The Rise and Rise of Burna Boy

The Rise and Rise of Burna Boy

Chido Nwangwu writes about the popularity of Afrofusion and Afrobeat superstar, Burna Boy, winner of the 2021 Best Global Music Album Award at the 63rd Grammys Awards, who performed alongside Brandy and 21 Savage recently in Los Angeles, California, the United States.

 Afew days ago, Burna Boy, the Afrofusion and Afrobeats superstar, flew into the United States and made history.  On Sunday, February 4, 2024, he became the first Afrobeats star to take the Grammys’ globally-acclaimed stage in Los Angeles, California. The 32-year-old Nigerian musician and Pan Africanist performed with Brandy and 21 Savage during the Awards.

I have followed, keenly, the emergence, rise and rise of Burna Boy’s authenticity and awareness which drive his music.

And, yes, the world took notice almost four years ago when his music and provocative videos broke through — from Aba to Zurich, from Boston to Benin! His album ‘Twice As Tall’ won for the 31 year-old Burna Boy (real name Damini Ogulu) the Best Global Music Album award at the 63rd Grammy Awards, on Sunday, March 14, 2021.

Being true to his roots as a Pan-Africanist activist and thinker, he proclaimed to the world that “Africa is in the house, men! Africa, we are in the house! You get me? This is a big win for Africans of my generation all over the world and this should be a lesson for every African out there. No matter where you are, no matter what you plan to do, you can achieve it. No matter where you are from because you are a king. Look at me: Grammy award-winning Burna Boy.”

At the same period, another world-famous music superstar Wizkid was recognized for his collaboration with Beyonce on ‘Brown Skin Girl’ which won the Best Music Video. Blue Ivy, the talented daughter of Beyonce and Jay Z spoke/sang/appeared in the video. 

Let’s go back to Burna Boy and why I like his music, his courage and pan-African message.

During the summer of 2019 in South Africa which xenophobic attacks were inflicted against other Africans and increasing reports of gender-based violence in the country, Burna Boy, Kwesta, Jidenna, Busiswa, Minnie Dlamini and other South African acts were advertised to headline a concert in November 2019 to unify Africans and take a stand against femicide. It was announced that “Part of the proceeds of the concert will be donated to the victims of South Africa’s recent xenophobic violence towards African foreign nationals in an effort to bring everyone together.”

Before the concert at the Sun Arena in Pretoria, Burna Boy exchanged heated messages with South African rapper AKA during South Africa’s xenophobic attacks.

Burna Boy also made it clear that he would not visit or play in South Africa until the government put measures in place to stop such violence.

After those exchanges, some South African artists started a campaign against Burna Boy being a part of the concert. What was his crime? Simply for speaking truth to power!

It is so ridiculous. Remarkably, the group called the Tshwane Entertainment Collective then wrote a letter to then South Africa’s Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, asking him to prevent Burna Boy from performing in the same South Africa:

“We first inquired to the Minister and to the department to say, what is this all about? How is this happening? How are you guys supporting this? Then further to that we asked how are you supporting an event that also includes… so not only are you failing us with funding but you are also supporting an event that includes an artist who has threatened violence to fellow South African artists.”

Also, Burna Boy’s music became hot tracks of interest, and he topped the music trend list the week after the Tshwane Entertainment Collective called for a boycott of his scheduled performance at the “Africans Unite” concert.

Thankfully, millions of South Africans were in support of Burna Boy especially the former activist with  the ANC and now leader of the EFF, Julius Malema.

From his Twitter account, Malema wrote: “Looking forward to receiving and being entertained by my brother @burnaboy here at his home called South Africa. There’s no mascot that can stop him from performing, he’s one of our own and we will protect him. We must resolutely oppose regionalism led by political illiterates. I won’t be intimidated or blackmailed by bed-wetting boys, welcome home @burnaboy. South Africa is a home for all Africans, kill me for defending an African brother, bloody Cowards.”

Why did I go this far back far to recall this story and actual event? It simply underscores the value of having the courage to stand up for what you believe — as long as it is fair and just, history and time will show that you’re on the right side of life! Big up to the young, creative and courageous man that I proclaimed: Burna King!

-Dr Nwangwu, the Founder of USAfrica multimedia networks and public policy organization since 1992 in Houston, established the first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the Internet,

Follow him @Chido247

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