This is what led to panic, theft and multiple injuries at Nativeland 2019 [Report]
The organizers continued the performance despite multiple injuries to members of the audience.
Artists billed to perform at the event include, Joeboy, Fireboy, Naira Marley, Burna Boy, Octavian, Tems, Santi, Odunsi TheEngine and so forth.
Due to success of previous shows, anticipation for the show invaded the Nigerian air of 'Detty December.' Nigerian showgoers could spot the eagerness in bright colours. People were eager to see their favourite artists on stage. As its reputation has grown, Nativeland has become the prime concert for the Nigerian IJGB contingent.
A day prior to the event, Fader questionably named the show, "The go-to platform for African youth culture." But on the night of its fourth edition, Nativeland became a potpourri of sad events, bad organization, centrifugal collapse, nervous youth, stolen weaves and phones, multiple injuries and 'chronic insensitivity.'
As is customary, the show was attended by people of all ages; from teenagers who have curfew to young adults. But as night turned to day on December 20, 2019, #Nativeland19 has risen to become the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter NG. Nigerians are complaining of multiple injuries. A parent complained that her children were put in harm's way.
To gather the accounts of what happened at the event, Pulse spoke with Dimeji and Feranmi, two eyewitnesses present. Pulse also got a comment from someone close to the Native team - he refused to be named and reached out to Nairabox, the company charged with online ticket sales for the event.
Ticket at the gate
Twitter is agog with tweets of dissatisfaction from showgoers on the issue of ticketing. People are complaining about how The Native oversold and could not control the turn out.
Dimeji, a graphic designer got to Muri Okunola Park around 10 pm in the evening. According to him, the ticketing point was jampacked and rowdy. Feranmi put that down to excitement by the crowd and questionable planning by the organizers.
Feranmi says, "As at the time I got there, I struggled to get in. People were excited to see the show because it's always a madness. They're opening the gates for some people and closing some people. But all of a sudden, they stopped letting people in and people started pushing each other. It was a whole sh**show."
Show - VIP Section collapse
The show started around 10 pm - earlier than on previous editions. Feranmi got there after Fireboy performed. He says, "I saw Joeboy perform, but I got in as Fireboy finished performing. People gave me the gist that Fireboy was performing 'Scatter' when the VIP section collapsed."
Dimeji agrees. He says that the VIP section collapsed. Feranmi says he saw a girl who was bleeding. On Twitter, one Simisola Babalola says, "i was on the floor struggling for life because i wanted to see koffee and co. my earrings are gone and I’m in a mess. Big ups to y’all #NATIVELAND19."
Some eyewitnesses put the VIP section collapse down to overcrowding while others added improper planning as another factor. When asked about what he thought about the collapse, and if he thought the organizers were at fault, Dimeji says, "For the collapsing I can’t really say (blame the organizers)."
That collapse was only the first wrongness in a chain of unfortunate events.
Kids and curfew
As noted earlier, the event is attended by people of all ages. Some of the attendees were kids with curfew. Feranmi says the event hosts even had to announce that family members were around to pick certain kids.
Some of the attendees claim that the panic caused some of the kids to attempt to force their way out of the event. To avoid the mayhem, certain people started scaling fences. Some of those people were kids with curfew. However, some people also scaled the fence into the Muri Okunola Park to see the show at all costs.
Dimeji says, "I saw people climb fences when I wanted to leave around 2 am and this was because the gates were locked."
Muri Okunola Gate fell
As confirmed in a since deleted statement by The Native, the gate to Muri Okunola Park fell. Feranmi says, "Like I said, people were scrambling to enter and things got rowdy and Muri Okunola (park) was already packed. I think things got out of hand so the guys (organizers) were trying to keep a lid on things.
"They made a mistake by locking the gate. It was after the VIP section had collapsed and people panicked. The people who were trying to get in wanted to at all costs, some people wanted to go out and others who were in before and went out couldn't get back in. As the struggle ensued, the gate to Muri Okunola fell - on some people, yes.
"I think it was mostly caused by people who were trying to get in though."
A parent, Emma Balogun also confirms the incident, "F*** you #NATIVELAND19. Finally got my sons home safely only to hear of kids in hospital due to your recklessness and greed. Gate fell on their school friends. Another friend was beaten by the police."
Word on Twitter is that members of the Nigerian Police Force beat certain showgoers who were trying to get into the venue because they paid or people who were trying to get out of the venue because of the panic/curfew.
However, Feranmi says that the hired security personnel at the event were the people who beat showgoers. Pulse has not been able to get any showgoers to confirm they got tasered.
Nairabox and Ticketing
Emma Balogun, a parent accused The Native of greed. Some other showgoers on Twitter also agree with her. On the issue, Pulse reached out to someone close to The Native team - the person refused to be named. What Pulse gathered during the conversation was that The Native was not greedy.
He says, "We didn't plan for that much people. At least, we had to deal with 1,000 more people than we estimated. I'm not accusing, but Nairabox must have oversold tickets."
Pulse has since reached out to Nairabox, but is yet to get a response.
Why did the show go on?
While speaking to that person who is close to the Native team, he was asked why the show went on despite the issues. He says, "Despite the events of the evening, people still stayed at the event and were not leaving. To avoid further panic and to calm things down, Naira Marley had to come on stage."
Feranmi felt it was quite insensitive, but understandable. Dimeji feels that, "Nigerians should have left (the show) actually."
Native's press statement
Earlier today, The Native put out a since-deleted statement via @Nativemag, a Twitter account which belongs to its media arm. People have since branded the statement "insensitive."
Speaking on it, Dimeji says, "The press release lacked empathy and they could have done better."
When asked if he would ever go back for Nativeland, Dimeji says it is unlikely.
Why does this keep happening?
A lot of blame goes to the organizers for the events of Nativeland 2019. That blame is more than its since-deleted statement attempted to acknowledge. It behooves the organizers of any show to fully accept responsibility for any wrongs at its show. Its deletion of that statement means it understands. However, such statement should never have seen the light of day.
In any case, show organizers in Nigeria face an arduous task and something close to a fool's errand. The Nigerian youth culture is growing a healthy pulse, and shows are one way to harness it and make some money off it. However, the necessary governmental sectors that should handle these events and support organizers have severely failed at their duty.
Lagos, Nigeria's prime cosmopolitan space has no adequate space to organize all kinds of shows. There is no reason why Lagos should not have an equivalent of Staples Centre where all kinds of events can be held. A centre like that will have ready-made VIP sections, in-house security personnel and in-house crisis management teams.
In such situations, event organizers only have to pay for such services and hold their shows. Organizers have to be responsible, but governmental systems also have to aid show organizers in Nigeria. Without these infrastructures, organizers are saddled with doing too much on their own.
They even have to build temporary podiums for VIP attendees - it's not fair. It's bad enough that sizeable funds are required for shows in Nigeria. Show organizers shouldn't have to think of everything by themselves - It's slightly unfair. For this reason, one has to sympathize with Native.
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