Collaborations have increased between Ghana and Nigeria, two countries apart and yet saddled with a relationship full of sibling rivalry. The movie and music industries have benefited positively from the relationship, with the celebration of "A Night with Naija" in Accra last weekend as even more proof. Organized by 100Degreez, an entertainment company, Ghanaian and Nigerian performers marked 47 years of Nigerian Independence at Accra's National Theatre.
A day before, 2Face Idibia, one of the night's main draws, was shot in the thigh in Nigeria and had been hospitalized, an occurrence which clouded the entire night and possibly affected attendance. After starting an hour and half late, in true African fashion, only half of the three-level theatre had been filled.
The opening act was an energetic dance group clad in 'Gold Coast Clothing' inscribed T-shirts. While the dancers "krumped" and made some amazing moves across the stage, the audiences' energy levels were still low. Becca, a young Ghanaian musician, backed by a band and back-up singers, sang to a still unresponsive crowd until the appearance of King Ayisoba, who chanted his "yeah baba" catchphrase, which elicited cheers from the audience. Kwabena Kwabena joined her on stage for one song and took over. The audience danced along to his other songs but kept shouting for his most popular song "Aso."
The MC, Eddy Blay Jr., a bundle of energy, ran across the stage, making quips about hanging out in Nigeria, showing off his own rapping skills and giving props to the DJ Mensah, whose songs during the intermission at least had some in the audience dancing.
The second half was introduced by Ghanaian hiplife group 5'-5. By then the theatre was noticeably filling up, and the crowd response was a lot more encouraging. "African girls," 5'-5's last song had people running to the front of the stage, standing on chairs and dancing along.
The next set of performers were all Nigerian. Modenine was hyped up with introduction of all the artists he had performed for and with. The audience didn't quite buy his act with people shouting that he get off the stage. Eddy Blay Jr. tried to take the mike from him, but the offended Modenine, saying that he came to finish his set so he was not leaving the stage until he had done so. His last song redeemed him when audience members sang along.
The Sound Sultan kept the audience highly entertained, especially when he called a shy but scantily dressed Kate on stage and recited his "Kate I want date" routine. By this point most people were riled up and ready for the twins Paul and Peter of P-Square who opened with their "P-Square Temptation" song and had girls lining up by the stage taking pictures and swooning when one of them took his shirt off.
Footage of 2Face in the hospital was broadcasted with a message for the audience which was rather muffled. The twins came back on and ended their set with the "Bizzy Body Remix," which was undoubtedly the best performance of the night.
Eddy Blay Jr. said he had a surprise for the audience, which turned out to be D'Banj, who also kept energy levels high, especially with his "Tongolo" and "Why Me" songs. People started to filter out after that.
Apart from 2Face's much felt absence, the late start and the initial audience apathy, a Night with Naija was quite successful.