Lagos hots up for Afropolitan Vibes Music Fest

 Ade Bantu

Ade Bantu

The popular Freedom Park (old colonial prison yard), Broad Street, Lagos Island, will come under heavy sound of live music and other side attractions, as organisers of Afropolitan Vibes presents the maiden edition of its Music Festival.

Co-produced by musician Ade Bantu and Abby Ogunsanya, the Music Festival, which is billed for December 16 and 17, will feature quality live entertainment, with over 150 performing artistes on the bill. Unlike the normal Afropolitan Vibes, which takes place only on the main stage, the music festival comes with a slight twist; it’s going to be an evenings of live music featuring lots of guest artistes, as well as surprise appearances.

Meanwhile, during the day, guests will be treated to back-to-back acoustic live sets featuring select artistes performing in the intimate setting of Kongi’s Harvest Gallery, while the Urban Sessions will be hosted by Ade Bantu and Buki Sawyerr Izeogu of Classic FM. A host of guest DJs will provide music all around the park throughout the two-day festival, as well as at the after parties, which will take place immediately after the evening shows.

For the two days, audience will have the opportunity to browse items on display at the Afropolitan Vibes Art Exhibition And Music Store and purchase any of the limited edition prints, as well as items from the range of official merchandise, which will include t-shirts, mugs, beer glasses, festival bags and others.

As part of the festival, there will be a Retro Games Section, where guests can chill with friends with a glass of palm wine, beer or a soft drink and play games such as cards, ayo or draughts or simply have fun, adding their unique designs to the festival’s colouring wall. There will be Drum Circle, which anyone can join to learn how to play any of the percussion instruments, with a special Dance Workshops during the day facilitated by the Crown Troupe of Africa.

However, the main stage will parade notable music artistes, who will take their turns on stage to thrill guests to the best of their compositions. Particularly, all guest artistes will perform alongside the 13-piece BANTU collective led by Ade Bantu himself.

Also on display will be Afropolitan Vibes magazine covers and a selection of the best photographs from all forty-three editions of the show.

“We know that many of you collect our magazines, so at our store, you will finally get the opportunity to purchase one of our limited edition prints as well as items from our range of official merchandise, which will include t-shirts, mugs, beer glasses, festival bags and more,” Abby Ogunsanya hinted.

Few years ago when Germany-based-Nigerian artiste, Ade Bantu, who had been shuttling between Germany and Nigeria, eventually took a decision to return home and continue his music career, the thinking was that moving home would create an opportunity for the talented artiste to directly contribute to the industry. But by the time he moved back to fatherland, things turned out different.

“I was a bit disappointed the time I came back to Nigeria; that was when hip-hop music was on the rise. I discovered that artistes of my generation were gradually leaving the scene, with not space for live performances. There was no place for alternative sounds; D’Banj was the big deal them. It was a bit frustrating for me, ” he recalled.

Determined to make impact and possible create opportunity for alternative sounds that were yearning for attention, Bantu teamed up with another like mind Abby Ogunsanya to set up Afropolitan Vibes, a monthly live music concert at the Freedom Park. While Bantu took charge of the stage on concert days with his band, Abbey, a marketer by training, was responsible for the background roles; you hardly find her on limelight. Together, they formed a perfect bond and kept the dream alive, even without sponsors.

A monthly live music concert, which turned out to be a plus for alternative music, Afropolitan Vibes created a platform where music lovers congregate to watch contemporary singer-songwriters and musicians perform mostly original works that are firmly rooted in African musical origins of Afro-beat, Afro-funk, Afro-hip-hop, Afro-pop and Highlife music. Every month, a host of talented artistes gather each month to rehearse and then perform with Bantu Crew on stage at the Amphitheatre.

“I still remember the first edition; we had about 80 people in the audience. In fact, most of the artistes that worked with us at that early stage were personal friends and friends of friends. We didn’t have money to pay them, but somehow, we were able to convince them and they keyed into the idea. For us, it was a movement,” Bantu said.

From that humble beginning, Afropolitan Vibes has grown to become a major music platform, attracting both locals and expatriates. Every third Friday of the month, Freedom Park is usually lively, with most guests heading for the concert. But unlike most music events where there are visible class divisions of regular ticket holders, VIP, VVIP and tables, Afropolitan Vibes is a typical ‘home for all’ and cares less about social status.

“That’s one unique features of Afropolitan Vibes; people mix up easily. I recalled one edition we had a guest, who came with his security guards. By the time he stepped into the arena and saw how people mingled freely, nobody told his guards to excuse themselves. I’m happy that we’ve been able to create a platform that treats everybody as equal; we are all united in music,” he said.

Aside from Bantu, who is a regular on the show, Afropolitan Vibes has featured leading artistes such as Burna Boy, Victor Olaiya, Yemi Alade, M.I, Nneka, Falz, Blitz the Ambassador, Sir Shina Peters and Gyedu-Blay Ambolley. Others, who have graced the stage, include Seun Kuti, Patrice, Brymo, Keziah Jones, Daddy Showkey, Bez, Salawa Abeni, Orlando Julius, Praiz, Waje, Sound Sultan, Diana Bada, Megaloh, Ebo Taylor, Siji and General Pype. Meanwhile, veterans such as Rainmaker Majek Fashek, Chris Ajilo and Beautiful Nubia have also featured at the monthly concert.

“It’s always a mixture of the old and young. The idea is to use the platform to serve the history of Nigerian music industry. A lot of people know about the younger generation, but when they see the veterans perform on stage, it brings back that nostalgic feeling,” Bantu said.

Having firmly established the project, especially with the introduction of the yearly Music Festival, the organisers are now working on how to take Afropolitan Vibes to other parts of the continent.

“This is a pan-African music project, so, we are working on activating other African countries. Right now, we are talking to people in Ghana, South Africa, Benin Republic, Kenya… we are opening up to all African people to see how we can expand the project beyond Nigeria; that’s our next target,” he said.

With the level of media exposure the music project has received over the years, including a special feature on CNN, there are indications that, in no distant time, Afropolitan Vibes would become a true African project, uniting the continent through music.



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