A night of honours for Africans in London
Okutubo(L) and Patti(r) pose with a guest
Awards were presented to 10 eminent Africans under two main categories-Lifetime Achievement and others. Prominent among those who received honours were, Nigerian-born Patti Boulaye, Archbishop Gilbert Deya(Kenyan) and the Ugandan High Commissioner in the UK, Professor George Kirya. Others included BBC journalist, David Akinsanya,British Boxing Board of Control licensed promoter and trainer, Ishola Akay and South African, Joe Theron of the Umoja play.
The chairman of GAB's planning committee, Engr Adewale Adenaike, stated that his motivation for chairing the event for the past three years is due to the fact that:"our people are embracing the idea of having to celebrate excellence within our community and at the end of the day, you cannot put up a show of this magnitude without people actually embracing it. So, because people are happy to be part of it, we're happy to stage it."
Adenaike, whose ambition is to occupy one of the senatorial seats allotted to Ogun state in the forthcoming elections spoke further:"This is about celebrating Africans that are doing things to contribute positively to the image of Africans and Africa in the UK, this is celebrating excellence".He also disclosed that a prospective awardee doesn't need to tell the organisers about what he does, this according to him, will speak for itself."That is exactly the pattern we're following", the structural engineer said.
Patti and Erelu Lola Ayorinde
Although many of the recipients are celebrities in their own rights, the awards night still meant a lot to them. Ishola Akay, MBE, Member of The British Empire-said, it was a great honour for anyone to be recognised by their community and that, it is always a comfortable feeling.Akay, who has turned out world renowned boxers such as the former world featherweight champion, Ghanian Azuma Nelson, added:"I feel very great, like i said, i've been honoured by the Queen and the Prime minister, but this particular one is unique to me because, its the fact that my people appreciate my contribution to this country as an African". I'm very delighted, he said.
On how the likes of Azuma Nelson can be reproduced, Akay's words were:"well, there're lots of talents in Africa because, i was watching the Commonwealth Games and i saw a lot of boys coming, so it takes time before they can really hit the International standards." Besides, 'I believe that there're lack of facilities in Africa, but when the facilities go high, they'll be able to produce boxers of international standards."
Once regarded as one of the world's most glamorous women, Patti Boulaye, also expressed delight at being given an award for the first time."Its wonderful and to be honoured by your own people is great. Like i said, people always invite me to give awards, but nobody ever thought of giving me one. But its really nice to get one from my people, its always, always good to get recognition from your own people."
Ishola Akay and a female guest at the event
But what could be in the mind of GAB's visionary, Femi Okutubo? The aim, is to publicise the good works of Africans, he stated. Okutubo, who also doubles as the publisher of Trumpet Newspaper, disclosed that:"we observed that Africans were not getting positive publicity from the mainstream media. We've been described as fraudsters and all what not, but the truth is, Africans are achieving, but in spite of that, if we as Africans don't blow our trumpet, nobody's going to do it for us. So, the idea behind GAB is to have a forum whereby, the best of Africans can come together, share experiences, network and then, showcase that to the outside world saying, this is the achievement of Africans in the UK"
Having held three editions previously, 'It's continues to get bigger and better, so we thank God for that," Okutubo said. This, according to him is a testimony that the 'event is worth its salt".On those who bring disrepute to Africans, "the reality is, the mainstream media has blown that out of proportion. What you find is, the people who're doing that are very Nigeria and Africa are no exceptions. but, the reality is that, there're much more people who are achieving and that's where the focus should be," he concluded.
A full list of awardees is as follows: