on the airline’s portal regularly. Booking hotels and car rentals with my miles also happens seamlessly. From the very fast airport check-in where the ground crew at dedicated check-in desks assist you until you board the aircraft, to the spacious and comfortable lounges and the fast track immigration procedure in Heathrow and New York JFK, the overall experience is top notch, a deep, favourable and pleasurable impression!

“The lounges have a variety of delicious dining options, drinks, showers, and a spa. At Heathrow and JFK airports, I always plan to arrive well ahead of my flights to indulge in the luxury spa treatment from Elemis, a skincare and spa brand that I got hooked on because of its friendly effect on my skin.

“The Club World cabin has a privacy partition between seats which enables you sleep in comfort without disturbance from other travelers in the cabin. The décor is pleasant to the eye with white colored cabin walls that beautifully and elegantly contrast with the blue, specifically designed to create an atmosphere of well-being and relaxation, a home-away-from-home luxury,’’ she said.

I must not forget to mention the menu that offers interesting choices from a wide selection of drinks and food. The drinks particularly contain very comprehensive information on the variety of spirits and wines available, unlike what it is with most other airlines. Also varieties from a very wide selection of breads and snacks are available throughout the flight. Above all, is the very warm, friendly and most professional service by the in-cabin crew….it is indeed super lavish and impressive!

The British Airways experience is one that I cannot but continue to relish every minute of the trip and what that leaves me with is the crave to have it again and again”.

The experience of a sick passenger flown on BA from Lagos to London is equally captivating and striking. Lagos-based Mr. Peter Damian Ejiofor, who titled his testimonial, “Memoirs of a sick passenger,’’ said in March 2014, he departed Nigeria aboard a British Airways flight for medical treatment in the United Kingdom.

Savouring his first time experience, he said: “From the point of boarding in Lagos to checking out in London, the experience was of “`courtesy, comfort and care’’.

“The comfort in the flight makes one feel you are not in the air. The pilots fly smoothly and to the like of every passenger. The convenience which I used while the flight lasted was something to behold.

“The crew was friendly, caring for the comfort of their passengers and they also made sure everyone was satisfied with their good cuisine and quality drinks.’’

Etching that flight experience in his memory, Ejiofor, rates their services as second to none, saying: “Since I had a return ticket, my wife and I felt the experience while returning was better than when we were going, showing that the airline continuously seeks ways to satisfy their passengers.

“British Airways keep what you have been doing in the last century up as I rate you high. Bravo!’’ He also added

Another patron of the British Airways, Mr. Adeleye Ajayi, also relived his first experience of travelling on British Airways, precisely on November 1, 2008.

His trip to London was primarily to be at the Thomas Reuters Building at 30 South Collonade Canary Wharf, London, for a Reuters Foundation Programme for two weeks. As a senior journalist, BA took him there and back after attending a course in Business News Writing which commenced on November 3.

His words: “I had planned to arrive at London (Heathrow Airport) early morning on November 2, 2008. In essence, my ultimate target was that a 48-hour time lag before the programme would be enough. The flight took off from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, at 23.30 local Nigerian time.

“I vividly remembered that the flight which took off at the specified time had hundreds of passengers on board. The direct flight which lasted about six hours was hitch-free and make bold to say that my journey was very enjoyable and entertaining.’’  According to Ajayi, the cabin crew was very courteous and efficient while attending to his every need and those of the other passengers.

“I have since then travelled several times with BA and also with several other airlines and found British Airways to be the best of the whole lot. Being very comfortable, safe and balanced in the air, I would not have any hesitation in recommending BA to other travelers’’

Brief History of British Airways

Since British Airways is very particular about its history, I consider it expedient to take a peek into its rich history. The birth of British Airways started in 1919 when the Department of Civil Aviation was formed at the Air Ministry with Winston Churchill appointed as Secretary of State for Air and in June, oversaw the first direct crossing of the North Atlantic by air which took place in a Vickers Vimy airplane from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland to Clifden, Ireland in 15hrs 57mins. However, the world’s first scheduled international service took place in August when single-engine De Havilland DH4A G-EAJC of Air Transport and Travel flew from Hounslow Heath, Middlesex to Paris carrying one passenger, a consignment of leather, several braces of grouse and some jars of Devonshire cream. By November of the same year, Air Transport and Travel carried the first international airmail to Paris. The first flight was by DH4A G-EAHF and an Air Mail pennant was attached to its rudder.

By February 1921, all British airlines ceased operations due to subsidized European competition but Handley Page Transport operated the first subsidized London to Paris service in March due to the grant of a temporary government subsidy. The company carried 79 passengers in one day.

In 1924, Imperial Airways was formed and it took over the fleets of the Instone Airline Limited, the Daimler Airway, Handley Page Transport Limited, and British Marine Air Navigation Co Ltd, following the recommendations of the Hambling Committee about the future of British air services. The new airline became the “chosen instrument” of the British government with the mission of developing British commercial air transport on an economic basis.

With a comfortable recognizable airliner cabin, a steward, a four-course luncheon and a bar service, Imperial Airways’ Armstrong Whitworth Argosy flight took 2 hours 30 minutes to Paris in 1927 and it was regarded as a notable breakthrough in terms of comfort and service. Imperial Airways completed its first 10,000,000 miles of flying on 18th February 1933.

British Airways Limited was formed on 1st January 1936 from United Airways, Hillman’s Airways, and Spartan Airlines. On 11th November 1938, the British government announced its intention to merge Imperial Airways and British Airways Limited to form a single chosen instrument – the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC). The necessary Bill received Royal Assent on 4th August 1939, just before the commencement of World War II. The Corporation was eventually established under the BOAC Act on 24th November 1939 and by 1st April 1940, BOAC officially took over the operations of Imperial Airways and British Airways Limited.

On 1st August 1946, British European Airways Corporation (BEA) took over the services operated by the British European Airways Division of BOAC operating short-haul routes from Northolt. British South American Airways (BSAA) was merged with BOAC on 30th July 1949 and a tripartite partnership between BOAC, Air India, and Qantas was formed on 1st April 1960. The British Airways Group was established on 1st September 1972, which eventually resulted in BOAC and BEA being dissolved on 31st March 1974 upon the formation of British Airways.

After the election of a Conservative government in May 1979, it was declared that BA would no longer receive any state support or interference in its commercial decision making and in July, the government’s intention to go ahead with the privatization was announced but this was delayed with the recession which soon plunged BA into massive losses. Four years on, the airline survived the recession and became the British Airways Plc., on 1st April 1984. Three years afterward, it was finally privatized in a hugely oversubscribed flotation. Over one million applications were received for shares, offered at 125p, making the offer 11 times oversubscribed. Trading in British Airways shares began on 11th February 1987.

In March 1989, the airline introduced its new First Class service and in April 1992, Deutsche BA – the company formed by a consortium of German banks and British Airways, announced the acquisition of the German regional airline, Delta Air. A decade later, the ONEWORLD alliance came into effect on 1st February 1999 after British Airways, together with four other international airlines, announced the new alliance the previous year. The alliance was formed to launch a wide range of initiatives designed to provide greater customer benefits, including more information and support, greater value and increased opportunities for rewards and recognition. Another decade later, precisely January 2009, the alliance became the first in the travel industry to sell multi-airline round-the-world tickets online.

British Airways’ Foot Prints in West Africa:

Unambiguously, the development of aviation in the British West African Territory dates back as far as 1944 when, following World War II, Lord Swinton ordered the first studies. The British Ministry of Civil Aviation supported the Sanford Committee, which was established to that particular end, and both entities recommended the formation of the West African Air Transport Authority. The order-in-council enacting the formation of the West African Air Transport Authority (ATA) was signed by King George VI on 15 May 1946. This led to the establishment of what was known as the West African Airways Corporation (WAAC) in 1946 by the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC), and economically supported by four West African British colonies, Nigeria being the major shareholder (68%), followed by the Gold Coast (29.5%), Sierra Leone (2%), and The Gambia holding the balance. WAAC began operations in October 1947, following the delivery of its first aircraft, an event that took place on 14th September 1947. The De Havilland Dove aircraft inaugurated WAAC’s first scheduled service from Lagos to Calabar in October 1947.

The company was aimed at providing the British West Africa with air transport facilities, connecting it with Dakar and Khartoum in order to provide passengers with a gateway to the Americas and the Middle East, respectively, and to operating feeder flights that connected with the Europe-bound BOAC Hermes services at Accra, Lagos and Kano. The close ties with BOAC were evidenced by the fact that WAAC actually acted as an agent for the British state carrier in Nigeria and the Gold Coast.

However, as the member states gained Commonwealth status from the United Kingdom, they set up their own carriers—Ghana Airways, Sierra Leone Airways, and Gambia Air Shuttle. WAAC was formally dissolved in 1958, as Nigeria was the only state eventually having a participation in the airline. WAAC assets and liabilities were inherited by WAAC (Nigeria) that operated as “Nigerian Airways” from 1 October 1958. WAAC (Nigeria) was later re-branded Nigeria Airways.

Millennial Awards and Recognition

British Airways has always been in the position to amass lots of awards and recognition based on its impeccable services, exceptional customer relations, high industry standards and latest technological innovations.

In 2001, it won the prestigious Grand Prix award for International Design Effectiveness for the new Club World seat which turned into a six-foot full-fledged flatbed. The award was given in recognition of how the product had revolutionized business travel. The seat also won the best consumer product award.

In June 2003, it was named as the “best low-cost airline” in an annual Guardian newspaper poll.

In 2006, it swept the board at the prestigious Business Traveller Awards ceremony at the London Hilton Hotel, winning the trophies for Best Airline, Best Short-haul Airline, Best Frequent Flyer Programme, Best First Class, Best Long-haul airline and Best Economy Class.

In May 2009, it was named Best Business Class, Best First Class and Best Short-haul Airline at the 2009 Ultratravel Awards.

On 4th December 2012, it won both Best Short Haul and Best Long Haul categories in the Sunday Times Travel Magazine Reader’s Awards.

 In May 2013, it won an award for its Home Advantage campaign run during British Airways sponsorship of the 2012 Olympics. This was at the Marketing Week Engage Award In the ‘Travel and Leisure’ category on 22nd May.

In February 2014, it was named as Consumer Super brand of the Year. The airline was the first airline or travel enterprise to top this poll beating well known global brands such as Coca-Cola, Apple, and Kellogg.

In January 2015, it was voted favourite airline in the 2015 Travel Weekly Globe Awards. The following month, it was named as both the UK’s number one Consumer Super brand and also the number one Business Super brand, thus becoming only the second company to top both polls at the same time. The month after the double recognition, it was ranked in the top three most attractive employers in Britain following a survey of a recruitment agency of nearly 11,000 employees in 26 industries and in November of the same year, it won the Best Short-Haul carrier, Frequent Flyer Programme and Lounges at the Business Traveller Awards.

In January 2016, it was voted favourite airline in the 2016 Travel Weekly Globe Awards, and in February of the same year, it was named the UK’s No 1 Consumer and Business Superbrand 2016, having topped the Consumer list for the last three years and the Business list for the last two.

KENYA: A THEATER OF NATURE’S SPLENDOR

I have always wanted to see Kenya’s very famous scenic landscapes and vast wildlife. Although, I had never been to Kenya, I have written a couple of pieces on this very beautiful country as I have on most countries in Africa. Whether I was going to see the scenic landscapes and wildlife on this trip or not, didn’t really matter to me, I was just ecstatic, when my brother and friend Didier Bayeye, the marketing manager for Africa and Indian Ocean at Sun International, invited me to compere his traditional wedding ceremony in Kenya.

I consider it proper to mention the fact that the love story that culminated into this wedding ceremony actually started at Akwaaba 2018.  As most travel, tourism and hospitality practitioners in Africa usually do annually, Didier from his base in South Africa and Shirley Favour from her base in Kenya came for the 2018 edition of Akwaaba Africa Travel Market (AFTM) – which is essentially an international travel, tourism and hospitality event that holds in Eko Hotels and suites, Victoria Island Lagos, Nigeria, annually. They both came as singles who were searching for their soul mates, not knowing that exactly a year later, all roads would lead to Kenya for their traditional wedding ceremony.

Even though the wedding ceremony was scheduled to hold on 6th and 7th of September 2019 respectively, I choose to leave Nigeria a few days before the ceremony to explore Nairobi a little and to attend to a meeting that I had pre-scheduled with some friends in the corporate communications office of Kenya Airways in Nairobi.  Although, I was unable to carry out my exploration as much as I would have loved to, I must say that I still had a delightful experience during my very short, first visit to Kenya.

The Kenya Airways flight number KQO535 that took me to Kenya left Nigeria at about 11:00 pm Nigerian time on the 3rd of September 2019, and arrived at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi Kenya at about 7:30 am Kenyan time.  Being an unapologetic Pan-Africanist, I firmly believe that entering into any African country should be very easy for any African, at least for those Africans who are legitimately visiting those countries. It is for this reason that in my opinion, one of the most important highlights of my trip to Kenya was the very easy way I entered into the country.
Like it is in most East African countries, it is visa on arrival for Africans at the port of entry, which in this case was the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi Kenya. One is just expected to clearly state the reasons for one’s visit to Kenya on the immigration forms provided at the immigration area of the arrival terminal of the airport. After filling and handing over the completed form along with your International passport, the immigration officer on duty just goes through the information provided on the form and if he or she is satisfied, one is then asked to pay a visa fee of $50 which is all you are expected to do before being allowed to enter into Kenya.

I got into Kenya very early on the 4th of September, and as I had travelled all night, I was tired and rested for most part of the day. By the evening, Didier and his wife Shiley Favour, insisted that we went to town together. Knowing that I love fish, the couple took me out for dinner and treated me to some lovely Malian fish dish – which was fish garnished with some salad and ‘Ugali’ also known as ‘Nsima’ and pap – a type of cornmeal porridge popular across Africa. I was also treated to a bit of ‘mutura’- which is well seasoned goat meat or beef, ‘mokimo’ – which is a mixture of boiled potatoes, boiled maize, pumpkin leaves and salt, garnished with ‘spinach’, which I soon discovered is served as part of almost all Kenyan cuisines’.
I spent a better part of the 5th of September, my second day in Kenya at the Kenyan Airways office.
Mr. Hafeeez Balogun – the country manager of Kenya Airways in Nigeria who was in Kenya at that material time facilitated easy entrance into the Corporate Headquarters of Kenya Airways for me.

Then came the 6th of September 2019 – the traditional wedding ceremony day of Mr. & Mrs. Didier Bayeye, family and friends came together from all over to celebrate the big day with them.
The ‘Masai’ are arguably among the best known peoples of Africa internationally due to their dwellings being near the many game parks of the African Great Lakes region, and their distinctive customs and dressing. For this reason, I particularly looked forward to seeing the proceedings of the ‘Masai’ traditional wedding ceremony, and I must confess I was not disappointed at all. I was blown away by the mélange of the colors and sheer beauty of the dresses of the ‘Masai’ women who welcomed us with very melodious traditional songs at the entrance of the bride’s house.  Apart from the actual negations for the bride that was done quietly behind closed doors, every other part of the traditional wedding was performed with pomp and pageantry, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Immediately after breakfast on Saturday 7th September, my dear sister and friend Waturi WA Matu, Senior Director, Business Competitiveness at Trademark East Africa, took out time from her very busy schedule, came to La Maison Royale Hotel, the hotel, we lodged in and took us out on a city tour. Our first port of call was the Giraffe Centre, which was founded in 1979 by the African fund for endangered wildlife Kenya (A.F.E.W Kenya), a Kenyan non-profit organization established with the aim of educating Kenyan school children and youth on their country’s wildlife and environment, as well as give local and international visitors an opportunity to come into close contact with the world’s tallest animal species – the giraffe, just like I did.  Also located in the premises of the giraffe centre, is the world’s one and only Giraffe Hotel – the ‘Marula Manor’, owned by The Safari Collection. The ‘Marula Manor’ is an exclusive boutique hotel set on a 12-acre private land within 140 acres of indigenous forest in the Langata suburb of Nairobi.

From the giraffe centre, we went on to visit the ‘Karen Bixen Museum’, which was original the farmhouse of Baroness Karen Christenze Von Blixen Finecke, who died on the 7th of September 1962, at the age of 77 in her home country, Germany. The museum was so named due to the positively impactful life she had lived in her early days in Kenya and the success of the Film ‘Out of Africa’, which was made in her memory in 1985. In 1986 Karen Blixen Museum was opened by the government of Kenya to tell the story of this great woman and how she had meaningfully influenced the lives of some Kenyans, particularly the lives of those who had direct contact with her.
After this very refreshing and educative experience at both the Giraffe Centre and Karen Blixen museum, we went for lunch and then to a local market in the city centre to do some shopping.  

From around 7:00 pm on Saturday 7th September to the wee hours of Sunday 8th September 2019, the couple hosted family and friends to a very well planned party where there were lots of drinks and food for the guests. The music was supplied by a live band whose members clearly knew their trade and yours truly compered the event. It was truly a night to remember, the décor was exquisite and almost every guest, all of whom were gorgeously dressed in white attire, danced to the very rich mix of melodious music that the band churned out.

All through the trip, I was very careful with my diet until Sunday 8th September 2019, which was my last day on this trip, I guess it is safe to describe the day as a calorific day. I had an early flight to catch the following morning, so my plan was to rest for most part of the day, pack my luggage and prepare for my trip back to Nigeria on Monday 9th September, but according to Mr. Tonny Muiruri Mutungu, whom I fondly call ‘Oga Tonny’, “our trip to Kenya, particularly Nairobi, wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t visit the Carnivore”. Oga Tonny, is a very senior colleague in the Tourism industry in Africa, so when such a person spares time from his very busy schedule to take you out, it is completely out of line to refuse such a kind gesture.
So my leaving for the Carnivore was just a matter of being polite, but my trip there and journey back to the hotel was another matter entirely, as I was most thrilled. The Carnivore is undoubtedly a popular tourist destination; it is an open-air restaurant in the Langata suburb of NairobiKenya. Carnivore’s specialty is meat, and features an all-you-can-eat meat buffet. I was told that the restaurant when it was established in 1980 by the Tamarind group, seated 350 people in 1999 with the restaurant’s 330 employees serving over 1000 people per day. The wild game, including giraffe, wildebeest, ostrich and crocodile whose meat was served then, was raised on Hopcraft Ranch, 25 miles outside Nairobi, but ever since the sale of wild game meat was banned in Kenya in 2004, the restaurant now serves meat from domestic animals such as beef, pork, lamb, and chicken, as well as farmed ostrich and crocodile meat. The meat is skewered on Masai swords, cooked on coals, and served on cast-iron plates. The restaurant does have a vegetarian option for those who don’t eat meat. It ranked 47th on Restaurant magazine‘s “World’s Best 50 Restaurants” list in 2003.

Another major highlight of my trip to Kenya was the fact that I was able to see my age long sister and friend, Fifi Josephine Rurangwa, Head of Africa Expansion and Airline Partnerships for Wakanow.com limited.  It was Fifi who listed some must visit Kenya itinerary for me and said that I cannot really appreciate the nature’s splendor that Kenya’s has got to offer until I have visited the following places:

  • The Masai Mara Natural Park, which is home to the Great Migration and Africa’s exceptional wildlife, the reserve according to her boasts some of the region’s most varied topography, including hilly terrain, an escarpment leading to a plateau, and wide-open central plains that form much of the reserve. Wildlife-watching is the main event there, providing for outstanding sightseeing.
  • Another must visit place is the Famous Tsavo National Park East, which is one of the oldest and largest parks in Kenya at 13,747 square kilometres, and the place where the Legendary pair of the Tsavo Man-eating Lions lived. Situated in a semi-arid area previously known as the Taru Desert, it was opened in April 1948, and is located near the town of Voi in the Taita-Taveta County of the former Coast Province. The park is divided into east and west sections by the A109 road and a railway. It is named after the Tsavo River, which flows west to east through the national park, it borders the Chyulu Hills National Park, and the Mkomazi Game Reserve in Tanzania.
  • Mombasa, which is a coastal city of Kenya along the Indian Ocean. It is the country’s oldest (circa 900 AD) and second-largest city (after the capital Nairobi), with an estimated population of about 1.5 million people in 2017. Its metropolitan region is the second largest in the country and has a population of approximately 3 million people. Mombasa is a regional cultural and economic hub; it has an extra-large port and an international airport, and is an important regional tourism center. Located on the east coast of Kenya, it is also the home to one of Kenya’s State Houses, and is considered by some as a second capital in all but name. Mombasa’s location on the Indian Ocean has made it a historical trading center and in the past had been controlled by different countries because of its strategic location.
  • Naivasha, which is also a popular tourist destination. Hell’s Gate National Park (the main locations for Lion King, including Pride Rock and the Gorge, are modelled after the park), Mount Longonot National Park and Mount Longonot are nearby attractions. Tours also have included Lake Naivasha, to observe birdlife and hippopotamus behaviour, as well as other wild animals.

HOTEL MANAGEMENT: FOCUS IS ALWAYS ON PEOPLE – STRONG PASSIONATE TEAM = GREAT GUEST EXPERIENCE = REPEAT BUSINESS

Nikola Jelenovic, General Manager of the Radisson Blu Gautrain Hotel, Sandton, Johannesburg. By Adegoke Oluwaseyi Adeyemo

On my last trip to South Africa, I stayed in Raddison blu Gautrain Hotel, Sandton Johannesburg and I must confess that I had a great time in the exquisite hotel. Raddison blu Gautrain Hotels, which is a three-minute walk from Gautrain rail station, seven minute walk from the upscale Sandton city shopping centre, with sleek and very spacious rooms plus hip dinning, with a city view bar and an outdoor pool as well as a fitness centre. is truly a classy business traveller hotel.  In course of my stay I had a chat with Mr Nikola Jelenovic, the General Manager of the hotel and below is an excerpt of our chat:

IWA: How long have you been in the management of hotels and what has been your unique experience all through these years? 

NIK: As a Hotel Manager, it’s been over five years, and let me say that the very pleasant experiences I have had over the years in my career, has been due to the very dynamic environments I have had the privilege of working in, I also derive a lot of pleasure in seeing that guests and customers are satisfied with the services we render to them. The development of the team I work with is also paramount on my mind.

IWA: Now from the perspective of a practitioner, what does hotels and hotel management mean to you?

NIK:  Managing a Hotel is a serious business, thus one must always have profitability in focus. From the services you deliver to the quality of your personnel, the bottom line for management and the investors is profit and that must be properly taken care of, to keep the business running. Generally speaking the business of running a hotel is very competitive thus management of hotels, must always be very strategic in thinking and possess very good people management skills in order to succeed.

IWA: It is often said that running an airline is not necessarily a profitable venture. Is running a hotel a profitable venture, if yes, what does one need to ensure that a hotel keeps making profits? 

NIK:  Yes, running a hotel can be a profitable venture, but it is important for management and investors to clearly understand that their primary purpose and goal is to deliver great guests experience. They must do everything within their power to put a passionate and well-motivated team together to always deliver this goal. It is by so doing that there will be constant business and eventually profitability will be guaranteed.

IWA: What are the basic qualifications that one needs to succeed as a hotel manager? 

NIK: To have a formal training in hotel management is good and would definitely be advantageous for anyone a good starting point for anyone that is pursuing a career in hotel management but in my opinion the best tool one needs to succeed in hotel management is experience that one gathers on the job and the quality of mentoring one is able to get in course of one’s career.

IWA: If you were not working in the hospitality industry, in what other industry would you have preferred to work and why? 

NIK: I have a strong affinity for project management, so I would have ended up doing something that is related to project management.

IWA: Clearly, there are several lovely hotels in South Africa and particularly in Sandton. So what in your opinion are the core competitive strengths of Radisson Blu Gautrain, Hotel, Sandton?  

NIK: First; our unique location, excellent facilities as well as our service philosophy and delivery.

IWA: What are the things you love most about working with Radisson Blu? 

NIK: The Dynamic way with which things are done in the group, Radisson is a driven, fast growing international organization, Out of all the Radisson collection, the Blu is a great upscale brand where every moment matters, however, the most important part of our drive in my opinion is how we always ensure that our guests feel the difference between us and the rest.

IWA: We live in an ever-evolving world, so where do you see Radisson Blu , Hotel, Sandton in the next five years?

NIK: I see Radisson Blu Gautrain as a market leader in the Sandton area based on its prime location, excellent service and facilities and competitive pricing.

IWA: What part of Radission Blu’s corporate culture do you like most and why?

NIK: The Radisson group is clearly driven by seven pillars that sums up the group corporate culture, thus it is difficult to single out one specific one, therefore, let me mention the ones I consider the top three: We deliver memorable moments every day, everywhere , every time We serve with our “Yes I can “spirit We are many minds with one mindset. 

HOW FREE IS FREE TRADE

The period between the ages of 13 and 16 years in the life of a male child and between the ages of 11 and 14 years in the life of a female child is a period when parents should brace up to their parental duties to ensure that their wards grow up to become responsible citizens and adults. This period known as puberty is when sexual maturity occurs. This maturation is evidenced in females by the onset of menstruation, in males by the production of semen, and in both by the enlargement of their respective reproductive organs. Rapid growth occurs and is marked by a range of physiological changes. Various secondary sexual characteristics also appear for the first time during puberty; in males, production of body hair increases markedly, particularly in the pubic, axillary and facial regions, and the voice usually changes and becomes deeper in tone. In females, hair also appears in the pubic and axillary regions, and the breasts become enlarged.
Just as the parents are expected to brace up to their responsibilities, children also have major roles to play to ensure that they become the responsible adults the society expects them to be. In the first instance, children must accept that they need proper guidance and must deliberately follow wise counsel. Discreetness is a vital virtue for any child to covet. There is a popular Yoruba adage that says “ti iṣu ẹni ba ta, a fi ọwọ bo jẹ ni”, it simply means that if one’s yam sprouts healthy tubers, one is expected to discretely consume it. To contextualize this, using a girl going through puberty as a case study when she suddenly realizes that she is growing bigger and experiencing some unusual sensations in certain sensitive parts of her body, the wise and sensible thing to do is to become more discreet in the manner she carries or throws herself around particularly in the presence of the opposite sex so as not to attract the kind of attention that she may not be able to manage. For the sake of emphasis, any relationship that is consummated between a man or a matured boy and a girl going through puberty based on the girl’s new-found looks is unwholesome and can only lead to trouble. Like my people the Yorubas will say “ere kini aja nba ẹkun se”, meaning what kind of a relationship can exist between a dog and a tiger, except for one being the eaten and the other the eater.
Still dwelling on the above analogy, value appreciation is pivotal to resource optimization, so it is almost certain that one will most likely waste a resource that one does not know the actual worth of. According to British economist David Ricardo, analyzing the essence of comparative advantage in free trade, said that some nations lacked an absolute advantage in the production of any commodity. However, even these nations could gain from free trade if they concentrated on producing commodities in which they had the smallest disadvantage. One thing is clear, Africa cannot all of a sudden become industrialized; the reality as it is today is that Africa’s comparative advantage is in the area of supply of raw materials. The continent by the benevolence of God is the biggest producer of some of the raw materials for the production of most products in the world today. Consequently, Africa should take cognizance of its strengths and weaknesses so as to ensure that it always gets a good deal in return for the raw materials it’s able to bring to the market.
I am a member of what is known as the Borderless Alliance in West Africa and just finished our third annual conference with the theme, ‘’Enabling Growth”, so I thought it will be both interesting and instructive for us to examine in this edition of IWA some of the issues that were deliberated on which brought to the fore the need for and the efforts being made to remove all barriers to trade within West Africa. In addition, among other very interesting stories that we have complied for you, we also had the privilege of interviewing the Tanzanian High Commissioner to Nigeria, His Excellency Daniel O Njoolay, and he shared his thoughts on the need for Africans to do more business amongst themselves, according to him we have the population which is a large enough market to exploit just as countries such as China and India did for formidable trade growth. It is the only way African trade alliance can blossom. All these are packaged for your pleasurable reading as I welcome you to another year of great exploits as we transverse the great African landscape. I want to thank you so much for your commitment to IWA.

TRADING SENSE

My mother is from Ijebu, a town in Ogun state, south west Nigeria, where the people are generally noted for being astute business men and women with the propensity to save and conserve funds. I guess that is the reason my mum has always exhibited what I consider a never-give-an-inch posture, while haggling to buy anything. Unfortunately, I have turned out to be a weak negotiator because I seem to have failed to imbibe this very potent trading trait which is arguably a standard practice through which most people arrive at mutually agreed price for goods and services in Africa.
Since goods and services will always have to be exchanged, it is expedient for every human being to at least develop a level of trading skill. However, going by the trend in the international trading landscape, Africa and Africans has continued to fall short in this regard. Undeniably, several individuals’ particularly African leaders acquired stupendous wealth from being slave traders. Tinubu square, a commercial centre in today’s Lagos, Nigeria, is named after a major nineteenth century slave trader, Madam Tinubu who rose from a humble background to become a very wealthy woman and later one of Nigeria’s pioneering nationalists.
In evaluating this illicit trade and the state of trade in Africa today one cannot but ask oneself if Africa derived any socio-economic gain from slave trade and how far did the illicit trade impact on the social economic lives of Europeans, either positively or negatively? It is also imperative to carefully examine and ascertain if the quality of the goods and services that Africa is currently parading in the world market the very best she can offer? We also need to ask ourselves if the people we have put forward as leaders and negotiators are the best we can offer.
Africa is evidently holding on to the ‘short end of the stick’, as regards international trade, she deserves and can get much more than she is getting in exchange for her goods and services if only she can brace up and get sensible in the way she trades with the rest of the world.
Just like yesterday, IWA is five and as team leader I can confidently say that we are better prepared to face the next five years, having seen the good, the bad and the ugly sides of the publishing world in Africa, particularly in Nigeria where we are situated. As part of our plans to commemorate the fifth anniversary and in fulfillment of our commitment to you to always deliver good value for the money you invest in purchasing IWA, we had planned a flag off of another value adding product from our stable which we have tagged African Home Front Forum (AHFF), at the close of 2013 but have had to rescheduled the flag off to the beginning of the second quarter of 2014. We are also rebranding the tourism segment of IWA to be manned by a very experienced editor, Mr. Tayo Adelaja as well as also bringing on board an interesting contributor in the person of Laila St. Matthew – Daniel.
2013 was certainly an eventful year, but to my mind the most remarkable of the things that happen was the death and burial of “Madiba”, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, who because of the sacrificial life that he lived was probably one of the most celebrated Africans that ever lived, thus we are featuring some of his most popular quotes while on earth as well as some snap shots of some of the celebrities that attended his burial in this edition. On the cover page we decided to beam our search light on how Africa has continued to allow very careless poaching of elephants in her savannahs and forests such that they have become graveyards rather than the sanctuaries that they use to be for elephants. The release of this edition into the market is also likely to be to be slightly late because I attended the Calabar Festival and I am so glad to report that the government and people of Cross River state Nigeria have kept fate with what is today regarded as the biggest street party in Africa.
I will like to use this auspicious time to thank our ardent readers and customers for their unflinching support for IWA in the past five years for without you there won’t be us, so we thank you. I pray that GOD will continue to bless your various businesses. I will also wish you compliment of the season and may the New Year bring lots of goodness into our different homes. Salute!

SWEET MOTHER

HUMAN BEINGS are distinguished by one appellation or the other. It becomes more interesting such that with maturity comes more appellations. For instance one can be a child and at the same time a father and as well as a husband. The most important thing to note is that all these appellations come with their attendant responsibilities.
Perhaps the importance of ‘responsibility’ informed the perspective of my people – the Yorubas, from the western part of Nigeria, in customarily referring to an offspring who has continued to behave in a manner that is not in consonance with the norm as being an ‘omolasan’- literarily, a worthless child! Someone unworthy of the appellation, ‘offspring’. You are also likely to hear my kinsmen say about a person that is generally cantankerous, ‘Ko n se eniyan’, which literarily means he or she does not deserve to be referred to as a human being. And in the case of a person married to a woman that is ill-mannered, they will simply tell him ‘oo ti ni Iyawo’ literarily meaning ‘you do not have a wife yet’, because as far as they are concerned, a wife who acts in a manner unbecoming should not be considered as a wife. This will also apply to a husband whose ways are inconsistent with the responsibilities required of that role.
I attended a wedding ceremony recently and I was having so much fun until the young comedian who compered the ceremony, jokingly said that the part of the evergreen Nico Mbaga’s song, ‘sweet mother’, that says, the mother will not sleep or eat if the child does not eat, was no longer applicable to today’s mothers. Whilst his pun was accompanied by laughter from people around me, it caused me to reflect, albeit with trepidation and sadness on whether the mothers of today cared less than those of yore. Surely this was no joking matter!
As such, after the ceremony, I decided to take a closer look at today’s mothers and the fact that it appeared, to my dismay, that I could identify some who appeared more preoccupied with themselves and generally with other things than they are with their children. I even became more worried when my enquiries elicited a peculiar response from a lady who asked me why I thought the woman is/was better positioned to take care of the child than the man. Is this a general supposition or simply an isolated stand point?
In any event, I am humbled by the extraordinary bond that exists between the mother and child, right from when Gestation occurs in the woman’s uterus from conception until the fetus (assuming it is carried to term) is sufficiently developed to be born. Usually, once the baby is born, the mother produces milk via the lactation process. The mother’s breast milk is the source of anti-bodies for the infant’s immune system and commonly the sole source of nutrition for the child for a while. With this nature of bonding, should there be any dispute about the important role that the womenfolk play in the development of the child and by implication, the human race?

THANKSGIVING DAY!

NELSON ROLIHLAHLA MANDELA was born on the 18th of July,1918, so in a couple of weeks, ‘Madiba’, fondly referred to as the father of the South African nation will be ninety five years old. Like most people in his age bracket, his health has not been in the best of state. His condition however deteriorated recently which has seen him, in and out of the hospital to the extent that he has now been confined to intensive care at the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria, South Africa, for the past few weeks. As to be expected, news peddlers all over the world are trying to take advantage of the situation, churning out all sorts of news, most of which are not very pleasant and as such may have become disturbing to his family, who are obviously dealing with so much pain over the state of the legend himself who also happens to be a husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, etc.
My people always say that the bigger one’s head is, the more the head aches, so I am not really surprised, the world is literarily standing still for one of the greatest Africans living today and probably Africa’s most illustrious son. I agree that there is no way I can feel the exact pains of the family because I am not family, but I am an African who loves and admires this man who did not just say- “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others”, but has also lived these words. In my opinion it’s time to take a cue from one of ‘Madiba’s books; ‘My long Walk to Freedom’ which says: “I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”
I see today as ‘Thanksgiving Day’, with the world collectively acknowledging that my hero has fulfilled his destiny. ‘Thanksgiving Day’, by definition is a day set apart for giving thanks; however those who are able to rejoice the most on ‘Thanksgiving Day’ are those who, in spite of all the odds are able to reap bountifully. Success usually does not come on a platter of gold; it’s only the fittest that survives in today’s world. Nonetheless, ‘Madiba’, in another quote of his, emphasizing the fact that success is possible for all, said that “It always seems impossible until it’s done”,
A lot of African Leaders have lived and died but none, and I stand to be corrected, has ever received this kind of global attention, accolades and empathy that this great African commands.
I am not sure that ‘Madiba’ himself bargained for this kind of over whelming recognition for the contributions he has made to the freedom of his people, he said, and I believe; “I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.”
I, like most people in the world, send my prayers and heartfelt best wishes to ‘Madiba’, his immediate family, friends, government and the entire people of South Africa at this sober time and want them to really see that it’s time for Thanksgiving!