By Clem Aguiyi
Tourism is a big industry that provides pleasure, entertainment, investment opportunities, employment and revenue to the people, including visions from all over the world. Anambra state is naturally endowed with rich cultural, historical, traditional, environmental and archeological features, which rank higher than most other tourist centres in Nigeria. The wonderful hospitality of the good people of the State helps to make Anambra a destination of choice for both local and foreign tourists as well as investors in the tourism industry.
The tourism policy of Anambra State is modelled after the tourism policy of the Federal Government of Nigeria. The main thrust of this policy is: ‘To make Nigeria a tourist attraction in Africa by bringing the world to Africa through Nigeria; generate foreign exchange and encourage even development; promote tourism-based rural enterprise; generate employment, accelerate rural- urban integration and foster social cultural unity amongst various regions of the country through the promotion of domestic and international tourism’.
However, Anambra tourism industry remains underutilized and under exploited. The situation is worsened by many years of neglect of the industry and now the prevailing state of insecurity, which the current leadership is tackling head on because no form of meaningful development happens in a state of chaos and anarchy. I will nevertheless commend the immediate past governor of the State, Chief Willie Obiano, for building the International Convention Centre with capacity to host mega events and boost tourism in the State. Without the centre, may be, I will not be writing this opinion, which acknowledges with pride the efforts by some high visionary young people who saw it worthy to return fashion, culture and tourism to the State.
Precisely, on Friday 16th September 2022, Adaorah Ifeatu Soludo and her team highlighted the better side of the state by refusing the ugly event of 11thSeptember to define who we are. The theme of the event ‘In between time and for all times’ was apt. These young entrepreneurs led by the first daughter of the State , Adaorah hosted the Anambra Fashion Expo 2022 at the International Convention Centre Awka. The well-attended event paraphrased Mr. Governor’s vision and mission to revitalize culture, entertainment and tourism in the State.
Aorah powered by Adaorah Soludo is a fashion label centred around transforming a strong sense of identity and culture, transforming traditional Akwete and other local textiles into contemporary designs.
Aorah is also an ethically driven fashion label that celebrates talent and diversity, by empowering women and young people of diverse background. Different designers that participated in the Anambra Fashion Expo donated materials to make the event possible. The brands empowerment program trains women in creative skills and 10% of profits are donated to the Aorah Women’s Fund. The brand supports the rising generation of African talent and fosters ethical collaboration with women, young people and artisans. High points of the occasion were impressive display of different outfits on the runway by child models, young models and adults. The rebranded Anambra Cultural troupe were also on hand.
In a brief conversation with Adaorah Soludo, who hosted the one-day Fashion Master Class and Fashion Expo, she said the show was hosted in a big way having been inspired by feminity, strength and joy in between time and better time. She said her mission is to headline Made in Anambra on the global stage through fashion-creating high quality pieces as well as promoting Made in Anambra fabrics , shoes and other fashion apparels to the global audience.
Despite being the Governor’s daughter, the highly successful event took place without the financial support of the State. I think good ideas and projects should be supported, especially progressive ideas with the potential of putting the State on the global stage. Good initiatives like the Aorah label that hosted the 2022 Anambra Fashion Expo need to be encouraged as it has the potential for employment and wealth creation.
Now, that the Governor has promoted the handmade Akwete as a fashion of choice, I think the State should go a step further by helping to establish an Akwete textile factory in Anambra, train and mentor young women in the art of weaving so as to make Akwete readily available and affordable.
I appreciate Adaorah and her very youthful team who put the event together for their industry and creativity. The graduate of Economics from a world-acclaimed university, Adaorah has followed her heart by founding the Aorah fashion label, which distinguishes itself with cultural identity. Apart from carving out an enviable niche for herself by stepping out of the father’s towering shadow, Adaorah has just appointed herself Anamabra and African peoples cultural ambassador. The task is great but the reward will be also commensurately great when the Aorah label expectedly takes its place on the global stage.
They shouldn’t be discouraged by the none contribution to the event by the State. Rather than be discouraged, the triumphant end of the event should rather encourage them to strive harder and grow from strength to strength. The fashion show, which I attended, met every international standard. The colourful Akwete and floral fabrics displayed on the runway were awesome. What Aorah and her team did was a true demonstration that our youthful population is our best capital investment.
They demonstrated that Anambra is filled with great minds and exceptional youths with enterprising skills. As a gender-friendly and youth advocate Governor, Prof. Charles Soludo has further distinguished himself by demonstrating unmatched leadership forte and champion of the youth. He sat through the event, cheering and clapping like others in the audience. That says a million words.
I am a firm believer, that if we build , people will come. Many of the invited guests came from outside the state. The only thing turning off investors is insecurity. The first and foremost responsibility of a government is the security of lives and properties of the people. Prof. Soludo in his capacity as the Chief Security Officer of the state is leading from the front and is leaving no stone unturned in his quest to restore law and order.
The Journey of a thousand mile begins with a single step! Soludo has taken steps to approach the security situation in a more sensible manner that will accommodate all and sundry to table their grievances and proffer a way forward. Whatever is the grouse, peace remains the best alternative to indiscriminate destruction of lives and properties.
Ndigbo have wasted so much blood from 1966 to date. They must understand they have no more blood to waste and no more cheek to turn. In addressing their complicated union in Nigeria, they must stop the blood lettings of their own. They must see themselves as one people despite contrasting political ideas. They must end the war of self and mutual destruction. They have come this far not to give up, but to persevere to the end. Irrespective of party or religious affiliations, Ndigbo must embrace peace if they must achieve a better future for their children and the unborn generation.
I will end this article with the following words, which enjoins all of us to keep the State and our people in prayers; I pray God to keep Anambra in His loving care. May He place a spiritual hedge of protection around His people. I pray He continues to watch over our land and our Governor as a good shepherd watches over his flock and may our people find their ultimate safety and security in Him.
Ndigbo must continue to seek God’s divine restoration and divine manifestation. May the blood of Jesus be sprinkled in every nook and cranny of the state. May God bless those that blesses our land and curse those that curse our land. God bless Anambra! God bless the land and the people!!
It also bears repeating for emphasis that the Soludo government needs all the support and cooperation he can get to transform Anambra State into one smart mega city. His inclusive policies are peerless and harbour the potential of building and developing Anambra that will be the pride of our people and indeed of Igbo land and Nigeria. All hands must be on deck. Stand up and be counted and you will be happy you did.