Straight from the African Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) in Nairobi, AccorHotels , the world’s leading travel & lifestyle group, announced a record year of development in Africa. Beginning with the 50% stake in the Mantis Group in April, followed by the announcement in late July of a dedicated Investment Fund with a targeted reach of USD $1 billion devoted towards sustainable development in Sub Sahara Africa, the journey continued with the acquisition of Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts in September.
All this culminated with the very recent announcement of hospitality stalwart Mark Willis, to take the helm of the Middle East and Africa as the Group continues to set the pace and grow from strength to strength.
AccorHotels is the largest operator in Africa with a network of over 150 hotels in operation, representing close to 27,000 rooms across 23 countries. Moving forward the Investment Fund, in partnership with Katara Hospitality, will underscore growth and development for the region, providing a platform for a combined network of organic and acquisition reach of 250 hotels by 2025.
Following the acquisition of Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, which added over 50 hotels to the Group’s Middle East and Africa portfolio, including the Mövenpick Ambassador Hotel Accra and Mövenpick Hotel & Residences Nairobi, C-suite leadership was announced with Mark Willis as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for AccorHotels Middle East & Africa. With more than three decades of operational experience with leading hospitality groups, Willis spent over 12 years in the Middle East and Africa.
Speaking at the Regional Leaders panel at AHIF, Willis outlined the Group’s vision for Africa based on organic growth and development and a renewed focus on rebalancing AccorHotel’s presence in Africa with a focus on key cities and destinations in East and Southern Africa. He drew emphasis on the need for collaboration with local partners and to mobilize their expertise, intuitive knowledge and passion for community outreach, citing the Mantis Group as the perfect example of a hospitality leader in South Africa with genuine credentials in eco-tourism combined with wildlife conservation.
Over the course of the year, the Group also opened flagship properties and signed key projects, including the first Fairmont flag in Morocco with the opening of the Fairmont Royal Palm Marrakech and the conversion of the ibis Styles Nairobi, complete with energetic design and a vibrant open-air rooftop lounge. Key signings included the combination Novotel and Adagio residences in Abidjan, Novotel Algiers, and two strategic projects in Lagos with the MGallery Ikoyi and Pullman Ikoyi. The Group also announced the first Pullman brand in Ghana to open in 2021 – Pullman Accra Airport City – a mixed use complex with Pullman Living, a compelling extended stay solution in the premium market
Hand-in-hand with these achievements is a dedicated team of operators located across regional offices in Johannesburg, Dakar, Cairo, Dubai and Casablanca ensuring the success of each opening. From Design & Technical Services, Talent and Culture (Human Resources), Operations, Food and Beverage, Sales and Marketing to a fully-fledged pre-opening team and task force, AccorHotels builds confidence with owners by delivering the brand successfully to the market.
Ewi Of Ado Allays Fear Over Udiroko Festival
The Ewi of Ado Ekiti, Oba Rufus Adeyemo Adejugbe, Aladesanmi III has made clarification on the confusion trailing African culture, tradition and festivals which had been labelled fetish, insisting that the ‘Udiroko Festival’ has nothing to do with rituals, fetishism and idolism.
Oba Aladesanmi, also informed that the festival is purely the celebration of the cultural essence of the Ado people dating back to the establishment of the kingdom, adding that “through the Udiroko Festival, Ado people generally rejoice that another milestone is covered or reached in their life’s journey; they have safely scaled the past year over to the new year”.
” No deity is worshipped in Udiroko and no idolatry and secret ceremony is performed. It is a ritual free festival predicted on our historical, cultural and traditional values in Ado-Ekiti”, the monarch explained.
Speaking further at a well attended world press conference organized in respect of the Udiroko Festival, which was held at the Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja on Wednesday, ushering in the 2019 edition of the festival billed for August 12 – 20, the far famed custodian of culture, noted that the most dominant, traditional features of the olden day’s Udiroko festival are still in place in a modified form and, inline with the dictates of modern civilization with all the events associated with its celebrations published for everyone to see.
Ewi of Ado, at the event which was attended by stakeholders and bigwigs in the tourism industry, tour operators, festival/event consultants, marketers and Journalists, emphasized that the festival is a cultural phenomenon that strikes at the foundation of the systemic existence of Ado Kingdom and its people.
Unveiling this year’s theme of the festival – ‘Enforcing And Sustaining The Solidarity Of History, Culture And Tradition’, the revered monarch disclosed that the essence of the press conference is to further , through a more macro strategy put the ‘Udiroko Festival’ on a global platform to better its lot and usefulness to the cultural being of the Ado-Ekiti people.
“I wish to emphatically state that the foregoing articulation of the historical pedigree of the Udiroko Festival and its celebrations over the years in Ado-Ekiti is for the purpose of further educating the general public. This is done with a view to fostering its acceptability as one of the components that form the tripod – history, culture and tradition, upon which the systemic existence of the Ado people is predicted, and which has been so from the inception of the Kingdom”, he added.
The Ewi of Ado, Oba Aladesanmi, however expressed optimism that the well cherished festival would gain further international recognition that would propel it amidst its cultural peers in other kingdoms and climes within and outside Nigeria.
The story of ‘Udiroko Festival’
‘Udiroko’, which literary means under the iroko tree became significant in the history of Ado Ekiti people and to the people as well , right away from the establishment of Ado -Ekiti through conquest in the early 1300AD by the third, Ewi Awamaro, the second successor of Ewi (Elewi) Biritiokun, the first Ewi who left Ile-Ife like his fifteen other brother Princes of Oduduwa to establish their own respective kingdoms in 1200AD.
Udiroko is a euphemistic expression of the significant of the first meeting of the Ado people under the Iroko tree to celebrate the founding of Ado Kingdom under the Paramountcy of the Ewi who, thereafter gave a Royal Proclamation of the first gathering under the Iroko tree as the first day in the Ado-Ekiti Calendar year.
The commemoration of this first meeting under the Iroko tree (Idi Igi Iroko) with time , semantically developed into Udiroko as it is known and celebrated today. During the first meeting under the Iroko tree, it was decided that such a gathering shall continue to be held at the same time/ period every year.
This decision was made with the approval of the Ewi because of the significance of the meeting to the people and its enhancement of the opportunity for the yearly appraisal of the events of the previous year and determination of what to do in the next year.
This festival marks the first day in Ado-Ekiti traditional calendar and now a pride of cultural togetherness of the Ado people.
Also speaking at the event, the Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi expressed his administration’s readiness to partner with the people of Ado-Ekiti to rebrand the Udiroko festival, by globalizing its celebration and seeking for marketers for the festival.
Governor Fayemi, who was represented by the state Director-General, Council for Arts and Culture, Ambassador Wale Ojo-Lanre, further disclosed that the collaboration between the state government and the Ado Ewi in Council was to make the festival become self-sustaining and involve Ado-Ekiti indigenes in the Diaspora, as well as those outside the shores of Ekiti.
According to Ojo Lanre, the council has the full mandate of the government of Dr Fayemi to promote culture as well as core values in order to evolve a State that manifest the vision of its founding fathers; adding that this explains the passion and commitment of the Council towards a collaboration with communities to transform their festivals into a prosperity instrument for the people.
“There is no doubt that the Ewi of Ado-Ekiti has joined the list of monarchs who have at one time or another addressed a world press in a bid to market their festivals to attract global attention and tourists. Osun Osogbo, Olojo and Ojude-Oba festivals have brought the Ataoja, Ooni and Awujale respectively to Lagos on similar purpose. Today, these festivals are bringing economic prosperity and attracting investment opportunity to those who own them. By this commendable initiative, Udiroko has become a festival for the cultural and tourism public, the manifestation of which would become noticeable in subsequent editions.
“Since it is within the compass of our purview to inject critical innovations into the original manners of celebrating festivals in Ekiti, we initiated this world press conference in furtherance of the strategic marketing of some Ekiti festivals. We have noticed the energy and vigor with which the Ewi and the people of Ado prepare and celebrate Udiroko annually hence our decision to partner with Ado Ekiti people to rebrand the festival, Globalize its celebration, Seek marketers for the festival so that it becomes self-sustaining, Clear the air over petty controversies and stigmas that threaten its sustainability and Involve Ado-Ekiti indigenes in the diaspora as well as those outside the shores of Ekiti State”, the DG continued.
The Chairman of the occasion, Prince Julius Adelusi in his welcome address noted that the festival aimed at encouraging young people to embrace the culture and tradition of Ado Ekiti.
“Ekiti man is known for integrity and upholding values and this has been of great help in life”, Adelusi submitted.
In a related development, the Chairman, Organising Committee, Professor Sunday Akindele assured residents. tourists and indigenes that the committee has put in place adequate security measures.
The event, also had in attendance, prominent Ekiti indigenes , including Senator Raji Rasaki, Hon Sola Elesin, Deputy Chairman APC Ekiti state, Hon Femi Bamisile, Chairman Ado Ekiti Local Government, Engineer Ayoola, President Adk Ekiti Progressive Union, Hon Sola Fatoba, among others.
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Ekiti: Ojo Lanre task organizers of local festivals on prevention of violence
Organizers of local festivals and traditional events in Ekiti state have been urged to put in place mechanism that will checkmate any form of violent acts during their events
The state Director General Council for Arts and Culture, Ambassador Wale Ojo Lanre stated this while receiving leaders of Ijo Olorisa Agbaye led by Oba Dr. Asiwaju Jamiu Adewale Eletu Oba Risa Ati Ijo Olorisa Parapo Ati Asa Ile Adulawo Agbaye worldwide in his office.
Ojo Lanre said the state government would not encourage any form of violent, adding that any community or people involved in such act would be sanctioned.
The DG maintained that people should see festival as an avenue to promote peace, economic development and unity and not violence or fan embers of division among the people
‘Local and foreign tourists would not come to event where violence take place and the government won’t be pleased with any community where such happens.”
Oba Dr Asiwaju Jamiu Adewale Eletu in his response said that their organization is not a violent organization but a peace-loving and development council of Orisa worshippers.
He revealed that the council would organise Ifa festival in August and thus seeking collaboration with Ekiti State Council for Arts and Culture for a successful events
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