[The Music Blog] Remembering King Sunny Ade’s call for unity, “Lift Nigeria”

It’s hard to tell the mindset of the average Nigerian on ‘Independence Day’ as Nigeria marks its 57th year as a sovereign state. Beyond the customary public holiday and national television broadcasts for the celebration at the capital, Nigeria’s birthday does not carry any of the cultural value or importance many nations have attributed to their own national holidays.

Typically, a country like Nigeria where inter-ethnic relationships are fractured along the lines of stereotypes and years of a culture of intolerance, uniting her people under one singular national ideal post-colonial celebration may prove almost impossible. A great case in point is the recent ultimatum Arewa youth gave Igbos in the Northen part of the country to vacate their homestead. Until authorities denounced and shut down calls for such banality, the perdition for non-compliance with the ultimatum was expected to take effect today, a mere fact that underlies how little importance Nigerians give to the day, especially from citizens with a warped sense of nationalism who don’t mind desecrating it with bloodshed.

Perhaps at a time like this, no other song fleets to mind like King Sunny Ade’s “Lift Nigeria” released circa late 80s.”Lift Nigeria” is inherently soaked in optimism that almost feels delusional. King Sunny Ade enlists a handful of some of the biggest Nigerian artists of the time, comment sections on YouTube have compared the song’s length and multiplex of collaborators have compared King Sunny Ade’s “Lift Nigeria”, to the same grandeur and nobility of “Lift Nigeria”. Nigeria is still going through the same motions of recurring issues of economy, poverty, unemployment, etc and King Sunny Ade may have been wrong to imply there is no place like home. But with each featured artist bringing a unique cultural twist, one is reminded that Nigeria’s diversity is as much as a blessing as it is a curse. The unity of the country, however, remains non-negotiable according to President Muhammadu Buhari and that’s what you’ll need King Sunny Ade to remind you.

Listen to Lift Nigeria by King Sunny Ade below.

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