As an entertainment journalist, the job gets really busy in December, with a litany of music festivals, award shows, comedy events to cover. As early as October 2018, entertainers begin to roll out dates, venues and time of their concerts scheduled for December. So, it was a well-expected move on December 7 when Nigerian singer Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun, better known as Wizkid, took to his Instagram handle to announce the date and venue of his two concerts: The Wizkid Exclusive VIP Experience at Eko Convention Centre on December 19, and the Made In Lagos Festival which was to hold at Eko Atlantic on December 23.
I reached out to Xchange, organisers of the two events, in order to get press pass to this event. Our request was granted, we attended the Singers First event, which was held at Eko Convention Centre. On Saturday December 22, I placed a call to the Xchange team in order to get press pass for the singers’ Made In Lagos concerts which was going to hold on Sunday 23rd. The person on the line told me there was an event, ‘Afrobeat Fest’, holding at Eko Atlantic and there were press passes for us if we would like to cover the event.
It should be recalled that Yemi Alade had tweeted: “Stop increasing your ynash in your pictures! You know you are straight like ‘I’ embrace your real self! Ahh ahh. Deceiving fans up and dan.” Few hours later, Tiwa Savage took to her Instagram page to post a series of pictures displaying her backside, which she captioned: “Flash Black Friday #ToWhomItMayF&ckingConcern” for the first photo and “Because I’m petty I get plenty more but make I no break your screen guard. Let sleeping dogs lie. A word is enough for the wise,” for the second photo. Fans did their one plus one and concluded that a very big celebrity fight was brewing.
The zeal and desire to tell every story as a Journalist and probably the opportunity to get Yemi Alade’s reaction, as she was billed to perform at the event (Afrobeat Fest), made me want to cover the event. Later in the evening, I headed to Eko Atlantic, venue of the event. Upon arrival, I noticed how scanty the place looked and how lifeless it was for a music concert. If a census was taken, those present would hardly be 100. “Maybe it is the usual African time; people will come.” I said to myself as I tried to clear my doubt that an event was indeed going to take place that night. This was how I kept consoling myself till Ephraim, a friend of my colleague, joined me at the venue. His arrival brought more regrets rather than happiness, as he was even more convinced that no concert was going to hold that night.
In the midst of all this, as we walked away from the main arena, we bumped into a group of white foreigners who were very pissed off that an event reportedly slated for 7pm was yet to start by 11pm. Determined not to rant in vain, they walked to an usher to seek explanations. Wanting to see how this was going to end, I signalled Ephraim for him to wait while I observed the situation.
After speaking with the ushers, who could not come up with concrete reason why an event billed to start by 7pm was yet to start by 11pm, the foreigners were directed by the ushers to speak with a superior official at the gate. Still visibly angry, they walked towards the gate in hope that they would get answers to all their questions.
The following conversation ensued between the foreigners and some ticketing officials at the gate:
Foreigners: We arrived at 05 past 9; we’ve been waiting for three hours; three hours, nothing! You can cut our bands off (the pass that grants access into the venue, worn on the hand). We paid N5,000 to see Femi Kuti and then what we’ having is just… it’s not funny…..the lack of communication is so bad for social growth.
Officials: We apologise.
Foreigners: Who do we speak to? Who is the manager that we can speak to?
Officials: Point towards a man not so far.
While this was going on, they approached the manager, whom they were directed to speak with. When they told him their grievances, all he did was to try to calm the angry foreigners while saying the usual customer care catchphrase: “We’re sorry for the inconvenience.”
Having expressed all their anger with the organisers, the foreigners decided to leave the concert, totally pissed. I followed them behind as they made their way out of the venue.
As they made their way to the parking lot to retrieve their vehicles, their ‘fans’, including me, kept following them. Then I eavesdropped on someone saying in Yoruba: “They have tickets to Wizkid concerts that they want to sell.”
“How much?” I asked someone beside me, who was also probably trying to purchase the tickets. I wasn’t sure. “1k” the person replied. If there is anything Nigerians chase more than they chase their dreams. definitely it’s freebies. It was then it dawned on me that these people were on the foreigners trail not for money but for tickets. At that moment, I began to observe to see if truly the tickets were going to be sold for N1,000. Like wildfire, the ticket sale story went viral. Soon, prospective buyers began to approach the foreigners. Someone tried to negotiate for N500, but the foreigners declined the offer. They knew quite well how not to be stupid on the streets of Lagos.
The foreigners stood by the road as they awaited a potential buyer. Not that they were not getting offers, these offers were not juicy. Ephraim, my friend’s colleague, walked up to one of the foreigners to strike a deal.
“How much?’ he asked. ”
“1k” he replied.
“Bring it let me see”
One foreigner signalled to one of his companions to bring two tickets. Not wanting to get detected by security officials patrolling the area, knowing that sale of tickets by unauthorised persons is illegal and regarded as ‘black market’, he stylishly hid the ticket, covering it with both hands while waiting for Ephraim to seal the deal. When Ephraim saw the tickets, he reached down to his pockets for his legal tender. Money exchanged hands, tickets exchanged owners, the deal was signed, sealed and delivered. Ephraim was not the only who bought the tickets, I also bought one. The foreigners ensured they sold all their tickets before leaving.
This illegal trade would not have taken place if the event organisers kicked off the event at the scheduled time or intimated concert goers on why the concert was yet to start. Had the foreigners enjoyed their money’s worth, there would have been no need to sell their tickets. The Nigerian entertainment is a fast-growing industry but that growth must now extend to timeliness. No more African time, please!