From 1st – 4th August 2019, in Praia da Rocha, Portugal the first ever Afro Nation took place. A festival dedicated to all things Afrobeats. When I first saw an ad promoting Afro Nation, I was instantly interested because I’ve always been a fan of Afrobeats. I’m talking way back to Styl Plus ‘Imagine that’, Dbanj ‘Why me’ kind of days. I feel like it’s only recently, since being back, suffering from holiday blues and having time to reflect, that I’ve realised the true magnitude of what Afro Nation signifies for us.
Time and time again, I’ve seen and heard the stories of how people used to pretend they weren’t African in school. I never overtly denied being African but one thing I always hated was my middle name being on the school register, especially when teachers used to draw attention to it. My middle name is Oyinkanmisola, which means honey drops into my wealth. It’s actually a really beautiful name with a beautiful meaning but at the time I simply didn’t appreciate it. Especially being one of few black people in my school and other than my sister, the only Nigerian. Anyway, you’re probably wondering what this has to do with Afro Nation, so here goes. With maturity and confidence in who I am I can proudly say that I am Nigerian. Afro Nation is a public declaration of this pride that many people have or are beginning to feel in their identity as Africans. The festival unashamedly displayed the raw and unadulterated talent that comes from Africa. Which for Africans, unearthed a deep-rooted sense of pride and for non-Africans the realisation of a much deserved kudos.
To expand on this, Afro Nation was literally a showcase of black excellence. Performers came from all over the continent and all the artists I saw delivered to a high standard. Not only was the festival a showcase of black excellence, it was an obliteration of stereotypes. Some of the performers made mention of the fact there was no violence but simply good energy. Because as we know many believe large crowds of black people always ends in violence. This was evident, in the implementation of increased policing at Notting Hill Carnival 2018. From my experience, Afro Nation was nothing but good vibes, good music and good energy.
The final thing I’m going to mention that I feel Afro Nation signifies, is the huge strides we’ve seen in Afrobeats music. When I see certain artists perform, I can’t help but reflect on the first time they came on my radar. I first heard of Wizkid on BEN TV when they played his video for ‘Holla at your boy’ and I heard Burna Boy’s ‘Like to Party’ in someone’s room in my first year of uni. To see both these artists selling out the O2, performing at Coachella, featuring on songs with Beyonce is momentous and we can’t just shrug these moments off as mere. These things are HUGE and it tells me we’re going to keep going from strength to strength. I can only imagine how much more can be achieved, not only by these artists but by we… as Africans. This is just the start of an avalanche of overt displays of what Africa has to show.