Pan spreads to Africa
Thursday, July 12 2012
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PAN LAUNCH: The Africa-TT Steelpan Development Company Ltd. Was launched yesterday at the Hyatt Regency in Port-of-Spain. Here ace panman Len "Boogsie...
PAN’s future expansion lies not in the 1.2 million nation of TT, but in the 170 million people of Nigeria and other West African nations.
Africans who have learned much about the pan were at Wednesday’s launch of the Africa-Trinidad and Tobago Steelpan Development Company Limited. The launch took place at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain.
The function was supported by Pan Trinbago — whose president, Keith Diaz, is on the joint board of directors of the newly launched company. The TT Ministry of Foreign Affairs is also connected.
Nigeria-TT Chamber of Commerce co-chair, Mrs Ladi Franklin, recalled her group’s fact-finding mission to Nigeria July, 2011 to explore steel-pan making opportunities and possible strategic alliances.
The mission then met former Nigeria President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who she dubbed the progenitor of pan in Nigeria. She praised the new company’s CEO, Chief Bogwie Bowei, for his work in Nigeria in making steelpans, creating a steelband, and running steelband competitions.
Mrs. Franklin thanked the Nigerian Government for opening doors for the mission to meet the Nigeria’s Minister of Tourism, Cross River State officials and the Nigeria Investment Promotions Council.
Nigeria Deputy High Commissioner to TT, Bade Fuye, said the newly launched development company’s aim, is to establish a steelpan industry in Nigeria, along the lines of the local Pan Trinbago, and to utilise business opportunities.
He pointed out that Nigeria has 170 million people hence it was the largest market in Africa. He also said Nigeria was “catching up with the fever of Carnival festivals”. The Nigeria Deputy High Commissioner also pointed out that Nigeria’s neighbour, Sierra Leone, can use the opportunity of Carnival to help its people relax and recover from 11 years of civil war. Nigeria, he pointed out,was the hub of West Africa, all of whose nations look to Nigeria for leadership, and that the Nigerian market was now open to the steelpan.
The deputy High Commissioner won applause when he called for a direct air-route between Port-of-Spain (TT) and Lagos (Nigeria), which he said would stimulate economic activity, between the two nations.
Chief Bowei said the newly launched development company wants to build a steelpan complex which would involve a pan manufacturing plant to include chroming of the instrumen;t a recording studio; a television production studio, and training facilities.
He emphasised that Nigerians love the good life, and enjoy a thriving indigenous film industry known as Nollywood. He predicted that steelpan would spread like wildfire in Nigeria. He also said the newly launched company has signed an MOU with Nigeria’s College of Education to promote the study of the steelpan in Nigerian schools. He also saw opportunities for pan in Nigeria at the tertiary level. He also said the development company launched on Wednesday has already participated in the Abuja and Calabar Carnivals. As a result, he said pan can add to the value of tourism in Nigeria.
“The partnership will continue until the sound of pan sounds in every ear, every house, and of course in every pocket,” he quipped. Pan Trinbago’s Keith Diaz spoke of the warm welcome the mission met in Nigeria. He said Chief Obasanjo had spoken keenly of the Desperadoes Steelband, Boogsie Sharp, and Ken Professor Philmore.