We never believed our show would fill a stadium—P-Square
As kids they saw Michael Jackson as an Idol and started what will become their career, dancing and singing to the beats of Wacko Jacko. Never in their wildest dreams did they think of one day pull a crowd staging a show that will filling a stadium to full capacity, but, P-Square achieved that in their Africa Invasion tour. In this chat with AHAOMA KANU. The duo of Peter and Paul Okoye popularly known as P-Square share the magical moment when they took the stage they once watched their Idol do many times in many countries.
You have been on tour of the African Invasion, how has it been?
Well, I have to say that we have been top 70 per cent of the African continent and I will tell you that the first experience was when we went to Sierra Leone. When I was informed that we will be going there I asked, is our music there but it turned out to be the biggest concert we have been to in our Invasion Africa Project. We had like 62 000 fans coming to the show. You can imagine coming out from the plane and everybody was coming out but we were told that we had to wait and we didn't know what was happening. I peeped out from the window and saw the crowd waiting for us. Before we knew it, there was a red carpet and their cultural troupe came out dancing and welcoming us. I saw a man pointing to us to come down. The show promoter told us that the man there was the PA to the President. We walked on and then he told us then he pointed out that the president was waiting for us. We were surprised and really privileged. We shook hands with him and couldn't believe it.
Can you mention some of the African countries that you have been to and the ones you are yet to go visit as I am informed that you are booked out?
We cannot be able to count that now but I can remember Liberia, Zambia, Uganda twice, Gabon Twice, Ghana, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Rwanda and so on.
How did you feel then that a president of a country was present to welcome you at the airport?
Like I said, it was the first experience for us and we were like this is the Michael Jackson treatment. The president took us to the government house and we met some govt officials and then went to TV stations and radio stations before we now went to a dinner with the president and government officials. The next day we went for the media parley and were told us that the concert will be in a stadium; we were thinking that they were referring to a basketball stadium or so without having the least idea that they were using the Freetown International Stadium. We went there and were told that the stadium was filled up. We again thought that maybe it was filled with 5000 or 10 000 people but when we came out, they stadium was filled to capacity. I have to tell you the truth. It shows how important and highly regarded we are; it proves that what we are offering is highly accepted and regarded by fans across the African continent.
How did you feel seeing that P-Square drew a crowd that filled a stadium?
To be sincere, I could not believe that the people came to see P-Square. I thought that maybe they came to watch an international match.
Have you ever thought in your life you will fill a stadium?
My brother we never thought it would happen that way and it was surprising when it happened. When Jude saw the crowd he said we will increase our price. You see, they promoters wanted to use half of the stadium and put a backdrop but when the situation changed, they had to pull the backdrop down. We had the job of moving around the stage to be facing the whole crowd. It was fun.
Many foreign stars has had fans falling over and fainting at their shows and seeing such happening in the Invasion Africa preview was awesome, how did you feel seeing that playing out?
It's surprising and our Mum predicted that such a thing will happen to us. She predicted that even before we started the music thing; when we were still doing the dancing thing.
With that kind of acceptance you get outside the shores of Nigeria how do you compare it with the relative recognition you have here back home?
It's like the same; Nigeria is home and this is where we are from, where we live and Nigerian fans accept us very well; they love what we are doing because we thrive to satisfy them but the most surprising thing about the whole issue is that you don't know how your music gets to those places; we sit down here and we get calls that you are wanted here and there and no matter the bill you present, they are willing to pay. It is just as Nigerian brands bring in international artistes here. We can pay them heavily to make sure they come here, that is the same way those promoters in these countries want to have us there. So in comparison, it can't be the same, this is home. Again, when we travel out of the country, we don't look at the music aspect; we dwell on the culture, their system; we look at the country and the system and compare them with Nigeria. I must tell you that I am amazed at what we see there.
Can you tell us some of the surprises you have seen there compared to Nigeria?
Good road, Electricity; all the countries we have been to, there has not been power disruption for any single day. Even in Rwanda that just came out of a war not quite long ago having uninterrupted power supply. We were surprised that a country that came out of a war 14 years ago has gotten their acts right. Many of us have seen the movie Hotel Rwanda and know the story of what happened there; we have been to Uganda and we know the history of Idi Amin and what he did to the country, we have been to Liberia and other countries and you find some of these amenities working and then you feel sad about Nigeria. After these wars, these countries developed from the ruins and got better and here we are claiming that we are the giant of Africa when our power sector is in coma. We have the biggest oil wells in Africa and yet our government cannot provide us with power.
How do you feel on those moments?
I feel bad. When we see all these developments I don't look at the music; I don't look at our songs all our dances, we tend to look at the infrastructures and the government and feel very disappointed. Why is our country like this when we are not in any war, how come we are not developed as they are?
Are you thinking of singing about the experience in your future songs?
Watch out for it my brother; we are getting details, data and information. Come to think of it, the international acts that come here, how many of them have met the president? But we have met presidents of many African countries we have been to; we have met the president of Sierra Leone and that o Rwanda and also have been hosted by many government officials and ministers. Imagine a minister in Rwanda driving us around town and they are that simple. In Rwanda, the president will drive his kids around to school and all time. The minister brought us to the stadium and we sat close to the president seat and when he came everybody stood up and we were expecting to see security and all the kind of armed details we have here but nobody was lurking around the president. We will definitely put these into our next album. We want our government to provide the basic infrastructures for the people and there is no alternative otherwise we will keep singing it till they do it.