I am with Sauti Sol, here for the AFRIMA Awards accompanying them as group’s Publicist and Tour Manager. It’s a 40-minute ride to the hotel from Lagos mainland to Victoria Island, where we are staying over the weekend. On our way, we ask our driver to shuffle between radio stations. We don’t hear any foreign music being played but their own – hit and shit songs alike – an amazing model that has forced Nigerian artistes to push their music out of their saturated market.
Interesting how most of the local radio stations in Kenya play more West African and American content than music from Kenya or East Africa. Kenyans have such pride in music. This has built a wall over music fans and media, making everyone a gatekeeper or wanna-be pundit leaving an industry birthing serious imbalances. If more local content, regardless of quality, is put on radio quality and competition levels will skyrocket. You just never hear shit songs on Kenyan radio. But you can’t always hear hit songs on radio either.
Bien asks the driver, “So who are the biggest Nigerian artistes?” Too many, he says. “Who is your best?” Olamide. “Who is the most respected and greatest?” Tubaba, he asserts.
I already hate Eko Hotel at first sight. I’ve heard so much about how dope it is but I just don’t like its grandiose plan. It feels like a small city. I am not sure if the crowd at the hotel all came for the AFRIMA but I really hate crowds and people lingering at lobbies and reception areas. This place is a beehive of activities. Plus part of my room’s ceiling falls on a guest inside my room. Like WTF!?
At night, my girls – Abi leading the battalion scoop me to DJ Spinall’s Album House Party at Oniru Estate. A generous cocktail of Smirnoff welcomes us to the mad house. Poor mansion! Numerous rooms have guests thronging in and out like a festival with bottles popping like it’s a beer factory. On a different side some people are jumping into a pool. I can’t help but think of Banky W’s Lagos Party. Again I hate crowds but I really like this party and its show for the Nigerian affluence. Who allowed all these people to party in their house? Won’t they steal or completely damage the house? I need to see and meet DJ Spinall, so I ask Abi to lead me to the VIP section. On getting there, it’s as packed as a brand new matchbox. I can’t even see or reach him. Our night at the house ends. We end up at a club. Here, my memory fails. I might have had too many :-)
I wake up thinking about nothing but our luggage. My heart and conscience tells me that the airline will neither deliver nor call any of us to get our luggage. (They actually never do). So I start to make my own arrangements to go to airport in time to catch the arrival of the flight that should have our luggage. At first I think I will sort it out myself but trouble starts when I can’t find a taxi for the airport because there is fuel shortage in the city. WHAT THE HELL IS THAT FOR? The petroleum industry in Nigeria is the largest in Africa. Contributing to about 14% of its economy, it hardly benefits the normal mwananchi directly. This is why I hate that western media and countries equate GDP to African development and fastest growing |“healthy” economies. What’s the point of having the highest GDP when the person on the street can’t even have fuel or power? Because of this kind of disparity, I am passionate about PR in sensitising communities, policy makers and key stakeholders in natural resource management on equity, transparency and conflict management.
Last year, I worked on a similar project in Kenya’s Turkana area following the discovery of oil reserves. Read To Turkana and Back: Visiting Tullow Oil (Part II)
I don’t know what I’d do without IBB. He sees my distress. Knowing too well that the time it will take me to get a taxi man with sufficient fuel, get through the airport madness and to our luggage will be the same time the airline will take to disembark the luggage, load them back in and send them back to Kenya – he assures me, “Don’t worry I will get you someone who works at the airport to sort everything for you, and we will have to pay him.”
When our bags finally arrive, it’s such a relief that nothing is missing. We are now ready for the AFRIMA tonight. Despite AFRIMA’s complete disregard for time and schedule management, I applaud the organisers and fraternity for having set up a brilliant system of awarding African achievement and excellence in music entertainment. Sauti Sol win Best African Group & Producer of the Year.
There are so many African stars at the event backstage. Busy with Sauti Sol and spoilt for choice, I show some love to Cobhams, Tubaba, Diamond Platnumz and congratulate Cassper Nyovest for filling the dome. I am more than impressed by the kind of media coverage AFRIMA attracts. There are hundreds of journalists at the red carpet. I’ve had a field day, I would absolutely enjoy working in the Nigerian industry. I’ve met top publicists from Angola, South Africa, Nigeria and Cameroon. I’ve met top radio owners, promoters, music executives and many of my peers. Everyone is warm and open to exchange. I love that about Nigerians. They are open to the rest of Africa and collaborations.
As of the end of the ceremony, our flight back to Nairobi is at 1:50 a.m. unbeknownst to us. Why would anyone book us into such an early morning flight, and especially when the ceremony wasn’t even over then? We have missed our flight back and have only one chance to catch the 12 p.m. flight. But will we? Looking at Lagos morning traffic across The Third Mainland Bridge to the airport and the fact that organisers messed too many flights to sort them all out in good time – we will have to pull an Amazing Race.
BONUS: Thank you so much IBB.
Read the last Part III of To Nigeria and Back: Baptism by Fire coming soon …