By Chao Tolle
Photos Courtesy Susan Wong
Nairobi, I’m coming to #BeWithYou #KorogaFestival
With that instagram post Oladapo Daniel Oyebanjo, better known by his stage name D’banj announced his arrival to Nairobi for the 18th edition of the Koroga Festival, a bi monthly event, hosted by Capital FM and held at The Carnivore Grounds.
Seven years since his previous appearance, the stage had been set with the show selling out a little after the Nigerian Superstar touched down in Nairobi. His arrival was typical showmanship; a bevy of beauties holding up placards to welcome him, waited outside the arrival hall. Braving the single digit temperatures in tight fitting clothing, they erupted into loud cheers as soon as they spotted the smartly dressed artist walking out. His advance party, comprising of his manager, recording artist KaySwitch Mayanja, Jimmie The Entertainer, and CheekyChizzy, quickly greeted him with high fives and boisterous cheers punctuated their reunion. With his Close Protection Service (CPS) maintaining a watchful eye, D’Banj made his way through the large crowd, with his bright magnetic smile; taking the time to pose for selfies with fellow travelers and curious by standers who included government security personnel while simultaneously thanking them for their love and promising an electrifying show at the Koroga Festival.
Growing up with D’banj was normal, he’s my older brother. He can be a comedian when he wants to be; that being said, I’ve learnt a lot from him -I learnt a lot about energy, giving it your all, consistency and persistence; he’s usually the first to wake up and last to go to bed. I am my brother’s keeper. – KaySwitch Mayanja
Without skipping a beat, D’banj and his entourage proceed straight for a live TV interview at a local station, which accommodated his late arrival by adjusting the show’s format enabling him to greet his Kenyan fans. Outside the holding room, a large number of people are trying to gain entry to meet him; but, he is in his zone, preparing for the interview while catching up with his entourage and memorizing some key Swahili phrases. In typical D’banj fashion, once on stage, the live audience erupts into thunderous applause and doesn’t stop cheering until the interview is done. With that, the African Superstar formally announced his arrival in Nairobi and proceeded to his 5 Star Hotel.
The brand D’Banj is a bankable brand in the entertainment industry across Africa; Kenya has always loved him for his entertainment abilities. As a person, he’s very motivated and his passion to succeed is always stoked. He’s also very private and deeply spiritual. —Franklin Amudo D’banj’s Manager
SATURDAY, 29th July
The various media houses who had gained access to interview him gather and wait patiently at the star’s hotel at the appointed time. Under the careful management of Capital FM Media Liaison Susan Wong, they get briefed on the star and his management team who arrive ahead of the interview chat casually with them in preparation for the media blitz. His appearance downstairs causes a visible stir among the horde of journalists and as he proceeds to do his interviews, his charm is inescapable. Answering every question patiently, retaking recorded shout outs and thanking each journalist individually and by name, it’s easy to see why the Legendary African artist is miles ahead of others in his region.
Having completed with the media, he switches gears and quickly inquires from his team whether the band have completed their sound check; his attention to detail and desire to ensure the show is perfect is something seen with more seasoned artists, who understand the value of producing a good quality show. Once satisfied, he goes back to his room to prepare for Kenya.
SUNDAY, 30th July
It’s 8 am; D’banj and his team are completing their breakfast at the hotel in preparation to go to the venue for the final sound check. Their energetic and friendly nature now the talk of the high end establishment who are all very pleased to have them at their premises. The arrival at the venue is equally dramatic, with the skeletal staff all inching their way to catch a glimpse of the star; his full band high five him as soon as he gets on stage to go through a very energetic sound check, which leaves them mesmerized. During this time, his team, which comprises of his record label heads of which he’s the boss, quietly goes about recording their artist as well as scoping the venue expressing visible amazement at the entire production. Satisfied that he was ready for the stage, he makes his way back to the vehicle where he bumps into a Nigerian national who greets him effusively congratulating him for his current success as well as letting him know that he would be bringing his family to the show. The return journey back to the hotel is punctuated with laughter and very positive energy, characteristic of D’banj who’s ready for the stage.
No performer should attempt to bite off red hot iron, unless he has a good set of teeth — Harry Houdini
Carnivore Grounds, 530p
The Nairobi crowd is restless while the final change over is taking place. D’banj’s band is setting up for his arrival. Shouts of his name punctuate the venue as the DJ’s spin the popular music of the day. Meanwhile, backstage, Legendary award winning Kenyan musician Eric Wainaina, who had just completed his set, meets up with D’banj; the pair go down memory lane as a flurry of pictures capture their meeting. Meanwhile, the change over complete, D’banj’s band members take the stage and he’s left behind with his manager, recording artist KaySwitch and his Close Protection Service (CPS) as he prepares to take the Koroga Festival Stage for the very first time.
It was a full illusionist’s act; with properly built up anticipation, a lot of misdirection, the use of masks and complete synergy. Brilliantly executed, his entrance still managed to surprise us — Duncan Ndirangu, Reveler
Every city D’banj and I have performed at, we always want to connect with our audience and the best way is to learn something that makes them feel special. The phrases we say in the local dialect always make the audience know that they’re important to the artist. Having said that, the crowd was amazing and I could feel the genuine love for the music and the KoKoMaster— Jimmie The Entertainer
The heavy bass coupled with the drums, inform the crowd that the man of the moment is on his way; a voice from backstage hypes revelers “Make Way For The King”, “The King Is Here”, the anticipation continues to build up as a man in all white with a mask continues calling for Nairobi to welcome D’banj using his acronyms to refer to him. When the heavy bass, pulsating drum, as well as energetic introduction reaches fever pitch, a switch occurs; and the masked man, who everyone thought was D’banj is revealed. Jimmie The Entertainer exits the stage as D’banj, clad in all black makes a proper showman’s entrance to the delight of the sold out crowd. Drowned in screams, he soaks in the adulation before introducing himself.
I’m D’Banj!! Sasa Nairobi!!! Asante Sana, Asante Sana Kenya!
With that, the venue was immediately set ablaze with the light bolt of electricity that D’banj threw into the crowd as he started his high paced, energetic set with a crowd favorite “Fall In Love”. He oozed charm as he praised the beauty of Kenyan women and to further illustrate his point – called for some to dance alongside him during his performance. Their excitement palpable, they each took the stage during various stages of his set with one lady tenderly wiping down his sweat with a towel, while another, who had reportedly left her husband in the crowd, took the opportunity to take selfies with the down to earth entertainer. As he seamlessly switched from hit to hit; he had the crowd singing, screaming and visibly breaking down in tears at the sight of the star who was in full form.
Kenyan people are very caring; the sheer numbers who showed up for the Festival was absolutely mind blowing; D’banj is a very energetic and great entertainer as well as performer. I can’t wait for us to come back again — CheekyChizzy, Musician
Showcasing his acting chops, the performer brought to life tracks such as Gbona Feli Feli, Suddenly, Scapegoat, Fall In Love and introduced the crowd to his brother KaySwitch as they both performed Emergency dominating the stage and feeding off the audience’s energy. As the crowd tossed, turned and gasped in equal measure – D’banj took the occasion to perform his latest single #BeWithYou off his upcoming album KingDonCome . Interacting with the crowd he asked revelers to tweet the hash tag as he performed it for the very first time in the world; another first for Kenya. It was the moment everyone had been waiting for; D’banj’s Magnus Opus that went global virally with a cameo from Kanye West no less…
“I want everyone to put their Oliver Twist hands up”
Ear shattering screams of delight ran through the Carnivore Grounds forming a sonic wave. D’banj added a twist to his final song of the night by asking Jimmie The Entertainer to select two more kokolets to dance on stage with him where he cheekily informed the crowd that their beauty had confused him. Giving his all and performing an extended version of his hit single, still hugely popular – the artist exited stage, just as he had appeared: in a flash.
Backstage, in his tent, the excitement and energy is positive and very upbeat with the crowd’s energy being the focal point. Key figures from the corporate world wait outside his tent for their moment with the star while at a distance; hordes of screaming female fans can be heard asking to make their way through to the legendary artist’s tent.
We expected our fans to have fun; but to our greatest surprise, they blew our minds with the incredible turn out, energy, love and joy. They swept us off our feet as they sang each song word for word. As a result of this outpouring of love from the Kenyan people, D’banj has already started discussing on ways to give back by deploying his platform CREAM (Creative Reality Entertainment Art and Music platform) his baby, to reward talented individuals from different fields, either music, sports, showbiz, showcase education amongst other initiatives. Damian, CEO DKM Digital.*
It’s hard to pinpoint where D’banj the entertainer starts and the person ends; his friendly, humble and positive nature charmed and made everyone who interacted with him feel at ease. His optimism for his future and life in general, his deeply rooted faith in God and his engaging mien provide a clue to his relevance and legendary status; he connects with everyone he meets, a concept most current entertainers have not yet quite grasped.
** The 18th edition of the Koroga Festival was held at The Carnivore Grounds, Nairobi – Kenya on 29 & 30th July 2017
** D’banj performed to a sold out crowd on 30th July 2017
** DKM Digital is an arm of DKM Media of which D’banj is the Chairman