More Nigeria Artists had decided to follow the line of Tiwa Savage and Burna boy over the continued attacks on foreign nationals residing in south-Africa in their decision to stop each of their engagements with the country
A development that leads to a diplomatic face-off between Nigeria and south-Africa due to a fresh round of violence toward foreign nationals in South Africa where angry mobs in Pretoria was said to have allegedly looted property belonging to foreign-owned businesses.
The riots killed at least 5 people and affected scores more. It’s not clear how many of them were Nigerians.
This isn’t the first time this has happened either, incidents like this flare-up occasionally in a country still struggling with the aftermath of decades of apartheid.
The artist community, for the most part, was initially reluctant to speak. The legendary 2Baba, for one, responded to Hushpuppi when the social media celebrity voiced his displeasure at this behaviour. He exclaimed: “You do not have the right to harass another person for not speaking up yet because you do not live in their heads… Please let us be guided.”
But Nigerian fans have historically expected their pop stars to speak on social issues, or sing about them at least. Rightly or wrongly, artists are sometimes seen as quasi-prophets with the ability to bring awareness to the people’s plight, even if they lack the infrastructure to solve them. It needn’t be advocacy on the level of Fela Kuti either, but an acknowledgement of the issues — some of which have plagued the country since the days of Abami Eda — could provide succour and let fans know that they are not alone.
Artists such as 2Baba embrace the expectation, but many more just stay away. Addressing social issues in the public square could come at a cost, and artists can fully expect to receive backlash, especially from those on the other side of the ideological divide.
being in a career where success is largely predicated on popularity, giving a portion of the public a reason not to like you can be suicidal. So you can fully understand artists who choose to “unlook” even when everything around them is in flames.
Their presence in both countries created a rich platform for artists, videographers, executives and other professionals from Lagos to Jo’burg to collaborate heavily.
The relationship has now matured to the point where, in 2017, a Davido could have songs like “Fall” and “If” go platinum (30,000 units sold) and diamond (300,000 units sold) in South Africa. And, the following year, AKA could get “Fela In Versace” to be embraced by Nigerian radio, even though a song about one of the country’s most renowned activists had a socially redeeming value of approximately zero.
But in the last week, AKA has gone from that exalted space to public enemy #1 in Nigerian music. The colourful MC had used xenophobic dog-whistles in the past, like when the Super Eagles threw Bafana Bafana out of the African Nations Cup (2019) and he claimed that it hurt particularly bad to lose to Nigeria because South Africans lose to Nigerians in “every way”, and when he reignited his beef with his arch-nemesis Cassper Nyovest, after criticizing him for wanting to be Nigerian.
The recent violence was, therefore, an opportunity for Nigerians to give AKA a piece of their mind too. They were led by ex-Sony Music signee, Ycee, but AKA’s former collaborators Burna Boy and Ice Prince had also had enough of the rapper’s baiting. MI Abaga would end up being one of the few to show support for AKA but he was soon isolated. More Nigerian artists would speak up against xenophobia in general, artists like Wizkid and Davido said their piece, and even the previously reticent 2Baba put up a strong message condemning the attacks.
However, these aren’t the types of issues that a conversation and a common understanding can’t solve. While career diplomats discuss the way forward for both countries, both sets of artists also have important roles to play within their communities. It might not be one that they’re comfortable with playing but it is one that they might be surprised could have a profound impact, whether good or bad.
Meanwhile, plans to evacuate Nigerians from troubled south Africa has suffered a set beck as the majority of those interested in the process only have expired passports
The airline with the support of the Federal Government had scheduled to begin evacuating Nigerians from South Africa since yesterday.
This was sequel to the ongoing xenophobic attacks against Nigerians and other foreign nationals living in that country.
The Chairman of Air Peace, Mr Allen Onyema, said in a statement in Lagos yesterday that most of the potential returnees were yet to renew their documents.
Onyema said the airline had already placed its Boeing 777 aircraft on standby and was only awaiting the go-ahead from the government.“The Air Peace flight to South Africa will take off from the Lagos Airport and also return to Lagos. As earlier stated, the take-off could be September 9 or September 10.
“This is because Nigerians in South Africa have to obtain travel certificates because many of them do not have travel documents and their passports have expired. Air Peace has placed its aircraft, Boeing 777, on stand-by for the flight since September but the Nigerian High Commission needed time to register the Nigerians billed to travel. And they are already doing that in Johannesburg and Pretoria.”
Onyema described the attacks against Nigerians and other Africans in South Africa as unfortunate, especially with the alleged tacit support being given to the perpetrators by the authorities, he advised Nigerians without legal documents in South Africa to take advantage of the evacuation flight to return to the country.
Many Nigerians both at home and in South Africa had expressed joy following Air Peace Airlines pronouncement to airlift troubled Nigerians in South Africa, in the wake of Xenophobia attack in the country.
The chairman of Air Peace Airlines, Onyema, had promised to send aircraft to evacuate Nigerians who wish to return home from South Africa as from September 6 free of charge following the recent xenophobic attacks carried out on foreign nationals in that country, the statement read.