By Eva Irewole
Many could have seen various video clips of carnival revellers falling off buses and floats, but for hundreds and thousands of Nigerians in the lively city of London, the Notthinghill Carnival on Monday was all about the pulsating vibes of Afrobeats.
The carnival returned this last bank holiday weekend after almost a three-year hiatus occasioned by covid19 pandemic. And with it came the bubbly Nigerian Corner, now rechristened Afribeats Corner, on Adela Street, within the main carnival ground.
As floats upon floats carry various afro-carrebean revellers about, Nigerians and other Africans, who are now big fans of Nigeria’s Afrobeats music, trooped to the Nigerian Corner where the trio of DJ Abass, Shopsy Doo (Adesope Olajode) and Mr. Memelo were on stage anchoring the 6-hour show that represented the best of everything Nigerian in the areas of music, cuisine and conviviality.
DJs from London and Lagos, like DJ Whatever, Cynthia MPV DJ and Notorious Neptune belched out great Nigerian popular sounds one after the other to the admiration of all.
Musicians were not left out of the fun, both up-coming and established stars.
From Babz, the talented youngstar son of Ayo Shonaiya, to Princess Wonda, Flora Grae, Rawsh and Moet, carnival revellers had an opportunity to savour the best of Nigerian Afrobeats sounds in London.
The tempo got higher with Damibliz and Raw’s (Nigga Raw) performance with LAX. But the whole show hit a crescendo when the Queen of Afrobeats, Tiwa Savage, mounted the stage to dance to the pulsating beats of her music by the DJ.
For more than two hours, Savage was at the Afrobeats Corner playing the perfect ‘host’ with her crew and leading the crowd on to a high-octane carnival experience.
By the time star comedian, Kenny Black, led other anchors of the show at 7pm to sing Nigeria’s national anthem in winding down the event, London knew that the Nigerian Corner was back at the carnival with a bang.
“This show has been awesome and it’s good to see how people responded positively as if there was never a two-year break,” says Ayo Shonaiya, the chief producer of the show and director of Afrobeats: The Back Story documentary on Netflix.
“The crowd and the artistes are at the heart of what we do here. But without the kind support of our sponsors, Boomplay and Pepsi, this spectacular event would not have been possible. So we owe them a huge debt of gratitude,” he added.
To Steve Ayorinde, former Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts & Culture and Publisher of The Culture Newspaper (TCN), who attended the show, the carnival lived up to it billing as the ultimate in open street entertainment.
“It’s good to witness the return of Europe’s biggest carnival after three years. The vibe, the energy and the camaraderie speak to good planning and top-notch execution and I’m happy to see the beautiful transition of the Nigerian Corner to Afrobeats Corner as a salute to the giant strides that our music is making globally,” he said.
Ayorinde recalled that the Nigerian Corner wore a Lagoscentric look in 2016 and 2017 when it transformed to the Lagos Corner as a result of the support from the Lagos State Government “to celebrate Lagos@50 and further endear the state to the UK diaspora.”