It is the age of wisdom, it is the age of foolishness. We have everything before us, we have nothing before us.
Afrobeats is international like it has never been and Afrobeats stars are traveling the world to give the international audience a feel of Africa’s foremost musical export.
The recent stop for Nigerian superstars in the global exportation of Afrobeats was the Afronation in Portimao Portugal which had the choicest lineup of Afrobeats stars.
The aftermath of the latest Afrobeats showcase attracted criticism over poor stagemanship displayed by stars such as Omah Lay, Rema, and Buju.
One attendee scored Omah Lay and Rema low in a Tik Tok video, where she accessed the performances of Afrobeats stars at the festival. And quite surprisingly, Omah Lay and Rema replied with apologies and some explanation for their poor showing.
This act of humility and respect displayed by these superstars surprised Nigerians who, for years, have constantly complained about the poor performances they have been subjected to.
December 2021, Tems did her show in Lagos where the cheapest ticket sold for N20,000 and she didn’t show up until after midnight after keeping fans waiting for hours.
Wizkid was also billed to show up at a show in Abuja and he didn’t show up until past 3AM at midnight with several fans complaining on Twitter about being kept waiting.
Burna Boy was said to have taken to the stage at past 3 AM at his concert after the event planner waited till the show started to sort out the sound system.
Rema graced Native Magazine fifth Anniversary in December 2021 where he closed the show. After performing for some minutes, he abruptly stopped performing and demanded for his manager before unceremoniously walking off the stage.
The above are instances of shows where fans were kept waiting for hours and treated to below average performance despite paying above the minimum wage in ticket prices.
It was quite pathetic to see that it took a complaint from a European to inspire some humility and self-reflection from artists who have carried themselves with an air of superiority over Nigerian fans despite their mediocre stagemanship.
So this begs the question: do Nigerian fans deserve better than they are getting from these artists?
Why Nigerian Artists Don’t Respect Nigerian Fans?
2021 December saw several music shows graced by Nigeria’s biggest acts and a common complaint that swept across these shows was the late arrival by artists and their poor stagemanship.
Nigerian fans who paid good money to watch some of their favorite artists perform were kept waiting for hours and when these artists show up they offer empty apologies before proceeding to deliver a mediocre performance that involves lip-syncing and mechanical display.
For years now, the Nigerian audience has been demanding that their superstars raise their level and produce performances that match their talents and the expected level of professionalism they showcase internationally.
Rather than listen to the concerns of these fans, most of these artists have carried themselves with an air of superiority fueled by a myopic underestimation of the Nigerian audience.
This pointless arrogance and unwarranted condescension were recently displayed by BNXN FKA BUJU who appeared on a Twitter Space hosted by @emmanowoniyi to share his side of the story after a clip of him putting up an embarrassing performance at Afronation surfaced on Twitter.
While attempting to explain the reason for his poor stagemanship, BNXN couldn’t resist the urge to condescend to a speaker who grilled him about his poor performance. BNXN described the listener as possessing a poverty mentality and demanding more than she can afford. According to him, Nigerian music fans are not entitled to an apology because Nigerian artists are not paid nearly as much as they earn internationally.
This rather asinine and myopic mindset from an artist whose success is owed to Nigerian fans who stream his music and made him into a star is a reflection of a common mindset amongst artists.
It would be expected that an artist whose ticket price for his 2021 show cost almost the same as the minimum wage to display some respect and gratitude to the fans whose patronage made him into a star.
The major reason why Nigerian superstars don’t respect Nigerian fans is because the biggest part of their earnings in terms of streams and shows come from abroad. Hence Nigerian artists defer and treat international audiences with respect and in turn treat Nigerian fans with levity and condescension as they believe they mostly don’t need them to balance the book.
What must however be noted is that this condescension and disregard for Nigerian fans if not addressed will be sooner showcased abroad to a much unforgiving audience just as we witnessed with Afronation Portugal. It’s a matter of time before these superstars will display their unprofessionalism and disregard for criticism before an international audience who know their worth and who will refuse to pay for a mediocre rehearsal in the name of a performance.
While Nigerian music fans for obvious reasons lack the spending power to match eager European and American Afrobeats consumers, they are the reason Nigerian superstars are able to break bread with global superstars.
The continuous disregard for Nigerian fans is needless, unfortunate, and injurious to these superstars and the Nigerian music industry.
Are Nigerian Fans demanding too much?
“We cannot all be Burna Boy” is part of BNXN’s submission while addressing concerns about the poor stagemanship of Nigerian artists.
Of course, you can’t all be Burna Boy and it will be unreasonable to expect that every Nigerian act displays the same stagemanship as Burna Boy. However, what is expected is knowing your strong suits and amplifying them in giving the audience a great performance while also improving on your weaknesses.
Beyonce is maybe the greatest performer in the world and audiences at her shows are sure to get a dancing extravaganza, thrilling vocal performances, a charismatic display, and all-around stagemanship.
Adele is equally a great performer and fans who attend her shows don’t go there hoping to catch her in knee-high boots putting up choreographed dance steps alongside colorfully dressed backup dancers.
Instead, they understand that Adele’s strong suit is her vocal depth, and the majestic way she performs her songs is the entire basis why fans pay top dollar to watch her.
So Nigerian fans are not asking you to put up a Burna Boy-styled life performance. What they are demanding is that you show up on time for your shows, don’t mime your song, and have the audience filling in for you because they could have as well just stayed home and streamed your songs.
What the fans are demanding is that you put in the work required to raise your level, display some professionalism in your stagemanship and raise your level to a globally acceptable one. And I don’t think this is too much to ask for.
Nigerian fans don’t respect themselves enough
Let’s face it, a good number of Nigerian fans are so pathetically subservient to superstars in a manner that has stripped them of any self-worth.
There are fans whose entire online personality revolves around defending their favorite artists despite how deserving they are of such criticisms.
The behavior of some fans in scrapping and pandering to artists has allowed these artists to lose a significant level of respect for local consumers in general.
It must be stated that Nigerian superstars aren’t the only ones with dedicated fanbases. There are global superstars with a religious following and this hasn’t gotten into their heads so much that they begin to treat the local consumers with condescension and disrespect.
Fans need to begin to ask for more in terms of performance and respect from these artists.
If a European can get a public apology from Omah Lay and Rema for poor stagemanship then Nigerian fans deserve an equal show of respect.
Because at the end of the day, if there are no Nigerian Afrobeats fans whose vocal support and unwavering patronage even in the face of economic hardship, there will be no international platforms for these superstars to excel or maybe embarrass themselves.
So regarding the question of whether Nigerian fans deserve better, the answer is an emphatic yes. No matter their pocket size and consumption habits, they are the backbone of Afrobeats and they need to be treated as such.