It’s a great and probably a historic moment for Cameroon to host the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) after 50 years. The biennial continent’s prestigious tournament is usually a time for the host country to showcase its cultural heritage. The opening ceremony was a colorful one with a dazzling choreographic display. Many have confessed that the results surpassed their expectations. Music was a great part of the opening ceremony and, as such, attracted a lot of attention and reactions.
One of the topics that have generated a lot of reactions is Fally Ipupa’s performance. The performance which was great by the way was viewed by many with mixed emotions. This came about because of the artist’s nationality and his choice of songs (especially the first one) for the opening ceremony, which seemed to have been out of place as it didn’t collocate with the event. For most people, the issue was not with Fally per se but with the organizers who failed to make the performance more inclusive.
The complaints about these supposed setbacks came because it was expected that at least a home artist should have performed with or alongside the guest artist. Another school of thought holds that other artists from different countries should have been brought in, particularly those with pan-African content that reflects the spirit of the competition.
The Cameroonian-born musician Richard Bona is one of the popular picks; many people would have loved to see him mount the stage. He reacted to this opinion in a way that his enthusiasts wouldn’t have expected. To him, the tournament is an African thing and thus opened to any African artist to perform. He said he performs in Europe and other places and is highly paid at that. Yet the citizens of the foreign countries where he performs don’t complain that a foreigner is getting huge sums from them. He however added that it was an opportunity for Cameroon to present even one of its artists to Africa and the world while retaining the inclusive spirit of the competition and ceremony and that this could be made possible at the closing ceremony.
The musical performance at the opening ceremony only came to add to some concerns earlier raised still in line with music—the theme song for AFCON 2021. The theme song was flat and ordinary; nothing spectacular or viby about it. Every other thing almost overshadowed it as it begged to be noticed. The song will hardly be remembered in a month and this is partly because the selection process was kept low-key.
While we laud the initiative of the Ghanaian music legend Samini et al. for the considertial effort they have put in “Africa Smile”, the theme song for the tournament, popular opinion has vetoed Awu as an artist that would have hit the country and the continent with a theme song that can only be compared with “If a Can, Can”, the rhythmic theme song he did for FIFA World Cup, Brazil 2014.
The race has just begun and the opening ceremony may have come and gone but there lies a long and tough journey ahead. While we share our views as to which artist was best placed for the opening ceremony, we shouldn’t lose sight of the championship. Let fairness pave the way for the right squad to blossom. Overall, the ceremony was a great success. Let’s wait and see what the closing ceremony will look like.
Images: TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations