AfriPOP! recently sat down with Nneka to talk about the Nigerian elections, African artists in the West and what we can look forward to from her.
AfriPOP!: What are your thoughts on the recent elections in Nigeria and why you decided to participate in mobilizing the youth for the elections?
Nneka: That’s the only way to express yourself, to get yourself head. That was a big thing for me because it was my first time as well. It took me about 4 days to register. But in the end, inspite of the madness and difficulty we went through we were able to mobilize people to get registered.
AfriPOP!: Were you surprised by the outcome of the elections? Did you have any expectations going into it?
Nneka: For the organizations I was working with, we got really good feedback. For the results of the elections? Hey, c’mon now. We all know what’s up. Please forgive me but “hey now,” one man dey work, bamboo dey chop.
AfriPOP!: Some artists prefer to take the easier route and not address social issues head on through their music. Why do you prefer to take the path less taken?
Nneka: Of course now, that’s life for me. You can’t remove the darkness from the light. For existence, we have all the madness and the sanity. This is reality. This is what it is. It doesn’t give me a thrill … but these things concern me. These issues make me raise my voice. Without these issues, I wdn’t have anything to say.
AfriPOP!: How do you strike the balance as a biracial artist especially since Nigeria and Africa could benefit more from your work and the attention you draw to the issues you address in your music than Germany would.
Nneka: Well since I grew up in Nigeria, I feel more African, more Nigerian. I lived in Germany for about 7 years before moving back to Nigeria. However, I was discovered in Germany. That is where I was educated. I gained more access to our history as Africans, Afro-Americans.
A record company in Germany saw and acknowledged my talent. After gaining that publicity in Europe. It was difficult to sell my music back in Nigeria. Being mixed race first of all. People were thinking “so weytin this Oyibo girl come want now; with her funny accent” Political on top of it, and you don’t even live here! That was one of the things that made me move back home.
After gaining publicity in the states, Naija is now say okay .. there is one person called, Nneka, claiming to be Nigerian … (laughing)
These people didn’t know that I wasn’t hustling on the streets of Ekoyi, Lagos, Agege, Ogba, before D- Banj. It was the same year as 2Face. I went on tour with 2Face on his first tour.
It’s a long journey. Everything is connected. There is a reason why everything happened the way it happened. There was a reason why it had to be Europe, America and now, Africa.
AfriPOP!: There are artists who believe that for African artists in the West, initial success in the west guarantees success back at home. Do you think that’s what happened to you?
Nneka: That’s what happened to me, to Fela, and that’s what happened to Asa. Fela, initially got more acclaim here before he we went back. Wayy before broadway. there is De Banj and Don Jazzi. 2 Face and co back home. We thank God that people have become more open to music. There was a time when your family would say you have to be a doctor or engineer. If you said you wanted to be a musician, your family would say, “Please don’t bring shame to our familyoh.”
But there is a DBanj and there is Don Jazzi and they are doing it well back at home.
AfriPOP!: What should we look forward to in the future from Nneka
Nneka: The next album, a lot of festivals, touring Europe, South Africa and my next album will be similar to what you know me for … that is if you know me …)
We love some Nneka!