African Giant: The Lessons and the Hypocrisy

“A giant is the one who comes from the inside, bringing his conscience and freedom of the people” — Alan Maiccon.

It’s almost more than a year ago when the writing of a name in a smaller font size almost caused a social civil war on the social sphere of Nigerians. Nigerians were all divided among each other when this particular issue happened, where some simply asked “what problem does writing his name in a smaller font size mean?” but then another group of individuals of the stan culture simply requested that it meant everything and disrespect for the artiste in question who was this artiste in question and what does he represent? His name is “Burna Boy” I hope I got the font size correctly this time around. For Nigerians Burna as he’s fondly called isn’t just an average celebrity, he’s been known for years with his great music styled in the afrobeat genre walking millions of her citizens down the memory lane through the voice of the great legend a man called “Fela”. Afrobeat wasn’t just another public genre of music, it represented a strong cultural background amongst Africans with the use of instruments and rhythms that are ecstatic to the dance hall, but before Burna, several musicians had been at the forefront of this genre, even before Fela, but the genre had not left the shores of Africa since Fela, but the growing influence in which music had on humans exceeding every physical and mental boundary, afrobeat found its way outside the shores of Africa, it may be argued that immigrants from Africa who settled in Europe and America were instrumental in the growing rise but also maybe the world needed a new style of music. With the death of Fela in 1997, the expansion of afrobeat was reduced to just a few pockets of dedicated listeners and fans, the death was nigh till few years later the sudden resurrection through one of Nigerian favourites musician Ayo Balogun popularly known as “Wizkid” the love for the style and genre was rekindled and suddenly everyone remembered the great Fela through his music, thus the need to celebrate the legend was also established with the yearly event “Felabration” in the New African shrine finally he was immortalised but a major ingredient in Fela’s style was removed the “Social Activism” most of Fela’s music was influenced by the need to influence the injustice in the Nigerian political space which was occupied by dictatorship and high-corruption. Now it’s just been reduced to simply music, fun and the use of drugs. A big shift had occurred right in our eyes, then Burna’s third studio album was released in 2018 titled “Outside” and the flame that was almost dwindling was reignited, then the “Ye” madness, to be fair, I enjoyed and loved the album so much, it was a part of my daily routine and I was constantly transported through his music to realms beyond the stories told by Burna. Then “Coachella” happened, on the 3rd day of January 2019 the musical festival which aims to provide an adequate platform to all creatives to showcase their craft printed the order of events, Burna, who was slated to perform on the 3rd segment of the festival which was going to take place in April 14 and 19, of the same year, all hell broke loose when Burna showed his displeasure about the font size in which his name was printed, could have been an unintentional mistake by the organizers of the event or their pattern of print according to each performer’s influence on a global stage. To be very honest, I was on the side that saw no wrongdoing on the part of the organizers of Coachella and faulted Burna on his overreacting it was a fierce battle that very day on social media, some accusing him of being overly proud and unreasonable. Well, to be fair we judged him unfairly, what Burna meant took me few months of soul searching to understand, but he was right and I was wrong painfully myself and a large amount of Nigerians suffered from this hypocrisy. I think what Burna meant is that he deserved to be respected, as an African he was a giant, and his name should also be accorded with such respect and demanded that every African understood their worth as well but we resorted to insults and unfair judgement of his person and attitude.

I remember a few months ago when a person shared how when working with foreigners or people of a different race after the basic introductions, they ask if they can shorten the person’s name because they cannot properly pronounce and, to be honest, it happens to a lot of Africans when abroad. I think it’s unfair, it’s disrespectful to try to reduce a person’s name, and you’re obligated to understand the right pronunciations. Since Burna’s outrage, he’s been given respect both locally and globally and even more international recognition, “When you know your worth and demand respect, your influence grows, because everyone understands how to respect you”. Then the hypocrisy was outstanding when Burna was given a whole track to himself without any features on the Beyonce’s “Lion King” album, we all celebrated even those of us that judged him and accused him of having a great ego. But sometimes having confidence in your self pays off in the end, then he dropped a new album titled “African Giant” cliché, right? But the album represented what an African giant represents it topped all the charts both locally and globally quite expected of course. Then suddenly, all was forgiven and everyone became a fan, then more international recognition came when he won the BET awards best international act and “Mama-Burna” Burna’s mom gave a very outstanding speech in her words “Every black person should please remember that you were Africans before you became anything else”. Then the Grammy’s nomination came and the prodigal son belonged to everyone, Burna boy was suddenly the real African giant, unfortunately, he didn’t win because he was contending against one of Africa’s greatest and also a giant Angelique Kidjo and trust me it was a fair battle, she dedicated the Grammy award to Burna in the end. Even in loss he still held his head up high, that’s the definition of a giant, so we Africans need to avoid being hypocrites by accepting our greatness and demanding respect even if it hurts the status quo, us all need to remember to know yourself, stand on your worth and walk in confidence, because you’re a giant, and never accept for your name to be disrespected. And we should all humbly note that being a giant also serves to fight for injustice in the face of the oppressed like the afrobeat legend, Fela, it beyond engaging in drugs and other social vices as we have been known to adopt in recent times from afrobeat. Font sizes also matter.