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The COVID‑19 Pandemic: its impact on Nigeria and its music scene

The background story 

Nigeria, the most populous black nation in the world, confirmed its first case of the Coronavirus (otherwise known as the COVID-19) on February 27th. Sweeping through Asia and into Europe, Lagos saw the first reported case of the now-declared pandemic in Sub-Saharan Africa. An Italian citizen entering the country showed symptoms and was subsequently isolated and treated. Since then, efforts have been on an increase throughout the country. Awareness on care and how to detect symptoms has been created through the varying forms of media as the Health ministry of the country continues to relay daily updates to Nigerians. 

However doggedly Nigeria have tackled the COVID-19 pandemic, its toll on economic activity is yet felt. Globally, as the world plans to contain the virus, it has made for a lot of changes. Employees are being asked to work from homecorporations and offices are being closedthe biggest football leagues have suspended a considerable amount of gamesoil prices have gone down, and in the entertainment sector, music events and tours are being postponed. 

Tour dates and shows postponed 

Atlanta-born Nigerian superstar Davido had been touring North America before the virus broke out. He’d sold out Edmonton, Vancouver, Seattle, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and San Francisco.  However, the global space as it is right now had the A Good Time artiste announce that the rest of his tour was postponed. On social media, Davido expressed sadness over what had been a successful tour, and had seen international superstar Chris Brown share the stage with the Nigerian artiste in Edmonton. “I’m saddened to halt what has been a fantastic sold-out tour so far, but postponing is the right thing to do,” the artiste wrote, asserting that “the health and safety of my fans and staff is most paramount and nothing else matters. Be safe and see y’all soon! God be with us all!” 

Davido hasn’t been the only artiste to make such an announcement recently. 

Burna Boy, who was to perform in Namibia’s capital city of Windhoek on the 4th of April, too, has postponed. The artiste was set to thrill the Namibian audience as part of his African Giant Tour, organized by Mindscape Events. However, on March 14th, the Namibian government suspended all public gatherings, including the nation’s Independence celebrations which would have held on March 21st. Asa, the legendary Nigerian-French artiste, also on March 14th, announced the postponement of her forthcoming European tour dates. Her duo of local shows – in Lagos and Abuja, on April 11th and April 13th respectively – will, however, go on as planned. 

It is expected that more Nigerian artistes with plans will consider their international gigs in the coming days.

Music festivals postponed, too  

Global music events find themselves impacted too: the Coachella, arguably the biggest music festival in the world, also had its dates pushed. Seun Kuti, the iconic Afrobeat artiste, was the only Nigerian on the lineup of the festival; other artistes on its 2020 roster includes American recluse superstar Frank Ocean, British-Nigerian rapper Dave, the prominent South African DJ Black Coffee, amongst a host of others, from FKA Twigs to Koffee

The Afro Nation festival which was to be held in San Juan, Puerto Rico from March 18 – March 21 has also been postponed. Many Nigerian artistes were on the lineup of the event co-founded by Nigerian creative entrepreneur Obi Asika. 2Baba, Burna Boy, Davido, Patoranking and Teni were among artistes to headline the show, a pan-African attempt at uniting black artists all over the world.

General reaction of Nigerians 

Nigerians have reacted rather optimistically to the COVID-19, somewhat confident in how its health officials (and the general public) defeated the much deadlier Ebola virus. That isn’t to say Nigerians are being complacent: sanitizers spiked in demand and prices in the early days; as usual, hands are being washed and face masks are a regular sight around the country. 

But given the laudable efforts of health officials so far, there’s every reason to be positive – even in the continued conflict of interest that has pit citizens against a government which doesn’t seem eager to stop entry into the country – that Nigeria could shine as a beacon of hope to the rest of the world in these times.  

As provided by Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire:

“Nigerians are advised to follow these tips, and if you feel unwell and have been outside the country in the last 14 days or if you suspect a case, report to @FMoHNigeria, 0909 299 6283, 0809 555 3232, @NCDCgov, 0708 711 0839WhatsApp, 0809 955 5577 SMS, toll-free: 0800 970 0000-0010.”