Nigerian Afrobeat artist Burna Boy says it is time that Africans tell their own stories

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 March 2021:

Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu, better known as Burna Boy, has just won a Grammy in the Best Global Music Album category. The Nigerian artist is one of Africa’s most successful artists.  He hit the music scene in 2012, after releasing his debut album L.I.F.E.

The singer spoke exclusively to BBC Africa about winning, his album “Twice as tall” and the importance of African voices being heard.

‘Burna Boy on winning a Grammy… “I felt very relieved because I deserved it?”

He realised in 2012 that his music touched a number of people.

“It’s bigger than me and that’s when it kind of hit me that this is not a hobby anymore, you used to do this on the streets and everyone would be going crazy, but now I don’t see anyone better than you so it’s like this is serious now,” he said.

On the impact of winning a Grammy award for Burna and other African artists

“It just shows like you know anything is possible and whatever situation you may be in, and whatever environment you find yourself does not really determine your future and what you are going to do. It doesn’t stop you from not just considering your dreams, you know. Cause at the end of the day, we are in an environment that is very discouraging; you understand, an environment that doesn’t even believe in itself before they even think of believing in you.”

Why this album was important to Burna Boy

“It’s always important for me to make music and bodies of work as much as possible because for me that is what will be left behind when I’m not here. That’s going to be my footprints on the world. I believe at every step of my life to create a body of work that narrates and explains that time of my life.”

‘On why Africans should be telling their own stories’

“Because our stories have always been twisted and told and most of the time our stories have been twisted into the western world and then white faces have been put on the real characters; do you understand? Now is the time to overturn all that because finally we have a generation of Africans who are not going to stand for that. You understand? So what better time to start to change the narrative back into the truth”.

Watch the full interview here:

BBC Website


Story Credit: BBC Africa


  1. Gentlemen – Your heartfelt words of sincerity and kindness had me grinning from ear to ear like a kid in a candy store that cannot decide on what he wants to choose or ignore; Being surrounded by all that juicy sweetness like a bee whose wings are soaked and glued with honey has been known to cause patriots to become overwhelmed with a true sense of gratitude. I thank you Dr Tunkara and Special Agent Young4na for your highly motivating and inspiring words. My brother Mr Yillah represents the brightest and the best minds in our continent today that mother Africa has struggled and brought forth for her own glory.

    I am truly very proud to call all of you guys my brothers because you give me a deep feeling of assurance that all is not yet lost;And that there is hope for a tree that is cut down that it may sprout again – Our little Sierra Leone will surely rise again and she will sit on a throne of gold just as Existence always intended for it to be. Again,the real winners in this debate are the silent thousands of daily readers of the Sierra Leone Telegraph who have been able to witness a vividly entertaining and informative discourse between two brothers with totally contrasting viewpoints – that’s what the light of a true Democracy that dispels the shadows of authoritarian rule should always aspire to look like.

    Lastly,good gentlemen, I have always suggested that Hon Abdul Rashid Thomas should be regarded as a National Treasure of our Sierra Leone because of the selflessness he has displayed in creating the noble Sierra Leone Telegraph so that every voice from every corner of our country can be unequivocally heard. – Nuff Respect to you Sir, Hon. Abdul Rashid Thomas …Salute!

  2. Dr Tunkara – I can’t thank you enough for your wonderfully fraternal take on my contribution to the debate surrounding the personality and art of the Nigerian singer and songwriter Burna Boy. Of course my entire aim has nothing to do with winning anything whatsoever. All I am concerned with is enjoying what I see as a conversation characterised by utmost civility between me and our brother Stargazer, a sharp-witted, inventive and resilient polemicist and inimitable wordsmith. The debate – at least as far as I am concerned – is simply a way of looking at our collective experience as Africans.

    Undoubtedly, views on that experience may at times appear mutually exclusive, not to say irreconcilable. However, the fact that they exist is a measure of the richness and complexity of our collective experience. Taken together, the conflicting views enable us to make sense of who we think we are and can be in a world in which our continent has often had to put it mildly, a hard time, both in our confrontations with our own demons and with the wider world. That you and Young4na and, hopefully, many other fellow forumites make sense of and see value in what Stargazer and I have been saying, is more than what I can really hope for.

    However, the person most deserving of praise in all this as you yourself have noted, is indeed MR THOMAS. Without his priceless creation, The Sierra Leone Telegraph, and his wonderful moderating skills, the debate Stargazer and I have been having and your evaluation of it (alongside Young4na’s), would be unthinkable.

  3. When a fabric maker is on a mission to complete a huge task with great speed and the threads become entangled and the Weavers beam begins to grind to a halt then what will be the sensible thing to do?Will he ignore it saying; “I am pressed for time and I must continue with my work,whether the fabric comes out neat or wrinkled makes no difference to me?” If he ignores the problem and proceeds then it is proven that is a reckless person unfit to be entrusted with
    responsibility; But if the weaver is shrewd enough to say;” Whenever the threads breaks it is my duty to examine the loom and see where the problem began and then I must fix it before continuing with my work because a fabric with loose threads hanging is a sign of bad workmanship.”

    Gentlemen – to such a man I would say Bravo because he understands the need for the process to work not only properly but also with precision. Our Africa today resembles the Weavers beam that has broken down – the entire fabric of our society is totally in shambles; threads of corruption, incompetence, negligence and indifference hanging loose everywhere – the fabric that Existence was hopeful will eventually become a dazzling dress for a brides wedding has ended up becoming a dark, ugly shroud worn by mourners. You don’t need an Albert Einstein or a Kwame Nkrumah to tell you that those entrusted with the responsibility of spinning the fabric as Existence intended it to be have failed miserably. Now it is for this reason we must become vigilant when choosing our leaders or anyone that will represent us in the eyes of the world – we need weavers that understand the need to maintain and keep the beam functioning effectively.

    Burna boy doesn’t act or think in the interest of Africa but for his own financial gain;A leader must represent the hopes and aspirations of the people and not subvert the morals and principles of modesty, humility and decency that Africa stands for. Unless Burna Boy cleans up his image and stops belittling women no prudent mind will be tempted to take him seriously. Now he has the right to tell our stories as he sees fit on a platform of his own but not on an African stage designed for enhancing critical policy – And certainly not with a face that represent a different culture. A freakish looking face wearing superficial,nightmarish teeth and an inauthentic smile that is bound to scare our itsy-bitsy children away.(lmao)

  4. Interesting dialogue between 2 indomitable lions here, hahaha. Veteran, adjunct professor Stargazer is unyielding with his usual artistic, illustrative, command of the queen’s language, while the scholarly professor Dauda Yillah is holding his line, proving he is the new kid on the block. Nothing but respect to you 2 gentleman. Appreciate your educative and entertaining exchanges. Both of you 2 are winners, hahaha.

    • Young4na, thanks so much for your beautiful words and sentiments. Yes, Stargazer is a remarkable and formidable debater. I enjoy every bit of what he writes and love of course engaging him in a conversation.

    • Indeed I agree,very well said Mr Young4na. This is the reason why I said what the people of Sierra Leone owe Abdul is beyond evaluation.Mr Yillah and Mr Stargazer are exceptionally brilliant Sierra Leoneans with decisive and open minds;To be frank,without being aware they have both held me captivated by their versatile,eloquent informative and entertaining discourse continuously for a few days.

      I have been transported to the river Congo and made to listen to the advice of a Wise old turtle and have also been reintroduced to authors like Djibril Tamsir Niane and Ahamadou Kourouma two of modern Africa’s finest visionary writers.I also think that it is a tie thus far;and my conclusion is that both of my brothers are winners.I thank all of you sincerely for your attention.

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