‘With Sisi Oge, it’s been 10 years of reconnecting with the roots’
Mr. Idris Aregbe is the CEO of No.1 Heritage Solutions, promoters of My Heritage My Pride and Sisi Oge beauty pageant. He explains in this interview that the 10th edition of the pageant billed for March 26 is going to be huge. Over the years, the event has had the objective of reconnecting youths with their roots using arts and culture as tools for national development
Your organization is clocking 10 this year, what special activities are you planning to mark the milestone?
Apart from the fact that we have always been known to promote African values through music, dance, pageantry, art exhibition and festivals, this year, we are celebrating 10 years of promoting African culture and heritage and our word is our bond. We are also boosting our content having planned it for about two years. Over the years, this cultural event has garnered value and attained premium status promoting cultural values export and the celebration of unity, with focus on youths connecting them with their roots.
We will be sharing the African story, culture and values to our pertinent audience through various activities performances and displays. Foreigners never tell the African stories rightly. We charge Africans to brace up, telling the genuine African stories to the rest of the world. There is absolutely nothing wrong with our culture, what is wrong at times is people’s presentation of our cultural values. To display rich cultural content, cultural performers should research thoroughly about the culture they plan to represent and having in mind that you are also competing with other cultures across the world. So we need to take our time for adequate and proper branding presentation in order to wow our audience and the world at large.
All is set for the grand finale with 22 beauties contending for the Sisi Oge title, a platform that affords contestants the opportunity of experiencing capacity building sessions in financial literacy & entrepreneurship, etiquette grooming, poise, communication and emotional intelligence. All these qualities are targeted towards empowering, engaging and re-driving them to attain excellence in their future endeavours.
We will be honouring 10 personalities with prestigious Heritage awards. The event promises to be exciting with lots of cultural performances, music, drama and side attractions. We unveiled our new logo a couple of weeks back and the star prize of a saloon car and other fantastic prizes.
When and where is the event taking place?
The grand finale of this epoch making event is slated for Sunday, March 26, 2017 at the Civic Centre Victoria Island, Lagos.
It’s been 10 years of promoting African culture. Would you say it has met your expectations?
I think the first thing to have in mind is that life is not a bed of roses and whatever you have to do, do it right. The Almighty God has been our cornerstone and we are quite hopeful for the future. And that is the reason we are here today. Organising a cultural event of this magnitude for 10 years in this country is not an easy task. We have seen a lot of people come up with different concepts but within a short period they just fade out but we have been able to stand through the years in spite of the challenges we were confronted with.
We’ve always had controversies surrounding pageants in Nigeria, how have you been able to remain afloat in 10 years?
We have not been involved in any controversy over the years and that is because when you promote African values, you must be able to stand by it. Some of the reasons why we have a lot of problems in this country today is because we are losing our culture, values and identity but if you stand by these, you should be able to know the son or daughter of who you are and where you are coming from. We are losing these things because people are not going towards that direction.
You have always been surrounded with beautiful girls of all shapes and sizes. Don’t you feel tempted at times and how have you been able to cope?
Like I said, it has been a decade of labour and excellence. Based on this, the management has been able to separate business from distractions. That has been our strength over the years. When we talk of values, we must also be seen representing those values. That is what our fathers grew up with in our society. It helped them and it’s also helping us too. The essence of the pageant is not to mess around with the girls but rather prepare them for the challenges ahead in life.
Apart from promoting culture and Sisi Oge pageant what else do you do?
I am an entrepreneur cum politician.
What do you look forward to in the next 10 years?
The good news is the international partnerships we have entered into. We have been able to export our culture and values to other countries in the last 10 years through creativity and consistency. There are ongoing plans for an African Youth Cultural Heritage Exchange Programme in partnership with the AD King Foundation, Atlanta Georgia, USA.
This year, members of the Martin Luther King family and Mrs. Naomi King as the head of the American delegation will grace the occasion of the 10th Anniversary. The future for us is hosting My Heritage My Pride And Sisi Oge in other African countries and building more cultural exchange partnerships.
What sparked off your interest in this unique kind of pageantry?
I am not just a pageant promoter but also someone who believes in the African value, identity, and pride. So being able to groom and crown a cultural ambassador is an avenue that will bring my belief to bare. And that is why we have put that as part of our concept to raise beauty queens that would compete and become cultural ambassadors who would go round the world and preach our culture and impact their generation. That is the whole essence of it.
How has the pageant impacted those who have participated in it over the years?
It has helped young ladies discover themselves and has also bridged the cultural awareness gap.
Well over 4,000 ladies have passed through SisiOge. I can tell you that they are all doing very well in their career and private lives.
Talking about promoting African culture, are you focusing on a particular tribe?
Over the years, we have produced nine beauty queens and if you look at the demography of these beauty queens you will realize that majority of them are not from Yoruba land. Ours is about promoting African values, culture and identity regardless of ethnicity.