There were lights everywhere. From the entrance of Eko Hotel down to the stage that was set up at the Eko Convention centre, everything looked like fine TV. It was like walking into a big show on your favourite TV channel and stand in the centre of it. It was like standing in the show and waving at the cameras. That was how grand it was.
Outside, there over 500 people wearing ‘SMVP’ T-shirts and hats, looking very serious and running around with walkie-talkies. They were either yelling or screaming at each other, with exhaustion in their voices and weariness in their eyes. It takes a lot to put this type of show together, and the people who usually bear the toll are the foot soldiers.
I hugged my friend Juliet (not real name), who was wearing the uniform, and she held on to me for dear life. “I am so tired, I can’t wait for this thing to end.” There was a hint of pride in her voice as she said: “We did it oh…we did it.”
I nodded. Soundcity were really doing it. When I met Awazi, a friend and colleague I respected who works at Soundcity Radio, she looked like the stress was making her lose colour. And while we hugged and spoke briefly, she reminded me that although she had given a hundred to the creation of the show, she was still going to slay. And then she hugged me tightly and said, “Let me go and change. I am tired.” Of course, she would come out, transformed into a Disney princess.
Somewhere else, while the soldiers of the MVP ran along in battle formations, and made sure what you saw on TV looked like its finest, there was a room filled with artists and their managers. A huge sign read ‘Green Room’, and as I walked in, it felt like the entire music industry was there, waiting to be called upon to contribute their parts. But there was something in the air; While the biggest artists were all there in that spot, they weren’t truly in that room together. Seyi Shay stared into her phone sitting alone and responding to emails.
“I don’t like it here, this place is a community centre. When will they call me out? I’m waiting to do the red carpet, but my people are fixing it.” She would later be called upon to slay on the carpet, and show up on stage to perform ‘Yolo Yolo’ in a white dress.
Elsewhere 2face Idibia stood on the red carpet, with many fans begging to interrupt the official photographers, and take personal photos for Snapchat, Instagram, and bragging rights. But there was a stern female soldier, with a book, and a walkie, who was making sure he wasn’t mobbed. “Wait” she yelled. “Let the photographers take their pictures.”
One girl whispered to her friend in disgust, “Why is she doing like that na? Does she know my mother will be very proud of me if I take a photo with 2face?”
Well, she didn’t. Her mother will have to look for joy elsewhere. 2face was ushered quickly away into the venue, where he later performed ‘Coded tinz,’ ‘Holy Holy’, and ‘Gaga Shuffle’. When he was done, he switched into protest mode. “We cannot sit down, enough is enough. Our government and security forces, stop the killings in Benue.”
The previous day, in Benue State, a mass burial was held for 73 people, slaughtered by the marauding Fulani herdsmen, who dragged men, women and children out of their beds, slit their throats, and pumped bullets into their writhing bodies. A wave of sadness washed over the hall as 2face Idibia reminded Nigeria, that while we were gathered here, drinking our spirits and basking in the unity of the music, somewhere, unchecked criminals and bloodthirsty villains were slaughtering our brothers and sisters. It was a moment of reality that was markedly needed from the show.
During the awards, I stayed in the regular category, where the people are expressive, and the energy was at a 100. One guy lit up a blunt, dragged it in, rolled the smoke in his lungs, looked up at the roof, and exhaled. This wasn’t just an award show, it was a street turn up for him. Beside me, as DJ Neptune switched tunes, people formed a dancing circle. A guy piggybacked his girlfriend, hopped into the circle, and pulled moves that I only see on Jamaican party clips. Bomboclart blood-clart dancer!
When they announced Diamond Platnumz as the winner of the Best Male MVP category, there was a riot in the hall. Everyone was shocked. He beat Runtown, Sarkodie, Wizkid, Davido, Olamide and more to pick up an award. Everyone felt a sense of instant injustice. Everywhere people stood up and chanted “OBO, OBO, OBO, OBO…”
Diamond was nowhere to collect his trophy, but he made a video to acknowledge the win. As the visual was cued in on screen, the guy smoking his blunt, yelled “Common, GET OUT FROM THERE!”
Wherever Diamond was, I’m sure his blood pressure would have jumped up. That scream was enough to make evil things happen to him. Even alter the good things that God is doing in his life.
But we moved on when Davido was called for his final and biggest award of the night. He was awarded the Best African Artist, and the hall shook as he walked onstage with the entire members of the ’30 Billion Gang.’ Everyone in the crowd was proud of him. All around, the chants of ‘OBO’ rang out.
A guy, was laughing beside me, asking the question “Where is Wizkid? I thought he was the biggest African artist?”
As if on cue, Davido shut him up with his acceptance speech: “I want to give a shout out to my brother Wizkid. He is one of the people that put Africa on the map….”
I looked at the spoiler. He was close-mouthed and facing his front like he should. Artists complain of haters all the time, and we think they are joking. If that guy had a better network signal at Eko Hotel, he would have taken that reaction online, and thrown negativity at Starboy. Thanks Davido for being honourable in victory. You aren’t just great guy, you are a real ‘Shuku shaker’.