Mr. Kunle Onime, is many things to many people. To some, he is a music promoter, talent scout in the music industry. While to others, he is a consummate salesman, an experiential/marketing communication expert. Whatever divide you belong, the fact remains that, he is one man roll into the two.
Onime in his youthful days enjoyed media headlines in the when he functioned as the go between musicians of the day with Mr. Dapo Adelegan and his Ebute Metta based Lekki Sunsplash Ltd of the 1980s/90s that popularised Lekki area of Lagos and provided entertainment/relaxation for Lagosians. A show that was fashioned after the world famous Reggae Sunsplash in Jamaica and the Netherlands’ North Sea Jazz Festival that only King Sunny Ade (KSA) and Femi Anikulap-Kuti of Nigeria, have been opportune to perform in. Lekki Sunsplash was getting to that apogee, when like most things in Nigeria, Onime stepped out.
Such was the towering image of Onime that if it was today’s Nigeria, he would have won any political elective post of his choice simply based on his popularity as a show promoter but that was not to be as he took a detour and vied into experiential marketing 20 years. In this interview, he spoken on why and how he established MPC and many more
Twenty years ago, you set out with MPC somewhere in Balogun, Ikeja area of Lagos, can you tell us more about what we do not know or circumstances that led to the founding of the outfit?
MPC was set up 20 years ago, I had just left my job with this South Africa company where I put in all my efforts from 1996 to 1999. I left that venture very hurt and traumatised, I was back stabbed by people whom I gave a life, so on 30th March 1999, I walked out and away. I moved immediately to start MPC .
Before then was when we were around Balogun in Ikeja with my good friend , Jude Arijaje and Morgan Okunnuga, we had an outfit called JMK and Associates
Looking back now, can you say that you have achieved the reason(s) for establishing the company?
The reasons for setting up MPC was simply to fulfill my dreams and aspirations, which I guess to a large extent, I have done well with.
Doing business in a country like ours is no small feat, I give myself kudos to have survived 20 years of doing business in naija, without any God father, or being a silverspoon, I have been through thick and thin, I have seen 99.
In all, l give thanks to God for his mercies, love and favour.
If not, what were the things you wanted to achieve by venturing into the experiential industry which was then practically or was in its crude form then in Nigeria?
At the time the idea hit me, in 1994, there was nothing called or known as experiential marketing in naija, I remember sending proposals to some of the A list companies and they responded that such can not work in Nigeria, some of them actually said I was mad, my joy today is that there are so many MAD people all over Nigeria today and are contributing immensely to the nation’s economy.
Can you say you are happy with the way every Tom, Dick and Harry have step up into the business, almost making it an all comers affair?
Interestingly, I am happy, unfortunately some of the new entrants have started changing the narrative and making all sorts of fictitious claims, but those who know the real story know. What gives me joy is that I have stayed glued to the game for these number of years and I’m not thinking of giving up, rather, we are expanding the scope and mannerisms.
What informed your decision to bless people with physical deformity (physically challenged) with wheelchairs as part of MPC 20th anniversary instead of rolling out the red carpet and drums as we usually do in this clime, in celebrating such milestone?
Firstly, I am not an advocate of throwing party for the sake of party, I believe in giving back to the society, giving help to the needy, affecting people positively.
We sat and started to deliberate on what to do to celebrate MPC @20, several suggestions came on board.
I knew from my heart that having a party was not going to happen, I continued to consult with friends and families, and the moment the idea of the wheel chair came up, I didn’t look any further.
For me, it’s a very simple way of affecting people positively, meeting people at their point of need and I have no regrets with what we are doing.
What we have done so far as exposed me to the face of pain in this country, we never know what we have till we lose it.
I pray God Grant’s my heart desires with this wheel chair idea.
Before you went solo into the business, you had made your name as a festival manager (Lekki Sunsplash), can you at this moment, perhaps for the first time, tell us why you left that aspect of your life?
Leaving DP Lekki was a very painful decision, but you know that adage that says it’s good to leave the scene when the ovation is loudest.
That’s what happened.
Had Lekki Sunsplash still in existence till date, do you think it would not have equaled great festivals like Jamaica’s Reggae Sunsplash, Netherlands’ North Sea Jazz Festival, among others, in popularity and maybe purse, to its participants? .
Lekki Sunsplash remains the biggest music festival that ever happened in naija , if it had continued, which I’m hoping will happen someday, would have rivaled the reggae sunsplash and others of it’s like.
It is on record that great talents like Blackky, Alex Zitto among others were discovered on Lekki Sunsplash Talent Hunt stage and supplied to Premier Music. Which other musicians of that era passed through Lekki Sunsplash?
The likes of Zubby Enebeli was also a winner of the talent hunt competition, but somehow Premier Music has some issues and refused to allow him blow as they say now, it’s been a while I cant remember other names now.