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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

ThisDay Festival 2008 ‘Africa Rising’ Snubs Local Artists


Charity begins at home" is a saying I got accustomed to hearing while growing up. Indeed, for the future, this saying ought to be at the forefront of the producers and organizers of the recently completed ThisDay Festival 2008 ‘Africa Rising’ event. While I applaud the goals to re-brand Africa and help put the continent in a positive light, I fail to see, as I have stated before, how numerous international celebrities most of whom are paid exorbitant amounts to perform at an event in Africa promotes 'Africa Rising.' Indeed, I am convinced that the recently completed ThisDay 'Africa Rising' Festival, simply put, was another year to, once again, snub local African artists giving them the "take a seat at the back of the bus" treatment, in their own country/continent.

To fully understand my point, it makes sense to revisit the promises made in ThisDay’s press releases/articles prior to the 'Africa Rising' events taking place. In a press release dated July 5th, 2008, ThisDay in relevant part stated, "Nigerians and the entire world [will] watch international artistes, and cultural icons performing alongside their Nigerian counterparts . . ." The release/article further added, “[t]his year's festival is designed to revolutionise global perspectives on African issues, shifting focus from the problems to the opportunities and from treating the "symptoms" to curing the "diseases" and projecting positive images of Africa by showcasing the renaissance of Africa's music, fashion and the arts.”

The kick off event held in Abuja on Friday, July 11th, 2008 was the perfect platform to fulfill the promises made of having international artists perform alongside their Nigerian/local counterparts, showing opportunities for investment in Africa’s explosive and growing entertainment industries and projecting positive images of Africa. Instead, all performances by local artists and even the scheduled fashion show on July 11th was cancelled. Reports from insiders and credible sources on the internet state the following: 1) the event cost as much as 60,000 naira/$522.00/$250pounds to attend; 2) it started late--five hours later; 3) performances by all local artists and the fashion show was cancelled; 4) mega international stars like Rihanna, Usher and Jay-Z performed. Supermodels Naomi Campbell, who was visiting the country for the first time, and Tyson Beckford were present [they were unable to attend the subsequent show in Lagos.]

On the issue of lateness, the producers, especially since this is their third year of doing this, should have the logistics down. Of higher significance, however, is the fact that all local artists were cancelled on a very important night. Friday’s July 11th, 2008 performances by local artists in the nation's capital, Abuja, was highly significant in three key ways:

Global Media Visibility: When international celebrities of Jay-Z's caliber are present in Africa, the world listens and reports. Indeed, as of July 9th, ThisDay reported they had accredited sixty [60] journalists from across the globe including “The Mail, Daily Express, Ebony, US Weekly and World Report, Rolling Stone, XXL, Vibe, Billboard, GQ, Vanity Fair, The Voice, Reuters, Reuters TV, MTV, ITV, ITV Radio, BBC, WENL, Associated Press (AP), Press Association and Press Association TV and America Online (AOL)." Global media, including photo agencies like Wire Image report and capture the performances of most artists on stage giving local artists visibility and furthering the purpose of the event, to project positive images of Africa through Africa’s music, among many, globally. Instead, on Friday night, the producers gave the global media only one angle to report and images to show, international mega celebrities. Needless to say, even photo agencies like Wire image had no images of Africa’s local artists performing to show to the world. Plus, even though there was another show held on Sunday which showcased only three local artists, most global media focused only on the the big kickoff event on Friday night in Abuja.

Respect for Local Artists:Every body has a right to have an event for whatever reason, and involve any type of artist, locally or internationally. Our group is saying the event [was] to raise Africa, [but] the whole event utterly disregar[ded] African talent, and lack[ed] any form of skill transfer or upliftment for the industry being used as a tool for the [Africa] ‘rising.’” says Wale Ewedemi the President and Founder for Music Industry Association, Nigeria, in response to my inquiry on local artists performing, especially on Friday night.
Adding to Ewedemi’s point, from an economic perspective, local artists motivate African youths, who we now know have strong spending power, to purchase their music thereby helping to stimulate Africa’s economy. On the contrary, the monies spent on international celebrities do not necessarily bring money into Africa. Producers contribute to foreign economies when they pay international acts to perform in the continent. These monies, especially for the caliber of artists showcased at ThisDay Festival, is well into the millions [US dollars] and do nothing to help Africa's economy or people. Instead, those monies/payments follow these international celebs back to their countries where they invest into their own countries' economies, which naturally makes sense.

Giving Fans What is Promised: Every producer knows the challenges of putting on an event, regardless of the magnitude of the event. Sometimes, people who are meant to show up do not show up. That is understandable, although never appreciated by fans. But, when all performances by local artists scheduled to perform is cancelled on a very important night, it begs the question on how exactly Africa is being promoted/said to be 'rising,' and fails to deliver what was promised to fans for the price of a 60,000naira/$522.00/250 pounds ticket.

ThisDay plans to continue its 'Africa Rising' events in two more locations, London and Washington DC. I truly hope the organizers refocus, regroup and make it truly about 'Africa Rising' by fufilling their promises to have African/international artists perform alongside each other. . . showcasing the renaissance of Africa's music, among many hidden gems Africa has to offer.

~by Uduak Oduok

10 comments:

O! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
O! said...

I think it is very wrong for a Nigerian to organize an event in Nigeria and not give the Nigerian artistes some air time. I mean the likes of Tuface, Dbanj, 9ice and Banky should have been featured in this show.

It is patriotically wrong, ethically wrong and shows a lack of pride in one's heritage. This would have been a great opportunity to showcase to the rest of the world what great talents Ngieria has to offer.

It could have been an opportunity for the Nigerian artistes to network with the American counterparts.....

I hope Mr. Thisday visits this blog....I would call for a boycott of the next Thisday Festival if Nigerian, as well as other artistes of African Heritage are not featured.

This is simply an exploitation of Nigerian resources (ticket money) for the enrichment of foreigners and self......Mr. Thisday did not try at all.

plastiQ said...

Well written, as usual.

TaureanMinx said...

Well said.

Watermouth said...

Ranting from the Abuja side of things..

It's Even worst than it seems.. Also on the 'Snub list' was Yossou 'N dour (http://www.youssou.com/) who was in the Hilton Abuja Lobby looking totally abandoned.. and subsequently didnt perform..

Africa Rising.....

All the Fashion icons, including Oluchi, Tyson Beckford and many others rotted away in Abuja only to hear the fashion show was cancelled... WHY?

Let's not talk of the lesser mortals, the creatures the event was supposed to be 'rising' .. the Nigerian Artistes. Everyone was eagerly anticipating MI's 12 piece live band performance, Jesse Jaggs, Sage Has.Son, Faze, all of whom were battling to prove to bouncers that their tags meant that they were not barrow pushers.

This Day Kwenu!!

After collecting N150 - N200 daily from Nigerians in the name of buying newspaper, (Which is more like a shopping catalog for Banks, cars and Expensive things) They collect the proceeds and go on a 'We can afford you' shopping spree of artists from Atlanta.

In their usual fashion, they attempt to solve problems that don't exist. Even in Abuja, that has a N100 Billion stadioum rotting away, due to lack of use, This day must build a dome. If This day is so fantastic at building edifices in 6 days, why dont they have joing in solving the housing problem in the FCT? They should be able to erect a 3000 housing estate in about 4 weeks, with their magical building prowess.. At least, that's the message we get. Or they should build a 'this Day Mechanics village'.. Then we shall know that someone gives a flying monkey about solving problems.

Since when did planting trees become a new thing in Abuja? El Rufai planted thousands of trees without bringing 'Mobile phone throwing' supermodels to come and assist. Saw the other day in the papers that the senate doesnt want him to ever hold a public office. .. What's new?

In a country where people still earn about N10, 000 a month, This day figures that the best way of organising a concert is import the most desired international acts, erect a tiny venue with muddy grounds(ICC could have done even better) and charge up to N60, 000 for tickets. The 'VIP section didnt really exist. In the middle of the poor malorganisation, they forgot to make any difference between popular and VIP tickets.

So, i guess a normal person , say a police constable should apply for a bank loan to fulfil his desire to watch Yossou Ndour live, and then find out that the chap did not perform!!!

Let's not even go into the rubbish ticket sales arrangement (2 days of ticket sales for the event - finish)

Well, africa Rising , it is..

Meanwhile.. how come Abuja had steady power for that week of the show.. and after the show, back to the usual rubbish?? is there something else we don't know?

Number one thing anyone who wants to go and promote Africa should do is learn how to be ON TIME!!!

Lateness is NOT African.. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Would these local artistes bring about the same international/world wide recognition that the foreign performers brought? I think not! Would people come out in droves to see local artiste the way they would do to see people that they emulate every day in their manner of dressing, Nollywood films, music videos etc? No!

Don't get me wrong, I get all the nationalist points made here but at the same time, the purpose is to bring attention to the issues in Nigeria through this program and these names come with inbuilt media attention. I am not saying it fair but I am saying this is business even if it supposed to be about charity and humanitarianism...it is still business.

Why can't these local artiste band together and do a show to benefit their own people? Must we always wait for others to come and do it first because we start complaining that someone didn't include us in something that was supposed to be about us in the first place? Give me a break, people. If it bothers them so much then they should put on a counter show of sorts and give the money to charity - talk, talk, complain, complain - TAKE ACTION.

Letsstopdeceivingourselves said...

In response to the prior anonymous statemnet about the attention local artists would garner.....i want to ask you what issues will/did the international aritists highlight? What did they do? Let me tell you, what they do is perform and collect their money, simple. They are not doing charity. They honor a performing contract, make an exorbitant amount of money and are treated to great "African" hospitality. These artisits once they leave do not even have intelligence to say where they went to. Its all Africa to them- when iunterviewed they say they travelled to Africa- not Nigeria. So really what Nigerian issue, do you think they will help to address, all Africa is the same to them. Anyway can't totally blame them when dumb THISDAY peiople market their events as being an African event as opposed to being a Nigerian event- further perpetrating the thought that Africa is a country.
Its even ironic that you think these international artisits highlight anything. Stupid Rhianna last year was talking about how poor Nigeria was and talking about being sorry about the deplorable conditions she felt Nigerians were subjected to, this coming out of the mouth of someone who is from Barbados. Having been to Barbados myself, there isnot a world of difference between Barbados and Nigeria. So i don't know what issues or mercy you think these artists that are making good cash perforimng in Nigeria will concern themselves with.

Saved and Abstinent! said...

LOL @ "high caliber" of artists... This is putting our historical humiliation on a pedestal to look down on us... Political stage is more important... I'm off to read Africa is Ready for Business blog...

Indigenous Productions said...

reading the "nonsense-ness" of the event just makes my blood boil. How can people be this inefficient, and dumb.

pam said...

i came here from ur more recent post.

you analalytical skills are priceless. Youve articulated things i just scratch at. I didnt even understand the significance of shutting local acts out of abuja. Sad.
The africa rising blurb was something created to give some worthy spin to the festival.

This crystallizes why africa why africa isnt rising

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