The MTN Media Innovation Programme (MIP) Fellows recently engaged in virtual sessions with prominent figures, emphasising the vital role of cultural diplomacy and media engagement in enhancing the relationship between Nigeria and South Africa.
The first session, titled “Strengthening South Africa and Nigeria Relations: Cultural Diplomacy and People-to-People Cooperation,” featured Jermaine Sanwo-Olu, the Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Foreign Relations. He began by invoking the words of Nelson Mandela, envisioning a harmonious Africa and emphasising that love can be taught just as hatred is learned.
Sanwo-Olu acknowledged the strong diplomatic ties between Nigeria and South Africa and commended MTN for its initiative in fostering cultural collaboration. He drew a parallel between MTN’s yellow logo, symbolising warmth and hospitality, and the need to illuminate the path toward a mutually beneficial relationship between the two nations.
“I commend what MTN is doing in ensuring that this kind of relationship is strengthened. Yellow on the MTN logo signifies the sun, which is also bright, warm, welcoming, and hospitable, ensuring we have light. It illuminates our path and I believe that we need to shed more light on the direction that Nigeria and South Africa can go to further ensure that a relationship that is mutually beneficial is offered between our great nations”, he added.
Highlighting the historic competition between the two nations, Jermaine said that unity and collaboration, not rivalry, are key to Africa’s progress. He called for harmonious cooperation, recognising Lagos as a catalyst for achieving this vision and commending Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for supporting South African businesses in Lagos.
During the virtual session, Jermaine proposed several avenues for strengthening cultural relations, including cultural exchange programs, joint festivals, and events featuring artists, actors, and musicians from both countries. He also stressed the role of journalists in shaping perceptions and promoting unity, especially among the youth.
In the second session, themed “Nigeria and South Africa: An Indispensable Relationship to Foster Cultural Relations through the Media Fraternity,” T D Mseleku, South African High Commissioner emphasised the indispensable nature of the relationship. He highlighted Nigeria’s pivotal role in the anti-apartheid struggle and its significance in providing leadership for Africa’s advancement.
Mseleku pointed out that strong bilateral relationships were crucial for Africa’s economic emancipation and praised the cross-cultural collaborations in music and academia. He stressed the need for deeper media engagement and urged journalists to focus on substantive issues rather than sensationalism.
Addressing the cultural aspect of the relationship, he cited examples of cross-cultural collaborations, including collaborations in music and academia. “I can actually say without fear or favor that the Africa free trade agreement will not succeed if Nigeria and South Africa don’t come together and pull it up in the first place. So without that kind of a strong bilateral relationship, we will not succeed in freeing the African continent from the shackles of economic poverty and the exploitation of our continent so that merely took to paint the need for why this relationship is indispensable”, he added.
Mseleku welcomed the MTN MIP Fellows to South Africa during the country’s Heritage Month, encouraging them to immerse themselves in the culture and engage with the vibrant South African media landscape.