Nigeria at 51: The Stars, Glitz Of The Entertainment

Just how Nigeria has grown in age and status since the attainment of independence, the entertainment industry has also risen steadily over the years. Music, arts, the actors and the regulators have all stamped their feet on an industry that thrills, raves and oils the wheel of progress for many and opens the doors to fame and fortune for others.

P-Square Live Performance

The new status in the industry did not come easy. It was tough to stomp it through. Although some of those who pioneered the revolution in the industry are dead and gone, their works continue to speak for them. You may never see them but they remain in our consciousness as their works thrill in the theatres, homes and on the air.

Today, names like Dan Maraya, Fela Anikulako Kuti Maman Shata , Fatai Rolling Dollar, Ebenezer Obe, King Sunny Ade, Mike Okri, Shina Peters, Alex Zito, Ras Kimono, Salawa Abeni and Blacky and others continue to resonate in the industry because of the wonderful works they did to lift music from the cradle.

The story of the movie industry cannot be complete without making reference to the early works that laid the foundation for the growth. Programmes like Things Fall Apart, Pot Of Life , Cock Crow At Dawn, Ichoku, Village Headmaster, Magana Jari ce, New Masquerade readily come to mind and throw up people like Pete Edochie , Olu Jacobs , Chika Okpala, Liz Benson, Madam Kofo, Sadiq Abubakar Daba and others who pioneered that is termed Nollywood today.

Nollywood's Mercy Johnson

The foundation laid by the pioneers is what has given the pep to the industry. Indeed, Nigeria’s entertainment industry has started attracting foreign attention thus making it to go beyond borders in the last 51 years. Unlike in the past when Nigerian music was not readily appreciated abroad, Nigerian artistes and their works are like hot cake in many countries of the west.

Only a few Nigerian songs had some impact before. In that category were those of Obesere and Ayide Mashal. But with the advent of 2Face Idibia’s Africa Queen , Daddy Showkey ‘In The Ghetto’ ‘Styl-Plus’ Olufunmi in 2004, the industry became electrified with truly Nigerian music fever. Ever since then, Nigeria’s music has been growing steadily in popularity. Songs like African Queen whetted the appetite of music lovers across the continent to embrace the new school and crop of Nigerian musicians which rivaled the Angelique Kidjos, Awilo Longombas, Koffi Olomides, Yvonne Chaka Chakas and Magic Systems.

The growth in the industry accordingly elicited enormous financial support from investors who have bankrolled new labels such as Chocolate City, EMI Music, Hypatech, Mo Hit, Kennis Music, Storm Records, amongst others. The success has also been fuelled by the distribution channels like SoundCity, The Beat, Primetime Entertainment, MTV, Channel O, Hitz TV, Youtube and many other entertainment websites. The use of Pidgin or Naija slang has also gingered the growth in the industry. Artistes such as 9ice, the late Dagrin, Duncan Mighty, Timaya are few of those who weaved enjoyable vernacular into their songs.

The production of music and video by Nigerian artists has also recived a big boost within the 51 years of Nigeria’s nationhood. The change has been propelled by the likes of Cobhams, Jesse Jagz, and Don Jazzy, Zak Amata and Terry G who have spread their tentacles beyond the land. While Dancehall, Techno, Alanta, are few of the steps or style of music that paved the way for better things in today’s music industry , the movie industry has also seen faces like Genevieve Nnaji, Tonto Dike, Mercy Johnson and Ini Edo enjoying a lot of fame.

Similarly, 2Face Idibia, P-Square, D’Banj, Asa, MI, 9ice, Jim Iyke, Aki and Pawpaw and Patience Ozokwor, Ramsey Noah have made the the Nigeria music and movie industry very exciting.

Many African artistes are looking up to Nigeria as a first point of distribution for their music and movies. Ghana’s VIP has virtually relocated to Nigeria in their bid to make the most of the Nigerian talents while many Ghanaian works now incorporate Nigerian languages to attract Nigerian audience.

Uche Jombo & Desmond Elliot

Other African musicians are looking to collaborate with Nigerian musicians. Tanzanian rapper, A-Y and Uganda’s Cindy (formerly of Blu3) both have singles featuring the Okoye brothers Peter and Paul (P-Square). Media houses like Channel O and MTV Base Africa are promoting Nigerian music all over Africa while allowing musicians from other countries to enter the Nigerian market.

One of the biggest avenues is the internet. Nigerian music videos on Youtube have millions of views and Youtube is the number one destination for African music. African parties feature Youtube videos and playlists since most people (especially in the Diaspora) do not own the songs. Sites like which promote music from all over the continent have helped as well as many Nigerian sites like, BellaNaija, Sturvs, NaijaPals, Truspot, Afriville, amongst others. Nigerian musicians can now be found on Facebook, tweeter, where they keep their fans up to date on their travels, tours and music. Their pages on Myspace are also popular.

The reason for the growth since 51 years can be attributed to demand by people who patronise them in concerts and other spheres of life. No government event or private party would be complete without some of the big names in the movie or entertainment industry being invited to perform. At weddings, birthday parties, funerals and child-naming ceremonies, these stars take the centre stage.

Femi Kuti

The industry is becoming a more lucrative venture for young Nigerians as more budding artistes emerge yearly and storm the scene with new style of dance and creativity: WizKId, Danny Young, Waje, Omawumi, Eva, Finnese, Olamide, Samklef, Ice Prince, Vector, General Pype, Goldie, Femi and others are the latest kids on the bloc, making waves and smiling to the bank in the process.

The music industry has its setbacks. Although the artistes try hard to make their work meet international standards, the Nigerian cultural bias continue to afflict such works, robbing them of their impact.There is hardly a song by Nigeria artistes that you will not hear the infusion of pidgin or vernacular for easy understanding. And the message is becoming the order of the day. All the same, Don Jazzy, Jessy Jagz, Terry G, Kennis and Cohbams say they are working hard to meet international taste.

Nigeria musicians are enjoying their popularity all over the world today. There has been links between Nigeria artistes and icons in the music scene. One of such synergies took place lately between D’Banj and Snoop Doggy Dog and the subsequent signing by multiple Grammy winners,Kanye West record label, GOOD Music.

Perhaps, as sign of its growth and appreciation by the world, the Cable News Network recently featured a documentary on the Nigerian music industry.

Nigerian musicians and movie stars have used their popularity to pick up major awards. The only two MTV Europe Best African Acts are both from the 2Face Idibia and D’Banj. Nigerian artistes picked up most of the major awards at last year’s Channel O Music Video Awards and the MTV Africa Music Awards.

Currently, P-Square is the biggest act in Africa with their new work entitled ‘Invasion’.

With all these, we lost a lot of celebs in the entertainment industry. People like J.T. Tom West, Sam Loco-Effe, Dagrin, Christy Essien Igbokwe, Ashley Nwosu and recently MC Loph the Osondi Owendi crooner who lost his life in a ghastly motor accident last month. The rise of the industry with its numerous talents and potentials are sure to make it to continue to flourish just as the nation makes progress in its strides as a nation.

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