Football and music have a unique role in the Nigerian society. They are two crucial fields, serving to entertain, influence, and inspire the country.
When images of Wizkid standing side by side with footballer Alex Iwobi, wearing a customized version of the new Super Eagles kit by Nike, for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, a lot of things did come to mind. Once again, a musician is associating with the Nigerian national team and showing support for what is one of the most important elements of national pride.
Football and music have a unique role in the Nigerian society. They are two crucial fields, serving to entertain, influence, and inspire the country. The only part where they differ is when they fail to bring joy. Or football, when Nigeria loses a game, it deflates the populace instantly. While in music, people get disappointed when their favourite stars come up short with wack music. They are personal fields, with the followers internalising every win, and defeat, from the heart.
And that’s why they have found new ways to exist side by side. The people who engage in both fields at the highest levels aren’t just superstars, they are demi-gods and legends who carry the dreams, and hopes of the people. They are the ideals of the Nigerian dream, or whatever it that means.
Fela Kuti and Jay Jay Okocha command the same levels of reverence from Nigerians. One created the Afrobeat genre, the other gave us the most skilful display of the beautiful game. Kanu Nwankwo and King Sunny Ade are pretty much on par with fans of their fields. Mikel Obi and Wizkid hold the same level of fandom within the country, while Alex Iwobi who was side by side with Wizkid, is a new kid on the block, sort of like a footballing Mayorkun.
They are also linked by how they support each other. Nigerian national team have over the years have its fair share of theme songs dedicated to it. Check our football, almost every major football tournament has had a soundtrack delivered by artists. Most of these songs become household tunes, acting as a welcome melodic accompaniment to our support.
Tony Muanagor aka Tony One Week is one name that can’t be forgotten in the Nigerian Entertainment Industry having contributed immensely in Nollywood and the music sphere. But his big break came in 1996 after the release of his hit song ‘Gyrate’, a celebratory Highlife number, which became evergreen. Until today, that record is still relevant, and the word ‘Gyrate’ is used as a local synonym for songs about celebration.
For Tony One Week, the record became a second national anthem and theme song for the sSuper Eagles. Since then, it has been the bedrock for his progress in life. In recent years, he’s had active involvement in politics.
Another Nigerian who benefited from the intersection between music and football is Austin Milado. The singer, real name Uyammadu Austin Charles, released his audio-visual playlist in the early 2000s, titled ‘Super Eagles Carry Go’. The record which followed Tony One Week’s ‘Gyration’ technique became an instant hit, creating a playlist for our football fandom. So big was his tune, that the Port Harcourt musician didn’t get another hit. His crude video featured a cameo from Nollywood icon, Hilda Dokubo, with numerous nostalgic clips from past matches and raving fans from the 90s and 80s. There was also a special segment of the song which focused on the heroics of Kanu Nwankwo.
During the craze for the 2010 World Cup, Keinan Abdi Warsame better known by his stage name K'naan, a Somali-Canadian singer, rose to prominence with the success of his single "Wavin' Flag", which was chosen as Coca-Cola's promotional anthem for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The song quickly inspired a Nigerian version, featuring Banky W, and M.I Abaga.
The 2014 World Cup also featured a record from Solidstar titled ‘Super Eagles’. It was a mildly popular track which featured the line: “Clear the road for Super Eagles.” It was endorsed officially by the Nigeria Football Supporters Club.
Off the pitch and mic, Nigerian footballers and musicians enjoy health personal friendships. Jay Jay Okocha has quite the relationship with numerous Nigerian musicians. Obafemi Martins is also one of the most integrated footballers in the music industry. He is a friend to much of the popular music stars in Lagos.
In a few months, the Super Eagles will be heading to Russia, where they will hope to enjoy decent outing at the World’s biggest football tournament. The unveiling of the official kit by Nike is just the first step. As the months go by, there just might be an official single to help fans channel their happiness,