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Kwara First Lady, Osun Monarch, Others Grace London’s Night Of Cocoa Celebration


The Annual Royal Cocoa Festival Dinner was held at the five-star Luxury Sofitel St James, London SW1 on Wednesday, October 9, 2019. The St James area in London boasts the first chocolate store in London opened towards the end of the 17th Century. Then called the White House, it is now a private membership club.

It was a beautiful and glamorous evening described as an African celebration where British heritage meets with French Hedonism with VIP guests representing different countries across the globe treated to a five-course cocoa and chocolate themed dinner that was specially created for the event.

The event was tagged an Evening of Inspiration with David Lloyd, a one-time tennis player who shared his inspirational story of a dream from being a tennis coach to developing the world’s biggest chain of leisure and health centres.

Chantal Coady, OBE, a founding board member of the Academy of Chocolate, UK welcomed all, while the chairman of the evening, the High Commissioner for Trinidad and Tobago in the UK, His Excellency Orville London, gave a beautiful address and emphasised improved bilateral relations between the Caribbean and Africa, and a need to develop cocoa diplomacy strategy to address the several challenges faced, particularly in the production regions.

Sara Jayne Stanes, OBE, the Chairman of the Academy of Chocolates and CEO Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, was the Special Guest Speaker. She traced back the history of cocoa in Nigeria and gave a background of the two original varieties of beans which also linked Trinidad and Tobago with Nigeria. She also mentioned how she met the Oloni of Eti-Oni, Osun State, Oba Dokun Thompson, whose work on cocoa over the years had been both fascinating and impressive and in line with the Academy’s ethos.

” Thompson in his remarks and response thanked all the guests and described the evening as one of bridge building between cocoa production and consumption while building the cocoa culture that will help redefine Africa for value and wealth creation for the benefit of all “

Other speakers included Naz Khan, Director, Cocoa Jones Chocolate UK. They used Eti-Oni Cocoa for their 2019 limited edition 70% dark chocolate bar because of the richness in its flavour and texture. Mr Bode Matthews, the founder of Prime Coffee London, also gave an inspiring story of how he started his business from the use of a second hand £45 coffee machine and grew it to include providing corporate coffee services to several offices across London, owning and operating coffee bars and outlets and now have their chocolate bar range through support and advice given by Oba Dokun Thompson.

The special guests of honour were the First Lady of Kwara State, Her Excellency Mrs Folake Abdulrazaq, who was full of compliments and in her remarks mentioned that cocoa had always been at the forefront of economic development in Nigeria, and she was glad to be part of the evening and would do all that is necessary to support the cocoa renaissance advocacy. The Governor of Osun State, His Excellency Adegboyega Oyetola, represented by Barrister Chris Oguntoye, in his address assured of his administration’s continued support of Oba Dokun Thompson’s work, which he found commendable and in sync with the state’s strategy to achieve food security and improved social and economic development.

A 2D animated cartoon movie titled ‘Legend of the Cocoa King,’ written and produced by Oba Dokun Thompson, based on his book, ‘The Royal Origins and Traditions of Cocoa – Eti-Oni: History, Landscape and Lifestyle,’ was also previewed by the guests with the premiere due February 2020. Oba Dokun Thompson in his remarks and response thanked all the guests and described the evening as one of bridge building between cocoa production and consumption while building the cocoa culture that will help redefine Africa for value and wealth creation for the benefit of all.

Select students from disadvantaged areas of London were also part of the VIPs that attended the event as a way of bridging generational gap to give the students reasons to aspire and achieve. Other guests included Andrew Whiting, Chairman of Beach’s Fine Chocolate whose company supplied all the guests with a bag each of a variety of their luxury chocolate brands.

The Mayor of Enfield, Cllr Kate Anolue, was also present and said it was a beautiful and truly inspiring event and was glad her daughter accompanied her. She called on Friends of Eti-Oni who organised the event in partnership with Eti-Oni Cocoa Events to come up with how the Borough of Enfield can support and partner with the initiative which she found to be a laudable one.

Princess Busola Fawole, Patron Friends of Eti-Oni, gave the vote of thanks. She was supported by the global coordinator, Yemisi Jenkins, MBE, to present the traditional beautifully arranged bouquet of flowers to Her Excellency Mrs London, Sara Jayne Stanes, OBE; Mayor Kate Anolue; Mrs Lloyd; Naz Khan; Dr Bc Akin-Alabi; Ms Lindsay Oliver (CEO Yanga TV, UK) and Dr Toyin Odunuga in appreciation of their contribution to the success of the event.

The event ended with the Grace said by Bishop Precious Omuku, the Special Representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury on Conflict in Sub Sahara Africa. The past first Lady of Oyo State, Her Excellency Mrs Florence Ajumobi was represented by Dr B.C. Akin-Alabi.

Other guests included Robin Dand, the Company Secretary of Federation of Cocoa Commerce; Ms Pumela Salela, UK Country Head Brand South Africa; Peter Whiting, CEO Beech’s Fine Chocolate; board members of the Academy of Chocolate and others within the finance, confectionery and other development sectors.


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