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Tight security as Wigwe’s burial holds in Rivers community

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Dignitaries, guests and hundreds of mourners have started arriving at the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Isiokpo in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State for the funeral service for the former Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank Plc, Dr Herbert Wigwe, his wife, Doreen, and son, Chizzy.

The state commissioner of police, Olatunji Disu, led security men to the venue.

Also, members of the clergy, traditional rulers from the Omoeke, Wigwe’s hometown and monarchs from Isiokpo, in general, are already seated.

Meanwhile, there is a security beef-up within Isiokpo and its surroundings.

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Family members and friends attended the Christian wake organised in honour of the deceased in the community on Friday.

Wigwe, his wife, son, and a former Group Chairman of Nigerian Exchange Group, Abimbola Ogunbanjo, died on February 9, 2024, in a helicopter crash that occurred near a border town between California and Nevada, United States.

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UBA launches year-end festivities with Christmas carol

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United Bank for Africa Plc has commenced the Yuletide season with a Christmas carol service held at UBA Foundation Garden at Marina, on Lagos Island.

The ceremony, attended by staff, customers and members of the general public, is part of the group’s corporate social responsibility activities.

The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, UBA, Oliver Alawuba, was joined by other management staff to officially light up the Head office and the UBA Foundation Garden, which according to him, signifies how the bank has been bringing light to the lives of the people and communities around it.

Alawuba said, “We are here to officially light up the season and as you know, UBA has been the light in the financial sector on the continent and beyond. Going by our performance, we will continue to ensure that we spread light and joy wherever we go. This is very symbolic for us all, and we want to take time to appreciate the staff and customers who have made us achieve great things this year. At UBA, we are all about spreading love and giving hope.”

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The Light-Up ceremony featured Christmas carols renditions by UBA’s Customer Fulfilment Centre Choir, a guided tour around the beautiful UBA Foundation Garden and more.

UBA’s Group Head Marketing and Corporate Communications, Alero Ladipo, while talking on the essence of the annual event, said, “UBA is a bank that values its environment and as an organisation that is corporately responsible, we have taken it upon ourselves to beautify our environment and add colour, especially as the year comes to an end.

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“I hope that as always, we will be able to make many smile and give a glimmer of hope during a special season like this.”

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Afrochella rebrands as AfroFuture Fest for Detty December 2023

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Affectionately known as Detty December, this is the month that the Western region of Africa hosts a season-long lineup of festival-hopping partygoers at carnivals and concerts, inspiring thousands of people from across the diaspora to flock to their ancestral land for the holidays.

Though many aren’t quite sure how Detty December originated, what was once a tradition reserved for people on the continent has become a time when overseas visitors, including Black Americans, are choosing “home” away from home and making it their own.

Some say this particular holiday custom emerged during the inaugural Calabar Carnival in 2004, in the south-eastern Nigeria region; others claim it became popularised during Ghana’s 2019 “Year of Return.” The campaign, launched by the Ghana Tourism Authority, encouraged brothers and sisters of African descent to make the voyage to Ghana and unite as family of the diaspora. Since then, the actual number of visitors has far exceeded expectations, with about a million people making the trek in 2019—a rise of 45% from the previous year, which reflected a significant increase in travellers from the United States and the United Kingdom, according to the BBC.

Yet even as tourists converged on the continent in ever-rising numbers, few could have predicted that Detty December would become an annual pilgrimage for so many global travellers, who come to the city hot spots of Lagos and Accra for a month of music, arts, culture and entertainment.

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One event in particular, Afrochella—which has now been rebranded as AfroFuture—is sandwiched between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Held at the peak of Detty December in the city of Accra, the music and cultural festival is staged annually at Accra’s El Wak Stadium. It was first launched in 2017 as the brainchild of Abdul Karim Abdullah, AfroFuture’s New York–born CEO and cofounder.

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What started as an idea for a food festival became a 4,000-attendee event in its first year. It has since exploded into one of the most-lauded events during the holiday season in Africa, with attendance numbers hitting 31,000 in 2022.

While this year marks the first time that the festival will not be under its original Afrochella imprint, the occasion is sure to be just as magical, if not more so. The renaming of the festival comes on the heels of Coachella organisers suing Afrochella for trademark infringement, citing a confusion between the competing brands. But make no mistake, whether “chella” is in the title or not, this event remains deeply relevant for Black attendees, especially those travelling to the continent from abroad.

AfroFuture Fest occupies its own unique lane, and by design, it shares the beauty of Ghana’s cultural identity with the world. But what makes this festival so distinctive is its organisers’ ability and determination to support the Ghanaian economy.

Abdullah, whose business partners are based in Ghana, strives to ensure that everyone—from production staff and event designers to maintenance workers and vendors—is from the country, and that every extra dollar poured into the festival goes directly into local hands.

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As a result, the economic impact has been staggering, with approximately 16% of Ghanaian tourism income for the year of 2019 coming from AfroFuture Fest, and an average of $2,650 spent by each festival attendee.

“Our numbers have grown since we launched, so we know that our impact is very visible on the continent,” says Bronx native Abdullah.

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“We are excited by the transition of Afrochella to AfroFuture Fest,” says Akwasi Agyeman, CEO of the Ghana Tourism Authority. “The event has become a flagship of our December in Ghana programme. It brings in a lot of visitors and, with them, attendant economic benefits for our industry and our country. Hotels peak in occupancy; airlines are fully booked; and the entire value chain of tourism thrives during the period.”

With attendees representing people of African descent from regions as far flung as the U.S., UK, France, Germany, Spain and Switzerland, the brand has expanded to speak to these patrons, with spin-offs being held this year in New York, South Africa and London.

“Our goal is to be able to touch all parts of the continent,” explains Abdullah. “So we’re also doing a lot more events involving Francophone Africa and Southern Africa. A lot of our global markets don’t have experiences that are similar to what we’re doing in Ghana, so this is our opportunity to market to the festival more broadly and tell them about what’s happening and what we’re doing.”

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Carrying the torch of Black nationalists and civil rights leaders such as Marcus Garvey—who consistently preached that Black Americans should “go back to Africa”—AfroFuture Fest has given this message of returning to the ancestral homeland a new meaning.

“We want to grow and do a lot more storytelling,” says Abdullah. “It’s one thing for the diaspora to come together to enjoy music, fashion, food and art, and have a great time in Ghana, but it’s another thing for us to be able to uniquely tell the nuanced story of the continent.

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“We don’t know enough about each other—and that fosters competition rather than collaboration. By telling more stories, and sharing our culture and uplifting what each culture means, it gives us an opportunity to build alliances and increase the appreciation for all those cultures that show up at our festival.”

There is something incredibly special about celebrating on African soil in December—but there’s something even more special about a “for us, by us” festival accompanied by warm sun, sweet food and welcoming people.

AfroFuture Fest has not only changed the tourism outlook on the continent, but it has also expanded the world’s view of what it means to vacation at the beach while celebrating Black culture. This is for Ghana—and by extension, for the entire diaspora.

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Gospel artists to commemorate Sammy Okposo in Houston

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Gospel artists are set to commemorate late legendary musician, Sammy Okposo in Houston with a praise concert titled Sammy Okposo Memorial Legacy Praise Party.

The Sammie Okposo Memorial Legacy Praise Party which will take place on Saturday, November 25, 2023, is set to see feature performances by top Gospel Artists including Tim Godfrey, Gabriel Eziashi, Nikki Laoye, Henrisoul, Funke Akinokun, Mike Stuckey, Dare David, Dee Jones, Lihle Adeyemi and many more.

The praise party will hold at the Dominion Chapel Houston. 1203 Cravens Road, Stanford, TX 77477 by 4 pm EST.

The concert is set to recreate the explosive praise atmosphere Sammie Okposo was known for championing during his incredible career that touched many lives.

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The legendary gospel musician Sammie Okposo passed away on Friday, November 25, 2022, at the age of 51.

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