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Africans: Feet on the Ground

It is already March, and although we are approaching the middle of the year, this is our first edition for 2024. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all our readers around the world a prosperous year ahead. Personally, 2024 has been quite eventful for me. I have had the privilege of hosting several events and recently returned from attending Meetings Africa in South Africa.

“Meetings Africa” is an annual event held at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa. It serves as an exciting platform where African associations and global meeting professionals come together to showcase the diverse opportunities in MICE Tourism, including Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions. It is an event that I make it a point to attend every year. The theme for Meetings Africa this year was “Africa’s Success Built on Quality Connections.” This theme has been on my mind as I contemplate how we can establish these quality connections that are crucial for the success of Africa.

When I think about building quality connections, the first thing that comes to mind is the need to engage and associate with individuals and organizations that possess the desired qualities, regardless of whether they are willing to associate with us or not. This idea was reinforced by a conversation I had with one of my favourite sisters, Odion Chigbufue, who is the Executive Director at Tour Brokers International Group and Royal Caribbean West Africa. She made an analogy about the evolution of ‘Puff-Puff,’ a popular roadside snack in Nigeria, which has now become a part of the “small chops” category due to its association with samosas, spring rolls, chicken, gizzard, and other similar items. This analogy struck a chord with me and further emphasized the importance of strategic associations.

While it is crucial to be intentional about the people we associate with, it is equally important to remain true to ourselves. Authenticity is key. During my recent trip to Johannesburg, I had the opportunity to stay at my friend Engineer Bunmi Ilori’s beautiful house in the North Cliff area. Little did I know that his house borders a Conservation Centre, and as a result, various domestic animals frequently visit the premises. This experience allowed me to reconnect with nature in a way I hadn’t in a long time. It made me realize how we have neglected the beautiful environment we were blessed with and failed to create space for coexistence with other members of the ecosystem.

Another aspect of quality connections that we often overlook is the connection with ourselves. How well do we truly know ourselves? Do we have a deep connection with our being? We are often quick to describe others, but if someone were to ask us to describe ourselves, would we be able to do so?

Some may argue that the recent televised burial ceremony for the late Herbert Onyewumbu Wigwe CFR, the Nigerian banker and businessman who tragically passed away in a chartered flight crash in California, was excessive. However, I believe that when you have quality connections, they will support and show up for you, whether in life or death.

Connections are not limited to individuals alone. They extend to our immediate neighbours, coworkers in corporate organizations, neighbouring states and countries, and even continents. Charity begins at home, and it is time for Africa to move beyond mere lip service when it comes to trading and collaborating within the continent. It is time for us to put our feet firmly on the ground and build quality connections amongst ourselves for the collective success of Africa.

As we enter the March edition of Inside Watch Africa (IWA), our focus naturally shifts to celebrating women and giving them prominence in this edition. Rest assured, a remarkable woman will grace the cover page. I hope you have a delightful reading experience.


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