Nigeria: A Musical Ecstasy With John Legend, Asa at ThisDay Awards

24 January 2020

There were speculations for days about the iconic American singer and songwriter John Legend's visit to Nigeria. No one could really verify if the rumours were true or fact. Yet, those who had their ears firmly to the ground knew that his visit was for a special event even if they had scanty details about the event.

With all the secrecy surrounding his visit, it was not a surprise then that his arrival at the Eko Hotel Convention Centre in Victoria Island, Lagos where the silver jubilee of THISDAY Newspapers took place, caused a frenzy.

A standing ovation greeted the Grammy-winning Legend as he waltzed into the elegant stage of the ceremony that was graced by well-heeled personalities from different sectors of the economy.

Legend opened his set with a snippet of his collaborative effort with the late rapper Nipsey Hussle and DJ Khaled, 'Higher'. He announced to the delighted fans that he was excited to be back in the country before delving into another hit. Before he sang his popular 2012 hit 'Tonight', he also told the guests that he was going to give them the best night they ever had. And indeed he kept his word, serenading them with ballads that got quite a few swooning to the melodious sounds. He followed it with 'Love Me Now' and took the crowd back to his first song that launched his musical career, 'Used to Love You'. Taking things a notch higher, Legend threw an open invitation to the ladies to have a dance with him on stage. A female guest, Nicole was the lucky one to dance with the singer as he sang to her, even getting down on one knee. The romantic gesture elicited cheers from the excited audience.

Other ballads performed include 'Save Room', 'A Good Night', and 'Ordinary People'. For the latter, he performed on the piano and engaged the audience in a sing along. To crown the night, he performed two all-time favourites 'All Of Me' and 'Green Light'. With the backdrop of silver lights, not a few brought out their phones to capture the magic of the iconic artiste. He got a loud applause for 'All of Me' before wrapping up with the pop hit 'Green Light'.

The celebrated Nigerian-French artiste Asa also graced the stage of the glamorous event, performing some of her popular hits 'Jailer', 'Bibanke', 'Fire on the Mountain', and 'The Beginning' from her latest album 'Lucid'. She closed her set with the emotional piece 'Bamidele' from her 2010 album 'Beautiful Imperfection'.

The high-octane event doubled as an awards ceremony where exceptional individuals and brands were rewarded for their excellence in their various fields.

Arguably, most popular reality TV shows in Nigeria spark discourse in the public space. It's either the moralists who find the concept morally distasteful, or the scholars who plumb the shows for educational values. Nevertheless, research has constantly proved that irrespective of the moral or educational lens reality TV shows are viewed from, one thing is certain: it is a reflection of the society. Young people have found the shows not only entertaining but also portraying different experiences that they might have gone through.

A good example of such reality shows is Big Brother Naija, MultiChoice Nigeria production that tests the social and psychological skills of participants. It was the first reality TV show to sweep the country away. The debut of Big Brother Naija in 2006 surprised everyone with how quickly viewers took to their favourite characters, and invested in them. Every year the show is held, it is greeted with fanfare all over the country. Fans fawn over their favourites, even among family members. There are always those who will pitch their tents with the male contestants because of their handsome looks, while some will prefer a strong female character. The beauty of some of these reality shows is how relatable the contestants are. It is easy to identify a particular trait or experience of a participant in real-life situations. At the end of each season, it all climaxes into a national explosion with reverberations in every corner. Social media's connection of fan communities has exaggerated the hysteria that it inspires and helps contestants to build enviable fanbase after the show, thus, offering them new ways to commodify and monetize that connection.

People love what they love, and while it is not understood in detail, much of it is pretty much science. The reality of reality TV is almost as old as TV itself. PBS aired what ultimately became the first reality TV show, 'An American Family', in 1973. MTV found that the concept was successful and almost 20 years later, in 1992, created what many people consider to be the first modern reality show, 'The Real World.'

No doubt, reality TV has become a large part of popular culture today and provides hours of entertainment to countless Nigerians. Its primary allure is escapism--providing Nigerians an escape from their daily hustles.

Also, we are less connected than ever before, despite the universal access to social media.

A licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Jana Scrivani put it this way: "Every genre of television, but reality television in particular, gives us a false sense that we really know the people we see on the screen each week. This sense of having a personal relationship is amplified with the 'reality' label, even though we are well aware that the reality piece is often greatly exaggerated. Modern life has us pulled in many different directions, and close ties between family and friends are at all-time lows. Over time, we come to see the folks portrayed on the screen as friends. We identify with their struggles and triumphs. It's much less time consuming to take in a half an hour television show than to connect with a friend - we can squeeze reality TV in between work, the dishes, and putting the kids to bed."

With the success of reality shows in Nigeria in the last decade, it is almost certain that the TV shows will be a stable in the TV landscape. No one understands the great value of entertainment and of course cultural values that reality TV shows have than MultiChoice Nigeria. The leading video entertainment company kicked off the new year with the introduction of four new shows: 'Ultimate Love', 'Date My Family', 'Dr. Laser', and 'Confessions'. These shows seek to explore various facets of the Nigerian reality, giving viewers more options for connection and entertainment.

While 'Date My Family', a reality dating show that follows the unique story of a suitor who goes to dinner with three different families of potential dates and eventually has to choose a date based on their experience with the date's family members; 'Dr. Laser', a medical reality show about people undergoing plastic surgery in Nigeria; and 'Confessions', a reality show in which people confront their fears and secrets that have been eating them up, already launched this month, 'Ultimate Love' will start airing in February.

The reality TV show is centered around single male and female strangers living together in an isolated location with the hopes of finding life-long love. They are paired based on their mutual attraction to one another as they compete to emerge the ultimate couple of the competition. The winning couple is rewarded with a lavish traditional wedding ceremony, a fully furnished home amongst other prizes.

All these carefully curated shows are inspired by the reality of our lives. Nigerians love a good love story, especially the inclusive ones that involve familial acceptance. We're socialized in a restrictive society that provides few spaces for frank conversations and vulnerability. Vanity finds itself at the centre of the Nigerian psyche, expressing itself in all the ways we modify our physical appearances to the best version of ourselves. The richest and most daring among us have enlisted medical help with that and living vicariously through these people will be a hit.

Going by the slew of reality shows already available on our screens, it is certain that the craze around reality shows will not fade anytime soon.

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