Culled from 

More than 400 donated cows.  $100,000 diamond pendant. 24-karat gold sunglasses by the House of Lunettes. Close to 70 private jets. Hundreds of the most expensive luxury cars.  Wines costing N3.5 million served. A burial so affluent that the host quipped: the burial “would make people crave death with relish”.  Obi Cubana’s mother’s burial has dominated the social-sphere of Nigeria.

He turned his village into an arena of the socialites, eclipsing another burial where a former bank CEO brought former presidents, bank executives, past and present central bank governors, etc for his mother’s burial. But those could not compete with a carnival which attracted Davido, D’banj, Kcee, and E-Money.

Why did Obi Cubana do this? Simply, that is what entertainers do. And they are not stupid. It is a business that wins on visibility and popularity. As the man who runs one of the largest nightclub chains in Nigeria, he understands that he could recruit more thousands if the Cubana brand is more urbanized in the hearts of young people. And to do that, he called up his messengers, being the High Priest, and they responded.

The subjects are young people who are hypnotized by wealth. I promise you one thing: the market cap of Cubana would double in the next few months, mainly from more traffic into his clubs.

See videos here

For this fanfare and carnival, it goes back to one thing: delivering alpha. I had been in a meeting where an entertainer was asking what he could do – no matter how crazy – to be in the news for 24 hours. It was in Tuskegee Alabama and I was trying to earn small money (as a student) to help a local entertainer on strategy. The wife there suggested that the man should slap her and she would call the police, and that would get all the local newspapers to cover it. But at the end, it would be captured as a mistaken incident (the wife would claim she was confused) and the next week, he would open a concert! I excused myself and left: many things are rigged in this world!

Obi needed to arrive in Nigeria – and he has done what most do to arrive in Nigeria: go through the minds of people, showcasing wealth, and become relevant at scale. Expect him endorsing politicians now! He is rumored to be worth at least $500 million with his Cubana empire estimated at excess of $2 billion, globally. In other words, he runs a business which could be valued more than most banks in Nigeria. His magic is simple: uncommon class of splendid quality in exotic clubs and hotels.

Anambra state passed an anti-money spraying in events. We will be watching if they will enforce the law because what happened in the burial was clear: there were many men whose problems are how fast they can spread money. Yes, someone in Nnewi makes a tool which helps you load cash and push a button so that spraying money will not be too much of a burden.

Same Nigeria and 99% of them live in that Nigeria: unbounded wealth. Sometimes, despite the obvious insanity of this carnival, it is good to remind people that Nigeria has acres of diamonds. Do not be tripped – all of them have built ROIs on,  and the destination is fatter bank accounts as free press (unpaid and earned media) has brought more brand recognition.

Obi and his group are in the same Nigeria. Yes, despite the obvious insanity of this carnival, it is good to remind people that Nigeria has acres of diamonds. As I watched them, I saw an opportunity: build a money-sprayer as I saw men in pain trying to spray money fast enough, but their hands were failing. Imagine if we have supersonic money-sprayer which allows only $100 papers!

Dignitaries and their motorcades arriving for the burial of Obi Cubana’s mother

But note this: Obi has elevated Cubana, and when he returns to business, he will check how the foot traffic has improved in his clubs and hotels! Like in Michael Jackson’s wake keep where the girl said it would be nice to do this type of show regularly, Cubana 2.0 has started. And before I go, I send my condolences. He truly wanted to celebrate his mother – and he has all the rights.



Ndubuisi Ekekwe

Ndubuisi Ekekwe, PhD, Chairman of FASMICRO Group, is the Lead Faculty in Tekedia Mini-MBA. He writes regularly in the Harvard Business Review. Email:

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