Image courtesy of Youtube

Nigerian singer Simi will perform live on Youtube this Saturday as part of the "Stay Home... #With Me" festival.

YouTube's Online African Music Festival, 'Stay Home... #WithMe,' Resumes This Weekend

Watch M.anifest, Simi, Manu WorldStar and other African artists perform live this weekend as part of YouTube's online music festival, 'Stay Home #WithMe'.

The second weekend of Youtube's"#Stay Home... #WithMe" online African music festival takes place this weekend, Saturday April 4th and Sunday April 5th with performers like M.anifest, Simi and Manu WorldStar on the schedule alongside many more. Keep reading for the full lineup.

Last week, the free online festival hosted livestream performances from several South African, Nigerian and Ghanaian artists including Reekado Banks, Gigi Lamayne, Asa, Skales, Nadia Nakai and many others. Some chose to bring in backing instruments, most went solo to go with the theme while others had technical difficulties and were pushed back.

While the world reels from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, artists in particular have been hard hit by social distancing measures. OkayAfrica caught up with several artists to speak about the personal impact of the outbreak on their scheduled performances, studio time and most importantly, their pockets.

At least 46 African countries have confirmed cases of coronavirus. The total number of coronavirus cases on the continent now stands at over 2400 with at least 60 reported deaths. As a result, many governments have put in place strict travel restrictions, border closures as well as lockdowns of varying severity. Read our updated coverage of coronavirus presence in Africa here.

The music industry also suffered a mighty blow last week with the passing of Cameroonian jazz legend Manu Dibango. Dibango died in a hospital just outside of Paris, France after having tested positive for the coronavirus.

And so with millions of people having to spend an indefinite amount of time indoors, YouTube's "Stay Home #WithMe" festival is the perfect way for fans to reconnect with their favourite artists while providing a much-needed moment of relief to keep the inevitable blues away.

View the full list of artists who are set to perform and their set times below.

The "Stay Home... #WithMe" Festival Schedule April 3-4 edition


Last year we said that the ubiquitous Nigerian super-producer Sarz "has powered a generation of Nigerian music." It's still true. He's also become the in-demand guy for international artists trying and capture some of the Naija flavour in their music. We wrote on OkayAfrica:

"With Afrobeats' global ambitions taking off, Sarz's production is playing crucial roles in celebrated cross-cultural projects. He's helmed Drake's "One Dance," unlocked the chemistry between Wizkid and Skepta on "Energy (Stay Far Away)," and added composition on Beyoncé's Lion King: The Giftalbum."

Sarz also did an exclusive artist playlist for us. Some of the picks might surprise you. This Saturday you have the chance to seam him live.


Watch Sarz perform live on his Youtube channel.


Saturday April 4, 2020

9:00 AM WAT


In 2019 we wrote on OkayAfrica:

"Over a decade strong in the industry, the West African artist, who began his career in the United States, wields a discography that could go toe-to-toe with some of the brightest MCs in the world. Arguably the most creative rapper in the Ghanaian music space, M.anifest has never pulled any punches when it comes to his art, steadily delivering music filled with relevant and conscious themes—whether he's playing the lover-boy role or boasting about his mic skills he's always thorough, technical, and deliberate with his craft."

M.anifest tells us that for his performance this weekend fans can expect "Refreshing renditions of some fan favorites in my catalogue. A stripped down jam session to uplift us in these uncertain times."


Watch M.anifest perform live on his Youtube channel.


Saturday April 4, 2020

4:30 PM WAT

Seyi Shay

In 2017 Shay told OkayAfrica that her preferred approach to songwriting is to go with "feel" first: "The melodies that you freestyle come from the soul, much more than when you think about the lyrics." Since then she's put out a lot of positive vibes into the world in the forms of feel-good Afrobeats songs and a lot of collaborations with artists from all over including this favorite with Teyana Taylor.


Watch Seyi Shay perform live on her Youtube channel.


Saturday April 4, 2020

5:00 pm WAT


In 2018 Simi made OkayAfrica's 100 Women list honoring exceptional African women. We wrote about her:

"Simisola Bolatito Ogunleye, or simply Simi, knows sound. The Nigeria-born singer and songwriter is also a self-taught sound engineer who has mixed and mastered her own music. Simi's self-sufficiency got her ahead of the curve and into a class by herself. But her artistry was never typical; she has always been thoughtful about developing her style. That experimentation can be heard on her first album, 2008's gospel driven independent release Ogaju. The mixture of hip-hop, R&B and African inflections was one not heard before, but she continued to strive for the sound she has today."


Watch Simi perform live on her Youtube channel


Saturday April 4, 2020

7:00 PM WAT

Manu WorldStar




1:00 PM WAT

Bongeziwe Mabandla

The South African singer-songwriter is one of our favourites. Mabandla's voice is both resonant and quivering—just as capable holding your attention acapella, accompanied by folk guitar or mixing it up with electronic sounds. Singing mostly in Xhosa, he's a treat to see live.




Sunday April 5, 2020


Prince Kaybee

South African house music stalwart Prince Kaybee. If you're looking for what to expect, look no further than this dream collaboration he recently released alongside fellow SA heavyweights Shimza and Black Motion.


Prince Kaybee will be performing on his Youtube channel here.



TY Bello




Sunday April 5, 2020

7:00 PM WAT

The "Stay Home... #WithMe" Festival Schedule March 28-29 edition

Alpha P

Watch the live show on Alpha P's Youtube channel

In his King of Wolves EP, the 17 year-old singer and songwriter from Benin City, Nigeria born Princewill Emmanuel mixes many of the current sounds in Nigerian music—mid-tempo Afrobeats bangers reminiscent of Wizkid and Burna Boy—with trap-influences. The track "More" sounds like it could fit in a playlist of SoundCloud rappers.


Watch the live show on Oluwadamilola's Youtube channel

The Nigerian newcomer Oluwadamilola Tella was the winner of the first Talent HQ—a talent showcase for musicians and comedians in Lagos. She's released music two videos; Hello and Sunny Day produced by OluMix.

Jeff Akoh

Watch the livestream show on Jeff Akoh's Youtube channel

The Abuja-born singer Jeff Akoh makes romantic music with videos to match. His big break came in 2015 during season 8 of Project Fame West Africa which he won at the age of 18. In 2018 he released the EP "I Do." Its lead single, also "I Do" has more than 2 million views on Youtube. Although we're kind of hoping he plays his 2017 "Maroon 5-esque" hit Shokolokobangoshe.

Official Broda Shaggi

Watch official Official Broda Shaggi livestream performance on his Youtube channel

Animashaun Samuel is a Nigerian comedian, actor and singer who has become wildly popular online for the hilarious characters he plays in his social media skits. The most popular character, Official Broda Shaggi, Nigeria's number 1 fine boy also has a music career. Check out this song from February with DJ Neptune: Yo-Yo


Watch Skales perform live on his Youtube channel

Skales is a Nigerian music industry veteran and star with a roster of hits and collaborations with Banky W and Davido. An OkayAfrica favorite, he'll be playing the third to last Saturday slot of the "Stay Home #WithMe Festival."

Reekado Banks

Watch the livestream of the show on Reekado Banks' Youtube page

The music of Reekado Banks is a regular addition to OkayAfrica's Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists. The Nigerian singer, born Ayoleyi Hanniel Solomon, is one of Nigeria's biggest stars.

Cina Soul

Watch Cina Soul's livestream performance on her Youtube page

One of the only Ghanaians on the festival schedule, Cina Soul has a throwback sound but a huge presence. OkayAfrica called her one of our Ghanaian artists to watch for 2019 and called her song 'Killi Mi'—about the scourge of domestic violence—"a soul-stirring song that is making many stop and think."

Gigi La Mayne

Watch Gigi LaMayne perform live on her Youtube channel

In 2016 OkayAfrica interviewed Gigi La Mayne about Fees Must Fall. Since then, she might be the artist we've covered the most—putting her down as one of the reasons "2018 Was the Year Women Won In (South African) Hip-Hop." Watch one of the most dynamic voices in South African hip hop perform this Sunday.

Nadia Nakai

Watch Nadia Nakai perform live on her Youtube channel

Nadia Nakai won the AFRIMA award last year for Best Female Artist—Southern Africa Region but as far as South African rappers go she's one of South Africa's best, period. Last year we wrote:

"For her debut album, titled Nadia Naked, Nadia Nakai gives her listener more than just bravado in the form of chest-punching raps. In some songs, the South African/Zimbabwean rapper tells the story of the person behind the feisty and intimidating character that is Nadia Nakai as we all know her."

Timi Dakolo

Checkout Timi Dakolo's Youtube channel here

Part 2

With his deep texture voice, Nigeria's "King of Soul" won Idols West Africa in 2007 and has been a favorite for songs like "The Vow" and "Iyawo Mi" ever since.

Bez Idakula

Watch the livestream of Bez Idakula's performance on his Youtube channel

Bez Idakula's song "Far Away" made our list of best Nigerian songs of August 2019. We wrote:

"The song's connecting tissue of American soul and afropop is captured in its lyric: "hope say I dey make a little bit of sense," as in the seamless combination of genres which blends an electric guitar with heaving conga drums and back-up vocals typical on Fela's Afrobeat."


Watch the livestream of Asa's show live on her Youtube channel

Five years after her releasing her last album, "Bed of Stone," Asa came out last year with a new album, "Lucid," to rave reviews. Upon premiering her video "The Beginning" a year ago Okayplayer wrote:

"Whether its borders or genres, Asa's music knows no bounds. The Paris-born, Lagos-bred Nigerian singer-songwriter and multi-platinum selling recording artist fuses indie pop, jazz, and soft-soul, incorporating inspirations from Sade, Fela Kuti, Billie Holliday, Miriam Makeba, King Sunny Adé, The Beatles, and Lenny Kravitz.

Photo by: Screenshot from The Daily Show'

"My Time is Up:" Trevor Noah Talks About Leaving 'The Daily Show' After 7 Years

The South African comedian announced that he would be leaving the Comedy Central series after his seven-year tenure.

Trevor Noah announced that he will be leaving The Daily Show after seven years.

In his statement Noah described his experience hosting the show as "absolutely amazing."

“It’s been absolutely amazing. It’s something that I never expected,” Noah said. “I found myself thinking throughout the time of everything we’ve gone through. The Trump presidency, the pandemic, just the journey, more pandemic and I realize that after the seven years, my time is up.”

Following the departure of Jon Stewart from the show in 2015, the South African comedian became the show's host, and has since interviewed the likes of Barack Obama, Burna Boy, Davido and a host of other notable public figures. The 38-year-old has also used his platform to elevate African artistry and elevate the African experience. Noah alluded to the idea that his decision to leave the show was inspired partly by his interest in returning to stand up comedy and exploring his skillset that way. Noah also thanked his viewers for giving him an opportunity when he first came on the American scene as a comedian who very few knew about.

“I spent two years in my apartment, not on the road, and when I got back out there, I realized there’s another part of my life out there that I want to carry on exploring. I miss learning other languages. I miss going to other countries and putting on shows,” said Noah.

Noah also referred to the show as "one of the greatest joys" of his life, and has credited the show for helping him hone his creative muscle.

“I’ve loved hosting this show, it’s been one of my greatest challenges and one of my greatest joys,” Noah said. “I’ve loved trying to find a way to make people laugh, even when the stories are particularly shitty, even on the worst days. We’ve laughed together, we’ve cried together.”

Although he did not make any comments about his last day on the show, or exactly when he would exit, he did humorously say that he would not abruptly leave without prior warning.

“Don’t worry, I’m not disappearing,” said Noah. “If I owe you money, I’ll still pay you.”


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Here are the best songs to come out of the buzzing Nigerian music scene this month.

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Photo credit: Paras Griffi

Asake Has to Add Third O2 Academy Show After Selling Out in Minutes

As he climbs up the ladder of global superstardom, Asake continues to break glass ceilings and crash websites.

Asake has been making undeniable waves with his music and mass appeal, and his recent O2 Academy ticket sales are proof of that.

The new Afrobeats sensation recently sold out London's O2 Academy venue for his upcoming UK stint. Amidst the buzz of the sold out show, the official account of the O2 Academy took to social media to share that Asake would be headlining two additional shows at the event's center. Although the original date was slated for the 11th of December, the high demand for tickets pushed organizers to add on two more dates to the 11th, and "Mr. Money With The Vibe" will also now perform on the 12th and the 15th.

Asake's career trajectory has been swift, yet packed with back to back hits and critical acclaim. The Lagos-born artist first got his major big break when Olamide signed him to YBNL. His long trail of chart-topping records have quickly earned him the attention of fans, airplay and recognition. The Afrobeats singer's success, though sudden, has helped to propel him to the upper echelon of musical acts coming out of Africa. Because of the versatility of his sound, listeners have quickly gravitated towards his content. His ascent into superstardom has also ignited intrigue and conversation, inspiring many fans to root for him, because of his initial reputation as the underdog. Although he had received some recognition in 2020 after he released his "Mr. Money" single, 2022 was the year that he would gain the admiration and respect of his peers, as well as a bevy of fans and commercial success.

Though still a newcomer, Asake has proven that he is not a typical Afrobeats artist. His unique ability to fuse different Afro-inspired sounds from Fuji to Amapiano have made him a rare talent. He has also amplified the depth of most of his songs by merging different genres and articulating them with Yoruba language and the broken English spoken in some of the most intricate parts of Lagos. Those elements perhaps, are what have made Asake one of the most marketable and likable Afrobeats artists in recent time.

Photo by Wale Ariztos

Roye Okupe is Championing African Representation in Animation

We spoke with Roye Okupe about his studio, Iyanu getting adapted into an animated series, and storytelling for an African audience.

Roye Okupeisn’t holding back with African representation in the stories he tells. The Nigerian graphic novelist and filmmaker is the creator of Iyanu: Child of Wonder, which recently received a greenlight by HBO Max and Cartoon Network for adaptation into a 2D animated series.

“Growing up, I was a fan of animations, cartoons, but what I felt was missing was showing these stories [I was watching] from an African perspective,” Okupe told OkayAfrica. “So when I moved to the United States in 2002, it became a dream of mine to create superhero and fantasy stories inspired by African historical culture and mythology.”

In 2015, Okupe quit his full-time job as a web developer to pursue making comics and animation. That same year, he launched YouNeek Studios, and started bringing his vivid imaginations to life. His debut graphic novel, E.X.O: The Legend of Wale Williams, Part One, is a superhero story that blends Nigerian sensibilities with sci-fi motifs. He would also direct and produce a slew of animated projects, some of them adapted from his growing stable of comics publishing.

In 2019, the animated pilot of Malika: Warrior Queen arrived, creating a cross-industry buzz, not just for Nigeria’s burgeoning animation scene but for Nollywood as well. Using A-list stars like Adesumi Etomi and Deyemi Okanlowon as voice actors and with charming executions of character designs and profiles, the project made a mark for Nigerian animation.

Malika: Warrior Queen follows the adventures of the titular Malika, a warrior-ruler who protects her kingdom from evil forces amongst other stakes. It draws from real, historical accounts of warrior women from Nigeria, namely Queen Amina. For Okupe, telling the story was about filling in the vacuum of African representation in animation.

From weaving the YouNeek YouNiverse — his own spin on the Marvel Cinematic Universe — to scoring international deals on comics publishing and animated productions, the present moment speaks to how far Okupe has come. OkayAfrica got to speak with Okupe about his studio, Iyanu getting adapted into an animated series, and storytelling for an African audience.

As an independent creator, what has been the greatest challenge in bringing animated characters on screen, especially for a local African audience?

I think one of the biggest challenges has been financing projects. I didn’t have an investor when I started to finance my projects, but I was lucky enough to be one of the first to embrace using Kickstarter. So I financed all my books through Kickstarter, and that is a reason why I am grateful to the fanbase because they’ve been the ones that have supported my career and the company YouNeek studios as a whole.

One of the animated series I produced in 2019 was Malaika warrior queen, which was funded exclusively on Kickstarter. I did it in partnership with AntHill studios, which is one of the best-animated studios in Nigeria, and we were able to create a fifteen-minute short for Malaika, which was based on one of my graphic novels. Queen Amina of Zaza inspires the story; it’s a pre-colonial story that follows Malaika, both warrior and queen, and it focuses on that. So for me, funding and finances are the hard part.

You mentioned AntHill studios, and we know of the HBO Max adaptation of Iyanu. And with the news of the adaptation, people are worried it won’t have Nigerian and African creatives on it. Can you speak on this?

That’s a valid concern. If I weren’t part of the project, I would also have these concerns. But I am an executive producer on [the adaption], born and raised in Nigeria, which makes me a Nigerian creator. And HBO Max, Cartoon Network, and LionForge studios — who are partners and financing the project — have been kind enough to make sure I have a voice as the creator and one of the show's executive producers. So Godwin Akpan, who illustrated the books, will be our Art Director. We also have Femi Angubiade, one of the music composers, who is also Nigerian.

From the very early stage, HBO Max, Cartoon Network, and LionForge wanted the adaptation to be authentic. They knew that one of the ways to have authentic stories is to have authentic creators, so they’ve done their part in bringing Nigerian creatives. There’s a bunch of other Nigerian artists that are working on character designs and environment designs too. So I’ll tell people that as much as there is a concern, I feel they can rest easy knowing that Nigerians are working on this project. Our job is to create a fantastic show and something that will resonate with a global audience while staying true to Nigerian culture.

Among the graphic novels, comics, and animation under your belt, which medium do you resonate with most and why?

It’s hard to say that I resonate with one over the other because all of them offer something different. In the graphic novel and comic book space, it’s a chance to get intimate with your reader because people are taking their time to read the books and turn the pages. To some people, it can be a more immersive experience. With graphic novels, it is less expensive, so there’s a greater chance of longevity in terms of how many books you can continue to produce moving forward.

The animation medium also takes things to the next level with sound, movement, and motion; there’s much more you can do as a storyteller with animation. So I don’t necessarily have a favorite because they are two mediums I love, and they both do different things.

You created YouNeek YouNiverse to introduce audiences into a larger world of African superhero characters. How do you guide someone into this universe?

The books written in the YouNeek YouNiverse are written in a way that lets you start from any of the series. We have four graphic novels in the YouNiverse and Iyanu: Child of Wonder is arguably our most popular title. It is heavily inspired by Yoruba culture and history, and it follows the main character Iyanu as she goes on a journey when she discovers she has powers that rival the gods of her land. And it’s only with those powers that she can save her people from the corrupt; animals that have turned against humanity. Iyanu is a 13-year-old girl that wants to be normal, but she has to accept that she has an extraordinary life and step into an extraordinary journey to do what she was always meant to do, which is be the savior of Yoruba land.

So you can start from any of the graphic novels because it’s all set up in a way that doesn’t confuse you.

What’s the process behind the stories you choose to tell?

I like to center everything on character. So, as much as I like to create epic worlds and worlds that are very immersive, detailed, and deep, I always center them on character. That is, who is your character, what do they think they need versus what do they actually need, and how do you make them relatable, not just to Nigerians or black people, but to anybody that is going to be reading your book in any part of the world. Because, at the end of the day, we are all human beings, and there are certain things we all share. So to me, it’s about starting with a relatable character, fitting them into a larger-than-life world, and seeing how they deal with the struggles of those worlds and how they overcome them. It starts with that and then trying to find out from the character, where the story is, how long it would be, and what are the main arcs. Then, I try to find a villain worthy of the hero we’re creating. You want to create a villain that isn’t one-dimensional, but somebody who you can see where they are coming from and whose methods put them in the [villain] category.

Building the world with the characters comes next because once I have the story written down, I start to work with the team of artists. They also bring things to the table that I don’t see. Once we have the pages and the stories, we send them off to the publisher, Dark Horse Comics. I am fortunate to have signed a 10-book deal with them in 2020.

You mentioned signing a 10-book deal with Dark Horse Comics. What does it mean for ongoing conversation on inclusivity in comics?

Dark Horse is a fantastic company that is creator-driven. They let me do what I want with the books, and they don’t get in my way, which I am grateful for. They’re one of the companies that not just talk about diversity but put their money where their mouth is, so signing a 10-book deal with a creator is no small feat. And that goes on to show how much they believe in me, our artists, the YouNeek YouNiverse, and how much they are committed to getting stories from different voices around the world to a global audience.

It’s a partnership that has been going well, and I hope to continue to go well.

Is the freedom they give you the reason why you went with them, or are there other reasons?

Yes, the freedom to create what I want to make is one of the reasons why I went with them. Dark Horse Comics is a great company and a top publisher with a huge legacy in terms of what they’ve done in the comic books industry. Therefore, the fact they were offering a 10-book deal — which is unprecedented as they’ll usually offer a two-book deal and take it from there — showed how serious they were about the success of the YouNeek YouNiverse and YouNeek studios. And that was part of the reason I went with them.

Generally, what does your accomplishments mean for aspiring storytellers that hope to highlight their cultural backgrounds through the lens of animation?

I would say that I hope the things I have achieved open a wider door for the people that are coming after me because the accomplishments of the people that were ahead of me is why I’m here today. I’m just here to follow in their footsteps and use whatever resources I can to provide opportunities for other people — to put African creatives and creators on a global stage. I hope that is something that can spark a lightbulb in people’s heads to say that Africa is the next frontier for entertainment, not just in comics and animations, but in film and television, and video games too.

Iyanu volume 1 is out, and volume 2 will be out next month. You can grab it online, and everywhere books are sold while waiting for the animated series.

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