Recently, Afrobeatz sensation Mr Eazi posted a picture on Instgram and Travis Scott commented underneath it. All Travis Scott commented was #Legover ( which is the name of one of Eazi's latest hits). This one word comment was enough to make his fans go wild and this very brief interaction was covered by tons of media outlets. I was surprised by this response - but not really surprised.
I am not surprised that this one word comment was picked up by the media. Celebrities are watched on a micro level. Everything they do is buzz worthy. Mr Eazi is on the rise and so is Travis Scott - so everything they do will attract attention.
However, there are larger implications to this. You see, this comment signaled to many people that " wow Mr Eazi is reaching a different level of success". An American artist commenting on an African artist' instagram post must mean they are at an extremely heightened level of success This is true. Being able to make music that resonates with your neighbors is one thing. Making music that is intercontinental is another. Travis Scott's comment proved that Mr Eazi is on the radar of folks outside of West Africa and that should be celebrated. Mr Eazi responded humbly, he didn't fangirl and it is quite obvious that his goal of bringing Africa to the world is slowly but surely occurring.
Yet, there was still something that rubbed me the wrong way and I had to look within to understand why I was feeling this way. I realized that this is a pattern. African success is measured in regards to how 'others' respond to it. An artist who is talented in Africa has to be accepted by folks in the Western word to really feel like they made it , it seems. Americans and Europeans must give them that stamp of approval and that is what is not okay with me.
If the roles were switched and Mr Eazi commented on Travis' post - it would not have gotten the same response. This is the honest truth. The West is not watching to see which Africans are interacting with their western stars. Why? Because the West still doesn't hold Africa in the esteem that Africa holds the Western world in.
There is this obsession with the West that really cripples Africans. I do not want to paint the whole continent with one brush but this is a pattern that is evident in most African cultures. You have to be as " American" as possible, as " acceptable" as possible based on American standards and this is a terrible mindset to have.
Growing up, I loved Nollywood films. Their unaologetically Nigerian ways, their culture, their language, their beliefs- I was able to get a glimpse at a life I did not live and I really appreciated it. However, Nollywood movies began to "attempt" to be more American. It was gross. They tried to imitate this bootlegged version of America and how Americans lived which was obviously based on stereotypes. The movies sucked and they lost that truly African essence that made them special.
This is scary. Granted, Western culture was imposed onto African nations through colonialism, imperialism and globalism. Many African cultures have English as their primary language. Africans wear modern clothes and eat American foods. They listen to rap, hiphop, reggae- you name it. Africans are not the stereotypes that precede them. They are established nations. Yet, there is a way to balance these western influences without losing what makes us, us.
Africa is the inspiration for so much. So many industries are coming to Africa because they know their is much to be gained there. Africans need to recognize this. Instead of trying to be accepted by the West, Africans need to understand they are already great. They do not need anyone else's approval. They can focus internally and the recognition will follow. We are currently living in a world where people in other parts of the world are no longer strangers to us. I am confident that Africans focusing on Africa, on becoming the best Africa possible will make the world stop and stare.
The West is not trying to impress Africa. Africa stop trying to impress the West. The West is trying to be the best they can be- it's time Africa did the same.