As soon as I heard Sir Shina Peters was to perform at the iconic IndiO2 venue in Greenwich, I threw the entire weight and might of Viva Naija behind promoting it. I have always been passionate about promoting and nurturing Nigerian art, entertainment and creativity, and it gets no bigger than the Ace superstar, right?
But I had a dirty little secret: as much as I believe in Nigerians pushing her own narratives, playing her own music and dancing to the beat of her own drums, I certainly would not consider myself an Afrojuju girl. The years that would have been crucial to diggi-right, diggi-left were, for me, spent outside of Nigeria. I spent those years listening to Cher’s Shoop Shoop Song. God.
I only started attending owambes a few years ago, and my judi-left, judi-right leaves a lot to be desired. Sure, I was conversant with the Ace album, but that was it. I didn’t think I knew enough about the genre or the man to be excited about attending the concert. I might as well come right out and say I was close to not attending the concert.
I’ve never been gladder to have attended a concert. From the second Sir Shina emerged in his signature black and white blazer, white trousers and sunshades, the electricity in the air crackled and sizzled. This man is a born performer. The stage is in his DNA. His excitement is infectious and touches even the most lukewarm observer.
There’s gratitude, there’s respect, and then there’s the Yoruba idobale (prostration). When Sir Shina Peters laid flat on the floor for a full minute in gratitude to us, his fans for our love, our patronage and our support for half a century, I responded by taking off my heels. It was clear that we were going to kill ourselves there that night and I was ready to battle to the last, stiff waist or not.
Within minutes, the bass and the synthesizers transported us down memory lane and for one and a half glorious hours, we were happy, sweaty Nigerians dancing like our lives depended on it!
And let me tell you something about this sixty year old man – he is nimble and energised! He put his entire back into every song, danced his hind legs off, and belted out all his hits. In a world where ‘children’ a fraction of his age mime through entire concerts, Sir Shina Peters in his element was a wonder and a joy to behold. I really do feel like the concert was for him. It was his birthday alright, and he was ready to dance!
I was surprised by how much fun I had. Surprised by how many songs I knew, and surprised by how many of the unknown songs felt like old friends. From start to finish, the concert was a triumph, and the adrenaline umped all the way through.
Sir Shina Peters deserves every single one of his accolades. A man, a national treasure and a legend.
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