CHIN AND TEME: PIONEERS OF THE GIDI CULTURE
Meeting Chinedu Okeke and Oriteme Banigo—popularly known as Chin and Teme—at the Eclipse Live office was a very interesting experience. Watching the pioneers of Gidi Fest converse and relate, it dawns on you how two people with contrasting personalities can come together to achieve similar goals in a seamless fashion. While Chin is more expressive, jovial and outgoing, Teme has a calmer and more reserved demeanour to him.
Still, the chemistry between them is effortless! It’s no surprise that they have been able to achieve so much in the short time that they have worked together. I had a chat with them about their lives and their work.
Chinedu “Chin” Okeke
Chin is a creative innovator who has lived around the world. After studying Law at the University of Bristol, he also acquired a diploma in Chinese from Tsinghua University, Beijing. He returned home with a drive to change the Nigerian narrative abroad.
In his own words,
“After being privileged to live around the world, one of the things that were always impressed on me was to change the perception of where I came from which is the motivation for a lot of the work I’ve done in the entertainment and the creative space. More recently, it’s been more about the way we see ourselves as opposed to the way they see us”.
Achievements and challenges
The relative success the duo have achieved with Gidi Fest means people automatically view them as big boys with pockets lined with money.
“I think the fact that we’ve been going five years is an achievement, but we’re far from where we want to be. Success to me is getting better at what you do and what you’re doing on a daily basis and I think we’ve been able to achieve that. But it’s [been] made a lot harder by people thinking we’re making a truckload of money. I say this because we sit down with people and we try to explain the drive behind what we do, and people can’t grasp that you can be doing something of this scale and not necessarily print money”.
He adds that this has made it difficult to collaborate with other people because they have placed them (Gidi Fest) on a different pedestal.
Relationship with Teme
He points out that the reason a lot of partnerships do not work is because people are not honest about what they want out of a partnership. From his standpoint, a lot of people go into partnerships with their own selfish interests as opposed to the team’s interest. He mentions that honesty and the ability to communicate are two vital things that have helped them grow.
“Earlier on in our relationship, there were these awkward conversations we had to have while laying out our dynamic which paid off later on.” He mentions, pointing out that their friendship is a lot stronger now that they are working together than when they were just friends.
The Gidi tribe
For this year’s edition of Gidi Fest, they have launched the Gidi Tribe, a movement that goes beyond the festival. Using the slogan,
“Gidi is the tribe, the tribe is Gidi,” he says.
“The Gidi Tribe is an evolution of Gidi Fest. It’s the people who have played a role in getting Gidi Fest to where it is today. The identity that is formed around it is the Gidi Tribe. This goes beyond the festival attendees and extends to the artists, the teams that work on it, the sponsors and the media houses that support it”.
He adds that Gidi Fest has become a place where people gather to celebrate life irrespective of whatever is going on around them. This, for him, is the essence of the festival.
To perpetuate the impact of Gidi Fest, Chin believes the culture the festival represents must be defined from a subjective standpoint but with people at its core. For him, culture is about acknowledging and respecting the past and using that knowledge to build the future.
Bringing it home, last year (2017), they recruited a team of young graduates into the Gidi Fest family because they represent the youth culture of today.
“What represents youth culture today may be different in five years but that evolution of the people curating it will determine the way it is preserved. And don’t get me wrong; it’s not just for young people, we call it “youth-minded people”. So, for those who come along later with their kids, we can have a creche for them at the venue or later on we can have a two or three-day festival to cater to different generations”.
He also praises the new recruits, saying that some of the great ideas for this year’s edition came from them.
Beyond Gidi Fest, Chin runs Eclipse Brand Agency which helps businesses build brands in the areas of strategy and implementation. He farms in his spare time. With Teme, he also runs Eclipse Live, an entertainment company which promotes concerts, festivals and tours. They have also entered the tech space, developing products like Seatgate, a white-label integrated ticketing solution, and More Live, an interactive lifestyle application for concerts and festivals.
To the young Nigerian
Being the co-founder of a youth-centric festival, Chin is in touch with the prevailing mindset of the Nigerian youths. While he sees a lot of good in them, he says the youths need to learn to celebrate real work instead of ‘noise’. Beyond that, he thinks Nigerian youths need to think through things before taking action.
Oriteme “Teme” Banigo
Self-description may be difficult for Teme, but he is always upfront about his Bayelsan heritage. Coming from a family of six children, he moved to the United States to get a degree in Economics from the Northeastern University in Boston Massachusetts. Coming back home, his drive and passion for preserving the Nigerian culture have played a vital role in his contributions to the creative space.
Achievements and challenges
Teme’s greatest achievement as far as Gidi Fest is concerned is the ability to see an idea through. “I think a lot of people have great ideas, but they don’t put it to paper and actually try to execute it. That, for me, is the real achievement.”
However, he points out that they have only just scratched the surface and they have a long way to go. As far as challenges go, he agrees with Chin on partnerships, saying the greatest challenge is the inability to create true partnerships because most people want to get something from them rather than establishing a mutually beneficial relationship.
Relationship with Chin
“I think we’ve been very lucky because our relationship hasn’t changed throughout the process. I think it’s because we have been very transparent with each other from the beginning and we have faced everything together,” he says.
He also jokes about the two of them playing good cop/bad cop depending on what situations demand in the work dynamic. According to him, this is a testament to the fluidity of their relationship.
The Gidi culture
Sharing his thoughts on the culture, especially as it concerns Gidi Fest, Teme says there are three major elements that define it: music, food and art. For Gidi Fest, he says he takes the food element very seriously and they make sure foods from all over Nigeria are well represented. He also says that Gidi Fest is out to support budding artists by giving them a platform to showcase their works.
“For us, it’s about having a true representation of what is happening now, but at the same time finding a way to preserve it over time. Every year, we’re conscious of how our festival goers experience these elements,” he says.
Speaking about projects outside Gidi Fest, Teme speaks about his company called Panaramic. Panaramic is a content creation platform that cuts across various aspects of media. Their first project is called Okojo’s Chronicle, which uses a comic book to promote the Nigerian history and culture. He expresses his passion for the project and reemphasises his love for culture and its preservation for the next generation. In his spare time, he participates in community work and represents his community in the oil and gas sector.
The young Nigerian
Teme’s advice for the youth in Nigeria comes in the guise of a quote that says, “They do not owe you anything.” With this, he explains that his major challenge with Nigerian youths is their sense of entitlement when it comes to life and achievement. He says that if young people work for things rather than feeling like they deserve them, things will be a lot better for them.