Everyone popular or important, dead or alive, has said a thing or two about the value of formal education. B.B. King, Aristotle, Einstein, Mandela, and even Bella Shmurda of Vision 2020 fame. In his breakout single, Bella bemoans the inability of his Lagos State University (LASU) education to go from classroom theory to material prosperity: “Four years in LASU is really nothing,” he sings with a voice that manages both bewitching melody and barefaced conviction.
Recently, philosophising via Twitter, the Cash App singer looked back at his LASU days, but not with any romantic affect. He made it clear that his university days were both painful and penniless; that he, by far, prefers his new celebrity life.
For many Nigerians, like Bella, education serves a practical purpose: to help one claw out of poverty. When it fails to do so, it loses its value. Why then do some music celebrities who seem to have it all — money, mansions here and there — bother going back to the classroom? In January, Rema tweeted that, on his mother’s advice, he would be going to the University of Lagos to resume his formal education. Why Rema and other musicians bother returning to school is a matter for a different piece. Here, we’ll look at some Nigerian musicians who, despite the glitz of fame and the rigours of a music career, returned to formal schooling.
Davido bagged a degree in Music from Babcock University in July 2015. This trivia, however, isn’t nearly as interesting as the backstory. Davido was initially enrolled in Oakwood University to study Business Administration. But a man cannot outrun both his nature and fate, and so he eventually discontinued his stay at Oakwood in order to focus on his music career.
Davido’s decision didn’t sit well with his billionaire father, so a compromise had to be reached. Davido, it was decided, would take on academic work that coincided with his passion. For his sake, a music department was created in 2012 at Babcock University, where Davido’s late mother, Veronica Adeleke, had once lectured. 2012 was also the year that the world was introduced to Dami Duro. As a part-time student, Davido was the first and only student in the music department at the private university.
Successful disc jockey, Ferrari Portofino owner, proud care-provider for pet puppies Dudu and FunFun, and pink-haired presence, Florence Otedola — DJ Cuppy — is living life at its full bloom. Yet, in 2021, she said her admission to Oxford University is her “proudest achievement to date.”
DJ Cuppy began classes in Oxford for a second master’s degree. She began school work in October last year, studying for an MSc in African Studies, in the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies. Cuppy boasts of a bachelor’s degree in Business and Economics, which she got from King’s College London in 2014. She also earned a master’s degree in Music Business from New York University in 2015.
Fuji acts have an academic streak. The pioneer of Fuji, the deathless Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, prefixed his name with the academic title “Dr”, even though he wasn’t a Ph.D. owner. Saheed Osupa follows this tradition. King Dr. Saheed Osupa, as he likes to be called, returned to school, the University of Ibadan, in 2016, for a bachelor’s degree in Political Science.
The Fuji icon, last Friday, announced on Instagram that he has completed his program at the university. In the various Instagram photographs accompanying the announcement, Osupa wears a white t-shirt bearing a criss-cross of handwritten signatures, a student tradition in Nigerian universities to celebrate the writing of one’s final undergraduate examination.
In 1999, Osupa completed his National Diploma program at The Polytechnic, Ibadan after studying Business Administration. He is also an alumnus of the American International College, where he studied Networking Operations.
Korede Bello has long proven capable of negotiating two extremes. In Godwin, his 2015 breakout single, he manages to create a song that sounds right both to the religious and party-hardened ear. Unsurprisingly, he is both a song-slinger and a schoolboy. In 2018, he graduated with a Higher National Diploma (HND) from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism.
Mr. Capable has shown that he’s capable of classroom work, completing a screenwriting course at New York Film Academy in 2017. Though not a traditional university setting, as the course lasted only eight weeks, it is a laudable feat nonetheless. Banky W also has a degree in Engineering, earned from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Although Teni didn’t return to school after fame, as she became famous while in university, she continued her education through the fame, eventually graduating in 2018 from the University of Georgia. Her hit song Uyo Meyo, in fact, according to the singer, was inspired by her frustration with academic work.