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Nigeria In 2009

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Burna Boy

It’s hard to believe we are leaving behind a whole decade in just a few days’ time. Sometimes when I reminisce about a song, a film or a political event and realise it’s been over a decade since, I do get a bit of a shock at how swiftly a whole decade has gone by. Do you even remember when you run in the new decade back in December 2009? Who were you with? What wish did you make, what were you looking forward to? How relevant are they now – ten years on, as we prepare to ring in the new decade?

I decided to walk down memory lane just for the fun of it and find out just how much has changed in Nigeria and beyond…

In December 2009, despite rumours of poor health and treatment in Saudi Arabia, and conspicuous by his absence, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was still the president and would remain so until his death on 5 May 2010.

Earlier in July 2009, hundreds die in north eastern Nigeria after the Boko Haram Islamist movement launches an enduring campaign of violence.

Despite political uncertainty and the trying global economic times, in the 4th quarter of 2009, the economy grew by 8.23% as compared to 7.07% in the previous quarter.

Elsewhere, amazing things were happening. 2009 marked the birth of a new genre in Nigerian music not et called ‘Afrobeats’ by then.

Hot on the heels of some of the hottest songs to come out earlier in the decade including 9ice’s ‘Gongo Aso’ P Square’s ‘Do me’ and Olu Maintain’s ‘Yahooze’ was a whole new generation of fresh Nigerian stars emerging.

Wande Coal released the era-defining album with his debut album Mushin to Mo’Hits in April 2009 while late Dagrin took Nigerian rap scene by storm with the release of Pon Pon. 2009 was also the year that saw Banky W lay claim to the position of Nigeria’s hottest R&B singer with the release of his single ‘Strong Ting’.

There was not a sign of Burna Boy back then; nor Davido; Wizkid would emerge as a rising star and Bank W’s protégé the following year, but there was an overpowering sense that Nigerian music was going places, on the threshold of global recognition it hadn’t enjoyed since the days of Fela.

In 2009, Nollywood—Nigeria’s answer to Hollywood—became second only to Bollywood in film production, surpassing the United States. This was also the year which saw the release of Kunle Afoloyan’s critically acclaimed The Figurine, which paved the way to several blockbusters from New Nollywood in the decade to come, such as Anchor Baby, The Mirror Boy, Phone Swap, Turning Point, The Meeting amongst others, all the way to Lionheart, Genevieve Nnaji’s directorial debut, which was selected as the Nigerian first ever entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards and soon after disqualified by the Academy, a s the majority of the film’s dialogue is in English[10] and only about ten minutes of the film is in Igbo.

2009 was also the year Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie poke on “The Danger of a Single Story” for TED in 2009 which has become one of the top ten most-viewed TED Talks of all time with more than fifteen million views. She explained that as a young child, she had often read American and British stories where the characters were primarily of Caucasian origin.

At the lecture, she said that the under-representation of cultural differences could be dangerous: “Now, I loved those American and British books I read. They stirred my imagination and opened up new worlds for me. But the unintended consequence was that I did not know that people like me could exist in literature.
Throughout her talk, she used personal anecdotes to illustrate the importance of sharing different stories.

This was the year, Africa too was breaking out of the mould of a single story. In Cape Town Arise Fashion Week was born, a platform to celebrate the diverse creations of African designers which went beyond ‘exotic’ animal prints that had long captured the Western imagination, in Lagos Omoyemi Akerele was working on the creation of a similar platform Lagos Fashion and Design Week, Uche Eze had founded BainStone is a new-media company aimed at conceptualising, developing and managing innovative and exciting online media content aimed at Pan-African and Nigerian audiences, turning her popular blog Bella Naija into one of Nigeria’s most popular news portals, while your truly was putting the finishing touches to FAB Magazine, the quarterly lifestyle and fashion magazine which celebrated African fashion, culture and lifestyle worldwide.

What an exciting renaissance it was for Nigerian economy, arts, culture and fashion!

Ten years on, it’s hard to imagine we’ve lived through a decade while things have not been as kind on Nigerian economy, Nollywood has continued to grow, Nigerian music has garnered global recognition and Nigerian fashion continues to flourish and inspire.

I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Nigeria in the next decade.


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