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Best cultural moments of 2018

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Duncan Mighty

The Rise Of Duncan Mighty

With five full length albums to his name, including 2016’s “The Certificate”, Duncan Mighty was still Port Harcourt’s best kept secret having avoided the flash and pop of the music industry in Lagos.

“Fake Love” his collaboration with Wizkid reintroduced his inimitable singing, peerless writing and old highlife pedigree to a whole new era of Afropop fans home and abroad making him a much sought-after artist.

Standout collaborations include “Aza” with Davido and Peruzzi and “Lova Lova” with Tiwa Savage, both of which are masterclasses in song-making.

Alte Cruises Into The Big League
Starting out as a curiosity, the rise of emo in Nigerian pop, also known as “Alte Cruise” is now a formidable sub-genre whose reliance on melancholy and introspection eschewed the flash of top-layer pop otherwise called “Lamba”.

After a run of apprentice and also sure footed singles and EPs, full projects or albums from proponents of the sub-genre is coalescing music ideas that at first seemed experimental and ephemeral. Releases from Odunsi (“Rare”), Funbi (“Serenade”), Tay Iwar (“1997”) including others from Santi and Lady Donli in 2019.

The phenomenon emerged in Ghana, a sister-market to Nigeria whose harbingers of “Alte” – La Meme Gang and Amaaree – added to the emo-rise with “La Meme Tape: Linksters” and “Passionfruit Summers” respectively.

Nigerian Hip Hop Comes Back From The Dead
Perhaps it was the clarion call in MI Abaga’s “Fix Up Your Life”. Perhaps they were simply biding their time.

But after a few years of unproductivity and inertia, Nigerian hip hop made an strong comeback in 2018 with projects from big name artists (Ice Prince “C.O.L.D”, MI “Rendezvous: A Playlist” & “A Study Of Self Worth”, AQ & Loose Kaynon “Crown”, SDC “Palm Wine Music II) and CDQ “Ibile Mugabe”, as well as from newcomers (Alpha “Half Price”, Poe “Talk About Poe” and Blaqbonez “Bad Boy Blaq”).

The Rude Health Of Nigerian Theater In The UK
In the UK, and in London, Nigerian theater practitioners made work on some of the biggest stages as well as on smaller and riskier venues whether as actors, directors and playwrights.

Sophie Okonedo is starring opposite Ralph Fiennes in Shakespeare’s Antony & Cleopatra (National Theatre); Booker prize winning author Ben Okri adapted “The Outsider” by Albert Camus (Print Room At The Coronet) and Booker shortlisted “The Fishermen” by Chigozie Obioma was adapted by Gbolahan Obisesan (Arcola Theatre).

After a 2017 run at Arcola theatre, Oladipo Agboluaje’s “New Nigerians” returned for a second run at the same venue before which was Lola Shoneyin’s “The Secret Lives of Baba Sege’s Wives” directed by Femi Elufowoju Jr. New comer Amara Okereke got her first professional role in Les Miserable (Queen’s Theatre) billed as the “World’s longest running musical”.

After an acclaimed sold-out run at Bush Theatre early in the year, “Misty” by Arinze Kene transferred to Trafalgar Studios for a limited run that was further extended due to overwhelming demand.

Super Falcons Outclasses The Super Eagles, Once Again
We may have given a dissatisfying show at the world cup for football, but the Super Eagles emphatically won the world cup for not just “Best jerseys” but “Best kit” in Russia combining sumptuous floral greens and snazzy blacks and whites won by a star studded cast that represented the vibrant and innovative youth culture on home turf and abroad.

The Super Falcons on the other hand made history once more when they defeated South Africa to win the African Women Cup of Nations for the 9th time – a feat their male counterparts could only dream of.

The Rediscovered Genius Of Ben Enwonwu
The most significant discovery in contemporary African art for the last 50 years was made when Ben Enwowu’s lost masterpiece “Tutu” was found in a family home in London and sold for 600 million Naira (£1.2 million), making it the most expensive modernist work by a Nigerian sold at auction.

“Tutu” is the only known surviving painting out of three Adetutu Ademiluyi, princess and daughter of the former Ooni of Ife painted between 1973-74, in the year when the country was reeling from the Nigeria-Biafra war of 1967-70 which in the words of novelist and thinker Ben Okri is “perhaps the secret image of a nation coming back into the light after a time of darkness”.

Davido in Suriname
Davido reached a new career milestone earlier in May when he performed to a reported 10 000 strong crowd in Suriname, the little known South American nation with a population of over 500 000. Video clips on YouTube show crammed audience chanting heartily to his hits.

Perhaps, this was no surprise, though officially a Dutch-speaking nation, the commonly spoken language is a form of pidgin English called Sranan which could explain the popularity of some Afropop artists among the country’s youth.


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