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Still from "Dangote" video (Youtube)

Dangote Isn't Nigeria's Hero, But Don't Ask Burna Boy

Dangote the man isn't a true hero of the masses, but "Dangote," the song, serves to show them that they can surmount poverty using his wealth as a guiding light.

In Nigerian superstar Burna Boy's new video for his song "Dangote," the desperation of the poor and their oppression is laid out in a winding narrative. There's an unlicensed pharmacist hawking drugs in a public vehicle, a preacher trying to win some souls and pass a plate for donations. There are two car crashes, a case of sexual harassment, a pickpocket scoring a phone, and a young hustler who is crippled by ailing transportation. He continues his journey on foot, finding solace in the music, which leads him to Fela Kuti's symbolic home, the New Afrika Shrine, where Burna Boy awaits at the end of the arc. Once again Afrobeat is used as a peg to symbolise music's close affiliation to the people.


Burna Boy, is Nigeria's most on-form musician, and the release of his new single last weekend named after Africa's richest man, Aliko Dangote, is an angry indictment of poverty in Nigeria. The video, shot by the renowned Clarence Peters, has received rave reviews, with some Twitter users excitedly crowning it "video of the year."

Burna Boy - Dangote (Official Video) youtu.be

Burna Boy (real name Damini Ogulu) has gained wide praise as an afro-fusion artist in tune with the suffering of Nigeria's poor. This is considered rare in a country where pop stars are often insulated from the plight of the masses by their wealth. In that context, Burna Boy often tries to embody the rebel spirit of Fela, a conscious music legend, with whom he has close family ties. Kuti, the pioneer of the Afrobeat genre, was famous for his political activism during the country's era of military dictatorships. Burna's mother and manager, Bose Ogulu, once danced in his band. His grandfather, Benson Idonije, managed Fela at some point in the legend's career.

Burna's art has always drawn elements from Fela. The Afrobeat sound and aesthetic repeatedly shows up in his art, refined, fused with modern sound patterns, and updated for the times. From earlier hit singles such as "Run My Race," down to his recent meteoric run in 2018, led by "Ye" and "Gbona," there's always an allusion to Fela's art. "Dangote" is no different.

Here is where Dangote sticks out: where Fela expressly embraces the poor and takes aim at the elite, Burna boy opts for a different approach, "Dangote still dey find money o…," he sings, elevating the world's 64th richest man, Aliko Dangote as a shining example of pure hustle. He does this with good intent. Dangote who recently became the 64th richest man in the world, with a reported net worth of $16.6 billion, represents the complete aspirational picture of the Nigerian dream. People see his wealth and they want that for themselves.

Still from "Dangote" video (Youtube)

But this Dangote isn't exactly a true champion of the people. According to reports, Dangote is a huge financier of the political class. Opening his coffers to fund elections of the country's past presidents. As a reward, he influences economic policies to increase his worth, regardless of what happens to the masses. He owns a monopoly on the cement industry and continues to grow richer in a country where 6 people fall into poverty every minute. According to the World Poverty Clock, 82 million of the 180 million population (42.4 percent), live in extreme poverty. But these people don't care about Dangote's business. He has money. However he got it is inconsequential. They simply want some of it.

With the help of actors, stuntmen and extras, the video walks us through poverty as a state of disadvantage, and idlemen breeding desperation, which becomes a slippery slope. Desperate people lose their humanity, when that happens, they are open to doing anything for survival. Anything, including internet fraud, locally known as 'Yahoo Yahoo' or 'G' in Nigeria. Problem is, it is illegal, and when the law strikes, it never ends well for the poor person, who is now a poor criminal.

Still from "Dangote" video (Youtube)

There's also an element of praise-singing, which is a core element of traditional Yoruba music genres. Right from the 1980s, apart from the business class, the political class, through patronage and support, played a major role in the success of any artist. Legendary Fuji and Apala luminaries such as King Wasiu Ayinde Marshall aka KWAM1, Ayinde Barrister, the late Haruna Ishola, entrenched praise-singing as an important part of their creative process. There are countless records made in honour of Nigeria's business and political elite. This is still a very common practice in today's traditional music circles. Contemporary pop artists who grew up assimilating that culture picked it up, choosing to glorify the 'heroes' of their time through a more subtle form, which shows up in music as name-dropping.

Burna Boy's 'Dangote' elevates the businessman and props him up as the aspirational model for everyone else. Never mind that he is in bed with the oppressive government—he deserves praise for being an aspirational figure, inspiring millions of the country's youth. He is the true Nigerian model of success. He is a worthy recipient of high praise.

Burna Boy's biggest credit here has to be the galvanization of Nigeria's poor. While Fela Kuti's conscious template is largely made up of speaking hard truths to power and inspiring the people with his boldness, Burna speaks hard truth to the people, pushing for them to take control of their lives, and rise up, regardless of the system. The Nigerian spirit is defined by endless hustle. It's a message that touches at the core of the Nigerian spirit, and is to be the catalyst to giving him another hit. Dangote the man isn't a true hero of the masses, but "Dangote," the song, serves to show them that they can surmount poverty using his wealth as a guiding light.

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Image: Nabsolute Media

Reekado Banks Recalls The Carnage of The #EndSARS Protests In Single 'Ozumba Mbadiwe'

The Nigerian singer pays his respects to those lost during last year's #EndSARS protests.

Nigerian singer and songwriter Reekado Banks is back with a track that is as socially important as it is a banger. It seems fitting for the singer's first solo release of the year to be a tribute to his fellow countrypeople fighting for a country that they all wish to live in. The 27-year-old Afrobeats crooner has returned with endearing track 'Ozumba Mbadiwe', honoring the one-year anniversary of the #EndSARS protests that saw the Nigerian government authorize an onslaught of attacks on Nigerian citizens for their anti-government demonstrations.

The protests took the world by storm, additionally because the Nigerian government insists that none of the police brutality happened. In an attempt to gaslight the globe, Nigerian officials have come out to hoards to deny any and all accusations of unlawfully killing peaceful protesters. Banks mentions the absurd denials in the track, singing "October 20, 2020 something happened with the government, they think say we forget," in the second verse. Reekado's reflective lyrics blend smoothly and are supported by the upbeat, effortless Afrobeat rhythm.

In another reflective shoutout to his home, 'Ozumba Mbadiwe' is named after a popular expressway on Lagos Island that leads to the infamous Lekki Toll Gate where protesters were shot at, traumatized, and murdered. Although packed with conscious references, the P.Priime produced track is a perfect amalgamation of the talents that Reekado Banks has to offer; a wispy opening verse, a hook to kill, and an ethereal aura to mark this as a song as a hit. On "Ozumba Mbadiwe," all the elements align for Reekado's signature unsinkable sound to take flight.

Check out Reekado Bank's lyric video for his single 'Ozumba Mbadiwe'

Reekado Banks - Ozumba Mbadiwe (Lyric Video) www.youtube.com

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