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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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Photo by Lana Haroun

From #FeesMustFall to #BlueforSudan: OkayAfrica's Guide to a Decade of African Hashtag Activism

The 2010s saw protest movements across the continent embrace social media in their quest to make change.

The Internet and its persistent, attention-seeking child, Social Media has changed the way we live, think and interact on a daily basis. But as this decade comes to a close, we want to highlight the ways in which people have merged digital technology, social media and ingenuity to fight for change using one of the world's newest and most potent devices—the hashtag.

What used to simply be the "pound sign," the beginning of a tic-tac-toe game or what you'd have to enter when interacting with an automated telephone service, the hashtag has become a vital aspect of the digital sphere operating with both form and function. What began in 2007 as a metadata tag used to categorize and group content on social media, the term 'hashtag' has now grown to refer to memes (#GeraraHere), movements (#AmINext), events (#InsertFriendsWeddingHere) and is often used in everyday conversation ("That situation was hashtag awkward").

The power of the hashtag in the mobility of people and ideas truly came to light during the #ArabSpring, which began one year into the new decade. As Tunisia kicked off a revolution against oppressive regimes that spread throughout North Africa and the Middle East, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook played a crucial role in the development and progress of the movements. The hashtag, however, helped for activists, journalists and supporters of causes. It not only helped to source information quickly, but it also acted as a way to create a motto, a war cry, that could spread farther and faster than protestors own voices and faster than a broadcasted news cycle. As The Guardian wrote in 2016, "At times during 2011, the term Arab Spring became interchangeable with 'Twitter uprising' or 'Facebook revolution,' as global media tried to make sense of what was going on."

From there, the hashtag grew to be omnipresent in modern society. It has given us global news, as well as strong comedic relief and continues to play a crucial role in our lives. As the decade comes to a close, here are some of the most impactful hashtags from Africans and for Africans that used the medium well.

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Convener of "#Revolution Now" Omoyele Sowore speaks during his arraignment for charges against the government at the Federal High Court in Abuja, on September 30, 2019. (Photo by KOLA SULAIMON/AFP via Getty Images)

Nigerian Activist, Omoyele Sowore, Re-Arrested Just Hours After Being Released on Bail

Sowore, the organizer of Nigeria's #RevolutionNow protests, was detained by armed officers, once again, in court on Friday.

Omoyele Sowore, the Nigerian human rights activist and former presidential candidate who has spent over four months in jail under dubious charges, was re-arrested today in Lagos while appearing in court.

The journalist and founder of New York-based publication Sahara Reporters, had been released on bail the day before. He was arrested following his organization of nationwide #RevolutionNow protests in August. Since then, Sowore has remained in custody on what are said to be trumped-up charges, including treason, money laundering and stalking the president.

He appeared in court once again on Friday after being released on bail in federal court the previous day. During his appearance, Sowore was again taken into custody by Nigerian authorities.

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Screenshot from the upcoming film Warriors of a Beautiful Game

In Conversation: Pelé's Daughter is Making a Documentary About Women's Soccer Around the World

In this exclusive interview, Kely Nascimento-DeLuca shares the story behind filming Warriors of a Beautiful Game in Tanzania, Brazil and other countries.

It may surprise you to know that women's soccer was illegal in Brazil until 1981. And in the UK until 1971. And in Germany until 1970. You may have read that Sudan made its first-ever women's league earlier this year. Whatever the case, women and soccer have always had a rocky relationship.

It wasn't what women wanted. It certainly wasn't what they needed. However, society had its own ideas and placed obstacle after obstacle in front of women to keep ladies from playing the game. Just this year the US national team has shown the world that women can be international champions in the sport and not get paid fairly compared to their male counterparts who lose.

Kely Nascimento-DeLuca is looking to change that. As the daughter of international soccer legend Pelé, she is no stranger to the game. Growing up surrounded by the sport, she was actually unaware of the experiences women around the world were having with it. It was only recently that she discovered the hardships around women in soccer and how much it mirrored women's rights more generally.

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(Photo by Joseph Okpako/WireImage via Getty)

Listen to Wizkid's Surprise New EP 'Soundman Vol. 1'

Wizkid treats fans to new songs featuring Chronixx, DJ Tunez and more—just ahead of 2020.

Wizkid is back. The Nigerian pop star surprised listeners early this morning with the unannounced release of a new EP, Soundman Vol. 1.

Though Wizkid has released a couple of singles this year, fans had been awaiting a new drop and more extensive project from the artist. With it being so close to the end of the year, it didn't look like we'd get a new body of work from the artist till 2020, but he proved otherwise when he took to Twitter at the wee hours of the morning to quietly share streaming links for the new project.

He also announced that a second EP, Soundman Vol. 2, would drop sometime before his highly-anticipated upcoming album Made In Lagos (MIL).

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