For his years of committed and selfless service to the creative industry sector of the Republic of Benin, Nigeria’s artiste and businessman, Teju Kareem, reaped reward on Wednesday, December 4 in Porto Novo, the Republic’s prime cultural city. Alongside eight other recipients, the Managing Director, Chief Executive Officer of ZMirage Multimedia Company, was conferred with a Doctor of Philosophy (Honoris Causa) in Public Administration by the EDEXCEL University, based in Ifangni town, a few kilometers from the Nigeria-Benin border.
In the letter of nomination, the Council of the university said the popular Theatre technician and scenographer was considered worthy of the award because if his “relentless service to the good of the people of the Republic.”
The ceremony was held Wednesday, December 4, in the course of the school’s 2019 Matriculation, Convocation & Honorary Award Programme at the Palace Bayol (Cultural Centre) of the city of Porto Novo; and was witnessed by a roomful of about 300 people, including eminent guests in the academic circles of both Benin and Nigeria; and parents and guardians of some of the graduating and matriculating students.
Past recipients of the award include: His Royal Highness Alhaji (Dr.) Sule Gambari, Emir of Ilorin and Chancellor Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka Anambra State (2008); His Excellency Ibhahim Shekarau, former governor of Kano state, 2008; and His Excellency, Alhaji Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi, former governor of Zamfara State, 2010, among others.
President and Chancellor of the university, Professor Emmanuel Odeh Ogbeh, urged Kareem to continue with his “selfless service to the cause of humanity; and urged the students to emulate such virtues of service.
He stressed that the university’s motto remains “Education for Innovation and Self-Reliance as this is the only way Africa can liberate itself from its many challenges. The school, he said, is affiliated to over 40 institutions of higher learning “to ensure quality assurance”. Founded in Nigeria in 2009 as the Institute of Business Technology Management of Nigeria, the school relocated and was upgraded to a full university status in Benin Republic in April 2014.
Among the contributions cited in his name were: technical direction of the visit of Pope Francis to the Republic in 2011, which was considered groundbreaking; Technical Producer SICA and CIOFF (International Council of Organisations of Folklore Festival and Folk Arts), Cotonou 2012; Technical producer Miss Benin; Technical Producer Miss Malaika Benin Republic, which changed the character of such showbiz event in the republic – it was adjudged the best of such an event in the history of the country; Director General International of Igbale Aiye, a UNESCO heritage site; coordination of the campaign and eventual investiture of then President Boni Yayi in 2013, said to be an experiential event that is yet to be equaled; the staging of the Miss Malaika Beauty Pageant. (Please see cited Profile below)
Also honoured with the Doctorate award were Mrs. Oluwatosin Oluwafunmilola Rebecca of Zakah Tower Alyssum Sarjah United Arab Emirate; Mr. Maxwell Weliodun, Chairman MBA Group, Abuja; Mr Peters Ede Agida, Chief Operations Officer, MBA Forex and Capital Investment, Lagos; Mr. Muyiwa Olalekan Oladotun of Nigeria Immigration Services, Abeokuta; Dr Philemon Audu Mairabo, Consultant, National Board of Technical Education, Nigeria; Dr. Agbara Michael, Comptroller of Customs Services, Idiroko Command; Dr. Amani Danjuma Peniel, President and founder, IBT, University Lome, Togo; Mr. Oluwarotimi Akanbi Ibiyode, CEO, Roxfort International Consult, Lagos; Gille Bokpe of Benin Republic, andChristopher Areghan Eichie based in Abuja.
Present at the investiture were Doctor Bonny Botoku, CEO Multiple Vision Nigeria Limited and Secretary/Translator Benin-Nigeria Interborder Relations, who is also convener of the yearly African Integration Festival; Mr. Oladipo Okeowo
CEO Oaklandit ventures, and Mr. Jahman Oladejo Anikulapo, culture curator and communicator and former editor of The Guardian on Sunday.
ALHAJI OLATEJU KAREEM, FTA
Technical theatre expert, businessman, philanthropist, founder and CEO of Zmirage Multimedia Limited, Teju Kareem, FTA, trained at the department of Theatre Arts, University of Ibadan, where he emerged as one of the best in technical theatre. Thereafter, he obtained a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration from the Hastings School of Business and Management Studies, United Kingdom.
Having practised theatre extensively in Nigeria and the United Kingdom, Teju revolutionised technical theatre practice in Nigeria by setting up Zmirage Multimedia Company in 1996 to fill the yawning gap created by the absence of necessary facilities and infrastructure to aid practitioners in that field achieve world class production values. In its over two decades as the pioneer and leading suppliers of technical equipment to the entertainment and corporate event industries, Zmirage has grown and diversified its services far beyond the boundaries of a mere technical theatre hire company, reaching into every area of production, where technical equipment is used as part of entertainment, with the rare capacity to handle several events simultaneously no matter the time or location.
Zmirage and Teju Kareem, who also hold the franchise for the popular Miss Malaika Beauty Pageant, has handled numerous high-profile events within and outside Nigeria. Projects undertaken include KORA Music Awards in South Africa; Mariam Makeba The Musical both in America and South Africa, Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange (WSICE) at the African Centre and CANIRIV at Notting Hill Carnival, both in London.
With many awards and honours to his credit, Teju Kareem is the chairman of Abuja Rocks; Consultant Technical Producer of Nigeria Election Debate Group (NEDG); Consultant for the Sierra Leone Election Debate Group (SEDG); Consultant Technical Producer for the Nigerian Olympic stage plays held at Stratford Theatre London in July 2012; Technical Director, KORA Awards Abuja; Technical Director/Consultant SARO the Musical; President Miss Malaika Nigeria; President CIOFF Nigeria, a cultural body devoted to the development of folklore festivals from 2007-2009; artistic producer/Director African Drums Festival 2017-2019; Executive Producer of the annual WSICE programme now in its 10th year and; Consultant/Producer for all 18 editions of the ongoing Federal Government of Nigeria Town Hall meetings. He has remained consistent in his relentless efforts to restore the glory of live theatre in Nigeria.
Teju Kareem is a fellow of The National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP), member of the Institute of Directors (IOD), a fellow of Theater Arts Practitioners (FTA) and director of Communication, African Renaissance.