How To Export, Maybe
Feyi Fawehinmi

I believe you may be up to something here. Perhaps, it is worth hypothesizing that the increasing globalization of Nigeria’s slower music could link with cultural context in the receiving regions.

There is a general, rather stereotypical, perception that dancing well to fast music is a preserve of Africans and black people from other regions (something I should perhaps write about myself); that non-blacks, those of European descent especially, don’t have the ear (tune-deaf) to connect with fast-paced rhythms and music… nor the ability to dance well to such rhythms without making a fool of themselves — and you can agree a few actually do :)

It will be interesting to research the acceptability of Nigerian music in countries with no or limited Nigerian community and see where the cultural linkages are. Plus I agree with your view and Asa being a major front-runner in that globalization. I think you should mention Nneka too. While in Latin America in 2014, whenever I mention I am from Nigeria, 4 names come up: Asa, Nneka, Okocha, and Kanu.

That said, I have had my own series of surprising Nigerian music moments. In 2014, I was in a house party in Cali, Colombia with a Jamaican DJ when suddenly Davido’s Skelewu came on. A month later I heard it in an almost salsa only club in same city (Salsa reigns supreme in Colombia, and Caleños love their salsa more than anything).

A British friend who was with me that day in Cali will later tell me on Facebook that he heard same song at a party in Vietnam in 2015. A Swiss acquaintance, in 2014, said Davido’s Aye (which is a slower music) was his favourite and he can’t get it out of his head. A Canadian friend, with love for Nigerian music, heard Flavour’s Sawa Sawa baby song played in Salento, a little town in Colombia.

In 2015, while trying to work in an ocean-front hotel in Dar, Tanzania Yemi Alade’s Johnny filtered in and wouldn’t let me be. Later realised about 80% percent (random) of the from the outside bar filtering in was Nigerian. In Caymans Islands last year, Patoranking music came on and my Caribbean friends (from Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and Belize) danced and sang along. Many in that region follow Timaya too. A Guyanese friend, who schooled in Cuba, showed me a special music folder for just Nigerian songs on his iPad. It was a looong list. According to him, Nigerian music is big in Cuba too, and his Nigerian friends in Cuba introduced him to it before he became addicted. I can agree from my one day experience in Havana. There have been many other experiences across countries/regions. Nigerian music is simply, totally global now.

Lastly, I was having this conversation a few days ago with a Nigerian colleague here that Nigeria (policymakers, business people etc) need to start understanding and harnessing its soft power — and they mainly lie in the arts and entertainment — music, movies, sports etc — for now. It is really yuge and awesome. I am never a Nollywood fan and I often criticise Nigerian music, but when you have African and Caribbean friends and colleagues (plus sometimes Europeans) understanding the latest offerings from Nollywood and Nigerian music more than you do, then you realise it is time to pay attention, and see what long-term economic and political benefits can be extracted from or built upon that, if there is any seriousness at all about making Nigeria a prosperous/great country!

Besides, apologies for the long post :)

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