The Experience is an annual free gospel concert that has now proven to be one of Nigeria’s biggest December events.
Started in 2006 by the Senior Pastor of House on the Rock (HOTR), Paul Adefarasin, the concert witnessed a crowd of 70,000 people in its first year. Premised on the concept of the December holiday season, it has also attracted global stars of Christian music like CeCe Winans, Kirk Franklin, Donnie McClurkin, Mary Mary, Don Moen, Planet Shakers, William McDowell and others.
As usual in Nigeria, political and business leaders like former Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, Tonye Cole, and Yakubu Gowon have also attended the concert. One marker of the event is the traffic it causes every year because of the large number of attendees. Usually, the 50,000 capacity Tafawa Balewa square would be filled to the brim leading to huge overflows.
For the 15th edition in 2020, the global pandemic caused the organisers to move the event online. COVID-19 made it imperative to move one of the world’s biggest concerts online. Just a year ago, if anyone had suggested that the concert be moved online for whatever reason, it should have sounded scandalous but 2020 has been an eventful year. The organisers turned the lemon served by the pandemic to lemonade by tagging it a global edition, even though the crowd that it attracts every year already proves that it is a global event. One of the Instagram posts announcing that the 2020 edition would be virtual goes thus:
“Where will you be for #TE15G? It’s truly global. Every continent! Nation! Country! Tribe and Tongue.”
Though we are many, we are all one body in Christ. #TheExperience2020 is for all nations of the earth. Every tribe and every tongue will praise our God. Will you be counted among them? Mark your calendar already! #TheExperience2020 #TE15G #TEGlobalEdition”
With the announcement, performers would either perform live from a designated studio or from their home studios. This does not impact on the quality of the event as many virtual events that have been held this year have shown.
As stated earlier, there are a few positives from this. The usual traffic that the event causes would not happen this year and more people would have access to it. While a lot of people still prefer the physical experience at live events, the pandemic has made it impossible and that scheduled events are still happening is commendable.
What this will do is force individuals and companies to strengthen internet infrastructure. When Internet infrastructure is strengthened, it is hoped that more people would have access to programs and events via the Internet, there would be more connectivity worldwide and Internet would be cheaper.
Even though almost every part of the economy has taken a hit this year, the current movement of events online has a positive side and if Nigeria’s largest Christian concert can move online, many other events can move also.
“Ayọ̀délé Ìbíyẹmí is a lifetime student of Literature. He is also a reader who writes occasionally. For him, words are what makes the intractable world livable. Ayo tweets at @Ayo_eagles. He was a Wawa Book Review Young Literary Critics Fellow and won the 2019 Ken Saro-Wiwa Prize for Book Review.”