Nigeria goes to Coachella without Wizkid

News of Wizkid going to Coachella, the popular festival which has taken place at the Colorado desert since 1999, was announced months ago, leading some Nigerians to prepare for the popstar’s arrival at the much-respected festival. Those preparations turned out futile as the ‘Ojuelegba’ singer was unable to appear.

“We are sorry to announce that Wizkid is unable to make it into the country to join us this weekend, but will be performing next weekend,” Coachella announced days ago.

Unhappy fans attacked Wizkid for yet another show cancelled even if he was aware of the Coachella roster many months ago. “Band had some visa issues…I’m upset but see y’all next week,” he tweeted. He was more direct in a response to a querying fan, saying in Nigerian pidgin that the visa office isn’t owned by his father.

If Nigerians were worried that Wizkid’s absence meant Nigeria’s absence on such a stage, they need not have fretted, as Beyonce, winner of over 20 Grammy awards, inserted a brief instrumental in Afrobeat style during her 2-hour long performance. The segment has been taken by many to be a tribute to Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

Over the years, the American artist and her rapper husband Jay-Z have expressed respect for the Nigerian maestro. While Jay-Z was a co-producer of the hit show Fela on Broadway, Beyonce recorded but deigned to a release a record inspired entirely by the Afrobeat man. “She [Beyonce] said she wanted to do something that sounds like Fela,” producer The Dream told lyrics website Genius in 2015.

Fela was not the only Nigerian to appear at Coachella. Beyonce also used the fragment of a speech on feminism by the novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The fragment had earlier appeared on the 2013 single ‘Flawless’ from Beyonce’s self-titled album.

Adichie’s voice led to a performance by a reunited Destiny’s Child, the coup de grâce of a performance that has been praised widely, with the New York Times’s Jon Caramanica declaring that “Beyonce is bigger than Coachella”.

When it is time for Wizkid to take the Coachella stage come next weekend, he won’t be the lone Nigerian voice in the American wilderness.

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