The great writer Chinua Achebe once said that “being a Nigerian is abysmally frustrating and unbelievably exciting”, and few words sum it up quite so aptly. Being Nigerian is, indeed, a bittersweet experience. On the one hand, we are undoubtedly some of the most inventive, humorous and distinctive people on Earth. But in reality, many of us would argue that the bitter far outweighs the sweet — especially for those who cannot simply fly in and out of the country at will. How do we put the millions of sharp, creative young minds to good use when the country is not set up for us to thrive?
Fortunately, the popular pidgin phrase, “naija no dey carry last” still rings true in certain cases and that unrelenting spirit we all seem to naturally possess has produced several notable stars (particularly in the country’s music industry) who have gone on to make us tingle with pride over the years.
With the second half of 2022 well underway, here are some of our favourite star moments from the first half:
Tems Making History (Twice)
No surprises here. Nigerian superstar, Tems has been the name on everyone’s lips over the last 18 months or so, and even more so this year. It’s been back-to-back wins for the talented singer thus far, and she isn’t showing signs of taking her foot off our necks any time soon! Earlier in May, she made Nigerian music history by debuting at no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, establishing herself as the very first female Nigerian artist to hit this milestone. Just a few weeks later in June, she won the Best International Act at the 2022 BET Awards, once again going down in history as the first Nigerian and African female musician to win the award. What else can we say when the weight and significance of these achievements speak so clearly for themselves?
It’s obvious the young star is out to take over the world, and there’s nothing left to do but stand back, smile and watch her do it.
Burna Boy At The Madison Square Garden
In the music world, selling out the legendary Madison Square Gardens in New York is not beans, and this list would not be complete without mentioning Burna Boy’s historic achievement back in April. Amid an ecstatic crowd, elaborate lighting, and flying undergarments, the beloved star became the first Nigerian artist to headline the famed venue, treating the crowd to a once-off, first-of-its-kind musical experience. The 20,000 people in the arena were joined by close to 100,000 viewers who joined the online stream via YouTube, as the world watched one of Nigeria’s most prolific artists make history that night.
Say what you will about him, but Burna has that je ne sais quoi and special star quality that simply cannot be denied. Seeing one of our own continue to thrive right before our very eyes? Well, it gives us… I think they call it… ‘endorphins’.
Wizkid Continues Winning Streak
Wizkid has been raking in awards and recognition for as long as we can remember, and this year has been no different. Earlier in the year, it was confirmed that his widely successful album Made In Lagos had been crowned the longest-charting African album and that he, the Big Wiz himself, had been dubbed the longest-charting African artist on the Billboard World Album charts. Billboard’s official announcement served as confirmation of Wizkid’s glaring international success and yet another feather in his already decorated cap. More recently, he won Best Collaboration at the BET Awards for Essence featuring Tems and Justin Bieber.
The sky has never been the limit for Wizkid — only the starting point, and with another highly anticipated album on the way, it’s clear we won’t be hearing the last of this Nigerian superstar any time soon.
Fireboy On Fire
Is there any one of us that wasn’t singing along to Fireboy’s Peru at some point? Well, the talented Nigerian singer hit another global milestone in his career when the infectious smash tune bagged platinum certification in the UK in April this year, this coming shortly after he successfully completed his first-ever headlining US tour. As if that wasn’t enough, the young star performed for the first time at the Wembley Stadium in London alongside Ed Sheeran last month and also recently took to the BET stage, giving us excellent performance, while making history as the first Afrobeat artist to perform at the awards!
This one definitely made us a little emotional, especially seeing as many of these wins were a first for Fireboy. The future looks bright for the 26-year-old, and we’re here for it.
CKay The Next Generation Leader
Singer and Producer CKay’s smash single Love Nwantiti only recently surpassed one billion streams on Spotify and has surpassed 200 million views on YouTube as well. Whilst we still try to wrap our heads around the magnitude of those numbers, the viral hit song is still bagging the certifications and setting unmatched records. Just last month, the fast-rising star officially became the first Nigerian artist to be certified diamond in France after selling over 333,000 units of Love Nwantiti.
On a more personal level, CKay made the prestigious 2022 TIME’s Next Generation Leaders List as the only Nigerian on the list, with TIME recognizing and praising him for “turning afrobeats into a global phenomenon— His Way.” It goes without saying that this particular whirlwind rise to fame has been incredible to witness.