The International superstar stepped into our #BLACKBOX with sensational host Ebuka, doing it for the culture.
In the maiden edition of the Blackbox interview which guested one of the vanguards of the Afrobeats, Davido, Nigerians got to know the man behind the music. Of course, this wouldn’t be Davido’s first interview. But the numerous attempts to pull aside the celebrity curtain and probe into his life has been met numerously with vague well-rehearsed answers. And although we seem to know much of strides and victories as Davido, all we are left with over the course of our decade-long relationship with this much-loved superstar, are just bits and pieces of David Adeleke. But with this three-part interview that aired between 30 September and 6 October 2020, all of that changed.
Employing a novel conversational style that featured well-paced probing questions, Ebuka the host helped Davido unwrap different layers of veils he’s been shielded with. For a few precious moments, we could see beyond Davido the international superstar. Indeed, this interview which many have referred to as his most revealing interview helped demystify and humanize this artist many have come to love and revere.
This candid interview also helped to flesh up scanty stories and rumours that had filtered to our consciousness through scattered titbits and cryptic pronouncements on social media. It also put an end to several speculations regarding his interesting relationships with his colleagues and co-hegemons of Afrobeats, Wizkid and Burna Boy.
It is therefore not surprising to see how well people are celebrating this interview that has reshaped their perception of their favourite music star. Even Davido seemed excited and relieved to get some of these things off his chest. Things that could have easily remained industry secrets, inside jokes and tales passed from ear to ear in hushed tones.
As mentioned earlier, this level of candidness and openness that characterised this interview is one that is very rare in the relationship between the local media and Nigerian celebrities. This delicate relationship between these two collaborating parties has been highly characterized by distrust and scepticism. And this has greatly affected the way fans relate to these acts, consume their content and appreciate their efforts even outside their arts.
Most interviews, therefore, end up being another PR tool for these acts as they barely scratch the surface and the real questions bothering the minds of the ever-curious fans and audience is really touched upon. But with the Black Box interview series, the fans, audience and even colleagues, get to meet these acts in their truest form.
This is a platform where Nigerian acts can tell their actual stories the way they want to, not conforming and constrained by the methodical formalities of regular interviews. This style enables the acts to feel relaxed, having an honest conversation with the host and by extension, the audience where they give us a peek into their lives, the intricacies of their career journey as well as providing the ample opportunity for them to dispel rumours and tell us exactly what happened and how it happened.
There's almost no way Davido could have gotten so comfortable to tell the stories he shared in this interview if it was a foreign journalist hosting the interview. In fact, only someone who has followed Davido's career for a while will be able to come up with some of the questions the seasoned host, Ebuka did. And the sad thing is that the coverage of Afrobeats' incursion into international music markets has now been led by American and European publications like Billboard, Rolling Stones etc. Even our superstars keep running to their open arms for coverage and are openly jubilant when this happens. And while it could be a good thing that our acts are being amplified by these multinational publications, the danger lies in the way their stories - and by extension, our stories - are being told.
Our interests are different. Their goal isn’t to tell our stories the way they ought to be told. That's no concern of theirs. As long as they've got a juicy story to run with, it is a home run. And that is why it is often characterized by misrepresentation and falsified narratives. A typical example is the repeated grouping all the varied pop music coming from a continent of 54 nations under the overstretched umbrella of "Afrobeats".
The responsibility of telling our stories can't and shouldn’t be left in the hands of those who see our sounds and culture as a sensation. Those who will fade off and hop on to the next wave when they find the next hot sound to latch on to.
But as it is often said, until the lion learns how to write, every story will glorify the hunter. And it is no news that Africa has had a long relationship with the poor documentation of our stories.
One of the problems of the past generation of the entertainment culture in Nigeria is that their stories were not documented the way they ought to be. That has left a void we are now struggling to fill. This remains why when we try to trace the history and evolution of the entertainment space in Nigeria, the same names keep coming up; Fela Anikulapo Kuti, King Sunny Ade, and the likes. Only with a careful examination will you find that the contributors are very vast. And this is an error we can't afford to repeat especially given the resources at our disposal.
For our stories to be told properly, they have to be documented properly. Told via different forms, lenses and exploring different angles so we can understand not only what happened but also why, providing the right context for proper understanding.
Today, we all speak of Fela like we actually knew him. Like we all sat there at the Afrikan Shrine to listen to him play live with his massive band live punctuated with his occasional rants and lectures. Like we shared a space in the near-crowded Kalatuka Republic, got beaten by soldiers and followed him on that long walk to Dodan Barracks. We know all these because Fela's story was well documented and has been retold in various forms from articles to books, to films, stage plays and so on. That's the power of documentation. The power of telling our stories.
Right now, the world is turning to Africa. We have to ensure our stories are told right if not, the foreign media fill the void the way they know best and tell our stories for us. But with a new crop of culture writers and storytelling platforms like Bounce Radio’s BlackBox interview series taking the helm of the documentation of our culture and providing novel means through which our rich and vast stories can be told with refreshing originality, we seem to be on the right track.
Photo Credits: DEEDS ART