Monday Musings: One Africa Music Fest Was A Typical African Show And We Are Ashamed


All roads led to London’s Wembley Arena last Saturday. At least all roads as far as African legs were concerned. They were looking forward to gyrating and swaying with disregard at the One Africa Music Fest event billed as the “London Turn Up Party Of The Year” aka “African Party Of The Year” aka “Dance Till Your Hips Crack Party”. Rarely do you see the best of African musical talents billed to perform at a single event (and I’m not talking about those events that fill their promo banners with every single singer’s photos they can download from the internet).Everyone was looking forward to Tekno doing his weird epileptic-like dances to “Pana”, experiencing Tiwa Savage’s onstage vocals do injustice to her hit tracks but escaping judgement by using her twerking skills to appease the crowd. Some wanted to listen to Banky W sing his “Made For You” track live on stage and listen intently to see if there truly were hidden messages in it. 9ice might not be musically relevant again but his “Gongo Aso” track can still shut down any concert hall. Awilo Logomba was tasked with working out the hips of the audience with his “Makosa” tracks while headliner Jidenna was to classically close the show. It was a full house with even many more stars. Everybody in London, UK and even close European neighbours gladly took time out of Summer preparations to travel for the show. After all, home was coming to London even if it was only for one night.Memories of home were truly evoked. Ever been out with your family when someone inadvertently displays a behaviour permitted at home but outrightly embarrassing outside? Like a little sibling throwing a tantrum or a parent sipping loudly from a straw? Remember that ground-just-swallow-me-now feeling? African attendees at the Wembley Arena must have felt that exact way. But rather than it being pardonably for unruly behaviour or bad table manners, we showed the world that we have no respect for the first rule of civilised societies – Be decent enough to honour and manage time.The show was to start with 7 PM but lo and behold, the opening act didn’t step onto stage until 8:20 PM. A whole 80 minutes late. 4800 seconds later. To give perspective, 20,640 babies were born worldwide during that interval while there were 8400 recorded deaths worldwide. The audience was already getting antsy but we temporarily forgot by the time the recently engaged Banky W humorously curved the crowd with “All my single ladies make some no…..I’m joking…I’m taken”. Everyone started getting worried when Casper Nyovest, Sarkodie, M.I Abaga, Awilo, 9ice, Falz, Tekno, Tiwa Savage, Phyno, Olamide, Davido, Flavour and P-Square unceremoniously had to cut their performances short.Unknown to everybody, the facility managers at Wembley Arena were very much unlike facility managers in Nigeria. There was a contract for the time the venue would be used for and there were to be no extensions regardless of the delay in the concert’s kickoff. A contract was a contract after all. No place for sentimentality, paid-padi and pity faces as is common in Nigerian venues. So acts had to rush their performances as the deadline approached. Someone forgot to tell the organisers that rushed performance is no performance at all. The time-wasting, the back-and-forth interaction between the artiste and the fans, the extended looping of beats by DJs, the introductions by hype-men, and the palpable anticipation as fans are made to wait impatiently for the next act – those are what makes concerts different from kicking it back at home and watching Soundcity’s Top Ten.Rushed as they might try, it was ultimately enough. The moment the light to the stage was abruptly cut and stage hands climbed on the stage without invitation to start dis-assembling the stage while an artiste was speaking on stage would have been laughable if we were not busy covering our eyes in embarrassments, offering only weak smiles of understanding to nobody in particular. What?!! This does not even happen in movies. The headline of the show Jidenna did not even get to perform at the show. What nonsense. A total waste of £35 (approximately 15,000 NGN) ticket.This should serve as a lesson but Nigerians are not famous for learning from history. Planning was messed up big time. We were took laid back and mediocre in our approach, taking too many things for granted and once again, the white man ruthlessly made us pay for it. This was typical African behaviour that has penetrated all the nooks and crannies of Lagos from the the dress maker who never delivers the right quality outfit at the right time all the way to the top where a leader takes electoral mandate for granted and doesn’t deem it relevant to share with the public the details of his health status which has prevented him from carrying out the tasks he was elected for. One Africa Music Fest was Nigerian on live-display and we should be ashamed. But as the adage goes, “Black man no dey shame.”Photo Credit: Getty

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