RSVP Required For This Party

Published 9 years ago

For the average Nigerian socialite, Lagos’ social calendar is abuzz with lavish launches, swish soirees and smash-hit parties.

From mid-week corporate dos to weekend weddings, the city is a hive of activity. As venues enjoy advanced bookings, inboxes brim with invites and guests anticipate their next fashionable outing, there is no greater utopia for Africa’s event planners than Lagos.

Event manager Funke Bucknor Obruthe knows this only too well but says that behind the glitz, is grit. As CEO of Zapphaire Events, a holistic event consultancy and management company, Obruthe has more than paid her dues.


As one of the pioneers of Nigeria’s events industry, it’s easy to see the passion and excitement she has for her craft, one that can be traced back to her college days.

While studying law at the University of Lagos, Obruthe had a flair for helping peers organize events; a talent she shared with her mother.

“I thought I would enjoy law, but I didn’t. Every year of my course, I thought I would eventually get excited about it but I didn’t. I found it too monotonous,” she says now.


By the time she got to law school, she had offered to help a friend plan her wedding. It was the start of what would be a lucrative, long-standing career.

“Before I knew it, I was doing celebrity events and had met influential clientele that allowed me an opportunity to show my range. As time went on, we evolved and began to do corporate and social events as well,” says Obruthe.

The firm had humble beginnings. Before she moved into her first office, Obruthe worked out of home, even out of her car.

Twelve years on, Zapphaire is a big player in Nigeria’s events scene – and also receives orders from beyond.


“We are doing events in Dubai, UK, South Africa etc. When I look back, I sometimes ask myself, how did we get here? But I realize passion is what drives me. My team has also been immensely instrumental to our growth.”

But Obruthe says the industry is rife with challenges, highlighting logistics and infrastructure as few of the operational hiccups.

Pulling off a successful event means attention to every tiny detail.

“You don’t have another chance to create an impression on your client. From the clients’ brief, to the proposal, right through to execution,” she says. Crisis management is an inexcusable part of the job for Obruthe.


“In Nigeria, we do large events. However, there is a lax RSVP culture. This makes planning quite difficult. We once had over 3,000 people show up for an event we had planned for 1,500. This posed a logistical nightmare. In these situations, one has to manage the situation accordingly and always prepare for the unforeseen.”

With Nigeria’s ever-busy social calendar, event management companies are a dime a dozen today.  Differentiation is crucial for brand relevance and new business opportunities. Obruthe believes the winning formula is in creating unique experiences.

“When people leave, they want to take an experience with them and this is what I aim to do with each event.”

And themed events are popular. “The idea of a developed concept living through every facet of the event is really exciting. I constantly ask: ‘how can we make this event different? How do we make it special?’ I get a rush out of this.”


Her company recently established a décor arm with plans for a TV show and a new clothing line also in the offing. Obruthe is optimistic.

She is a member of Women in Management, Business & Public Service (WIMBIZ), a Nigerian non-profit, and she also mentors aspiring event managers. She says passion, hard work and commitment are keys to an eventful career in the industry. All of those qualities she amply has.