Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wyclef Reciprocates Nigerian Hospitality at Last

Sometimes in 2004, the American hip-hop artist Wyclef visited Nigeria and had shows in Lagos and Port-Harcourt. From the way Wyclef was received in Nigeria, he must have felt like the president of a nation. Charlie Boy who happened to be the President of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN) led the mass of music artists and fans who wore special costumes to welcome Wyclef.

One thing that I know is that Africans, not just Nigerians are often proud of distinguished African-Americans. They see them as their kin doing great things out there. Thus the frenzy that greeted the arrival of Wyclef was understandable. Every young woman wanted to get close to Wyclef and be recognized. Others wanted to as least have a picture with him. Every young journalist felt his resume will be enriched by having an interview with the artist. Wyclef was made to wear Yoruba traditional attire. I am sure that behind the TV cameras he was also compelled to eat some pounded yam and all those other Nigerian stuff. Nigerians wanted him to be at home because he was actually home. He has made an impression in their minds, first with the hip-hop trio, the Fugees who blew up to worldwidetinental eminence following their release of the album The Score.

Tuface then was a nascent Nigerian music artist that that promised to be the torch bearer of a re-invented Nigerian music industry. Nigerians were very proud of Tuface as the man that holds the promise of becoming Nigeria’s envoy around the world, telling it who we really are. While local journalist hovered around Wyclef who has often sympathized with Africans, he made clear his plans to do a little collaboration with some local artists to see how it works out. Nigerians were so pleased to hear this and saw him as the architect of a bridge by which Tuface will attain international visibility.

When the project which also featured Faze and Sound Sultan was eventually released however, Nigerians where disappointed, to say the truth. While the Nigerians music fans thought the song will carry that international flair that will fly the Nigerians around the world, it instead came out with an exotic feel that Nigerians felt was meant to confine them to where they had been. The lyrics centered on been proud to be African despite the problems of the continent.

Nigeria is one of the world’s leading oil producing nations and quite rich as a result. With such a status so many good things must follow despite the odds. The song was never popular.

While the song took that format, Wyclef packed his bag and baggage, made some remarks about how intelligent Nigerians are and found his way back to the US. Good music carries a message better than a few remarks made to some journalists. The music should have said the good things about Nigeria and Nigerians.

The other day while I listened to Rhythm 93.7 Jos, I heard a song playing. I could hear Wyclef’s distinctive voice introducing the song during which he said something about Wyclef alongside Tuface. Following the experience of the previous collaboration done in Nigeria, I listened critically as the song played. My aim was to see whether the current collabo is a semblance of the previous one or not. In this song however, Wyclef evokes the kind of effervescence and bliss that characterized his role in the Fugees and in his personal projects which immediately followed his departure from the group. Before this song, I have actually considered Wyclef to be on the downward side of the curve. The song however proved me otherwise. I thus came to the conclusion that the latest collaboration has reciprocated the hospitality he enjoyed during his visit to Africa’s biggest nation. I sought the opinion of others who heard the song. We concurred that this one tallies with the reputation with which Tuface has been held by his compatriots.

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