It goes without saying that Nigerians often have to work their asses off to get the respect, clout and/or recognition they deserve. We go the extra mile sometimes to prove our points or to get others to take us seriously. To non-Nigerians and even some Nigerians it is an annoying trait especially when it always makes us appear in a rush, either trying to jump queues, shunt lines, get ahead of others or tipping our way to the top. Even when it’s not proper, legal or right, some will call it the Nigerian way. So what others might call illegal, in Nigerian street speak is called hustling.
Nigerians are peaceful friendly people who hold that African community value dear. Unlike in western cultures, we firmly believe a child is trained and brought up not just by the parents but by the whole community. Nigerians find the time to laugh in every situation. We embrace comical relief as an outlet for our frustrations and disappointments. We are hard workers who always persevere to win in any situation.
And in my opinion, Nigerian artistes are some of the hardest working of the lot. Some say it is our never give up attitude and because the D in our DNA means dogged determination. Yes all that is part of it, but I believe it is more because from birth we are made to adapt to a lot of external forces and conditions beyond our control to survive.
For example at an early age every Nigerian child learns about unstable power supply and NEPA/PHCN. You are made to believe that not having good roads, steady power supply, good amenities or affordable and reliable health care is normal. You are made to accept that if you don’t provide your own water supply, power source and sometimes even access roads that nobody will provide it for you, not even the authorities.
This awareness at an early age makes us realize that we can only depend on ourselves, so whatever we pursue we do so with all our heart and mind. Nigerian artistes just like every Nigerian want to excel and dominate every sphere they get into. Because of our backgrounds, we assume that the game is always rigged against us and the field is never leveled in our favour. Nigerian artistes have long wanted to get into the international space from ab initio, they have always wanted to be heads and shoulders above our peers.
We seek ways to get noticed and never wait for it to be handed to us. We strive hard to make things go our way. Anyone who has been to or lived in Nigeria understands this, that while in other places they move at a leisurely pace, in Nigeria especially Lagos everything and everyone is always in a haste. Whether we are talking, conversing, walking or driving, everyone always seems to be in a rush.
It’s the same energy and attitude our artistes apply to their craft. They will tell you there’s no competition, but they are always competing against themselves, dropping new singles every few weeks, setting new goals, trying to break new ground or crossing new borders.
It is often a love/hate relationship between Nigerians and other African countries. They don’t understand what makes us tick or how we are built so sometimes off the bat they dislike the mere mention of our names, even without taking time to understand or know us. Sometimes I ask them, have you ever lived in a country where the power supply is unstable?
Where you may not see light or have power for as much as 2hrs to 2weeks at a stretch? In your country do you have to worry about fuel or gas scarcity even though your nation is blessed with oil as a natural resource? Have you had to struggle to finish school because lecturers are always striking because of unpaid salaries while the leaders who get paid millions are also looting billions?
The few who have interacted, lived, or associated with Nigerians have come to understand that it’s in our DNA, we go through so much and whatever we do we always give it our all because our lives and future literally depends on succeeding at every venture we embark on. For us it’s no retreat no surrender, we can’t afford to lose so we never say never.
The recognition and attention Nigerian music vis a vis afrobeat is getting internationally has been long coming. It is not something new because we have worked towards it. The amazing thing is that we are here as witnesses to this resurgence of Nigerian music. We are partakers in the glory, focus and accolades that our music is bringing to the country and the continent in general. Labels and investors are rushing in now to invest and sign talent so they can participate in the gold rush that is happening at this moment in the Nigerian & African music industry.
It is a thing of joy which we all hope will be in place for a very long time. With the way things keep going down, it is good that we have things to smile about, to give us that escape from what seems like every week new tales of woes these days. Kudos to every Nigerian striving hard to make ends meet legally and to all our artistes and the youth who are worthy ambassadors, using their talent to get into and represent Nigeria in places/rooms our infamous reputation couldn’t get us into.
Kudos too to all those who still give Nigerians chances and opportunities to excel and wow irrespective of the stories they have heard about us. Big up to the typical Nigerian who through all the odds strives to survive and make ends meet.