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CNN’s endorsement of Burna Boy

By Anthony Ademiluyi

In 1980, the then advertising mogul Ted Turner founded the Cable News Network to report the news on a twenty-four hour basis. He also said they would stop reporting the news until Jesus Christ comes which will mark the end of time. Even with the coming of Christ, they will report it till the earth is totally vanquished.

His critics didn’t give him much of a chance as the project seemed like an impossibility. He sounded like the Wright brothers who had the idea of the aeroplane and were trying to convince investors that they had an economically viable project.

He stuck to his guns and his breakthrough through the televised live coverage of the Gulf war in Iraq in 1991. The billions of dollars rolled in after that feat and its influence became global.

They have an interest in Africa and have established a huge presence here though the portrayal of the continent leaves much to be desired. They also have a keen interest in the African entertainment scene as it has great growth potential.

In its most recent release of the top ten entertainment stars in Africa, Burna Boy was ranked as the number one followed closely by the legendary Angelique Kidjo. Yemi Alade, Tiwa Savage, Whiz Kid and Mr.Eazi also made the list in that order.

I was rather surprised that Burna Boy was placed ahead of the Beninois artiste, Angelique Kidjo. The latter has won three Grammy awards out of nine nominations. She is the only African artiste to perform at a Nobel Prize awards dinner and gala. She is a polyglot and sings fluently in English, French, Yoruba, Fon and Mina. Time Magazine named her in 2007 as Africa’s premier diva. Her first hit album, pretty was released in 1981 and went on to sell millions of copies. She has released sixteen other albums since then and they have sold a combined figure of over a hundred million copies. She is a UNICEF goodwill ambassador and has travelled round the globe seeking a better deal for the girl child in Africa starting from her native country, Benin Republic. She has received recognition from the BBC, Forbes, Daily Telegraph who named her as the undisputed Queen of African music as well as from the New African Magazine and Jeune Afrique of Paris. She is an occasional contributor to the New York Times and has received honorary doctorate degrees from the Ivy League Yale University, Berkley College of Music and Middlebury College. In 2015, she won the crystal award by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and the Ambassador of Conscience Award from the Amnesty International in 2016. Her global awards are too numerous to mention and her songs are evergreen and will surely outlive her.

In my honest opinion, it is highly mischievous of CNN to rank Burna Boy ahead of her. It shows the contempt and sarcasm that we Africans are being treated. Burna Boy is a mere Lilliputian when placed side by side with Kidjo. This is really a huge slap on the faces of Africans. What criterion was used to come up with the so called ranking? How transparent was it?

How come Mr. Eazi made the list as number 7 without Davido being there? Davido has sold out concerts both at home and abroad. He has a huge fan base abroad especially in the United States where he is a citizen by birth. He has one of the highest social media followership in the continent and has won numerous awards and been nominated for many. In all honesty, Mr. Eazi doesn’t come close. You cannot compare the to use Nigerian English – street credibility of Mr. Eazi to that of Davido who is far more popular among all strata of society. Davido appeals more to the rich and poor alike despite his aristocratic background. His songs are on the lips of many – old and young and are hits in the clubs. How many of Mr. Easy’s songs are sung by heart by the youths which is the continent’s largest market? Can you compare the Youtube downloads of Mr. Eazi to Davido’s? Davido’s latest single ‘Risky’ had close to eight million views on Youtube in less than a week. Does any of Mr. Eazi’s songs come an inch close?

The Afrobeat maestro, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s hit song ‘Kolo Mentality’ is sadly how the west treats Sovereign African states decades after independence. We should stop trying to judge our success from their prism as it will be tantamount to trying to teach a pig how to sing. We should be bold enough to damn their standard which is rather condescending. Their attitude towards Africa is akin to the book ‘Mister Johnson’ written by a colonial officer who so satirized blacks that it inspired Professor Chinua Achebe to write his first and most popular novel – the most successful in the continent ‘Things Fall Apart.’

It is high time Africans weaned themselves off this imperialist yoke which will do nothing but perpetually under develop this great continent which has enormous potential. The millennials should not repeat the mistake made by our fathers.

The struggle to break free from mental slavery should begin now.

Tony Ademiluyi writes from Lagos and edits www.africanbard.com