One Africa Music Fest: How Nigerians Exported “African Time” To London
Post-event press for the London leg of One Africa Music fest has mostly been awash with details of shoddy performances, and the inability of Nigerian acts to carry an audience. The biggest bone op-ed writers had to pick with the organisers of the event was timing.
According to revelations that came after the show, fans were still in the euphoria of the festival when Wembley’s SSE Arena was shut down, forcing event organisers to close up shop for the night. Amongst the names unable to get stage time due to the sudden downturn of the evening include, Olamide and Phyno, whose sets were squeezed into a joint five minute performance and headliner, Jidenna who was still backstage when the event was force closed. Critics and attendees alike have since aired their grievances, blaming the proverbial African time as one of many fails of the night.
Agreed, One Africa Music Fest’s organisers Upfront and Personal, could have done a better job of planning, the truth however is that it’s not unusual for an event of OAMF’s magnitude to fall apart at it seams. Music festivals ought to be spread across days, that OAMF has only held all of its editions in one night, is both an adulation-worthy feat and perhaps the greatest flaw in organisation. The sheer volume of logistics for a one-day music festival makes it possible to leave a lot of things unattended, especially when dealing with flaring celebrity egos, artist entourage requirements and flight bookings for performers coming from all over Africa and beyond.
After all is said and done, all fingers are still pointed at Upfront and Personal for pandering the continent’s biggest talents for cheap on a stage that could not contain all of what Africa had to offer. I mean, humour me for a minute, but considering the rarity of hosting major international headliners, its quite unlikely that you’d find 21 of America’s biggest artist squeezed on a stage in Johannesburg or Lagos for a four-hour slot.
Africans need to cure themselves of the ‘African Time’ syndrome, but we also have to respect our own as artists in their own right. A stage in obodo oyinbo should not be treated as a favour to artists who have already established considerable clout in Africa, our faves shouldn’t have to struggle for stage time, especially not on a home turf tagged One Africa Music Fest.
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