Monday, 2nd October 2023

Role plays

By Anita Kouassigan
29 March 2019   |   1:25 am
Recently in the UK there was a major upset involving the MP David Lammy who held, rather controversially, that “the world does not need any more white saviours.”

Natural Essence by Godwin Adesoye donated by Sartch

Princess Tessy has already mentioned this earlier, that we all have a role to play in giving back and making the world a better place, whether it is s fundraising, being kind, or sharing some of our knowledge or expertise with someone. Even in the simplest ways you can imagine, we can make a difference. And what about those sectors that support different talents, gifts or crafts, the types that can afford you much more influence to do good? Anita Kouassigan explores three such areas.

What impact can works of art have in the society, and do works of art mirror reality, of all that is seen and heard, or is a piece of art an expression that stems from the private unseen soul of an artist? Art does reflect the world, surely, and no matter how abstract some works can be, art can unify and bring people together. Therefore, it is no wonder that the role art can play in improving communities is inextricably linked to the existing fights for social justice and change in the world, and art is often used as vehicle for good- whether it is to improve and beautify communities, or to tell a story, or to commemorate an event, and last but not least, to raise money for charity. The proceeds of the sales of artworks in aid of charities is no new thing, and auctions are a fun and popular way of encouraging people to be the highest bidders!

Indeed, at Investing In Women’s inaugural charity fundraiser in aid of Womankind Worldwide and LedByHER in London last year, online art curator, Sartch, generously donated a painting by Godwin Adesoye (Natural Essence) to be auctioned off for charity, contributing to the grand total of nearly £20,000 raised on the night. And earlier, I highlighted the engagement of Bonhams, the workplace of one of our judges, Giles Peppiatt, in charity fundraisers. In Nigeria, Arthouse Contemporary, which established its foundation, Arthouse Foundation in 2015 also uses art for good.

The Arthouse Foundation has been supported in part by the charity lots of Arthouse Contemporary and, during each auction, artists or collectors donate artworks whose proceeds go directly to supporting the foundation. The auction platform has also been used to raise money for other charities including Standard Chartered Bank’s Seeing is Believing charity. Among other reasons, the foundation was created as a vehicle to give back to the art community in Nigeria and it runs an artist residency programme where two artists per session partake in three-month residencies.

It also provides a platform for artist talks and informal meetings between artists, curators and students and the residents have worked with many different age groups and demographics, from secondary school children at Falomo Secondary School, to university students at Yaba College of Technology. Investing In Women found the art sector to be one of the most important ones to watch when it comes to adding value to the overall economy as well as communities.

Recently in the UK there was a major upset involving the MP David Lammy who held, rather controversially, that “the world does not need any more white saviours.” The Caucasian celebrity, Stacey Dooley, who was the subject of his attack, made a good comeback: “…you could always go there and raise awareness.” She was simply making the point that she was using her celebrity status to go and raise awareness about issues in Uganda where she was photographed holding a black African baby.

I was personally very upset by his comments, as it does not help matters. Every bit of awareness being created matters and why would he make such a statement that may potentially put off other celebrities? Those who may read meanings into his unfair comments may not want to be depicted in the “colonialist light,” a very unfair picture painted by David Lammy.  The last thing we need is for Stacey and other celebrities to start behaving “politically correct” or to be discouraged by the likes of this MP, who is not exactly offering any alternatives himself!

I am certainly not here to rise to the occasion of race issues here because it is totally irrelevant, and what we need to do is stay focused and embrace the power celebrities have to do good. We can reach out to them, write them letters, tell them about the causes we are fighting for, ask them for their support. If a well-reputed celebrity can put their name on your project or serve as a brand ambassador for your organisation or even sit on your advisory board, you never know how far you can go.

Take the example of The Oscars. Oftentimes when award recipients are making their acceptance speeches they take advantage of that stage for the few minutes they are on it. Or how about Michelle Obama holding up her “Bring Back Our Girls” board – which went viral. If you are a celebrity yourself, if there is any cause you believe in, please use your status well- whether you are in the film industry, the music industry, or you are a sporting sensation. Companies use you for their media campaigns to promote their products and to attract more customers. Please do the same for good. Just the way you are on show during the ordinary course of your business, you can put yourself out there and accomplish extraordinary things to help change the world.

“There can never be enough charity, but if we all do our part, we chip away at the serious problems of others one event at a time.” (Adegbe Ogbeh, RydeFit Founder)

There are many ways to use sport as either a CSR initiative or as a means for personally fundraising for a charity of your choice. Sporting activities for good are not entirely new to Nigeria, but it appears that this approach has become even more popular in recent times. This year already in Lagos, there’s been Ebele Mbanugo’s Run For A Cure Africa in aid of breast cancer, and the Lagos City Marathon powered by Access Bank. But the more interesting examples are perhaps the smaller, more unusual events where the organisers have to engage as many supporters and partners as possible to make it happen.

For example, RydeFit, who recently held its second annual spinning marathon for charity had a long list of partners: Ace Charity, Jabi Lake Mall, Eva Water, CCX Lounge, Hygeia HMO, The Wedding Mall, Cool FM Lagos and Kahera Travels. Adegbe Ogbeh confirms that at the time of planning the first event, they realised that no one in Nigeria had ever hosted a non stop 24-hour fitness event before: “For us the challenge was to be the first and to channel that energy and awareness to donations.” Their fundraisers are 24-hour marathon fitness events and for the second edition, the organisers promised “bigger, better and bolder,” and they certainly delivered by raising a total of N3,543,928.00!

The aim of the fundraiser was to buy 500 pairs of shoes for 500 students of the LEA Primary School Apo Village, Abuja, and this was achieved in record time. The more fun and energising an event is, the more likely it would be a success. Spinning is indeed a global phenomenon and Rydefit24 proved this point with the incredible attendance of its supporters and the amazing energy from the start, to a fantastic finish.

Charity fundraisers aside, there are many social benefits to sport, the promotion of better mental wellbeing, the encouragement of team-work, some competition if a race is involved and of course pushing yourself to your limit. With all these ingredients fused together and in the case of spinning marathon where you can be “fuelled with the feeling of a full class, great music and a standout instructor (such as Akuchukwu, Tosin, Clement, Divine, Esther or John),” you cannot go wrong.

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