Akon has been saying it for years, but there really is no place like Africa! And it seems that his fellow musicians are taking note and sharing their love of the continent.
Top-charting songstress and moveshaker Ciara, was recently in Lagos headlining the third edition of Darey produced Love Like a Movie Valentine concert. Rather than flying in and out just to perform (such as previous attendee Kim Kardashian West who was on ground in Lagos for a mere five hours or less for a whopping US$500,000 ‘appearance’ fee) Ciara spent time in the cosmopolitan city immersing herself in the West African culture and meeting its people.
She personally documented her time in Lagos and showed how much fun she was having. She met and spoke with young children and students; ate Nigerian food; and wore Nigerian traditional clothing. But by far, the most wonderful media she uploaded was her and her dance group skilfully shaking their money-makers to Nigerian songs Kukere (by Iyanya) and Duro (by Tekno) in traditional Nigerian dance moves.
It is so refreshing to see internationally acclaimed musicians on the continent.
The video upload caused excitement and pride among all Nigerians: ‘Yaasss Queen Ciara! We love you! You can come back to Nigeria anytime!’ wrote one such fan. Ciara, herself, happily said: ‘I Couldn’t Leave Without Doing This! The Soul, The Culture, The Passion Here Is Unreal!! Thank You For Opening Up Your Neighbourhood To Me and My Dancers.’
It is so refreshing to see internationally acclaimed musicians on the continent not only doing positive work, but enjoying themselves! Too frequently African cultures are used for inspiration or justification of art yet most of the musicians have never even been to an African country.
There are those wonderful few who enjoy Africa, fall in love with the continent and its inhabitants.
Many international stars that have visited Africa (especially Nigeria) for performances – from Rick Ross and Chris Brown to Mary J Blige and Lauryn Hill – many feel the love and heart of the country they are in. To be quite frank, most of them get paid and leave on the first flight out.
But not all. There are those wonderful few who enjoy Africa, fall in love with the continent and its inhabitants, get inspired and help where they can. Below are a few examples of international musicians who are loving Africa:
Harry Styles from One Direction professed his love for Ghana as his ‘favourite country’ out of all he has travelled to during an interview. Styles also named his company Fridous Limited after a young Ghanaian girl he met and bonded with while there.
The Godfather of hip hop, Jay-Z, knows there is an abundance of talent in Africa. He made the announcement on Twitter that he has appointed his cousin (Briant ‘Bee-High’ Biggs) to look for talent in Nigeria to sign to Roc Nation.
Jay-Z has reportedly signed South African rappers Cassper Nyovest and AKA this year in February. Ondamic.com quoted him as saying:
‘I am black and y’all know Africa is blessed with talent and for Cassper Nyovest and AKA they are the true definition of hip hop… In Africa they understand the game.’
50 Cent notoriously showed off images of his mansion in ‘Africa’ despite his bankruptcy woes in the US.
Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def is (perhaps was) a lover and advocator of Africa, a South African resident and ‘world passport holder’ until recent troubles have seen him bear the brunt of South African law.
Tinie Tempah recently signed one of the biggest local artists in Nigeria, Wizkid, to his label; as well as accidentally discovering previous bread-seller/new ‘it’ model Olajumoke ‘Jumoke Sunday’ Orisaguna when she photobombed his shoot in Lagos with photographer Ty Bello.
UK grime star, Skepta loves Nigeria and wants to inspire the next generation. Recently, His family finished building a playground that Skepta shared on his Instagram page:
‘Me and my Dad been talking about making a place for the children to play in his village in Nigeria. He sent me these pics and my heart is smiling.’
I had the chance to personally meet and hangout with the legend that is Maxwell (check out my Instagram below) who was so inspired by the city of Lagos.
He too came for a concert but decided to prolonged his stay. My friends and I had a wonderful time showing him the sights and sounds of our city. I tell you now, when it finally came time for him to go, he was rather sad to leave. He has visited the continent since, and continues to show love and support for Africa and its artists.
McCartney frequently travels to several countries in Africa, not just for charity work, but also for musical inspiration. Post The Beatles, he spent six weeks in Lagos recording for his album Band on the Run. He joined Ikoyi Club, met local musicians (some of whom ended up playing on the album) including the legend that was Fela Kuti (on the right in the photo below) and recorded the album in a studio in Ikeja.
Although the UK tabloids painted a picture of distress and turmoil in Nigeria while he was there, McCartney has said that was not the case. His love for Africa has not diminished since and evidence can be heard in his music recordings even today.