THE GREATEST SHOW YOU NEVER HEARD OF
Today we hear a lot of tales of what living in Lagos meant, of how the city was truly alive with culture and diversity. One popular tale is that of a beautiful mythical paradise located on the edges of the Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately, by most accounts, public utility of this paradise has been stifled by forces of nature or certain government officials. Now, you would be forgiven to assume that I am describing some kind of Atlantis-like location, but even though I would love Aquaman and the atlantians to actuality exist in the realm of reality, this paradise I am referring to was (is) known as Lekki Beach.
Now, what if I tell you that the greatest show Nigeria has ever witnessed was held on the pristine beaches of Lekki? What if I tell you that the city of Lagos was shut down for a couple of days because of the glorious festivities? Birth from the mind of an ambitious Youth Corper, this event became the talk of the nation. Superstars of all genres across Africa gathered to perform before a record breaking crowd. Headlined by the eternally great Fela Anikulapo Kuti supported by noteworthy acts such as Ras Kimono, K1, Labaja and much more, this show was unlike anything that had come before and unlike anything that has been held since.
A show that demanded close to nothing from the attendees, all that was required was your presence and a willingness to appreciate the greatness on display. If you think I'm making this up, ask your parents or elder ones where they were when Lekki Sunsplash changed the landscape of the city, then watch them offer nostalgic tales of a swell time. We rarely have cultural events on this scale today, due to certain factors that may be too expensive to mitigate.
The show opened up the Lekki environment and provided a platform for the discovery of young musical talents like Blakky, Alex Zitto, Ali Baba, KWAM 1, Labaja , Femi Kuti, Pasuma etc, on that stage they were transformed into instant superstars. The ambitious youth corper that masterfully organised the show deservedly won the PMAN (Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria) Promoter of the year award.
It is therefore necessary to appreciate the achievement of gathering a multitude of people of different tribes and backgrounds to dance and enjoy some of the best music of all time. Some estimate that half a million people attended this special event; can you imagine half a million people gathered today peacefully without any religious or political motivations? I find it hard to imagine as well, so it’s possible that an event on this scale may never be replicated. With that being said, we have a responsibility to appreciate a cultural gathering of this magnitude and never allow its memory be lost in the sea of time.
By all measure, it was one of the greatest musical festivals in Africa ever!
Lekki Sunsplash was held annually for 7 years.