For an episode of African Voices Changemakers, CNN interviewed Burna Boy twice in the last four weeks. Love or hate, that’s how the self-proclaimed “African Giant” feels about his country and the rest of the world.
You can tell right away that his favourite way to talk is not in English. Most of his answers are short and sometimes vague, but one thing he talks about a lot is his dream that one day there would be one Africa.
This is what Burna Boy says while sitting with his arms crossed next to a soundstage in Los Angeles. He and his band are rehearsing for their show the next day. As he says, “I wish we had one passport.” Africans would be able to travel outside of Africa more easily if they had one passport. “I wish we could be like the United States, the way the United States is.” Let’s say that the American producer and I want to go to Spain or somewhere else on a commercial flight. Let’s see who gets in first.
If you’ve heard his music and can understand the mix of Nigerian dialects he often uses in his lyrics, you’d know what he thinks about his country. In “Another Story,” he talks about how Nigeria was colonised by the British. Many of his songs have African-themed messages, like “Another Story.”
In “Collateral Damage,” he sings about how politicians make money while other people are hurt. During protests in October 2020, people were killed at a toll gate called Lekki. In “20:10:20,” he blames the government, including Nigeria’s president, for the deaths.
It is called “United Africa.”
The 30-year-old thinks that the only way African countries can get the respect he wants is if they work together to get it. As he says, “It can’t be done the way it’s been going, so why not try something new?”
Deep answer: Burna Boy says that the currency of this “United Africa” should be made up of people who are important to them. People who have had these ideas for a long time, who have died with these ideas, and who have been killed for these ideas should be on the currency, he says. It was all about African unity and having one currency that was backed by gold for people like Moammar Gadhafi, who was killed in 2011.
Burna Boy is one of the artists on the playlist for the US inauguration.
That includes Burkina Faso’s first president, Thomas Sankara. He also names Patrice Lumumba, who was also killed. People say that Gadhafi was accused of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court. Burna Boy, on the other hand, is still very fond of leaders like him.
“Where do we get this idea that these people are tyrants or something? ” he asks. “They might be. How do I know? I don’t know. I didn’t go there. This isn’t true of all the leaders we have now. I know that these people had these ideas, and they tried to do something, at least, that would help all of Africa. ”
In the middle of the nite, someone invites you to their
It’s been Burna Boy’s job to speak out against things like that for a long time now. This is why he was surprised when the governor of Rivers State, Nigeria, asked him to be honored in the city where he was born. During our second interview, Burna Boy says, “Of course I was surprised, because most of my songs are against the government.” He says this while sitting in a house in the hills of Los Angeles. What do they mean when they say that a prophet is never celebrated in his own home? I broke the curse right there, didn’t I? “It makes him laugh.
It turned out to be a huge homecoming. The streets of Port Harcourt were full of people as his motorcade made its way from the airport to a government building, where he spoke to the governor and other state officials.
Because Burna Boy won a Grammy, it’s a “big win for Africa and its music stars.” To read more about why.
Perhaps a surprise to the artist, who was always outspoken and proud to be anti-establishment, the official recognition was a high point in his career.
This isn’t going to happen, Burna Boy told himself as he pushed the statement to the side.
His reply: “It’s been a long time since I’ve been here, and I don’t know what this is all about. Please excuse me if I don’t get it.” The biggest honour I’ve had since I was born is that I’m here. It’s one thing to win a Grammy and be applauded all over the world, but it’s another thing to be loved in your own home.