We are an uncultured and unpunctual people who have been enabled by a lawless society to get away with everything. But in the UK, we were made to pay for it.
I knew there was a problem when I saw Banky W whispering sweet nothings into the ears of various artists on stage. Newly engaged and in the news, Mr W had the air of a man who was desperately working his ass to manage a scarce commodity.
That scarce commodity was ‘time’.
The One Africa Music Fest in London was rolled into the UK at the SSE Arena, Wembley. The show was promoted and announced to start off at 7pm, and on the event venue website everything was set. Due to a football game happening at the Wembley Stadium with a kickoff time of 5.15pm, concert goers were told to arrive early enough to get the show started, and prevent traffic congestion and issues with accessing the venue.
Another reason why the show was meant to stick to the allotted time was because it had committed itself to live streaming. Organizers of the concert, Upfront & Personal Global Management Consultants, had partnered with Jay Z’s TIDAL, to stream the concert live from 7pm.
But 7pm came and went and the show was not yet on. Everyone waited for it to start. The hall had people waiting to see their show start. But it didn’t happen. It was until 8.20pm, over an hour after the show was scheduled to start, that everything kicked to life.
Banky W opened the show and everything kicked into motion. Why was the show delayed for over an hour? Why did we Nigerians fail to keep to time?
Remember they had 21 artists on the lineup, and 4 DJs which included: Davido, Tekno, Alikiba, Sarkodie, Cassper Nyovest, Olamide, PSquare, Jidenna, Falz, Banky W, Phyno, Victoria Kimani, Flavour, Tiwa Savage, MI, 9ice,Skales, Emma Nyra, Eugy, Atumpan and Sonoman and DJ sets by Crowd Kontroller (CK), Obi, Spinall and Abrantee.
Fitting these performances into the concert was going to be a struggle. But the organisers shot themselves in the foot by starting over an hour late.
In Nigeria, this would not have been a problem. We are an uncultured and unpunctual people who have been enabled by a lawless society to get away with everything. That’s why we have African time, and ‘Nigerian time’. We have been conditioned to operate a system of mediocrity and unprofessionalism.
But this was not Lagos and Eko Hotel where you can get away with anything. At Eko Hotels & Suites, event organisers have been known to start shows 3-4 hours after the promoted time, and nothing will happen. The shows will then be stretched into the early hours of the morning. At the Headies 2014, the show actually ended by 4am.
This was the SSE Arena, Wembley, London, UK. This is a land where business is professional, and time is of the essence. The land where every single second counts, and people are held accountable for their actions. Delays have consequences and we paid for it.
After Banky W began to whisper into the ears of performers, and telling them to hurry up their sets because there is ‘no time’, there was trouble in the air. Check out the list of stars who were hurried through their acts:
Cassper Nyovest, Sarkodie, M.I Abaga, Awilo Longomba, 9ice, Falz, Tekno, Tiwa Savage, Phyno, Olamide, Davido, Flavour and Psquare.
Jidenna’s case was worse, he was cut off.
These were the best set of artists that were billed to perform. These were the people that inspired and convinced fans of African music to throw their money behind the concert, pay for tickets, and commit their time to attending the concert. But poor time management and Eko Hotel behaviour ensured that the concert goers were not given enough bang for their money. They were shortchanged. The promise to have a great concert was broken, and people left emotionally unhappy.
At the end of the day, the only enduring image on the minds of the Africans who showed up was watching a despondent Banky W on stage, after the venue owners had turned off the power. He cut a solitary and confused figure, holding on the mic, and asking the audience and the organisers the million dollar question:
“Have the turned off the power?”
Yes Sir. They have turned off the power.
This is the UK and there are professional standards to be upheld. You don’t use Eko Hotel behaviour to organize a show in London. We were disgraced out of the venue, and as fans waited for a miracle to happen, they were met with their worst nightmare; stage technicians dismantling the stage, right in front of them.
In the final words of Jidenna who was disappointed by the behavior of Africans: "Cheers to the artists and organizers of #OneAfrica," he wrote. "I was supposed to perform 2night but the show was cut off as I waited backstage. I'm disappointed that London wasn't able to see me 2night. Regardless of whose to blame, to make this our time we must be on time #OneAfrica ."