…HONOURS ALHAJI BOLA AZEEZ, CEO OF BOLAMARK ENGINEERING LIMITED WITH LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD – Damilola Eyiwunmi
Schneider Electric Nigeria, an undisputable leader in power management with over 170, 000 employees, 245 factories and global presence in over 100 countries has once again demonstrated its commitment to ensure that ‘Life is On’, everywhere, for everyone, and at every moment, not minding the adverse effects of the ravaging coronavirus on the world’s social life.
In demonstration of its commitment and appreciation to those who make its services reach Nigerians, Schneider Electric recently hounored the CEO of Bolamark Engineering Limited, Alhaji Bola Azeez with a “Lifetime of Achievement Trophy’’ for his meritorious and longstanding partnership with Schneider as a Distributor.
According to Schneider, as a successful global service delivery organization, it acknowledges the pivotal role that their distributors who process the right culture and push for excellence play in its success stories thus periodically it appraises its distributors and reward them for their hard work and immerse contributions to the organization’s attainments globally.
A peek into Bolamark’s mission statement is quite revealing and arresting: `Being the one-stop shop for your electrical solutions’’. Established in 1981, Bolamark Group has grown into a conglomerate comprising Bolamark Engineering Ltd. On its competitive edge, it says: “Going by our corporate slogan “Passion for Power’’, we know that `Power is nothing without control’’, meaning – he who has control over power has everything, thus we provide and deliver innovative, functional and practical technological solutions that help shape and transform lives. The company offers: power and light-up residential and commercial buildings, power and fire-up industries’, power and protect Information Technology and also power and energize infrastructure.
The exquisite event which was held at the luxurious Radission Blu Hotel Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria, in strict adherence to the World Health Organization and National Centre for Disease Control, Abuja protocols and advisories on how to conduct ourselves in the ‘new normal’, was moderated by Viviane Mike-EZESchneider Electric Anglophone West Africa’s Marketing Communications Manager/ Sustainability Projects Lead. Inattendance from Schneider Electric Anglophone West Africa,were the Managing Director Christophe Begat, Ababacar Samb,the Chief Financial Officer, Mojola Ola, the Head Building Business, Nurudeen Oyedeji, the Channel Manager and Ifeanyi Odoh, Head Offer Marketing and Business Development.
From Bolamark Engineering Limited were the awardee himself, Alhaji Bola Azeez, MD/CEO and Mr. Tunde Ajijola, Project Manager, Other dignitaries who also graced the occasion wereMr. Seyi Katola MD/CEO of Universal Integrated Solutions & Investment Services Limited. Mr. Mike Ayinde, Founder/Managing Director of Creseada International Limited, Alhaji Tajudeen Owoyemi, CEO/Chairman Avalon Intercontinental Nigeria Ltd, Prince Tunde Akamo, Director of Autograph Nigeria Limited and Our Publisher Mr. Oluwaseyi Adegoke Adeyemo who is the media consultant to Bolamark Engineering Limited.
In an industry that can be male-dominated, Delta women are flying high thanks to a culture of equity, diversity and inclusion that is breaking down gender barriers.
And the airline’s effort to attract and retain women into airline careers is being recognized across the industry. Last year, Deltaagain achieved 100 percent pay parity for employees in frontline jobs and was awarded a “Best Workplace for Women” by Great Place To Work® and Fortune for the third year in a row – the only airline on the list.
Across the business, women have their voices heard. Delta’s SHE Business Resource Group serves as a place for employees of all genders to engage in conversations about gender in the workplace. SHE also has an international branch for employees in the Europe, Middle East, Africa, India region, launched in 2019. Meanwhile, Delta also empowers and prioritizes women-owned businesses throughout its supply chain with a robust 20 year supplier diversity program.
Gender is no obstacle when it comes to any role at Delta – from loading bags and predicting weather, to flying planes and carrying out vital maintenance. Delta women work in every division across the airline, thanks to a fair, equal and diverse playing ground for candidates in every position. Delta constantly strives to dismantle barriers to career entry and advancement, and currently has 19 female leaders in officer positions.
Aircraft maintenance technician, Britany Abney works on some of Delta’s newest aircraft, like the A350 and A330-900neos and believes being a woman is irrelevant when it comes to the job. “I’ve the same capabilities as anyone, regardless of gender,” she says. “The most challenging part is learning all the different components; you need a good eye for detail and a commitment to doing your best every day.”
Delta is leading the industry when it comes to using cutting-edge technology to predict weather pattern and of its in-house team of 26 meteorologists, six are women. Delta’s Lead Meteorologist, Heather Heitzman, says a love of the job overshadows gender. Her advice to young women interested in the field? “Follow your passion and curiosity, no matter what. You’ll find yourself surrounded by people just as passionate as you are about what you do.”
For Ramp Agent, Karen Borali, the biggest misconception about the job is that it is not for women. “We have the same responsibilities as the guys, working in all weathers, handling thousands of bags, mail and freight every day and if a plane needs de-icing, we take our turn,” she says. “Man or woman, we look out for each other, working to a tight set of procedures so Delta customers and co-workers go home safe.”
The airline’s annual WING – Women Inspiring our Next Generation – Flight originated in 2015 as an effort to diversify the industry and expose girls to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers at a young age. WING flights are planned and orchestrated exclusively by women – including pilots, ramp agents, gate agents boarding and women in the tower guiding the aircraft on its way out. More than 600 students have participated in WING flights over five years.
First officer Aluel Bol says it’s vital to expose girls to careers in aviation at a young age. “Children see the world without limitations or boundaries,” she says. “Introducing young girls to the industry sparks interest before they’ve formed preconceptions of ‘male only’ roles.”
Delta is on par with the aviation industry with approximately 5% pilots who are women. In the past four years, 7.4% of Delta’s new hire pilots have been women.
“Becoming a pilot might seem daunting, but we’re working on that,” Bol says. “Women on the flight deck can be few and far between but the WING Flight is one way we are working to drive those numbers upward – the sky’s really not the limit.”
The month-long AmuwoGames 2019 finally came to a close on Sunday, the 24th of November 2019, with the Bizzybody NG’s Mile 2 Lions coming first on the medals table with the highest number of gold medals won. The closing ceremony was honored by dignitaries, corporate sponsors and celebrities as expected.
Over 150 medals were presented to the winning athletes from 8 teams in over 16 tournaments that they participated in. Participants and fans from various parts of Amuwo-Odofin formed the huge energetic crowd over over 2,000 people cheering as the medals were presented.
There was so much diversity in colors and age ranged owed to the vibrant colors of the team represented at the Amuwo-Odofin Primary School Recreation/Play ground venue of the closing ceremony and the various age-graded tournaments that were organized at the sports festival. Some of such age-graded tournaments include the Scrabble, Swimming and Chess.
Various prizes were presented to the medalists, some of which included the award of scholarship to the under-13 Chess champion – Master Omar Bello by the Olatokunbo Foundation, high tech gadgets like smart phones, headphones, hard drives and so on, by MTN Communications and other souvenirs by Bizzybody NG which the event was also packaged by.
The Founder of the Mini Sports Festival – AmuwoGames, Seun Ayeni took time to appreciate members of the community, the Amuwo-Odofin Local Government authorities, sponsors which included the likes of MTN, Olatokunbo Foundation, Alek Pharmacy, Doctorcare247, Bodyline fitness, I-Zone, Purpindo, Chillers bar, Villa Park, FHA Sports Club amongst others. He also acknowledged the support of the various media houses that made broadcast of the event a huge success. They include TVC, Play TV, Origin TV, Area Ten TV, VOTS.
Also, one of the chief organizers of the 2019 edition of the festival, Kunle Keshinro took time to appreciate members of the organizing committee while coordinating the presentation of the medals during the ceremony. While inviting more corporate bodies, scouts, tourists and stakeholders to plan to be part of the next edition of the games in 2021.
It is good to note that this month-long sports festival attracted some top athletes in the country, like Wellington Jighere, the first African player to be crowned World Scrabble Champion. Also, no security issues were recorded at the event as the presence of the security personnel was well felt through out the games.
President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, sent a special envoy who arrived Abuja yesterday 15th September to meet President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari. According to Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko, Ramaphosa dispatched three special envoys to seven African countries to deliver messages of pan-African unity and solidarity as a result of xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
In a bid to make amends with Nigeria and other African countries affected by the xenophobic attacks, the special envoy were deployed to reassure Head of States of Nigeria, Niger, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Zambia on South Africa’s stance on ‘No Xenophobia’ amidst the tension and violence in South Africa.
Acting South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Bobby Moroe released a statement of the special envoy’s visit to Nigeria.
“The Special Envoy of President Cyril Ramaphosa, former Minister of Energy, Mr Jeff Radebe, has arrived in Abuja to deliver a special message from President Ramaphosa to President Buhari. He is accompanied by the Special Advisor to President Ramaphosa, Dr Khulu Mbatha. This follows a visit to South Africa by the Special Envoy to President Buhari over a week ago. The purpose of the visit is to reaffirm the cordial bilateral relations between the two countries and recommit the two countries to their long-standing historical relations dating back to the apartheid era. To this end, we express and reiterate our appreciation for the support received during the days of apartheid. It is this relationship that should inspire us to work together and build a formidable continent. The visit takes place ahead of the state visit to SA by President Buhari in October 2019. The envoys are looking forward to fruitful engagements with Mr President. It is our desire that the outcomes of the engagements will further cement the already cordial relations between the two counties,” Moroe stated.
On Sunday, South Africans sang and marched through the streets in South Africa against Xenophobia, South Africans from all walks of life joined migrants to march against the attacks on foreigners and to ask for forgiveness from Nigerians and other African nationals still in the country weeks after the Xenophobic attacks. They called for unity among Africans; Gabriel Hertis, the coordinator for social cohesion from the Africa Diaspora Forum, said they are deeply concerned about the attack, killing and looting.
“We stand together with South Africans in fighting xenophobia and crimes. We played a role in South Africa’s development and do not see reason why we should stop now. We are getting opportunities for our families and also contributing to the development of South Africa,” said Hertis
Kevin Kamau – Radisson Hotel Group District Director Nigeria/ General Manager Radisson Blu, Anchorage Hotel.
IWA: Going by your pedigree in the hospitality industry, can you please tell us the position hotels occupy in the hospitality industry globally?
Kevin: Simply put, hotels the world over drive business activities as they serve as catalyst to making their location, commercial hubs. Let’s take the tourism industry as our first example,anLS THE WORLD OVER, GENERALLY there is no doubt that the development of the tourism industry in any society comes with so much opportunities, but it is also clear that the industry cannot thrive without the availability of good and affordable hotels. For instance, one of the primary factors anyone coming from a place like Abidjan or Congo Brazzaville into Lagos would first consider is accommodation, how good and how expensive the hotels he or she would be staying are. I am sure you will agree with me that to stay in a good hotel in Lagos is very expensive at least when compared to a place like London, Dubai or even South Africa. Unfortunately, this is a major disincentive to the growth of the tourism industry in Nigeria. Therefore, it must be clearly stated that for tourism to really flourish in Nigeria, the government must ensure that there are enough hotels and they must be very competitive in terms of their rates and quality.
Moving away from tourism, lets us examine the
impact of hotels on the corporate segment by way of meetings, incentive,
convention and events, what is commonly known as MICE. The more hotels and the
more rooms there are in a society, the easier it is to bid for huge MICE
events. Lagos for example does not have enough capacity to bid to host African
Union events; the number of rooms available now is simply not enough to cope
with the demands of such events. In addition, Lagos lack convention facilities,
as we speak there is almost no internationally acceptable convention facility
in Lagos. Incidentally, hosting of these kinds of events have a massive positive
spill over effect on the commercial activities of countries. One country that
comes to mind that is reaping the gains of its government’s understanding of the
tremendous opportunities inherent in having enough good and affordable hotels
in their country is Rwanda.
Now, what naturally happens is that, the more
hotels in a country, the more competitive they become. Customers are able to
get very good hotels for cheaper rates and they are able to attract more
visitors. I must say that the lack of competition breeds complacency. If we
have a bit of more competition, Hoteliers will become more creative with their
offerings. I guess it is safe to say that more hotels and other hospitality
products have entered more into this market in the last 3 years when compared
to the last 6 years when I came into the market.
IWA: So how would
you describe the hospitality industry in Nigeria now?
Kevin: In general,
I would say the industry is growing and beginning to boom. The crux of the
matter in my opinion is that Nigeria, like most other African countries, was
not traditionally a service oriented country; the focus in the early 80s and
90s for most African countries was more for commercial and manufacturing
activities, there were little or no emphasis on hospitality. The truth is, it wasn’t
until after 2010 that we sort of started seeing the opportunity in hospitality.
However, it is gratifying that the youths are now going to school to study and
say they want to develop a career working in a hotel and not the usual I want
to be a doctor or banker. It may be slow, but we are moving in the right
direction. Six years ago, there was probably only one school offering
hospitality related courses in Lagos, now we have the likes of Lagos Business
School (LBS), offering courses in hospitality. It is important to note that a
hotel is not just about accommodation, what people fail to realize is that a
hotel is like a municipal on its own; it must provide its own power, water, food,
waste management, financial management, operations management and so on. All
these perhaps go to show that there’s a lot more that goes into running an
hotel. I am therefore glad that the hospitality industry is fast growing in
Nigeria. I am particularly happy with the introduction of more schools, and we
partnering with some of them to train and pull the right capacity of human
capital from them.
IWA: What are the
core competitive strengths of Radisson Blu and how have they worked for you as
regards the brand in Nigeria?
Kevin: I would like
to say that Radisson is a Nigerian brand, and I will explain why I said so,
when Radisson as a brand came into Africa, one of the first two markets we
opened in was Nigeria and South Africa. So this hotel is actually one of the
first learning points for the brand in Africa. For me, the journey through these
years is our biggest strength in this market. We may have originated from Switzerland,
but we’re still very much African. At the 5 and 4 star levels, we got the
Radisson, Radisson Park inn and the Radisson collection, and these 3 brands are
growing at almost twice the rate of any other major brand in Africa.
The truth is, we understand Africa; we have
an African headquarters’ situated in South Africa, so we say we run out of
Africa. There is no other international brand that can boost of having a
headquarters in Africa, this tells you how serious we are about Africa. The
second strength that I can possibly flag is that the brands we have are very
suited to this market, if you tell someone Radisson Blu, they can relate to
what it means; It is a high end brand and they know that, if you tell someone
Park inn, they know that is targeted at the middle class of the market. I must
say that we have really done well in mastering our craft with these two initial
brands that we introduced into this market.
Therefore, with the successes and strengths
we have built over time in running the Radisson Blu and the Radisson Park inn brands
in this market, we were able to open the Radisson which is our third brand this
year. We are also ready to, within the next 6 to 12 months open the Radisson
collections. That shows you the confidence we have in the market. This is good
for both the owners and customers as well as the staff because it gives room
for more development opportunities. The other big strength is diversity. I
haven’t seen any other brand that focuses on diversity and development of local
content as much as we do. For example, we train and develop Africans to take up
the traditionally expatriate jobs. We are the only Nigerian brand with a female
general manager and that just stands us out. I am an African and we hope that
when I eventually leave, I will be replaced with a Nigerian general manager
someday. We also move our people around for exposure, currently a Nigerian Sous
Chef is serving in one of our hotels in Sierra Leone and our hope is that when he
would be returning back to Nigeria he would have been ripe enough to return as
the executive chef. So we look at everything holistically as work-in-progress
for the brand. If we have the right people, then we are able to serve the
IWA: What is the
Radisson Blu average occupancy rate and what are the factors responsible for
Kevin: We are doing
well in the market, particularly in the Nigerian market. The economy seems
stable, not minding the fact that the general election was held this year,
everything seems to have gone quite peacefully. The government seem to be
putting policies that help support and stabilise the economy in place and I
must say that is good. If I should speak
a little more about the government policies, I am happy about their focus on
encouraging a lot more locally produced products. This really helps our
business to be able to sustain the rates. In addition to that, internally we
also try to think outside the box. For instance, our chef, the house keeper and
the head gardener, have said that we can’t keep importing some of the spices we
use, and they went ahead to create a garden for such supplies. Such small
things help us grow our capacity. You can see a lot of emphasis on the local
farming and agriculture.
IWA: What would
you describe as your most memorable moments in Radisson Blu since you became
the general manager?
Kevin: There have
been very many memorable moments for me, but probably the biggest ones are when
I walk into other branches of Radisson and I see the different heads of
department whom we first employed as cleaners or waiters, for me you can’t beat
that, it makes you feel proud. There’s an excitement in the fact that I am able
to be part of changing and transforming lives and that stirs up some good
memories in me. Someone gave me a chance at some point, so I am happy that like
them I am able to also give chances to other members of the team. So perhaps those
are the memories that puts a smile on my face the most.
IWA: Are you
comfortable working in Nigeria and what Nigerian Food do you love most and what
are the parts of Nigerian culture that you like the most?
Kevin: Let me start with the people,
Nigerians are very friendly. My wife says that each time she travels out of
Nigeria the thing she misses the most is the warmth of Nigerians. The average
Nigerian is constantly asking about your wellbeing; the truth is that they have
a particular greeting for almost every situation. It is in Nigeria that people
will ask you and say Sir, how was your weekend or how was yesterday? It is also
here that find people saying, Sir, how has your day been or hope you are well?
The truth is that it is possible to take that for granted here because it’s
part of the people’s culture but you don’t find it everywhere, so for me this
is one of the things I love the most about the Nigerian culture. I also love
the weather, I know that there are challenges here like there are everywhere else
in the world, but with those challenges come very many opportunities. It’s been
very exciting for me living here, and I have actually been for 6 wonderful years.
I have even had some of my children here; so, it’s truly been a fruitful
experience for me.
IWA: You made a
mention of opportunities, can you please specifically highlight these
opportunities, particularly the ones that directly impact on your industry?
Kevin: One of those areas is Agriculture,
there are massive opportunities in Agriculture for Nigeria to explore. Recently, I had a chat with someone who is
into the production of milk and he told been that the milk that is being
currently produced in Nigeria cannot even cater to 10% of the local population.
So investment can be made into rearing more dairy cattle. I am a strong
believer in getting things done indigenously, so we are presently working with some
communities in Nigeria for beef production; we want to rear the cattle in a way
that we will not only get sufficient beef but we also get the right quality. Note
that the cattle they have in Denmark, Nairobi, Durban or Cape Town are most
likely to be same like the ones here in Nigeria, they only have different
processes of feeding, and rearing.
However, I am glad that looking back at the
way things were 6 years ago, there has been a lot of improvement regarding the
level of imports into Nigeria, but I must say that we certainly can do a lot
better than how we are now in terms of the level of imports into Nigeria. I
can’t wait for when what Dangote group and Honeywell flour mills are doing with
pasta or flour, will be replicated with rice and other essential produce in
IWA: What does
one need to succeed in the tourism industry?
Kevin: The most
important qualification for success in my opinion is passion, I don’t think you
can be successful at anything without having passion for that thing. Everyone
that I know that has succeeded in what they do, are people with genuine passion
for what they do. Passion breeds a staying spirit that nothing else can give
one. I usually tell departmental heads not to hire anyone only for that
person’s experience, we will rather hire a person with passion but without
experience since we can train him or her to become an expert on the job, but we
can’t force that person to be passionate about the job, it’s something that
comes from within.
IWA: This is
usually my last question, what is that thing that you would like to tell
Kevin: I think we
haven’t realised yet that Africa is the next or new frontier, it is why all the
Chinese, Americans and European firms are investing here. You are talking about
a population of over 1.4 billion, the market is here, so the opportunity is not
coming, it is already here. We should believe in Africa, rather than always
wanting to go and seek for greener pastures out there, let’s look inward and
contribute our own quota to making Africa better than it is now.
IWA: Do you have
any other thing to say?
Kevin: The Radisson
group is a growing brand, we’ve got 5 key brands that are really going to grow
in this market; Radisson Collection – which is our luxury brand, Radisson Blu –
we all know as our upscale brand, and the Radisson Park Inn – for the middle
class. The latest in our collection is the Radisson Red, which is designed to
be very engaging because it is targeted at the millennials.
First-of-its-kind service will launch for Main Cabin customers on international flights in November
Customers can expect to be impressed on board Delta’s international routes* starting this November when the airline debuts its industry-leading Main Cabin experience. Free “Welcome Aboard” cocktails featuring Bellinis to start, hot towel service and mix-and-match options for premium appetizers and larger entrees are just a few of the ways Delta is differentiating its international Main Cabin service.
“This is about investing in every single customer who chooses Delta, no matter where they sit on the plane,” said Allison Ausband, Delta’s S.V.P. — In-Flight Service. “The thoughtful touches we’re investing in throughout the new Main Cabin experience were designed by flight attendants with one goal in mind: delivering an exceptional experience that our customers will rave about and one that our team, the best in the business, is proud to deliver.”
Designed to delight and create “wow” moments that feel like dining in your favorite splurge restaurant, Delta’s reinvented Main Cabin experience has been met with high marks – with increased customer satisfaction scores on the more than 700 flights it’s been tested on between Portland and Tokyo (NRT) over the past year.
A Main Cabin experience designed by flight attendants, endorsed by customers
The experience launching in November isn’t the same service Delta started testing more than a year ago. Rigorous reviews of the service through nearly 14,000 hours of flight time, information from over 1,800 customer surveys, robust crew feedback and input from a design team made up of 24 flight attendants resulted in a number of changes to perfect the innovative service for Delta’s international flights.
“With this service, at the end of the flight I know I’ve made a difference in the customer’s journey,” said Michael Miller, a New York-based flight attendant and member of the design team behind the new experience. “I know I’ve had the opportunity to not only offer an exceptional onboard experience, but also to engage with customers and create special moments for them.”
Creating magical moments in-flight
In addition to these enhancements, over the past several months, Delta has provided specialized training to its team of more than 3,000 Pursers – the lead flight attendants on international flights. Responsible for the customer experience from nose to tail, the Purser role at Delta has been elevated to include pre-flight introductions in the gate house and personal greetings at the boarding door – just a few examples of the important connections between crew and customers that lead to memorable moments and a delightful experience all around.
Also, in addition to recently upgraded amenity kits, more international onboard enhancements are coming soon — like refreshed ear buds and headsets — to further demonstrate the airline’s commitment to creating a best-in-class experience all customers can look forward to.
Delta’s new international Main Cabin service is part of the airline’s multi-billion dollar investment in the overall customer experience. In the past several years, the airline has made significant enhancements to the Main Cabin experience including free Main Cabin meals on select domestic coast-to-coast routes, free mobile messaging,free in-flight entertainment, upgraded Main Cabin snacks, the addition of sparkling wine, access to Wi-Fi on nearly all flights and refreshed Flight Fuel food-for-purchase options. Recent upgrades to the Delta One in-flight experience include the introduction of seasonally rotating, chef-designed Delta One menus with the option to pre-select first choice of entree, an Alessi-designed collection of serviceware and more.
Lagos! The city that will make or mar you. The city of unrivalled splendor and lofty ambition! Where dreams come true one day and nightmares can become your reality overnight. In this town, your network is truly your net worth because who you know is often just as important as what you know. There’s been a lot of talk recently about the one percent of the one percent. Who they are, what they do, how they live and what make them so revered. I hear many of you asking, “Who are the 1%?” but if you even have to ask then you certainly don’t belong to the club. You see, there’s a belief that Nigeria’s wealth is controlled by 1% of the population but the social scene is run by yet an even smaller fraction of that. Everything about them is news. What they wear, who they date, where they holiday, who they marry, what she got as a push gift, what her ring looked like, who made her wedding dress…we are obsessed with their lives and thanks to social media platforms like Instagram, everyone gets a front row seat to witness it all.
I was born in Lagos and have lived in this city all my life save a six year stint at boarding school. I’ve travelled across Nigeria and visited over 15 states but I know in my heart that I will always call this city home. One of my earliest recollections of the Bling Lagosian lifestyle was in the early 90s on a visit to an aunt’s house with my mum and sister. Aunty Mimi was one of the Lagos elite married to a handsome playboy and had a gorgeous home. Everything was white, gold and resplendent, the house temperature was a controlled coolness. Everywhere was immaculate and quiet, a real ajebutter residence. Lunchtime was announced with a bell and we proceeded to the dining room where the table was set. We took our seats and I wondered why there was no food in our plates because you see in our own house, you went into the kitchen, picked up your plate of food and filed out to eat whatever had been dished. No mede-mede variety, no selection or complaints otherwise you were automatically forfeiting your food till the next mealtime. My thoughts were cut short by my aunt’s voice “Chef, you may commence with the serving of the okro’. Hey God! I turned my neck to see what was happening… an army of stewards were upon us, offering different types of swallow, soups, meats and other delicacies with the precision of an elite fighting squad. I’d never seen anything like it but I had the good sense to keep my mouth shut and wait till I got home to ask my mum why aunty Chidinma our nanny could not dress up in such a fine white uniform and bring out our food from the kitchen when it was ready. I’m sure any 80s kid here would know exactly how that conversation turned out, a beating galore (Why mummy, why?). I would grow up to understand that there is nothing wrong in enjoy slivers of the good life when it is presented before you but comparison of one’s life to point of resentment and ingratitude would lead to self-destruction eventually. By all means, want more for yourself but be ready to work hard and make even harder sacrifices but most of all accept responsibility for your actions on your way to the top. Oh, I would also later discover that Aunt Mimi’s husband was a reckless man who did drugs, beat her, put his whole family at risk and eventually went broke. How’s that for the rich also cry?
You see there’s something about the pecking order in Lagos that forces you to level up and reach for more. Back in university of Lagos there were two sets of guys, those in the exclusive clubs (fraternities) RHO, FOADS, EXCEL and ABC and the rest of them. These club boys were the toast of campus…handsome, stylish, cool, bad, bougie, influential, popular and connected. They dated the prettiest girls and drove the nicest cars in school too and they threw legendary parties. I remember someone telling me one day how she pitied one particular classmate of hers because he was broke and need to buy fuel in his Honda Skirach because he needed to have his windows up when driving up school, apparently if he was caught by a club official or senior member with his window down, he would be fined and 3 infractions would land him a suspension thereby demoting him from a godlike campus status to mere mortal. His club’s unspoken motto was beg, borrow or steal plus he had already driven around campus twice without the AC on and the window up but it was hot and he was beginning to feel lightheaded. My friend told me she was sick of lending him money because he was in heavy debt to her and the possibility of getting her money back was nonexistent! I howled with laughter because in that moment I totally understood my mother’s words about self-destruction.
The Bling Lagosian culture calls for faking it till you make it, keeping up with the Joneses (and the Kardashians), incurring debts to fund holidays, weddings and international births, rolling out in Range Rovers and an empty fuel tank while clad in white native, Cartier rimless glasses, Rolex watches and assaulting our senses with the strongest Arabian Oud. Why? Because it’s what the people want! It’s far more fascinating to watch the flash and be dazzled by the razzmatazz than accept a mundane life devoid of excitement. Because you see, we are all guilty- the 1 and the 99 percent in this Eko. You may not be into the fake life but you’ll sure as heck accept an invitation from one and show up too, dressed to the nines because on some level these things are important, after all if you cannot wow them, let them at least not see us finish. These days, going by Instagram it would seem we are all successful, happy, fabulous, living our best lives without a single hair out of place and just winning! And it is indeed okay to project all that positivity but like all things in life, moderation is necessary to steer us to reality and away from fantasyland. I’m reminded of the Instafamous blogger who recently went as far as posing in front of a new completed building, claiming it was hers and coming up with the standard faux deep captions that we’ve come to accept when these fantastical posts are made. We watched with twisted fascination how the whole story crumbled away like a packet of expired shortbreads and the disgrace that ensued as the true owner of the house flew back from China to claim his property and set the record straight. The depths to which this debacle sunk needed just two more feet before it would have struck crude. Last month in New York, a 28 year old lady by the name Anna Delvey (real name Anna Sorokin) was convicted for fraud and sentenced to 4-12 years. For years, she had pretended to be a German heiress with a trust fund, lived in expensive hotels, partied with the rich and famous of Manhattan and even dated sons of the elite class! Truth is she was a Russian immigrant who had conned a bank out of a $100,000 loan which she never paid back and was first arrested in July 2017 for absconding from two luxury hotels, leaving behind bills in thousands of dollars as well as a lunch bill of under $200 dollars at a fancy restaurant.
Were there lessons to be learned here? Definitely. Were those lessons learned though? Highly unlikely because you see the true 1% of the one the 1% are unrepentant in their pursuits and undaunted in the face of disaster or disgrace. Don’t believe me? Then you will want to watch the Bling Lagosians, Bolanle Austen Peters’ directing debut that chronicles the lives ofThe Holloways, one of Lagos’ most prestigious families. They holiday in Europe, dress like royalty, hobnob with the political class and own the city’s most luxurious high-rise, St. Ives Towers. Their family name is a synonym for class and poise. When MOPELOLA HOLLOWAY (50), the sophisticated matriarch of the family, announces that she’s throwing a flamboyant party for her fifty-first birthday – to top the headline-making shindig she threw the year before for her fiftieth – she unwittingly sets a series of events into motion that will have repercussions far from pleasant for the Holloway household. The movie stars Elvina Ibru, Gbenga Titiloye, Osas Ighodaro Ajibade, Sharon Ooja, Alex Ekubo, Monalisa Chinda, Toyin Abraham, Denola Grey and many more. It starts showing in cinemas nationwide on June 28th. Avoid the “Sold Out” news and book ahead.
Sheraton Lagos Hotel is happy
to announce that the month of June will be a packed one that will delight every
type of guest that the hotel has.
General Manager Mr. Barry has said ‘June will be exciting with the variety of
things on offer. From food to drinks and even sunglasses.’
things off, on the 7th of June, we will be celebrating world
doughnut day. Throughout the day, a doughnut wall will be
set up at the pumpkin leaf with a variety of yummy eclectic doughnuts straight
from Chef Helen’s oven. Guests are welcome to try them for free and also take
creative pictures that they can upload unto social media with the hashtag
#sheratonlagosdoughnutday for a chance to win a Sheraton branded mug.
the 8th of June, the hotel will be bringing innovation to their
cocktails while celebrating world ogogoro (gin) day. There will be a set menu
of ogogoro (gin) infused cocktails at the lobby bar, goodies pub and pool bar
for N2,000 only. The menu will comprise of recipes suggested by our social
media followers and the bar men. It promises to be a fun session with ogororo (gin)
lovers enjoying their favorite drink with a unique spin. Guests are welcome to
share their cocktails on social media with the hashtag #sheratonlagosginday
10th of June is for lovers of iced tea. Everyone’s favorite beverage
is coming to Sheraton and it’s going to be delightful to guest’s taste buds.
Iced tea will be served on the breakfast buffet for free where guests can try
the various iced tea options. There will also be a cocktail menu curated
specially for that day at all outlets for N2,000 only.
music lovers, the 21st of June is just for them. World music day is
celebrated on that day and to mark it, we will be giving guests a chance to
sing with the band during wazobia night. This will allow guests showcase their
musical talent. It will also give them a chance to create memories with their
family and friends that will last forever.
but definitely not the least, on the 27th of June, the hotel will be
celebrating sunglasses day. Free branded sunglasses will be given to guests who
come to the pool side to wear and protect their eyes while they enjoy their tan
in the sun.
Sheraton Lagos, we go beyond and by doing this, the hotel believes that it will
be cementing its place as a hotel not just business travelers but also a
property that creates experiences leisure seekers too.
With the hotel’s proven
success and exceptional reputation in culinary expertise, The Sheraton Lagos
Hotel looks forward to celebrating a fun month of June this year.
Botswanan wildlife duo are bestowed with the highest achievable recognition from Lions Club International for their works with local communities.
Botswanan citizens Dereck and Beverly Joubert, both National Geographic explorers and founders of the Great Plains Foundation, a wildlife conservation organisation, have been presented with the Melvin Jones Award, the highest honour conferred by service organisation Lions Clubs International for outstanding humanitarian work.
Through their associated companies and the foundation, they have donated $2,000,000 (20 million Botswana Pula) in 2018, half of which went to assisting the poorest of the poor in Botswana, the landlocked southern African country best known for its wildlife.
Despite rapid growth and significant improvements in the country, half of Botswana’s population remains either poor or vulnerable, with 46.2% of them children under 15, according to the World Bank. The Jouberts have long been committed to the concept of shared prosperity, and have contributed much to job creation, education and community upliftment projects.
Every Melvin Jones Fellow is recorded for posterity at the Lions Clubs International headquarters in Oakbrook, Illinois, on a special board set aside for this purpose. Previous recipients include Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton who were recognised for their contribution to the human rights, their fight for equality, and for giving to the people of Africa.
Dereck and Beverly Joubert, although better known for their work in wildlife conservation, perform outstanding behind-the-scenes work in local communities in Botswana. They have been giving steadily for decades through education grants and support, through children’s programmes, solar lantern projects and now in establishing an academy.
In a moving acceptance speech, Dereck said that with only 4% of the planet’s animal biomass being wildlife it the collective job of all humankind to protect them, and not to squabble over how to kill the last of them.
“To achieve that, we need humanity to join hands. In cooperating we achieve collaboration,” he said, “but we must first find ways to uplift the poor, to educate, to create jobs and to raise basic minimum wages across the board. Only when all people have the relative luxury of safety, food security and freedom to determine their own futures will we achieve the harmony with nature that we all seek. That is why we believe it is critically important to invest in the future we all want.”
Beverly said it was heart-breaking for her to witness people’s homes burn down because children doing their homework by candlelight had fallen asleep.
“The introduction of solar lanterns to hundreds of households has not only helped put an end to this tragic situation, but it’s also had an additional positive outcome,” she added.
One school principal reported that test scores had improved and pass rates were nearing 100% because children can now spend more hours after dark studying. It’s still a novelty so they really enjoy the lanterns, charging them in the sun and also learning about solar technology.
Lions Clubs International is an organisation with more than 1,7 million members worldwide (nearly the population of Botswana), across 200 countries, underscoring the significance and import of the Melvin Jones Award. The Jouberts say the doors to further collaboration with the Great Plains Foundation have been opened and the two organisations are in discussion about collaboration in Botswana, Zimbabwe and Kenya to help communities in the most need.
Lions Club International was founded in 1917 by Melvin Jones, in whose name the humanitarian award is given. It was established to transcend politics and religion, and to be a consistent in encouraging caring and giving globally, which it has been doing for more than 110 years now.
“It is a great honour to receive this award, but one we are shy about accepting because our policy has always been to give quietly and anonymously, but it seems we have been found out,” said Beverly.
However, we are thrilled to accept the award on behalf of our team, including one young man named Gobotswang Mokgathong, who gave up his life and career in tourism to go and care for others in a village, and those who dedicate their lives to working in nature, because they have their eye on the future.
The Vice President of Lions Club International, Brian Sheehan flew in from the USA for the week-long event. He pointed to the incredible ability of so many who lead by example and go out to raise money, giving of their time out of pure kindness and a desire to give to those that quite simply would not survive without a helping hand.
“When the goals of two organizations and people align like this, we should and will find ways to work together so we can make the lives of the less fortunate better,” he said. “As Lions, our actions and service inspire others. We provide courage and a unique sense of empowerment to our communities and to the world. To do this, we depend on great leadership. And that takes great leadership development from our members.”
Sheraton Abuja Hotel Marks The Holy Month Of Ramadan In True Style
Abuja, April 30, 2019 – Sheraton Abuja Hotel will embrace the spirit of the Holy month of Ramadan with patrons, friends and families. The hotel will pay homage to a variety of Iftar culinary tastes and traditions at its renown Papillon Restaurant.
Guests are guaranteed an enriching dining experience, for those breaking the fast or friends joining in, you are sure to enjoy a traditional Iftar buffet served from live cooking stations and an inspiringly delicious Suhoor menu throughout the Holy month.
According to the General Manger of the hotel, Nouman Irshad “each year our hotel teams work passionately to curate an environment that reflects the mood and ambience of the fasting season. We have created great ambient spaces for relaxation and prayer where our guests will be able to view live proceedings from Mecca. We also have discounted Shisha on demand.
Our all day dining intercontinental restaurant- Papillon will feature traditional selections of Arabic and African Iftar favorites alongside a global variety to accompany the theme of the season. Our special buffet is priced at NGN9,500 Per Person. We look forward to marking each day with families and friends. Meals for children under 6 years of age are complimentary per paying adult while kids from 7 to 12 years old can dine at half price.
Throughout the month of Ramadan, our guests can relax, rest , unwind and reflect at Sheraton Abuja Hotel with room rates starting from just NGN49,999 inclusive of taxes and breakfast while Suhoor commences from the 5th of May till the 4th of June 2019.
We truly have “gone beyond” in our efforts to ensure that there is something for everyone this Holy season. We look forward to welcoming all our clients to share this special month with us and enrich the spirit” says the General Manager.