How Not To Rewrite Nigeria’s Music History

For a lot of millennials born at the onset of the internet explosion, especially those whose sense of Nigeria’s past is shaped by social media, an accuracy of the past, the little they know of it, is sometimes shaky.

And for Generation Z’ers and those before them, who were schooled by grandparents and parents, through traditional lores and history, the need to educate errant ‘children of nowadays’ is a task that must be undertaken.

The reason is not far-fetched. Allowing those with a distorted sense of history rewrite the very history they do not understand is tantamount to burying the past under the dust of ignorance.

So when famed culture critic and journalist Molara Wood recently corrected the notion that Wizkid is the first Nigerian music act to sell out shows in the United Kingdom, her message on Twitter was clear- “the ignorant kill their own god.”

Wizkid styled by Ola Ebiti – Photo – Simon Martin.JPG

Wizkid styled by Ola Ebiti – Photo – Simon Martin.JPG

Wood’s poignant, yet realistic statement, reflects how the popularity of Afrobeats, itself welcomed by the bastardisation of Fela’s Afrobeat, has limited young people’s appreciation of the Nigerian music legend that put the country’s name on the map of world music before the present band of music stars.
“It was impossible in [the] UK a few years ago for a Naija act to headline a festival”, a Nigerian @moelahjr living in the UK tweeted on March 27, along with a poster of The Ends Festival featuring Wizkid as one of the headliners.

That the tweet was retweeted 726 times and got 280 likes showed that many agreed with his sentiment. That is why Wood’s three-tweet thread was (and is still important).

Before Wizkid, Davido and Olumide became a few of the biggest exports Nigeria gave to the world, I.K Dairo, King Sunny Ade, Ayinde Barrister and Fela Kuti headlined festivals and played in multiple cities in single tours.

While Fela’s oeuvre and lifestyle are still influential in present-day Nigeria – perhaps because of the accessibility foisted on his music by the Nigerian Pidgin – King Sunny Ade’s impact and records have gone largely underappreciated.

Unjustly so.

KSA Syncro System fetched him a Grammy nomination in 1983, seven years before Wizkid was born, nine before the birth of Davido and three years after Tiwa Savage was born. That made KSA the first ever Nigerian to be nominated for the award.


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