On 26th May 2018, Afrorepublik took place at the London O2 Arena. The event was packed to the rafters with people eager to witness and celebrate the rich and intense musical capabilities of artists with an African heritage. I went with two of my dear housemates because ‘we’ve finished University forever, let’s go turn up in London’. Aside from the thousands of fans present, the likes of Maleek Berry, Tiwa Savage, Eugy, Yxng Bane, Mr Eazi, Tekno, Not3s and headlined by Starboy himself, Wizkid, graced us with their star quality presence. For those who don’t know, many of these artists are either established in the music industry, or up and coming and taking over the scene. Most of us can think of at least one song by these artists that we have broken the repeat button for. I have said the who, what, where and when but I haven’t said the why, but I can make an educated guess.
For too long Africa has been browbeaten by countries we misguidedly called superpowers. I am not going to get into the history of this conflict, but you know what I’m getting at. Due to the made-up narrative surrounding Africa, the abilities, musical or otherwise, of people living in the continent were stifled and to some extent still are. Nevertheless, those who are ‘woke’ enough to know that Africa isn’t just about lions, tigers, and bears, know that Africa is busting at the seams with talent. Those who performed at Afrorepublik are only a fraction of what Africa has to offer the world in terms of music, but it is a big step in rewriting and addressing the perception of Africa. They brought culture and fantasy to the capital and entertained us for hours; the performers were greeted with roars of our praise and appreciation. The show even started promptly, doing away with the fictional but sometimes real tendency to do things on African timing.
The music scene in London is bustling with activity as increasingly artists are black. Afrorepublik solidified this gain by interweaving African artists with African artists in London, perhaps showing how music can aid Pan-Africanism. London has proven to be a great place for disseminating music by ethnic minorities; Afrobeats music in all its variations has grasped and enthralled a large audience which continues to grow. In an article published by Jennifer Ruby in the Evening Standard, Wizkid said headlining the first Afrorepublik Festival in London was a dream come true. Nevertheless, ethnic minorities in London continue to suffer disproportionately. According to Annie Gouk, black people in London are three times more likely to be victims of homicide than white people. Even today, it seems that history is hardly in the past.
To be the first of its kind, Afrorepublik was sold out. I think this says a lot about how much people wanted, maybe even needed such an event. Therefore, this event did something greater than just providing entertainment. I can’t speak for my housemates or anyone else who was there, but this event was a great celebration of culture and African brilliance in the musical arts. I was so happy and proud to know this could exist and be executed flawlessly. I felt inspired and full, happy, and proud that I shared something in common with the performers. As an inaugural event, this is only the beginning. I can’t see the future but if this year was any indication of the greatness that lives in Africa, next year Afrorepublik will be even more spectacular.