Cardijat or Chioma B?
American Grammy-winning rapper Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar popularly known as Cardi B recently expressed her interest in relocating and becoming a citizen of Nigeria.
The comment was made in reaction to the possibility of a war fueled by the United States President Donald Trump‘s killing of a top Iranian military chief, Qassim Suleimani.
Cardi B’s comment is one out of a series of tweets in which the New York rapper spoke about Nigeria. In another tweet, she pondered on what Nigerian name to go by Chioma or Cardijat. She volunteered to move to Nigeria if her husband and rapper Offset can be persuaded to move with her.
The rapper’s interest in Nigeria is in the wake of her recent visit to the country in December 2019.
Although, the “Bodak Yellow” rapper may have spent only three days in Nigeria, however, her activities and social media updates about the world’s most populous black nation bested various national image branding campaigns embarked by different Nigerian administrations.
More Than Just A Logo
In 2004, during the second term of former president Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria launched a rebranding campaign tagged “Nigeria: Heart of Africa Project”. Five years later, the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua administration, Nigeria launched “Good People, Great Nation”, another attempt at addressing the image crisis in Nigeria. Both projects are archetype case studies on “how not to rebrand a nation” for brand strategy interns and students.
They did little to change the way people see the country.
Nigeria has earned a bad reputation chiefly for corruption and advanced fee fraud crimes (419) not to mention the insecurity and a host of other issues that bedevils the country.
It is therefore “safe” to assume that a catchy slogan, a finely crafted logo and cash spent here is not enough to automatically transition to goodwill and wipe clean the damaged reputation of Nigeria in the international scene.
Perhaps the key to addressing these issues can be found in tourism and culture. Tourism is not only a multi-billion dollar industry, but it is also one of the most effective ways to rebrand the image of the country.
Lessons From A Sister
In 2019, Ghana was able to ignite a global movement with the “Year of Return” initiative. The aim of the programme was to make Ghana a key travel destination for African Americans and the rest of the African diaspora. And as well as to promote investment in Ghana and foster relationships with African Americans and the African diaspora.
The tourism sector recorded a tremendous growth of 18% in international arrivals from America, Britain, Caribbean and other countries while total airport arrivals increased by 45% for the year.
By December, the Ghana Tourism Authority reported that over 750,000 foreigners had visited the country from January to December of 2019. The year before that, Ghana overtook Nigeria as the largest recipient of Foreign Direct Investment in West Africa.
Some global icons that visited Ghana as a result of the project are but not limited to Idris Elba, Boris Kodjoe, Naomi Campbell, Anthony Anderson, Kofi Kingston, Adrienne-Joi Johnson, Steve Harvey, Cardi B, T.I., Ludacris, Rick Ross, Akon, Rosario Dawson, Diggy Simmons, Jidenna.
For the “Year of Return” to be successful, Ghana was able to key into the historical narrative of the African diaspora. Although, Nigeria share a similar history and could as well tap from it but copy cats are less admired as pioneers.
For Nigeria to achieve equally grand success with tourism, it has to tap into one unique feature that has made it the entertainment capital of Africa. It is for this feature that Cardi B came to Nigeria.
Cardi B As Nigeria’s Tourism Ambassador
Following Cardi B’s visit to Nigeria, an incredible number of African diasporans and non-Africans alike have expressed their interest in visiting Nigeria.
At the time of this writing, American rapper Lil Wayne expressed his interest in visiting Nigeria, which he described as “lit”.
“I have never been to Nigeria. That is the place I would love to go.” He also added that “I heard that now you have your party gear ready.”
What magic did Cardi B conjure to have to spur such interest in Nigeria?
First, you need to understand Cardi B’s personality. She is unfiltered and says it as she sees it. According to a Complex article “She’s a hood chick who’s not afraid to be hood no matter the setting”, that, in the Nigerian parlance would mean she is streets.
It was what inspired her thirst to experience the “real Nigeria” when she arrived in the country.
“I don’t want to eat hotel food. I want to eat, like, real Nigerian food. I want to eat all that fish, all that Jollof rice.”
Later, she would party at a strip club alongside Jidenna.
While in Lagos she also donated hundreds of diapers, bottled water and feminine products at an orphanage in Lagos.
This amongst other things endeared her to the hearts of many, home and abroad.
Cardi B was quick to point out similarities between Nigeria, Dominican Republic and New York City.
While in Nigeria Cardi B radiated an energy that was unmatched by any international celebrity that had visited the country before. Whereas others would come into the country to perform, pocket their money and move.
It has been almost a month but Cardi B seems not to have gotten over her trip to Nigeria.
This is the perfect opportunity for the government to have her on board as an ambassador for the country’s national image branding. Her profile is outstanding and her huge fan base holds the potential for the promotion of Nigerian culture – in fact, Cardi is already promoting Nigerian culture tacitly. She has retweeted multiple times photoshopped images of herself, husband and daughter, coincidentally name Kulture, dressed in Nigeria attires. She has the attention of millions of fans or BardiGang as she prefers to call them.
Lagos can be the next Ibiza. Imagine, the sheer number of people that would want to party with Cardi should she decide to host one in Nigeria?
BY MICHAEL BAMIDELE