The three nights of pulsating rhythms ended a few days ago, but the feelings would remain forever. Like previous years, Dominica (not the Dominican Republic) hosted the world to the annual World Creole Music Festival. With great hospitality, guests were welcomed all over the island. The 21st world creole music festival had an impressive lineup of artists. With names like Buju Banton, Davido, Romain Virgo, Asa Batan, Samtizzi, Bunji Garlin, amongst others, it was true to the theme – pulsating rhythms from start to finish. I obtained a press pass that allowed for almost unlimited access throughout the festival. In this piece below, I try to walk you through my amateur journalist experience, partying with A-list stars and getting to interview one of the biggest acts out of Africa: Davido.
Friday, October 25
The opening day of the World Creole Music Festival started with lots of colorful activities as expected. I started rolling my camera from the moment I alighted from my taxi in Roseau. There was a parade of colorfully dressed women and kids on Independence street which is few blocks from the stadium.
I caught the parade on tape as I proceeded to the venue of the press conference. I had gone to see the stadium a day before and there was no doubt that the stage indeed was set. With a quality first-day line-up, everyone couldn’t wait. There was traffic all over Roseau as people made last-minute preparations for the three-day festival. I had zero interest in the press conference but had only gone there to know the festival’s line-up. An arrangement had been made to interview Davido before his arrival on the island so I left the press conference to ensure that the interview was still on point. I sent a WhatsApp text to Asa Asika, Davido’s manager, inquiring where they’d prefer the interview to hold to which he responds that the hotel was perfect and we agreed to meet at 4 pm. I called my videographer and gave him the necessary information before heading back home to take a little rest, fully anticipating the madness that the night would turn out to be.
I had barely caught a wink of sleep before it was 4 pm and my taxi was outside waiting. After weaving through the evening traffic in Roseau, we arrived at the resort by 6 pm and headed straight to the poolside where Davido, Bobo – Davido’s lawyer, Asa Asika, DJ Ecool, and Tycoon were chilling.
The Royal Oak Audemars Piquet watch on Davido’s wrist glistened brightly as I approached the poolside. “Take better pictures today,” Davido said as I introduce my videographer to Asa. I had linked up with the crew on the previous night immediately after they arrived on the island. The videographer, Yusef Mali, had canceled plans to make it to the hotel with me for the interview.
A view of the pool. Davido remained in the pool while DJ Ecool and Bobo joined Tycoon, Asa, myself, and the rest poolside as we rolled some Dominican kush. We listened to unreleased songs; especially songs from A Good Time – Davido’s forthcoming album. I heard some heat off the anticipated Peruzzi album and some new Mayorkun heat as well. There was a track with Dremo and Mayorkun that was played, I caught the vibe like a viral disease. I was having a good time just chilling with Davido and the crew by the pool but time was ticking and the main purpose which was the interview had not been achieved. After some hours and it seemed like there won’t be any interview, Yusef was ready to go.
There had been an interruption that stalled Davido getting ready for the interview so we had to wait some more. They had just been served a light dinner. When it was about 8 pm and the interview still hadn’t taken place, I had to let my videographer head back to Roseau to set up at the stadium. He had other gigs and we couldn’t rush 30BG.
After eating, they headed to the resort’s spa and didn’t surface again till about midnight when it was almost showtime. I was in the company of a Dominican-based Nigerian artist called Coded and we followed the 30BG convoy in a taxi. When it was 1:30 am and the interview was yet to happen, I made up my mind to forget about the interview and keep enjoying the night. Davido’s performance was set for 1:55 am and the taxi pulled up at the venue just moments before Davido mounted the stage. Running through security points while flashing my press pass with my camera slung around my neck, I cut the picture of a busy journalist on duty and it helped that Asa Asika had told them I was the crew’s cameraman. In good time, the security cleared the way and I was in front of the stage, ready to catch every moment. DJ Ecool kept the audience in fete spirit as he dished out tunes from his turntable till Davido mounted the stage to a cheering crowd.
The flashing colorful lights on display were brilliant, the show could not have been any better, O.B.O and his team did not disappoint the audience. For me, the entire night was at a climax already. I was proud to be from the same country as another man for one of the first times. The energy from Davido on stage was top-notch making the crowd erupt and sing along as he dished out hits after hits from his lengthy catalogue. From Dami Duro to Fans Mi to FIA to Assurance and many more, the audience could not be sated.
The experience was nothing short of beautiful. I had to put my camera down and enjoy the show. At the end of his over forty minutes set, the audience yearned for an encore but Davido had to go. I immediately headed to the backstage where a queue of journalists waited in-line to interview Davido.
The show was winding down now or so it seemed to me until one of the biggest artists within the island made an appearance that was nothing short of majestic. Asa Bantan, the Bouyon boss, rode on horseback amidst flaring fire in a majestic entrance. I managed to get footage of his entrance on my camera. While I captured those moments, it felt like the party just started all over. Dominicans know how to party and the rave was loudly on display as Asa Bantan performed to an ecstatic crowd. A few minutes later, Davido and his crew emerged from the VIP booth where they had been escorted to by Mr. Collin Piper the director for Discover Dominica Authority, the coordinators of the festival.
He was now taking them to the VVIP village where they would be entertained. My press-pass did not allow me access to the VVIP section but before I could get a hold of myself, a fine lady pulled me along. In the VVIP section, there was an overflow of everything from food to liquor. Many guests clustered to take pictures with Davido. All eyes seemed to be on him and his crew in the VVIP section and being with them was my moment of fame. I put my camera aside as DJ Ecool poured me some Hennessy. Asa Bantan, by now, had the entire audience in a celebratory frenzy. I watched as the 30BG crew partied and marveled at the energy of the Dominicans who kept partying. At the height of Asa Bantan’s performance, the VVIP section was in a mess. I heard Davido telling his Asika that he must get Asa Bantan on a track
The first night ended on Saturday morning and the rhythms indeed were pulsating. As we made to leave the VVIP, I grabbed some unopened Ciroc bottles, looked at Asa Asika with an I’m-going-home-with-this-bottle type of look and marched out. On our way out I also told Asa Asika to cancel the Davido interview. I was partially tipsy, my cameraman had gone home and my phone battery had died so I had no access to my pre-written questions no more.
We got to the car park and a tired Davido was finally ready for the interview. I was very tired as well but we went ahead with it. I asked a few questions relating to his new album and performance in Dominica. Sincerely, I could barely hear anything said. I just wanted to go home and rest. Hopefully, excerpts from the interview would be published much later.