by Reno Omokri
For the past four days, I have been holidaying in The Seychelles, a beautiful Island with beautiful people on the Indian Ocean.
Before I came here, I knew I would find unparalleled natural beauty. My friend, Michael Moszynski, the founder CEO of the drum award-winning LONDON Advertising, had sold me on The Seychelles as a holiday destination and even volunteered to arrange a private island for me. When I got here, the first surprise for me was that the very first person I walked past at my hotel on Eden Island recognized me. He was aware of my activities and right there and there, I was stunned!
But more surprises were to await me.
I checked into Eden Island in the afternoon and went out to take in the breathtaking beauty of Mahe Island. When I say breathtaking beauty, believe me, I do not exaggerate. I returned to my residence at Eden Island in the evening at around say 7 pm and there was a knock on my door. In comes a hospitality staff with delicacies for me courtesy of Eden Island.
Then the most amazing thing happened to me. This hospitality staff tells me how much he and his countrymen are hooked on Nollywood movies. Skeptical, I asked him to name some Nollywood actors and he goes on. And on. And on. And on. And then it hit me: OIL IS NOT OUR BIGGEST EXPORT. NOLLYWOOD IS OUR BIGGEST EXPORT.
Somebody tell that to Lai Mohammed who does not want them going abroad to shoot movies.
But that is not even the end of it!
As part of my holidays, I was taken on a cruise in a glass boat round six of the most beautiful islands The Seychelles has to offer. One of which is Moyenne Island where I went snorkeling.
Guess whose music the Seychellois were listening to when I got to the beach on Moyenne Island? They were listening to Tekno, but they kept calling him P-Square. I had to correct them.
And if you think you can dance to Tekno’s music, you have not seen a Seychellois dancing to it! When they found out I was from Nigeria, they instantly warmed up to me. I soon found out that the music was from a Seychellois radio station, 93.6 Paradise FM.
Let me tell you, The Seychelles is just so beautiful, but to me, the best thing about the Island is that they cannot seem to get enough of Nigerian music. P-Square- are like Michael Jackson after the Thriller album here!
From my travels around the world, one thing I have discovered is that if your culture has gone before you to conquer a territory, it is a sign that your businesses should go there too because people who buy your culture are very likely to also buy your goods and services.
Nollywood and Nigerian movie stars are so popular here that it would not be a stretch for them to transfer their credibility to Nigerian conglomerates like Dangote, UBA, Glo and Medview Ailines, to mention a few.
This is a tried and tested strategy that the Americans have been using since the Second World War.
First they send Hollywood to your country and when you fall in love with Hollywood, you start craving for the goods and services that you see John Wayne, Errol Flynn and Sidney Poitier (Hollywood stars from that era who were used to project American culture to the world) , using in their movies.
You start craving coca-cola, so coke opens up a big factory in your country. You see Clint Eastwood in Levi jeans and you want one, so Levi Strauss opens up an outlet in all the major cities in your country. You want to wear aviator glasses like Marlon Brando, Ray Ban comes to the rescue.
There is no need to reinvent the wheel. What Nigeria just needs to do is to copy what the Americans have already done, with much success, and prepare to send our industries where our culture has gone. They do not call entertainers and artists cultural ambassadors for nothing!
I remember as a student in London, I would be out on the streets after Arsenal had won a game and random white guys would want to buy me a drink because (in their eyes) I looked like Kanu. They transferred the affection they had for Kanu to Reno.
If they could transfer it from Kanu to me, they could easily have transferred it from Kanu to Nigeria as a nation.
Though I am a great fan of Obasanjo, I have always hated those CNN Ads featuring Obasanjo beckoning on the world to come to Nigeria.
No one will come to Nigeria if Obasanjo asked them to, except maybe some politicians or his business partners. If we want tourists to come to Nigeria, we do not need to show them the faces of Obasanjo or President Buhari. We stand a better chance of attracting them to Nigeria if we used the face of Omotola Jalade Ekehinde, Genevieve Nnaji or Ramsey Noah.
My people, we have got to start using what we have to get what we want. Oil is not going to expand our economy fast enough especially with our unusually high population growth rate which is the highest in the world bar none. Oil can finish but Nollywood can never finish. The capital of the US oil industry is Texas, yet with all her oil, which is far more than Nigeria’s oil, Texas is not as rich as California, the capital of the US entertainment industry.
Think about that for a moment.
With all her oil wealth, Texas has a median average income of $56,473, compared to California with a median average income of $63,636.
California is the richest state in America and the seventh-largest economy in the world and, according to the Otis Report, the entertainment industry contributed $293.8 billion to California’s economy in 2014 alone and over $500 billion to the US economy as a whole.
Man can do without so many things, but one of the few things man cannot do without is Entertainment. People like to be entertained. It is a way to escape from routine and the hustle and bustle of life. It provides us with an alternate reality, a better reality. One that appeals to the human spirit.
The good thing is that few people in the world know how to entertain themselves and others like Nigerians.
In America, believe it or not, other Africans entice people to come to their parties by saying ‘the Nigerians will be at my party’.
I once walked down Union Square in San Francisco with Kanayo O Kanayo in 2010 and thank God KOK is still alive and can attest to how many foreigners stopped us on the street to just associate with him. Not only can we use Nollywood and our music stars to drive our industrial growth, we can also use them to change the wrong opinion many people have about Nigerians as people who engage in online scams and other fraudulent acts.
Why we are not doing this is a mystery. But I am still here at The Seychelles. Let me go and enjoy myself some more!
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija