Somi Uranta is a scholar and an entrepreneur. For many years now, he has empowered young people with his creativity and candor in different areas of entrepreneurship and mentorship.
He speaks on his latest projects, Naija Pepper Soup Carnival and Award for Excellence Service, two undertakings, in collaboration with Fitilah Entertainment that aim at celebrating indigenous enterprise, service delivery and ingenuity.
Why are you organizing Nigeria’s first Pepper Soup Carnival and what qualifies your awardees for excellent service?
Pepper soup is a Nigerian indigenous delicacy and I think it is incumbent on us as Nigerians, to showcase what we have. It will interest you to know that different cultures and traditions celebrate pepper soup in different ways, ultimately for the enjoyment of all. Our aim therefore, is to bring pepper soup as a delicacy in its variety and form under one roof.
As you know, there was a debate some time ago on the origin of Jollof rice and this elicited diverse reactions over its ownership and the culture that makes the best of Jollof rice.
I remember an African myth that talks about the cat and its fears about losing what rightly belongs to it, hence it ensures it buries its waste products to avoid a situation where one’s thing would be claimed by another. So, we are essentially trying to avoid such a scenario re-occurring where our thing would be claimed by another, hence the need to celebrate, domesticate and entrench Nigeria’s pepper soup culture which is our inheritance.
On the other leg of your question, I wish to state unequivocally that appreciation is a tonic to do more. We are therefore poised to appreciate and celebrate those who have done well in providing quality solutions and services to those who need them, hence this award for service excellence.
But I hasten to add that we are not just remembering and honoring the big players, we are also recognizing apprentices who have demonstrated loyalty, honesty and dedication to their masters and the trade. This is unprecedented and we are happy to be pioneering this because of the expected positive impact on society.
What is the form of this Pepper Soup Carnival?
The driving force is the need to create a variety of pepper soup tastes from different kinds of fish and meat, spiced with exciting flavors and seasonings under an atmosphere of music, dance and comedy. The big idea is to export the unique Naija pepper soup, beginning from Africa and then to the rest of the world. We plan to have at least, 20 or more kinds of pepper soups from different parts of Nigeria on display. For example, there are those who enjoy fish pepper soup, crocodile pepper soup, snail pepper soup, stock fish pepper soup, goat meat pepper soup, assorted, cow tail pepper soup, snake pepper soup and even the famous dog meat which is a very popular pepper soup in many parts of Nigeria.
And for those who have one cultural inhibition or the other, I wish to assure them that utmost care has been taken to ensure that what they abhor will be far from them. As a matter of fact, the soups would be served in disposable plates and spoons so that they do not have to accidentally eat from a plate used in serving what they forbid.
What should your customers expect outside comedy, music and dance?
A lot is in the offing and I promise our customers a great time. There will be assortments of drinks, ranging from soft, spirit, wines to cream, palm wine and non-alcoholic drinks.
Are you doing all these alone or are there sponsors who believe in this project?
Yes, there are sponsors. Nigerian Breweries, for instance, will host a gala night where our customers will have the opportunity of going home with gift items from the brewing giant. They have also promised to provide other side attractions during the event.
We are also in touch with some spices manufacturers who are promising to spice up the event with their spices. The event will also afford businesses the opportunity to advertise their products and services, and to network too.
It is going to be an evening to remember as plans are underway to make it a hitch-free event.
What exactly is the focus of the award?
As I stated earlier, this award is unique. First, we will be appreciating and showcasing some unsung heroes in our society who have provided and are still providing, solutions. For recipients of our awards in this forth-coming event on Sunday, 25 of August, 2019, at Somi’s Bar and Events at Plot 1 Ijaiye Road, Ogba, our focus is on the automobile and allied sectors at Akilo Spare Parts and Machinery Dealers Association at Ogba, Ikeja. They are special because we have observed them from a close range and they represent honesty, competence, excellent customer service and above all, good citizenship. We are optimistic that our intervention would inspire more people, not only in Akilo but across Lagos and even Nigeria. Like we said, the award is not only for the masters in the business but also for the apprentices. We hope to present a lasting memorabilia in the form of plaques which would adore their places of abode and also remind them that they are appreciated by the people they serve.
Could you share with us, what actually inspired this project?
Motivacomedy, our awards company has been involved in awards over the years especially when it concerns Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, SMEs. But this time around, we are focusing on the automobile sub-sector with special interest in the Igbo apprenticeship system which is believed to have produced more millionaires than the entire university system in Nigeria. Let me share my experience with you. For many years, I used to travel frequently on business trips to China and I was shocked to discover that the Chinese actually copied the Igbo apprenticeship system 30 years ago and they have been able to lift over 800 million Chinese from poverty to affluence. In Guangzhou for instance, I met several young Chinese who came from the hinterland to the city and got jobs that provided them accommodation and feeding with a stipend that is kept in trust for a period of four years which was modeled after the Igbo apprenticeship system. At the end of the four years period, these young Chinese are paid lump sum which is then used as seed money for their own cottage industries.
The Igbo apprenticeship system has been with us for far longer than the Chinese and I think that Nigeria and Nigerians can leverage on this unique system to lift our over 85 million citizens out of poverty. And that is our focus.