Home » The African Firestorm against Nigerian Musicians continues as Kenyans react to Naomi Campbell’s use of Nigerian Music to promote Kenya

The African Firestorm against Nigerian Musicians continues as Kenyans react to Naomi Campbell’s use of Nigerian Music to promote Kenya

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By Ikechi Uko

The huge global success of Nigerian Musicians is not going down well with a lot of Africans. The current storm in Kenya over the use of ‘in my Maserati’ by popular Super Model Naomi Campbell to promote Kenya is a case in point.

The song is by a Nigerian artiste Olakira. It has a global download and views running into millions.
Naomi Campbell is a global fashion icon, one of the famed Super Models. She spends some of her time in Lagos, Nigeria. She also supports a fashion school in Nigeria and is a regular face at fashion shows in Nigeria.
She was recently appointed the Tourism Ambassador for Kenya which drew a lot of flak from Kenyans who felt Lupita Nyong’o the Kenyan Movie Star should have been used instead.

Kenya is trying to expands its Tourism Business having suffered a slow down during the pandemic. It needs to connect with the regional and continental market sources. Its brilliant tourism marketing team had identified the Ugandan Market as a source market. It oiled the market and used a popular Ugandan Musician, Kenzo, to help drive the message, it worked as Uganda is now the primary source market for tourists to Kenya.

Nigeria with 200 Million people is a huge source market for global tourism. Nigerians spent $1.5 billion USD in 2018 buying tickets to travel abroad.

About 250k Nigerians spent 2019 in Dubai. Thousands throng the huge shopping malls of the South African Cities of Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Travelling abroad is the status symbol for a hard working Nigerian. They travel with friends and family. In 2018 and 2019 Nigeria crept into the Top 10 list of travellers to Kenya and this number of less than 20,000 can be doubled and trippled with smart marketing.


Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala and Naomi Campbell

There is a huge appetite for international travels for young, married and successful Nigerians who owe their family a trip abroad every year.

With close to 8 million air travellers of which 2 million Travel abroad and a growing Middle Class the potential is huge.

What Nigerians seek in Dubai and Singapore you can also find in Kenya, good hotels, shopping, beaches and nightlife.

South Africa comes next to Dubai for the savvy Nigerian traveller. A lot of Nigerians spend weekends in Accra, Ghana.

With the temporary closure of Dubai to Nigerian passengers due to Covid-19, Zanzibar and Mauritius are now the main draw.
So, Naomi Campbell using her inside knowledge of Nigeria has done a good thing to Kenya by trying to entice Nigerians to visit Kenya.

The Instagram post by Naomi Campbell is not directed at Kenyans but her huge global audience which includes lots of her Nigerian fans. But this very smart marketing is lost on Kenyans who felt she should have used a Kenyan musician instead.

They think Nigeria is in competition with Kenya for tourists, Nigeria does not market its tourism even to Nigerians. Nigerians do no see themselves in competition with Africans for most things especially not with Kenya in tourism or music..

Nigerians accept Kenyan superiority in Athletics. But if Kenya beats Nigeria in football, then the heavens would probably fall in Nigeria. lol.

Maybe it is the same for Kenyans in this case of music.
For the Kenyans, she would have done better using Kenyan music instead of Nigerian. If the idea is to sell Kenya to Nigerians and other Africans then she did the smart thing using a popular trending song.

The reaction by Kenyans shows an emerging trend to the global succes of Nigerian Afrobeats by some Africans. In December, Omah Lay an upcoming Nigerian artiste was arrested in Uganda for breaking Covid-19 protocols after Ugandan musicians raised a petition against the preferential treatment given to the “Nigerians”.

They were released by the Authorities and allowed to leave Uganda. On St. Valentine’s day the very popular but controversial Nigerian street artiste “Naira Marley’ was prevented from playing in Bueua, Cameroon after some Local musicians raised a complaint about the popularity of Nigerian music in Cameroon.

They brought Police to close down the sold out concerts.
Increasingly African musicians are getting uncomfortable with the global success of Nigerian Afrobeats. It should not be so.

Nigerians celebrate all African success stories.
Last year, Nigerian musician Davido was given an A grade recognition at an NBA game in America. Some of the players wanted to know who the Superstar is.

Wizkid with Naomi Campbell at GQ Awards


They were told that a Nigerian star with 25 million Followers was in the house. They went for pictures after the game, no beef. Burna Boy gets feted all over the World. Wizkid trends in Europe, Asia and America and you will think that Africans would celebrate the success of their own.

Master KG of the Jerusalema Fame is South African but his Music is global. Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Lucky Dube are all African Icons known globally for their music. Good music has no nationality.

Fela Kuti is currently leading Tina Turner in the votes for the Rock Hall of Fame induction. The World is voting for him because he is Fela not because he is Nigerian.

The Brazilians voting for him do not know Nigeria.
Just like Nollywood in the last 20 years ruled the World inspite of provincial hostility by some African actors, Nigerian Afrobeats is a Success Story.
Surprisingly, Nigerians are not protective of the National Space when it comes to Sports and the Arts.

Kenyan and Ethiopian Marathoners win every year at all the Long Distance Races in Nigeria. They are celebrated because Nigerians know they are the best in the World. They are invited every year to the same races. The winning Kenyan is maybe 10 minutes ahead of the fastest Nigerian. Lol.

They accept all and every Good Music or Movie. They celebrate all African Stars. Lupita spends some of her time in Lagos, Nigeria and is celebrated in Nigeria.

Her recent video dancing to Nigerian Music with an Apple on her head trended in Nigeria. Nigerians fly Kenya Airways more than Air Peace on International routes.

Nigerians love their annual Twitter war with Kenya. They think Kenya is the only country that can really fight on Twitter. They enjoy Twitter battles. Kenyans should support the attempt by its Tourism authorities to grow tourism in Africa.

Africans are tourists too. They have money to spend and should be encouraged to travel within Africa. Imagine 20,000 Lagosians coming to party in Nairobi like they did in Dubai on 31st December.

Shouldn’t all that money been spent on all things Kenyan like Tusker? I don’t want to mention the relationship between Nigerians and Kenyans of the opposite sexes. I might get lynched for going in that direction.

I love Kenya and Kenyans and I support this move by the Tourism Authorities. Please let’s eat some Nyama choma.
Let’s do it in Africa.
There is a very popular Nigerian Igbo saying that is good right now for Kenyans.
“Forget what is written on the Bus and Just enter the Bus if you wish to travel”.

So if the purpose of having Naomi Campbell as an Ambassador is to attract non Kenyan tourists then allow her use her skill and knowledge to do the Job. There is a limit to National Pride and Patriotism. Allow the specialist do the job.

Kudos to ‘Oga’ Najib Balala for a good job. By the way he is owing me a visit to Lagos.


Ikechi Uko is a Pan African Tourism Promoter based in Lagos. He is the Organiser of Akwaaba African Travel Market and Project Director of the Wonders of Africa Project. Founding member of Theteamafrica



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