Whenever President Buhari returns home, he should just do the needful and give Congolese legend
honourary Nigerian citizenship. And while he's at it, a national honour won't be a bad idea too.
Has there been any other African artiste that have enraptured Nigerians as much as Awilo has? Not likely. By the year 2000, his second album Coupe Bibamba
was the rage all over the country. It didn't matter if it was actually released in 1998 (no be when person wake him day dey begin?). It even mattered less to all of us that we neither spoke French nor Lingala that the man sang in; once the beat came on, Nigerians automatically jumped up, stretched out their arms, bent their knees and wiggled away.
It didn't hurt either that the man himself had a deep rooted love for Nigeria. He said in later interviews that he was inspired by the music of Fela. His Lagos concert in 2000 has not been replicated by any artiste: he filled up the 40,000 capacity National Stadium. And that's not all, he in turn inspired a new crop of Nigerian entertainers who made several spoof of his songs and thus began their own careers.
For the first few years of the new millennium, Awilo Longomba
ruled the Nigerian airwaves like no one else; and when his era passed for a more Naija-centric sound, we all were grateful for the memories. Sure, Koffi Olomide and Fally Ipupa came later on, they did not match the frenzy of Awilo.
In the last couple of years he has made some comebacks; he has been featured on songs by Praiz
and more recently, Tiwa Savage
and Yemi Alade
. He was also a guest at King Sunny Ade
's 70th birthday concert in December. His 17 minute performance got the entire hall dancing like the whole nation did 17 years ago. That's how great Awilo was.
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