16 February 2013

Nigeria: 'I Want to Have Everything a Woman Deserves to Have'


Davina is an Afro pop singer and has been in the industry for almost a decade, when she performed with international artistes at Star Mega Jam. The native of Kogi State has seen both sides of the coin in the industry and in this no-holds barred chat with SAMUEL ABULUDE, the singer lays it bare

Can you tell me about yourself?

My name is Davina, a music artist and a jewellery designer. I call myself a Jewel mogul because I have adorned the faces of so many women. Davina is a name I gave myself when I was going into music. My full name is Davina Patience Achema from the Igala speaking part of Kogi State.

So what have you been up to?

I took a break from music in order to settle down. When I was younger as an artist, I could do a lot and move around. I have wealth of experience in the music industry having performed along with a lot of international artistes like Ja Rule, Kevin Little, T-Pain, Akon and so many others at Star Mega Jam, Star Trek and other shows. During that period, it was easy for me because I had no other responsibility to take care of like getting married, settling down and having children.

A lot of women don't know where to stop and smell the roses as well as when to take a break. And it tends to create a lot of problems in their life. It is either they are successful and no husband or no children. I don't want mine to be like that. I want to have everything a woman deserves to have in life. I believe that after I marry and settle down, I can still pursue my musical career. In fact, I don't want to be pursuing my musical career and forget about marrying and having kids or give birth out of wedlock. I don't want any of that.

Would you say celebrity marriages suffer because of that?

Yes, you can't eat your cake and have it. A lot of women pursue their career and forget that time is running past them. Before they know it, they are close to 40. There are so many women in the entertainment industry who have suffered such things. All of a sudden, they discover, I am alone.

How did this happen? In as much as they won't open up and tell you but this is what is going on in their lives. And some of them will tell you, I'm not searching whereas they are. They won't tell you the truth because they have now gotten successful in their career and discover that money does not guarantee happiness. So, I didn't want to make the same mistakes female musicians and entertainers make, so I prioritise my life taking a break now from music.

For how long have you been in music?

Professionally seven years. 2005 was when I performed at Star Mega Jams which is something I will always talk about. It opened doors for me and I picked up my life from Star Mega Jam. I thank God that music did a lot in my life and will still do. I plan to go to the studio this year. As a matter of fact, I am opening my own studio not just for myself but for every other aspiring artiste out there. I intend to do a lot of Collabos this year.

My genre of music is African contemporary music which some call Afro-pop. My personality notably my long hairdo expresses the African woman. On how I got to Star Mega Jam, I met the former MD of Nigerian Breweries, Festus Odimegwu and he gave me a chance to perform having listened to my music before. I had done two Albums, in 2003 and 2004 but ironically the albums were not released into the market.

How Challenging was it for you as an artiste?

You hear a lot of Nos before a Yes, may be a hundred Nos before a Yes but you should not give up because of that. Of course, I felt like giving up on my music career. The Album that was not released was sponsored by someone. It was a case of he who plays the piper dictates the tune. I want to say that women like me are not being supported in the music industry because of our genre of music and other factors.

I love my kind of music and will continue playing it just the same way Angelique Kidjo is playing all around the world. I'm sure her music was not accepted initially so I believe Davina will also perform her music all around the world. Mark my words, it will happen. I have evergreen songs that fifty years from now, they'll still be heard. Songs like 'I go make am', songs like 'Femi' that I wrote. So, I'm not in a hurry.

How did you cope with harassment playing in Night clubs before hitting it?

I believe young girls complain of sexual harassment because as a young, up and coming artiste, you are scared and timid and have no knowledge of the terrain. You think, what can this man or manager do to me? Can he rape or assault me? A lot of girls have suffered that as they build a career in showbiz. Even abroad, a lot of girls have lost their lives in their quest for fame. They fell into the hands of evil people. Some were raped, killed, lured and they didn't have the initiative to handle these predators.

Music is not a career for weak-minded people. If not, everybody will be singing and acting. It is not easy to uphold the lifestyle of a celeb. I thank God that I passed the stage successfully of being harassed. At this stage now, I should be the one harassing any one that wants to harass me. Over the years, I have learnt to be confident and fearless. I have gone to shows where guys play and I happen to be the only lady there. The music industry is really a tough terrain for a woman.

Sometime ago, I was discussing with Don Jazzy and he was trying to tell me how tough the terrain is for a woman. Are you sure, you can cope, Don Jazzy was telling me in a chitchat that a lot of women can't cope here. I told him that for me to have performed at Star Mega Jam back then which a lot of women could not, then what challenge wouldn't I surmount now.

Is that true?

Of course, how many women played at Star Mega Jam and Star Trek then? It is because of the challenge women face. In Africa, mostly in Nigeria, the music industry does not favour women! I can say it over and over again. I was watching the Nation's Cup Final in a friend's house and I saw about four, five ladies performing that day and I was telling my friend, look at the way the South African women are being supported. In Nigeria, it is not the same. Women are still struggling to be heard.

But now we have more female musicians...

Yes we do but they will complain of the same thing. It is not easy. That is the truth.

Even when we have Tiwa Savage, Omawunmi, Waje...

Yes, do you know how long it took Waje to be heard? Do you know when she was doing back-up for P Square? That is what I am talking about. It took her a long time to be heard and that boils down to persistence. Tiwa Savage was in US writing songs for top musicians. The way she will be perceived is different from the way we would be perceived. Do you understand me? And thank God for Mavin Records, if not she will be singing the same music. There are a lot of good musicians and I can mention names.

A lot of good female artistes, who are not being heard, some don't even have a record label to push them out. I was at a seminar and Kenny Saint Brown was telling everyone how you go to South Africa and spend over a million naira shooting a music video. How many shows have come out of it? Let's speak the truth. There are no shows out there for the artistes and even though there are, have they given it to the men before considering the female artistes.

You mention Omawumi, Tiwa and Waje, they were persistent to be heard and I give them the credit. But we want more to happen to us. It's not just these few people. We want the industry to be bubbling as it is bubbling for the men. Women artistes deserve to be encouraged because we work as hard as the men.

It starts from us women encouraging ourselves because we are always antagonising instead of supporting one another. You mentioned Goldie, how many shows has she performed that is not from Kennis Music? I could have been homeless if I was waiting for these shows to come my way. You cannot tell me that I am not good enough.

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