By Abdulazeez Musa – Livelihood & Private Sector Coordinator, Oxfam GB Nigeria
The GROW campaign in Nigeria has been working with 3 popular Nigerian artist; Sound Sultan, Lami and 2face to raise awareness and mobilize support for small scale agriculture. They have so far held two press conferences led a twitter campaign and produced a song—Act 4 Africa as part of the campaign. The song is being used to further reinforce the message of the campaign to a larger audience and awaken a broader consciousness on the current food crisis especially in the Sahel. The song is being played on several radio stations across the country and has already started generating the appropriate level of interest intended.
Olanrewaju Fasasi most popularly known as Sound Sultan is one of the most celebrated Nigerian musical artist. His fame could be said was derived from his originality and passion for helping humanity being someone who is also from a poor background and understands the challenges poor people help. Perhaps this is what has informed his continues support and interest in the Nigerian GROW campaign being implemented by the Voices for Food Security Coalition comprising 15 civil society organisations.
On 15th of September 2012, he celebrated his 12th year on stage and also the launching of his foundation which goal is to send 100 street children to school up till University level. When the first call came in and he introduced himself as “Sultan”, a colleague of mine immediately asked him “Sultan of where” before we immediately recognised it was our own celebrity GROW ambassador. He wanted Oxfam to be part of the event which had in attendance over 60 Nigerian celebrities from the music, media and movie industries and over 1500 people in attendance in the famous city of Lagos.
The GROW/VFS campaign was very visible at the event and a lot of interest from people to know more about the campaign. The only leaflets shared there was the VFS leaflets with Sound Sultans picture on it and practically became the “agenda of the day” that people were reading. HEDA, one of the Voices for Food Security partners based in Lagos made arrangements for logistics and provided volunteers on hand to engage and respond questions from interested people.
On the red carpet, celebrities like Omotola Jalade, Mode 9 and Timaya added their voice to the campaign while granting interviews to the media by calling on the Nigerian government to invest more in agriculture and judiciously manage our abundant human and material resources to guarantee a food secure nation. While on stage, Lami Philips acknowledged the contribution of Oxfam and the need for all the celebrities to add their voice to the food security campaign to call on government to increase investments in small scale agriculture.